Bates Motel: ‘The Noose Is Tightening on So Many Levels’

Bates Motel
James Dittiger/A&E
Bates Motel

If it wasn’t tough enough being the top cop in White Pine Bay, Oregon–a town whose only cash crop appears to be weed–Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is also jonesing for Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga). Which means poor Romero is bound to get caught up in one of the abnormally protective mother’s crazy schemes. Currently, those involve her attempts to help keep Bates Motel afloat. (Her dream project has been near death since the completion of a new highway that keeps the place off the beaten path and mostly unoccupied.) She’s also trying to shake down ruthless power broker Bob Paris (Kevin Rahm) with an incriminating flash drive that Annika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos) left in Norma’s possession before her death. “The noose is tightening on so many levels,” says Carbonell, who directed tonight’s episode.

And then there’s Norman (Freddie Highmore). As Norma’s teen son inexorably moves toward his cross-dressing, psychotic break, he’s growing more and more threatened by the return of Norma’s incestuous brother, Caleb (Kenny Johnson), whom she’s reconnecting with, as well as her closeness to older son Dylan (Max Thieriot). But mama drama be damned. “Romero is still really drawn to Norma,” Carbonell says. “The question is: Can he get himself out of the awful Oedipal web they’re all entangled in? It’s a recipe for disaster.”

Carbonell’s directing debut could have been equally disastrous. “It’s an ambitious episode, with a lot of locations,” he explains, adding that Farmiga was sick with the flu.”But thankfully, she was a real trouper.”

Despite the inevitability of a violent and heartbreaking conclusion to Norma’s story, Carbonell believes the show has a “hopeful” message: “It’s a bunch of really flawed people, but they’re looking for love and family. They all just want to be normal.”

Bates Motel, April 6, 9/8c, A&E