As the third season of the highly successful Psycho reboot/prequel Bates Motel heads into its third season, fans are currently being treated to a Bates Motel exhibit at SXSW in downtown Austin, Texas. The exhibit features a fully functional motel with guests occupying three of the rooms, until its final day on March 21. This Bates Motel holds a sweepstakes every day in the motel office, with the winner being awarded one night’s stay in the famous motel. Actual set designers from the show designed and recreated the exact replica of the Bates Motel in three days’ time.
A&E’s vice president in charge of marketing, Elizabeth Luciano, was behind the idea for the attraction, which has been drawing thousands of people every day of the event.
“SXSW was the perfect place for us to invite fans inside the story of Norma and Norman Bates in a unique and unforgettable way. Last year at SXSW, we saw amazing fan interaction, so this year we upped the ante, giving fans an even deeper experience that’s as true to the real Bates Motel as possible.”
While a photograph posted in the motel office portrays Norma (Vera Farmiga) and Norman (Freddie Highmore) Bates, the individual guest rooms contain artworks created by fans of Bates Motel and submitted to A&E. Guest rooms hold much to keep fans’ attention riveted, including blood splatters in the shower and Norma’s robe laying on the bed. Gift baskets in each room contain swag from local businesses, as well as from new start-up companies and tech businesses.
Perhaps even more alluring for fans of Bates Motel is a look into the third season, as well as a look back at what has made Bates Motel so successful. One of the essential aspects of the show is Freddie Highmore’s portrayal of Norman Bates, a character made iconic by Anthony Perkins in the Psycho films. The relationship between Norman Bates and Anthony Perkins hasn’t been lost on Highmore. The Bates Motel actor told the Observer that he watches Psycho before every season with the hopes that Perkins’ performances will meld with his own interpretation of the character.
Part of the appeal of Bates Motel hinges on the show’s ability to create a character in Norman Bates that is both evil and sympathetic, which seems like an impossible task, yet has been carried out with finesse by the writers and by Freddie himself.
“I feel it was especially important to set Norman up in the first two seasons as someone we supported and whose side we were so as now we can start to, start to make us challenge whether we were right to get on his side and to start supporting him in the first place.”
Freddie Highmore realizes that his character is evolving as the show progresses, which creates challenges for the writers as much as for the character within the context of the story.
“I think as Norman changes over time, one of the biggest challenges becomes not replaying beats that we’ve already played in the past. Or if you tackle the same subject, retelling it or acting it out in a different way. So that the third season has been really interesting because of how Norman changes. Scenes in which you have kind of learned how to resolve in past, you can’t use, you can’t get out of it with the same emotion. And so you know that in certain scenes in the past with Norma and Norman where Norma was on the winning side of the argument, and so the trick this season for Norman was to find a way in which he can start to change that. And gradually, bit by bit, in every scene between Norma and Norman, we make this small shift.”
So what can fans really expect from Season 3? Executive producer Kerry Ehrin points out that Bates Motel is essentially the story of one man’s descent into madness, suggesting that fans can expect the unexpected. It will be a wild, unpredictable, intensely weird ride, as Norman Bates gets further and further lost in his madness. Ehrin believes the third season will be unlike anything fans have seen up to this point, as Bates Motel really gets into “the meat of the story.”
Bates Motel airs Monday nights at 9/8c on A&E. Fans who need to catch up on the second season of Bates Motel can now access the show on Netflix.