“Bates Motel” ended Season 2 with a major shift for main character Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore). He finally created an alternate personality where he internalized his mother Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga) and could offload his own guilt onto her.
In Season 3, this new iteration of Norman will be explored. “Developing that story of what’s going on in his own mind being as important to him as what’s actually real, for people the made-up myth through Norman’s eyes is his immediate reality,” Highmore tells Zap2it during a group interview at San Diego Comic-Con 2014.
Farmiga is proud of the version of Norma she has created on “Bates Motel,” so in Season 3 her focus will be on creating Norman’s mental version of his mother. “I think what we’re going to be exploring with my character is who Norman is creating her to be in his head,” she says.
But while Norman’s relationship with his mother might grow stronger in his own mind, it might become more strained in their real lives. “[There’s] this growing understanding between both of them that there is something under their relationship that is lurking,” executive producer Kerry Ehrin explains. “How that is going to come out and play out is a huge part of the storytelling.”
“A veil got lifted at the end of last season and they both saw some things. And while Norman was absolved in a way by the lie-detector test, I think that those things are still alive in them, the knowledge of those things,” she continues. “How that affects their relationship to each other, two people who have always been closer than anything in the world to each other, and now that there is a knowledge of that; how is that going to begin to affect them and splinter them?”
Fans know the inevitable end of the Bates’ story based on the well-known tale of “Psycho,” so don’t expect Norman to grow more stable in Season 3. “It’s continuing his descent into insanity, and also to what point do we stop supporting Norman and sort of stop loving him,” Highmore says. “At the end of last season, you realize Norman can be quite manipulative about certain things, and has this sort of conscience now of what he’s capable of. To what extent will he always remain the good guy, or the guy that we can at least pretend is nice?”
Farmiga says Norma is clinging to Norman “like a life raft,” and that though her other son Dylan (Max Thieriot) has a “calming affect” on her, “her one true love in life is Norman.”
“She knows that he’s a good kid, he’s got a good heart, but somehow there’s this weird glitch that I think she thinks she can heal through maternal love. I think that’s just her objective. She wants happiness. She’s only found it in a dictionary up until now,” Farmiga says.
Norma has to make a decision about what to do with Norman, and it won’t be an easy one. Executive producer Carlton Cuse explains, “For Norma, she’s aware of what Norman has done, so she has to decide what she’s going to do about it. Is she going to protect him at all costs? Does she have a moral line about him and what should happen to him?”
There’s also the question of what Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) will do after Norman passed the lie-detector test that proved he didn’t kill Miss Watson, though in truth he actually did commit the murder.
“We don’t know what Romero’s going to do once he knows the truth about Norman. He’s not saying, ‘I’m going to put you on trial and it’s going to be conventional,'” Cuse says. “In this particular case, I think it’s a matter of curiosity that he want to know the truth about what is the story with this guy Norman Bates. Is he actually capable of killing someone? I think for us, he’s driven as much by his curiosity as he is some sort of dispensation of specific penal justice.”
For Highmore, he just knows that this season is moving “Bates Motel” closer into “Psycho” territory. “I’m not sure [Norma and Norman would] survive without each other, really, or he’d certainly go mad. I guess we see that in ‘Psycho.’ That’s the ultimate sort of end, that Norma’s no longer there,” Highmore says. “I guess people don’t want to believe that that’s going to have to be the end one day. You want a different outcome and you keep hoping that it will be, but I don’t think it will.”
“Bates Motel” Season 3 is expected to premiere in 2015 on A&E.