It’s a dark, rainy day on the set of A&E Network’s “Bates Motel,” an atmosphere that series star Freddie Highmore considers most appropriate for Season 3.
“That’s what [the series’ makers] wanted with this third season,” says Highmore, calling in from Vancouver, where the series is shot, “because the second season of ‘Bates’ I guess had a slightly cheerier note at the beginning where things seemed to be going well. And then they all switched to return in the winter this year as the darkness has really set in to Norma and Norman’s lives.”
Season 3, which kicks off Monday (March 9), finds Norman Bates (Highmore) struggling to gain control of his fragile psyche and coming to the realization of what really happened with teacher Blaire Watson. Norma (Vera Farmiga), too, is questioning what is going on with her son’s mental state, which isn’t helped when she becomes closer to her son and his half-brother Dylan (Max Thieriot). The return of her estranged brother Caleb (Kenny Johnson) adds further stresses to the Bateses, as do the arrival of newcomers played by Kevin Rahm (“Mad Men”), Tracy Spiridakos (“Revolution”) and Ryan Hurst (“Sons of Anarchy”).
“I’d say the third season for Norman is a very insular one,” Highmore tells Zap2it. “He starts to home school. He stays back in the hotel, back in the house, doesn’t really move too far away from that as his immediate surroundings. And so we, I guess, get the opportunity to see what’s going on more inside of Norman’s head and his internal processes and how he is dealing with the knowledge of who he actually is himself, this internal fight, this struggle that’s always there with the two sides of him. And to view Norman more from that perspective as opposed to his external interactions with other characters, perhaps.”
Still, one character who could set things off internally for Norman is the character of Annika Johnson (Spiridakos), a hooker who checks into the Bates Motel and immediately gets the disturbed teen’s attention.
“I think certainly we see her awakening this sexual side of Norman through which a lot of his potential danger comes from,” Highmore says. “And I think that there’s a certain link, not only with the way that Norman sees his mother but the way that he sees other women and how that sexual attraction can then very quickly turn into something a lot more dangerous. And manipulative as well.
“I’ve always said that he’s this nice guy and someone that we feel sympathy for and support to some extent and just hope he won’t go down this path that he has to go down,” Highmore continues. “But perhaps in this third season we start to challenge our support for him for the first time and pull back at certain moments. Even if it’s not exactly what we’re wanting to do, you start to think, ‘Well is there a side to Norman that’s doing this on purpose? Or at what point have we gone too far in Norman’s journey that we can’t support him anymore, even if we might want to?’ “