When it premiered in 2013, “Bates Motel” pulled off something of a coup. In all of the years since Hitchcock’s “Psycho” stunned audiences in 1960, audiences have seen a string of sequels, plenty of derivative works and a wholly unnecessary, almost identical, if star-studded, remake of the film that first brought Norman Blatch’s novel to life. None of those efforts struck a chord with audiences the way A&E’s modern day prequel has, perhaps, because none of them built a world around Norman as the gripping series did in season one, and by all accounts, will continue to do in season two.
After completing a jam-packed panel at San Diego Comic Con in 2013, the series’ cast and creators took to a similarly crowded press room for a series of roundtable interviews. Max Thieriot and Olivia Cooke represent two entirely new characters introduced by “Bates Motel”.
Thieriot is Norma’s elder son, Dylan Massett, whose personality is quite as fiery as hers, and who finds his way to his mother and brother in White Pine Bay, even in spite of Norma’s efforts to leave him behind. Still, Thieriot doesn’t think Dylan begrudges Norman their odd familial situation.
“I have a brother who’s much younger than me. Even though there’s times where maybe we don’t get along, I think there’s kind of a bond between brothers that’s kinda hard to break, you know, deep down,” he said. “So, I think even though he [Dylan] is a little envious, a little jealous and kinda wishes that Norma would care about him as much as she does Norman, I think he still loves him because he’s his brother.”
Meanwhile, Cooke is Norman’s smart and sassy gal-pal who holds a flame him, but soon finds that her romantic feelings are far too one-sided.
“It’s annoying when you watch a character and they just keep going back to the same person after they’ve been rejected so many times. I think she [Emma[ going to keep her distance from now on,” Cooke said of her character’s attraction to Norman. “She’s too smart to let that happen, I think she wants to experience things very quickly and she’s clearly not going to get that love from Norman. Maybe it’ll just be a happy dream that never happens.”
And speaking of love prospects, Thieriot, doesn’t think it would behoove Dylan to continue down a romantic path with Bradley, the apple of Norman’s eye.
“I suspect if I get it on with Bradley, he’s going to off me, but, at the same time, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. So, I don’t know, we’ll see. If [Dylan] explores that too much, especially openly, it’s not going to end well for him, because it’s pretty apparent that Norman’s in love with her. He seems to jump into a lot of situations without thinking about the repercussions, but maybe he’ll be able to dodge a bullet,” Thieriot said.
Thieriot did add that Dylan may hold back where Bradley is concerned out of brotherly love. “I think he’s begun to form this relationship with Norman that he never had, you know, and I think even though Dylan can kind of be crude and a lot of things, he still has a sensitive and caring side to him, underneath it all.”
Both Cooke and Thieriot shared the sense that the romantic entanglements, and other concerns that those of us who are not budding serial killers and residents of White Pine Bay can empathize with give the show an infusion of reality.
“I think it’s honestly fun to watch. I find it hard for me to watch anything that I’ve been part of, but I enjoy watching this every week,” Thieriot said. “It’s fun. The characters are unique. It’s hard sometimes to like and to sympathize with characters that are killing people, but you do. I think there’s a lot of different characters that you can connect with and that are relatable in a certain way.”
Cooke agreed. “Aside from the killing, they’re all going through such real things, Norma’s trying to start up a business, Norman’s having heartbreak at school and trying to decide between how to go about these feelings that he has. It’s really quite real,” she said.
At the time of the discussion, Thieriot and Cooke knew the details of the first two episodes of season two, but had to stay relatively mum, even about those early episodes. Thieriot did comment on the possibility of his character killing again, after all. saying it runs in the family wouldn’t be too far of the mark here.
“He doesn’t show a lot of remorse, and he’s killed two people. I guess one of them was in self-defense, but the other one was definitely not,” he said.
I think he could (kill more people), because I don’t think it really affects him. I think you kind of expect when someone takes another human being’s life it will have an impact on them and really affect them mentally. And I think that he’s obviously a little bit twisted and it doesn’t really affect him. Maybe he could…as long as he can kind of justify it as being legitimate in his mind. ‘Cause it wasn’t like a senseless murder, it was ‘I killed this guy cause he killed my partner’ and ‘I killed this guy because he was attacking my family,’ and that’s it,” Thieriot added.
But for as well as they know their characters–Cooke happily declared on the spot that Emma loves Matt Smith when hypothetical Comic Con activities came up–the show surprises the cast quite as much as it does the audience.
“The most surprising thing to me, I think, is the black humor, the dark comedy aspects of it. That’s what really brings the show to light, there is so much death…so when they’ve got the hint of…the light aspects and the comedy, that really comes through,” Cooke explained. “For example, when Emma gets stoned, you don’t see that coming, and that’s kind of what brings it up.”
“[When] you’ve been working 15 hours straight and it’s pouring rain and it’s freezing, you get to enjoy those moments,” Thieriot agreed.
“The show is constantly changing,” he said. “It’s really exciting ‘cause it has all of these different elements that play into it and make it really unique.”
Cooke agreed adding that even as the cast received the scripts to read they got to enjoy all of those changes that keep the audience on their toes. “We could never predict the show.”