Bates Motel Reinvents Psycho

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It’s no secret who the true killer is in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Today most people go into watching the movie already aware of Norman Bates’ spilt personality, unlike the 1960s audience. The shower scene is iconic and has been referenced in other movies or TV shows. But what if Norman Bates didn’t kill Marion?

A&E’s Bates Motel reinvented the classic scene in last night’s episode “Marion.” In the week before we were officially introduced to Marion (played by Rihanna). We saw her with Sam, working at the bank, stealing the deposit, and driving in the downpouring rain. The music playing in the background was already sounding like the score from Psycho. Last night’s episode picked up with Marion arriving at the Bates Motel and ringing the bell on the hotel office for assistance. Despite all of the confusion Norman was going through, he emerges down the long staircase from the house, and greets her as if everything is fine, just like in the film. I really liked seeing all the comparisons in this scene to the movie, from Marion signing a different name in the registry, Norman offering her food in his office, the taxidermy conversation, and then of course Norman peeping into Marion’s room. Then Marion went into the shower. Earlier when Norman showed her the room and see looked into the bathroom the camera focused in on the shower head. But she safely took her shower, and came out of it alive? I was shocked! I remembered the show’s producer at SDCC saying they would have their own take on this scene, but I couldn’t believe Marion didn’t die. Afterwards every time Norman and Marion had a moment together I was anticipating something bad to happen, but it didn’t. He let her go.

Norman had an intense inner struggle this episode as he came to terms with his sanity and that helped him spare Marion’s life. After bumping into his old psychiatrist last episode, he was reminded of his condition and how he sees his mother when she’s not actually there and that sometimes he becomes her. It was so bittersweet to see him talk down his other personality several times throughout the episode. You wanted to cheer on Norman for realizing how crazy he is, but at the same time you knew it would be short-lived because he had yet to kill Marion. It was sad to see him confused at what to believe, including the real call from his brother, Dylan. (Who I am extremely glad now knows that Norma died.) The real interesting part was at the end when “mother” admitted that she was a part of Norman and has been there for some time. She described herself as doing the dark things that Norman is incapable of, starting with protecting his mother from his father all those years ago. This other personality admits that she took on his mother’s face to get him to trust her.

While in the end it is not Marion who dies in the shower scene, someone is murdered there by Norman. Sam, who has returned to the motel in search of Marion, takes a shower and is killed in the process. I did not see this death coming, but found it interesting how the show altered it. I think it makes sense that “mother” would make Norman kill Sam, due to his background with his father and always wanting to protect his mother (and it is obvious that Norman cares for Sam’s wife, Madelyn.) Another difference here from the film, is that it is Norman himself who performs the killing. He is not dressed up as his mother, and even shows remorse once it is completed.

In the scenes for next week it looks like Dylan and Madelyn team up in search of answers for where her husband is. It looks like they have taken the place of Sam and Marion’s sister searching for Marion. I can’t wait to see what other ways they have adapted this story.

Bates Motel airs Mondays at 10 on A&E.