For three seasons, Bates Motel fans have watched Norman Bates’ slow descent into psychosis. But when the A&E drama returns March 7, the character will chart some disturbing new depths, at least when it comes to his tendency to inhabit the character of “Mother.” For the first time, he’s dressing like his mother with his mother, their matching robes a sign that the lines between real life and Norman’s fractured psyche are blurring. EW has an exclusive first look at the moment.
“That image of them looking at their reflections, I think what she sees is that her dreams have indeed become a nightmare,” says actress Vera Farmiga, adding that Norma’s fear of her son is going to spur her into action this season and cause her to realize that, “Maybe the truth is that Norman is an actual impediment to her happiness.
“The only reason she is not achieving her goals is looking back at her,” Farmiga says of the photo. “I think that she realizes there are only a couple mistakes that one can make along the road to truth: Not starting, and not going all the way. I think she’s going to go all the way.”
Of course, Norman is seeing something entirely different, which is another theme of the season. “This season you’re really going to see that they totally are in disagreement in terms of what the truth of the matter is,” Farmiga says. ”I think Norman perceives it in a very different way. What’s so fascinating to watch about them is this enormous push and pull of a love affair that they have as mother and son.”
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And for Norma, she has to learn that “the truth may hurt for a little while whereas lies hurt her forever,” Farmiga says. “Above all this season I think what’s going to be different about her is that she’s going to be doing what she knows to be right instead of what she’s convinced herself to be right.” After all, there’s a “price that we all pay for keeping secrets,” she says.
For the first time, fans could see Norma putting herself before her son. “For Norma, this year is really about loving herself enough to do everything it takes for her to achieve integrity,” Farmiga says. “There’s going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of libido, a lot of strife. She’s whipping herself into a new gear this year and it’s going to be very exciting to watch. I’m so delighted to present this season to the fans. I think it’s going to be a big one.”
Additionally, EW has an exclusive first look promo of the season, complete with Norman warning his mother that she “should be scared.” Check it out above.
Bates Motel premieres Monday, March 7 at 9 p.m. ET on A&E.
A version of this story appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1403-1404, on newsstands now or available digitally here.