TV Review: 'Bates Motel'

Bates Motel
Trimmers harvest a crop and stoners hang out at the ’Bates Motel’ on A&E.

A&E's Bates Motel is a prequel to the 1960 film Psycho (based on the novel of the same name by Robert Bloch). The series chronicles the life of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) prior to the events portrayed in Hitchcock's big screen adaptation. Norma purchases the rundown motel located in the coastal Oregon town of White Pine Bay so the family can start a new life after the death of her husband. (Psycho was set in San Francisco and Bodega Bay, California.)

Since premiering in March, series creators Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights) have taken the viewers inside the crazy, and creepy, life of the Bates family. Right out of the gate, drama ensues in Episode 1 as the former owner of the motel, breaks into the house and starts raping Norma. She eventually wrestles away from her attacker, knocking him out and then after he regains consciousness, murdering him. Instead of calling the police, Norma gets Norman to help move the body and dump it into the local harbor.

In Episode 2, marijuana comes into play as Norman along with his best friend from school Emma (Olivia Cooke) stumble across a massive outdoor marijuana grow-op while on a trek through the woods looking for a shed that might be housing a tortured woman. In every episode since, pot has had a place within the plot of Bates Motel. In in Episode 3, Dylan (Max Thieriot), Norman's step-brother, gets a job guarding the fields.

As the series progresses the audience learns that White Pine Bay has multiple illegal rings supporting the town's economy. Besides the illegal marijuana fields, there's also a sex trade going down. Ganja really takes the forefront in Episode 9 when out-of-town trimmers, who are working for Dylan's boss, crash at the motel. One scene shows a room full of (plastic) buds being manicured and hung to dry as War's "Cisco Kid" plays in the background. In another, a trimmer named Gunner gives Emma a chocolate pot cupcake that she scarfs and then predictably bugs out. Norma lets it be known she's not a fan of the weed when confronts the trimming crew burning a joint on the motel porch.

Lots of loose ends are tied up in the finale episode, as the characters and story start to align with the original plot of Psycho.

A&E initially ordered 10 episodes of Bates Motel, and recently announced the series will be back for Season 2 in 2014 with another 10 episodes.

Patrick Hall

Patrick Hall

Hosts the afternoon show on Z-107.5 in Ruston, LA and 'The Patrick and Mountain Man Show' on Monday afternoons.