Bates Motel—Season 3

bates motel season 3 poster episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Still a fun, strong series

Wondering how far it can be carried on

bates motel season 3 episode 8 the pit norma norman bed vera farmiga freddie highmore

Nothing is closer than a boy and his mother

Norman (Freddie Highmore) is still haunted by the death of Ms. Watson and questioning his own sanity as his relationship with Emma (Olivia Pope) gets closer.  Norma (Vera Farmiga) finds her life complicated by the return of her brother Caleb Calhoun (Kenny Johnson) who could change the growing relationship between Norma and Dylan (Max Thieriot) while a secret society called the Arcanum Club might expose the secrets of the town and put Norma and Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) in more danger than they ever expected.

Bates Motel—Season 3 aired on A&E from March 9, 2015 to May 11, 2015.  The third season of the series continued to gain strong reviews and fans.

bates motel season 3 episode 1 a death in the family ms watson keegan connor

It’s always nice for Ms. Watson to stop buy and gurgle hello

Watching Bates Motel is like watching a tragedy play out, but by this season, it almost feels like a comeuppance for characters who have dodged the law for far too long.  By this point in the series, Norman is completely lost and the fact that the people around him keep covering for him just keeps making it worse.

Norman’s a straight-up murderer who is suffering from a mental instability that is getting worse, and it keeps pulling innocent people in.  You see characters who don’t deserve their fate getting closer and closer to him which you know will end up costing them dearly.  This is not all Norman’s fault and his enabling mother is largely to blame for where the characters are now.  There is a bit of an indictment on the healthcare system in this season where trying to get Norman help might not be financially possible for Norma, and it would be nice if the series did go deeper into this conundrum of many people suffering from mental illness.

bates motel season 3 episode 6 norma louise max thieriot freddie highmore mother

Hey bro…what’s new?

The underground mafia intrigue of previous seasons is growing a bit long in the tooth and the level of involvement in big crime in this small town has grown a bit ridiculous.  This season the DEA gets wind of some of the issues which could pose future problems for the characters, but if it tamped down some of the “worst small town in the world” nature of the series, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

The third element of the season that plays out interestingly is the relationship between Caleb, Norma, and Dylan who have extremely tangled emotional ties.  Through this exploration, the black-and-white of sexual assault between family members is examined begins to blur the cut-and-dry nature of the crimes.  Dylan is a good person who doesn’t deserve to be cursed with this past…and though he’s creepy, Caleb genuinely seems to want to rectify his part in his crimes…but then the idea of Norma not having a choice but to accept apologizes also is problematic (as the series explores).

bates motel season 3 episode 8 the pit bradley martin nicola petz

It’s a good thing you got out, Bradley…you wouldn’t want to get killed or anything

Through these issues, the cast continues to really fall into their characters.  Vera Farmiga really seems to have fun with Norma and now that Norman is fantasizing as her, it gives Farmiga even more material to work with.  Freddie Highmore still pulls off the creep factor of Norman (and it seems hard to see him now in other roles like The Good Doctor) without seeing him as a creep.  Olivia Cooke’s role as Emma seems both expanded with a storylines about her and her lung transplant and the Dylan-Norman problem, but also reduced from earlier seasons where she seemed more present (but it still better than last season).  I also commend Kenny Johnson who gets to be the sand in the works and forces a lot of plotlines.

Bates Motel is a good series that kind of faded away in many ways after a strong start.  Other series seemed to eclipse a lot of the coverage that the series initially got, but if anything, Bates Motel continues to grow and evolve as the crimes build.  Norman is headed toward an explosion that everyone knows about…but wishing that it wouldn’t happen is like trying to go against the tide.

Bates Motel—Season 3 Complete Episode Guide:

bates motel season 3 episode 1 a death in the family kenny johnson

“A Death in the Family”

3.1       A Death in the Family Airdate:  03/09/15

Norman (Freddie Highmore) returns to school but is haunted by Ms. Watson (Keegan Connor Tracy).  Norma (Vera Farmiga) learns her mother is dead but vows to have nothing to do with her estate.  Annika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos) comes to the Bates Motel and catches Norman’s eye.  Dylan (Max Thieriot) decides he’s had enough of the illegal drug business and learns that Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) won’t be able to protect him anymore.  Caleb (Kenny Johnson) comes back into the picture as Dylan starts to question Norman’s relationship with Norma.

bates motel season 3 episode 2 the arcanum club dead body

“The Arcanum Club”

3.2       The Arcanum Club Airdate:  03/16/15

Norma worries that Norman has gotten involved in the disappearance of Annika.  Dylan finds Caleb inserting himself more into his life and his business and finds they could have trouble with their new business neighbor Chick Hogan (Ryan Hurst).  Emma (Olivia Cooke) and Norman test the waters of dating, and Olivia questions Norman’s relationship with his mother.  Norma investigates a secret society called the Arcanum Club and enlists Sheriff Romero to help.

bates motel season 3 episode 3 persuasion olivia cooke weed


3.3       Persuasion Airdate:  03/16/15

Norma starts school and makes a new friend from a teacher James Finnigan (Joshua Leonard) who seeks to help her.  Dylan continues to push Caleb away and finds Caleb taking over his operation.  Olivia finds out about Dylan’s working with Caleb and Norman’s resentment of his mother.  Romero digs into the death of a girl resembling Annika and receives a warning from Bob Paris (Kevin Rahm) of the Arcanum Club about the sheriff’s race.  Norman begins to question if he did have something to do with Annika’s death.

bates motel season 3 episode 4 unbreak able dylan caleb max thieriot kenny johnson


3.4       Unbreak-Able Airdate:  03/30/15

Norman’s near death experience and Annika’s murder has him wondering if he’s somehow still responsible.  Norma tries to unlock Annika’s files while Sheriff Romero tries to find the link to the Arcanum Club.  As Norma and Dylan worry about Norman and the increasing problems surrounding the flashdrive, Norman threatens to expose Dylan’s relationship with Caleb.

bates motel season 3 episode 5 the deal romero norma vera farmiga nestor carbonell

“The Deal”

3.5       The Deal Airdate:  04/06/15

Dylan finds Norman has had another incident and as a result didn’t reveal his connection with Caleb.  Norma has a run in with the men searching for the flashdrive while Dylan’s friend Gunner (Keenan Tracey) discovers the contents of the drive.  Caleb is given an offer he might not be able to turn down while Norma goes to Romero with her own deal to save the hotel.

bates motel season 3 episode 6 norma louise vera farmiga

“Norma Louise”

3.6       Norma Louise Airdate:  04/13/15

Feeling her world is collapsing with the return of Caleb, Norma goes to Portland in a state.  Romero finds himself a target and makes his move to stop it from happening again.  Norma spends the night with James and confesses her fears about Norman to him.  With fears of Norma not returning, Norman has his biggest break with reality yet…and Dylan learns how sick Norman might be.

bates motel season 3 episode 7 the last supper cast

“The Last Supper”

3.7       The Last Supper Airdate:  04/20/15

Norma has returned to the motel and learns Norman might be getting worse.  Dylan spends time with Emma after taking care of Norman together and learns that there might be a means to save her from her condition.  James’ attempt to talk to Norman leads Norman to an unexpected reaction.  Romero gets into the flashdrive and learns that he has a connection to it.  With Caleb not going anywhere, Norma tries to make the best of things…much to Norman’s anger.

bates motel season 3 episode 8 the pit vera farmiga

“The Pit”

3.8       The Pit Airdate:  04/27/15

Bob works to get the flashdrive from Norma and begins construction of a pool at the Bates Motel despite Norma’s demands to see and approve the plans.  James is taken by Bob for information on Norma which could interest Romero.  Dylan and Caleb make a dangerous trip to Canada in the hopes of getting the money for Emma’s surgery.  As Norman reaches the breaking point, a surprising return to town has the past coming back.

bates motel season 3 episode 9 crazy norman bradley nicola petz freddie highmore


3.9       Crazy Airdate:  05/04/15

Bradley Martin (Nicola Petz) is back and debating trying to return to her life after her faked suicide…leaving Norman in an awkward position.  Norma learns that Bob is holding Norman’s murder of his father over her and that the USB drive could be the only way to stop him…but Romero’s decision to turn it over to the DEA could cause problems for both of them.  Barely surviving their trip to Canada, Caleb makes a final attempt to rectify problems with Dylan and reveals the depth of Norman’s problems to Norma.

bates motel season 3 episode 10 unconscious norman norma freddie highmore vera farmiga


3.10     Unconscious Airdate:  05/11/15

Emma learns that she has the potential to get a lung transplant, but Dylan discovers getting her to take the risk might be difficult.  Romero makes his move on Bob as the DEA closes in.  Norma’s plans to institutionalize Norman are revealed as Norman debates leaving town with Bradley and separating from Norma forever…but Norma might have other ideas.

Related Links:

Bates Motel—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Bates Motel—Season 5 Review and Complete Episode Guide

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Psycho II (1983)

Psycho III (1986)

Psycho IV:  The Beginning (1990)

Psycho (1998)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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