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Bates Motel (A&E) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review

Updated on April 30, 2013

‘Bates Motel’ is a new thriller series on A&E. The show is a prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock directed movie ‘Psycho’. ‘Bates Motel’ is about Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’) and his mother, Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga, ‘Up in the Air’). The show centers around the childhood of Norman and how he developed his psyche portrayed in ‘Psycho’.

At the start of the episode Norman finds his dad on the floor in the basement, dead. When his mother hears that her husband is dead she doesn’t look very sad, which is a little odd. After this traumatic experience, Norma wants to start over, so she and Norman move to the fictional town White Pine Bay to run a small motel there. Norman isn’t too thrilled to move and start over, but he doesn’t have much of a choice.

The day after they move in, while Norman is on his way to school, a few girls (apparently from his new school) appear at the bus stop and offer him a ride to school in one of the girls’ cars. The girls look pretty popular, but Norman isn’t someone who is part of the popular crowd. Strangely enough, these girls are very nice to him anyway. Maybe a bit too nice?

Back home, Norman is outside the house when a man comes up to him. He is angry and says they have no idea what they’re doing or how to run a motel. It used to be his family’s property until they lost it to the bank, and he feels it is still his. When Norma threatens to call the police the man leaves.


Later that night, the girls from Norman’s school come over to ask if Norman wants to come study with them at the library. Norman would clearly like to go, but his mother says he can’t. Norman is mad at his mother for making him look like a fool in front of the girls, but Norma says she was just trying to protect him. Norman goes to his room and sneaks out of the house to meet the girls at the busstop. He thought they would go study, but the girls take him to a party with lots of drugs and alcohol.

Norma is at home alone when the man who bothered them earlier comes back. He bursts through the door and Norma grabs a knife, ready to defend herself. Norma screams for Norman, but she doesn’t know he’s not home. The man kicks her and she falls to the ground, losing her knife. He grabs her, slams her on the kitchen table, handcuffs her and he rapes her. All of a sudden Norman comes in and knocks the man unconscious. Norman quickly uncuffs his mother, then cuffs the man and gets the first aid kit in the other room. At this point the man starts to move again. Norma grabs the knife and stabs him several times in the chest. When Norman comes back in he sees his mother killed the man. He keeps saying it was self defense but it clearly wasn’t.

Norma decides they will put the body in one of the rooms’ bathtubs until they figure out what to do with it. They move the body wrapped up in a blanket, but still leave a big bloodstain in the carpet of one of the motel rooms. They remove the carpet in this room as well as in the other rooms to make it look like they’re just renovating in case someone were to come by. That same night, as Norma and Norman are still ripping up the carpet, the police do come by. The sheriff and his deputy saw lights were on and came to check it out. The sheriff has to use the bathroom and he uses the one where Norma en Norman hid the body. Luckily, they closed the shower curtain so the body isn’t visible. However, all it takes is a draft to lift up the curtain... After a few anxious moments, the sheriff comes back out without suspecting a thing. Norma en Norman decide to dump the body in a lake nearby.

I wasn’t really sure what to think of this show before I started watching, but it turns out I like it. There are a few things I thought to be strange and/or worth remarking. It all starts with the very weird emotional profiles in this family. Instead of grieving over her husband, or at least being in shock about his death, all Norma does is tell her son she’s sorry. What’s up with that? And why are all the girls in town practically drooling over Norman, is he the only single guy in town?

Norman saves his mother while she is being raped. You’d think that would leave some sort of emotional scarring, or at least make him a bit uncomfortable, but there’s no sign of that anywhere. Not with him and not with Norma. And speaking of Norma, she seems to be a little... off. Not only didn’t she grieve about her husband’s death, she also made Norman feel guilty for wanting to sign up for the track team, but then didn’t want him to stay home because of her. As if that wasn’t already enough she broke down about being a bad mother right in front of him, it’s just all a little confusing. One moment she’s the fun mother jumping on the bed, the next she is forbidding him to go ‘study’ with his new friends. Sure, she was right, they weren’t going to study, but she could have been a little more subtle about it.

Now, those were the things that struck me as odd. But did it make me like the show less? Not really, no. It just got me interested. I really want to know why Norma was so cold about her husband’s death (and in fact doesn’t seem to be mourning him at all, she basically tells Norman he is the only good person she’s ever met). I’m also curious as to what will make Norman grow up to be the character as portrayed in ‘Psycho’. And, last but not least, I am very curious about what they will come up with to make the next episode interesting. Because lets face it; a rape and a murder in the very first episode? How will they ever top that?

What do you think of 'Bates Motel'?

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    • Robin Oatley profile image

      Robin Oatley 4 years ago

      Hi Linda, Maria and Michelle,

      I have some good new for you! On April 8th, A&E announced Bates Motel is getting another season. However, you'll have to wait until 2014 to see it.

      Thanks for reading, commenting, and most of all sharing!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Ooh. the show gives me the creeps, as it should! Now I'm hesitating before taking a shower. Thanks Maria, and sharing!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Great review, Robin and thanks to Linda for sharing.

      Voted UP and Awesome on one of my favorite new shows.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I LOVE this show!! Norma, Norman, Dylan all rock their characters!! Unfortunately it's on the same time as my other favorite show Revolution, so I TIVO one or the other. Usually Revolution. I tweeted this hub and tagged #batesmotel. Fab hub!!

    • Robin Oatley profile image

      Robin Oatley 4 years ago

      Hi wvugirl2007,

      I've noticed many shows try to get up to speed in the pilot to reel in the public but almost forget to explain a bit about the characters first. Some shows are just plain confusing because they introduce too many characters in the first episode. I thought Bates Motel did it pretty well actually. The first part of the episode until the murder in the motel was all part of introducing Norma and Norman. Jumping in the middle of the first murder involving this family didn't bother me.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • wvugirl2007 profile image

      wvugirl2007 4 years ago from Virginia

      The show started off a little odd. It felt like I missed the beginning. Norma is an weird woman. Her emotions are messed up. Norman wanted to try to be normal, but by the end I could tell he was going to lose that fight. I could tell this was a pilot and that the story was trying to be full, but also trying to explain the characters. One of the things that I feel turns people off. I hope people watch the next episode to see if the flow of the show is better. I am not sure how they will top a murder and a rape in the first episode, but I am up for finding out how. Fantastic write up, Robin!

    • Robin Oatley profile image

      Robin Oatley 4 years ago

      Billybuc; thank you for reading and supporting! I do like it quite a bit so far.

      Torrilynn; well so far there's lots of drama in this series, so you must have liked the first episode! Thanks for reading and voting.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      this seems to be an interesting show that I watch

      I like shows that deal with drama and that are hard to figure out

      thanks for the overall review

      very well written and thorough

      Voting up

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't have a television so I'm out of luck on seeing this, but I did see the previews at the movie theater and it looked good to me. I hope you enjoy it.