As readers of the site well know, I am a big fan of A&E’s Bates Motel, writing episode recaps and reviews following the airing of each episode. Therefore, it was a priority for me to attend its Comic-Con panel first thing Saturday morning in room 6A.
If anyone attended or heard about the old Lost panels, they’ll know that with Executive Producer Carlton Cuse on the panel, it will always be a hilarious hour of television goodness. This was no exception.
Entering the stage were Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff ), Olivia Cooke (Emma), Emmy-nominee Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates), Cuse, Executive Producer Kerry Ehron and Max Thierot (Dylan). Farmiga was congratulated for her Emmy nomination and began the panel on a serious note talking about the character of Norma. “In her defense, she is the mother of a child with mental issues.” She explained that she approaches the role with “compassion and reverence.”
It was quickly on to the fun parts as, in an effort to explain the absence of young Norman Bates himself (Freddie Highmore), Cuse beat around the bush and then finally introduced a side-splitting video depicting the supposed scheduling conflict. Amid uproarious laughter from the audience, Highmore did indeed join his fellow cast on stage.
Amid discussion of possible romance for the character of Dylan in season two, Thierot laughed, “I’m kind of rooting for whatever keeps me alive!” But Cuse did promise new romance for both Norma and Norman. “No, not with each other,” he groaned, then paused. “Not yet…” When asked about other family members appearing on the show, Cuse said we’d probably see Norma’s brother in season two.
Discussing the inevitable comparisons to the source material, Hitchcock’s Psycho, Ehron explained that certain elements, like the house, have to remain. Also, “Bates must eventually lose it.” Cuse added that they wanted to keep the house and the motel, but making a prequel gave them liberties to tell their own story. “We know it’s not going to end well, but it’s going to be super-fun getting there.”
Other hints about season two included the fact that the bypass is going to be a big issue and that Farmiga pitched a story idea that will appear in episode two. Cuse was tight-lipped about the latter, but said if one word could describe the episode, it would be “sandman”. He also joked that they will be doing more taxidermy. “Norman will be stuffing bigger animals.”
Highmore was innocently unknowing in responses to his questions. When asked to reveal a behind the scenes fact, all he could come up with is that the hotel set, apparently built over a dump, smells. (Farmiga added, “It makes emotional scenes easier to do.”) And when asked to describe the acting process employed in his blackout scenes, he fumbled, “Well, I think about what the character is going through, then I pretend.”
He did, however, reveal that he and Farmiga sometimes disagree about his character. He thinks Norman might be acting “a little dodgy”‘ but she tells him, “No, no, he’s OK.” (Farmiga defended Norma, “They grow up so quickly, you’ve got to slather it on when you can.”) When asked if it was important for their characters that they did some bonding when they first met, Farmiga deadpanned, “He asked me out on a date.” But then she seriously answered that they “just hit it off immediately.”
Some final, miscellaneous comments:
Cuse: “Doing homages to the original throws you out of the story.” (So, expect nothing more than minor nods to the movie.)
Farmiga: “It’s a vigorous, emotional role. She’s like the wind. It’s exhausting.”
Cuse: “We love Twin Peaks. It’s one of the things we’ve talked about.”
Finally, when asked if there would be any more story lines where mother and son work together on a murder, Ehron replied, “They’re going to start a business.” That was an appropriate response for a lighthearted panel about a show that deals with mental illness, possible incest and bloody murder. I loved it.
MOST MEN AND WOMENS BATHROOM SIGNS INSIDE THE CONVENTION CENTER WERE REPLACED WITH THESE: