‘Bates Motel’ Recap: Did Rihanna Survive Her Visit? (SPOILERS)

Bates Motel Rihanna
Courtesy A&E Networks LLC

Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched episode 6 of season 5 of “Bates Motel,” titled “Marion.”

That famous shower. The soaring music. The water swirling down the drain.

And then…. “Screw this s–t.”

With those three words, Rihanna’s Marion Crane upended the storied “Psycho” mythology — and got out of that famous “Bates Motel” shower with nary a scratch. “It always made me laugh in editing every single time,” says executive producer Kerry Ehrin.

Instead, the victim at the other end of Norman Bates’ (Freddie Highmore) bloody knife turned out to be Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols) — unrepentant philanderer and psychological substitute for Norman’s father, who we learned that yes, Norman did in fact kill.

When Marion finally finds out from Norman that the man she thought was her boyfriend actually has a wife, she escapes from him — and the murderous motel-owner — with her suitcase full of cash, leaving Sam to face the ultimate punishment in her place.

“Oh, Mother,” cries out Norman. “What have I done?”

Here, Ehrin and executive producer Carlton Cuse answer that question — and preview what’s ahead for the rest of the A&E drama’s final season.

Was it always your intention not to have Marion die?

Ehrin: No, we worked a long time on those two episodes and breaking that story. We tried out every possible scenario. We landed on the one that got us the most excited in the room and had the most impact, and both honored “Psycho” and pushed the story we were telling in “Bates Motel.” It’s telling the story of Norman and what’s going on inside of him and pushed it to a great place by having him kill Sam, who in many ways is a psychological stand-in for his own father.

Cuse: There was no way to redefine Marion Crane as a modern empowered woman if we killed her in the shower.

So has Marion escaped safely? Have we seen the last of her?

Ehrin: Yes, we have.

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Bates Motel Rihanna Freddie Highmore

‘Bates Motel’: Rihanna Makes Her Debut as Marion Crane

How much did you want to pay homage to the original, and how much did you want the scene to stand on its own? What instructions did you give to the director? 

Cuse: Phil Abraham made his own decisions. He’s a brilliant visualist. He’s not a only a superb director but he was also the DP for “The Sopranos.” Here’s a guy who really understood camerawork. We gave him latitude to decide to what degree he wanted to imitate the original sequence and to what degree he wanted to embellish and modify. I think he came up with a great balance.

The most striking difference is that it’s in color — which makes the murder really much more graphic and horrific.

Ehrin: That’s absolutely true. In certain respects, it has a reality to it.

It’s certainly real for Norman, who’s the most self-aware he’s ever been about his own state of mind.

Ehrin: Completely more aware. It’s an evolution in the story and in his relationship with Mother. While she’s a person created inside his own brain, it’s a very real relationship. It’s become more of a new deal at the end of (episode) six, a new deal where he’s going to be treated as an adult in the relationship and how that’s going to work out. Can they really trust each other? Is there a still a huge pull of control underneath? That’s part of the story.

Will he be getting more violent now?

Cuse: Yes. I think that the thing about this episode is that it’s very intentional that Norman kills Sam as Norman and not in drag (as Mother). He’s conscious of his action. That represents a real evolution for the character. The character is caught between his increasingly violent tendencies and desires and his own perception of the world spinning out of control. That’s clearly advancing toward a culminating act in the finale. I’m speaking vaguely to not spoil anything, but Norman is definitely progressing towards the end of the season.

Ehrin: He’s running out of places to hide psychologically. He understands now. He gets it. That’s a whole new ball game for him — what that looks like, how he’s going to handle that. what he’s going to want to do with that, good or bad.

And Dylan (Max Theriot) finally now knows that Norma is dead. Will he be coming to town?

Cuse: Dylan definitely is going to be more involved in the story as we go forward for sure.

Will we see more elements of “Psycho” in future episodes?

Cuse: I would say that there’s more of an intentional homage in this storyline than there is anywhere else this season. I’m sure people will read other stuff into it going forward. But we want to tell our story. We don’t want the viewer to be thinking that they’re watching a remake. We want the viewer to be engaged in our story and not be viewing it through the prism of “is this in or out of the movie?” We tried to be pretty discreet about what we borrowed from the original.

And Carlton, how did you enjoy your Hitchcock moment in last week’s episode?

Cuse: It was pretty fun, although slightly complicated by the fact that I wasn’t thinking the situation through. I was going to have to be wearing these trooper sunglasses which meant I had to ditch my prescription glasses. So I was driving that cop car with myopia, trying to hit the mark and not crash into Rihanna and give her whiplash. That’s what was basically going through my mind — and trying to remember my lines. It was a great jolt of terror and adrenaline. It was fun but nerve-wracking.

Any chance we’ll see you again?

Cuse: Finito. No mas. (Laughs.) It was fun to do but it was a little bit like if someone says, “Hey, do you want to shoot around with the Lakers?” It seems really thrilling. but then you get there and it’s massively intimidating. Because the actors are on our show are so good, I don’t want to be responsible for dragging down the median average.

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  1. Rob says:

    I agree with Matt. Purists also thought Hitchcock was nuts in 1960 for killing the antagonist — the major star, no less — halfway thru the film. That decision has driven directors to search for the perfect bait-and-switch since. This group of geniuses set up the Bates Motel audience and pulled it off again. I think Hitchcock would approve.

  2. Lucy D says:

    It was wrong that you took a classic scene from the movie and changed it. I understand that you did not want to make it a remake and there has been other changes throughout the seasons, but this scene was a classic. people who have never seen the movie knows about the shower scene. I feel you cheated us.

  3. stan greene says:

    The ending of Marion…..that was a shocker.

  4. Justin Duarte says:

    I thought the episode was strong, but on a personal level, and as a film purest I find myself very frustrated with the changes made to the Canon Not merely just with letting Marion survive, but with Norman now being the one doing the murdering, and not him acting out as his mother. This clearly changes the entire arc going forward and there’s no possible way for it and remotely similar to the way the filmed did. I genuinely hoped down to my bones that the show would leave gracefully lead into psycho and we would get to see these wonderful actors playing these parts properly. Clearly they could’ve thrown us some curveballs in other ways, but to play with what’s considered one of the most iconic scenes in film history with a character in the show … seems like someone trying to reinvent the wheel when it can’t be improved upon.

  5. Bonnie says:

    Totally agree with Jo Ann West! Left a huge hole of disappointment in the pit of my stomach. After all these years of waiting…..if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In my opinion, you just broke it!

  6. M-Wolverine says:

    Just remembered who pulled the same garbage a little over a week ago- Arrow. Yeah, you’re sooooo smart to change established stuff and think you’ve earned the surprise. You’ve only really accomplished anything if you lay everything out that something is happening that way, but you still can fool the audience, and when they look back, they can go “yeah, it was all there all long, but you got me.” Revealing the sky is red when we all think it’s blue isn’t smart writing.

  7. M-Wolverine says:

    Make it three. The show jumped the shark tonight. When are writers going to realize they’re not being clever when they switch things around. It’s a not a surprise because it was unearned. The equivalent of a jump scare out of nowhere rather than a earned build up of suspense.

    And man, anyone surprised by that must fall for anything. The minute Marion got out of the shower it was obvious they were going to go for the gender bending flip. No matter how many ridiculous hoops they’d have to jump through. (So Sam was locked out of his house without his keys…so where did he get his car keys from? He keeps them separate from his house keys AND leaves them in the car?)

    People who are adapting things, change around the backstory if you like, but if you bother to build up to the actual source material, you need to deliver on the expected money shot. Fans don’t want to get chartered out of iconic moments, they want to see how it got there and be rewarded for all that build up. At least give us the knife strings sound effect!

  8. Matt says:

    I loved it! At first I thought they were going to cop out but then BAM! Right out of left field. For those whining about tonight’s twist, do you really need to see Marion get stabbed AGAIN?! If you want a rehash of Psycho go watch the 1998 remake, from the start Bates Motel has been about updating and reinterpreting Norman’s story while paying homage to the original and tonight’s episode was no exception. Excellent.

  9. B says:

    Totally agree with you Jo Ann West.

  10. Jo Ann West says:

    I love this show but tonight’s episode ruined it for me. The most important seen, the climax of Psycho, the seen that, I, and I’m sure many others, have waited 5 years for, is never going to happen! Marion’s’ sister and boyfriend are never going to come looking for her! I am so very, utterly disappointed!

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