What’s Worth Watching: Going Psycho at Bates Motel

Bates Motel Season 3 Finale - Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore
James Dittiger/A&E Network
Bates Motel Season 3 Finale

Bates Motel, “Unconscious” (Monday, May 11, 9/8c, A&E)

If, like me, you revere Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho as among the best and most chilling movies ever, you may get a deliciously sinking feeling as A&E’s unusually inventive re-imagining of the Bates legend pays homage to one of the movie’s more iconic images in Bates Motel‘s ultra-creepy third-season finale. Mad scenes are a specialty of the show’s spectacular lead actors, Freddie Highmore as the tormented young Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his high-strung fireball of a mother, Norma. Their explosive scenes together, evoking an unsettling incestuous vibe when they’re not screaming at each other, achieve new heights of menace once Norman discovers his mother has been scoping out mental-health facilities for her troubled lad.

“Maybe fate wins here,” Norma laments to the sympathetic, yet sinister, Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell). “We’re all doomed in the end, right?” she helpfully foreshadows. (We’ve all been in that Psycho cellar, after all.) So as an alienated Norman impulsively plots to run away with newly returned seductress Bradley (Nicola Peltz), we fear the worst. And on Bates Motel, we usually get it.