We just left the SDCC press room for “Bates Motel,” and while showrunners Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin are saving the big announcements for today’s panel, we did glean a few clues of what’s ahead in Season 3.
First we spoke with Norma Bates herself, Vera Farmiga. When asked how she reconciles Norma’s behavior in the series, Vera said she sees herself as Norma’s “court appointed lawyer in her defense” and “approaches her with outright compassion.”
She focuses on what she appreciates about the character; Norma’s “terribly flawed but trying to be the best mother she can be.” She had a very grim upbringing with no role model, and her relationship with Norman is a “lifejacket.” Theirs is a noble love, and Norma is a “lioness with a lame cub.”
She couldn’t tell us much about the upcoming third season as she hasn’t seen a script yet (shooting begins in October), but now that Norma “knows” about Norman, her objective is to nurse him back to health. She believes no one can help him like she can.
Exec producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin were up next, and while they said all the big surprises are being held until this afternoon’s panel, they promised they have a “good gameplan” with the theme of Season 3 being the good and evil that live in everybody and which side wins out.
Cuse said that with Norman’s ending already known, their goal is to “subvert expectations” without a literal reenactment. His story is a tragedy, but there is some fun involved in seeing which version of him will emerge.
Ehrin added that while there are milestones to be reached, they are not beholden to them and are building toward making “Bates Motel” the best story possible.
Cuse did tell us that they felt the drug story needed to end so they could move on to something else. There will be “new forms of menace and new romances.” Ehrin teased that she thinks of White Pine Bay as a “real place” and the effects of the drug war blowing up will have an impact on the town’s economy and politics, just as it would in real life. Cuse said that in Season 3 the town will be “living in the aftermath,” which will change its character. We’ll have a “new set of circumstances and ramifications.” In a place where evil has lived for so long, there is now a vacuum.
As for Norma’s journey this season, Ehrin said the primary question is “Who can you trust?” There will be an even darker environment with shooting taking place during the winter. We asked about the relationship between Norma and Dylan, which seemed to be on the mend, and certainly their “relationship cannot get fixed in one conversation; there will be a lot of push and pull and confusion.” We will come to know a bit more about Dylan’s past. He’s on the axis of good and evil; is he going to step into the void and accept the role Romero offered him at the end of Season 2, and what will be the consequences of his choice? Cuse said he will make the decision at the beginning of the season.
We ended our chats with Nestor Carbonell and Olivia Cooke (unfortunately Freddie Highmore had another panel to attend so we missed out on speaking with him). Carbonell described Sheriff Romero as “manipulative” and commented that he often “rewrites history” so that he comes out on top. While we enjoy how mysterious Romero can be, we were pleased to learn that in Season 3 some of back story will be revealed.
Cooke discussed Emma’s illness and explained that she wanted to make her “more than her disease” and keep her full of life. As for what’s in store for the character, she thought she was part of the Bates family and was unhappy to be shut out of their secrets, and now that she’s aware that Norman is a product of incest, she still wants to be part of it so they can “wallow in misery together.”
Carbonell explained that with the drug business shakeup, the structure of his work is broken. His offer to Dylan to take over will play a big part in what’s ahead for him. Will they team up or go against each other? Stay tuned!
The affection the two co-stars share for each other was obvious. Carbonell wrapped things up by saying he’s fortunate to work with such an “unusually great group of people” who are all extremely talented and incredibly generous. He called “Bates Motel” a “dream job.”
UPDATE: During the “Bates Motel” panel, we learned that Season 3 will see the return of Nicola Peltz as Bradley. As you may recall, the last time we saw her, she was fleeing White Pine Bay with blood on her hands.
Much more interesting is that Kenny Johnson (“The Shield”, “Dexter”) will return as Norma’s brother, Caleb. Best of all? Johnson will be upgraded to series regular!
For you Norman and Emma shippers, there may be additional complications as Cuse hints at a potential love interest for her.
Season 3 of “Bates Motel,” from Universal Television, is slated to air in early 2015.
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