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13 March 2013 @ 03:16 pm
Bates Motel  
I watched it this morning/last night OnDemand.
I always think, "No, there won't be anything trigger-y in this show". I'm frequently wrong.

Bates Motel is a modern prequel to Psycho focusing on Norman Bates and his relationship with his mother, Norma(Vera Farmiga). They're trying to set up the backstory for Bates and how his mother shaped the man we later see. From the first scene the setting calls back to 50's style with the coloring, clothing and scenery. So it was jarring to see Norma using her iPhone and Norman sitting down at the bus stop with white earbuds listening to music. Everyone seems as though they're stuck in the 50's except for Norman's classmates: the Bates wear bland, classic styles, the former landowner wears flannel and slacks.  Maybe they were going for that juxtaposition: old vs. new but it's not quite working for me.

Norman is quite unremarkable as teenagers can be. We see his pain at losing his father and his frustration at his mother limiting his interactions with a group of local girls who take an interest in him. He thinks he's peculiar but it isn't evident yet. He's also shown as the more levelheaded Bates when crisis happens and his mother asks him to do something he disagrees with. Freddie Highmore does a fantastic job, though his "American" accent falters at times.

In contrast, Norma is strange. Her first scene has her unfailingly calm when her husband is found dead in the garage. She tells her son she's sorry as she comforts him and doesn't focus on deadHusband. Her characterization is flighty and impulsive, as we learn Norman has been in four or five other schools before and they move often. She buys the Seafarer Motel and surprises her son with the idea that they will run it. Norma is also very focused after her assault, although we see her rage when she stabs her attacker in response to his words. She knows exactly how to cover up the murder in a way that implies this isn't the first time she's been in a situation like this. And she's very optimistic about the motel's future despite obstacles.

The pacing was even and we didn't get to see much of life before buying of the infamous Motel. I would have liked that. I surmise that it will all be revealed later on throughout the season. The show goes straight into action but in a slow way(It reminds me of how I feel when I travel to another part of the USA that isn't my NYC. Everything seems slow when perhaps it's normal pace for Not!NYC). Mr. Bates dies, mother and son move to the house behind the motel, we get introduced to an angry former landowner and then it goes on from there.

About that landowner. It was obvious they were telegraphing his upcoming actions in hindsight. Still it did feel out of left field and gratuitous when he broke into the house, injured Norma and then sexually assaulted her. His justification was that "he owned everything in the house and on the land" or some other bullshit. Really? That kind of angry person would do a number of things before that culminated into him breaking in and assaulting her. Usually folk antagonize people they don't like up to a point where they do the greatest damage. So, if the writers were looking to have him not get any sympathy or further interest, they did a good job. He was minuscule; a simple catalyst. He brought mother and son closer together since it was Norman who saved Norma from further harm and it was Norman who helped his mother cover up her crime. She killed her attacker when he antagonized her after the fact.

Coming attractions leans heavily toward mother-son incest but I'm not here for that. I can see this being a solid show albeit creepy. There are rumblings of A&E trying to cash in on The Walking Dead genre but it isn't quite the same. We got serial killers not zombies and survival.

I'll be cautiously watching the rest of the season*. We'll see how far Bates Motel will go.

*I already had a couple of nightmares, but nothing major yet.