Somewhere Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic head is spinning.
In what marks Bates Motel‘s latest and boldest source-material detour to date, Monday’s installment — which served as the conclusion of Rihanna’s two-episode arc as Psycho‘s ill-fated heroine Marion Crane — put a progressive, gender-swapping spin on the film’s legendary shower scene. [SPOILER ALERT] Instead of Marion getting hacked to death in the bathtub, it was her philandering beau Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols) who had a fatal run-in with Norman’s knife. And as an added twist, Norman committed the brutal murder in his street clothes!
Below, exec producers Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse dissect (too soon?) their audacious Psycho homage and also drop hints about how Norman’s bloody bathroom break down will impact the series’ final four episodes.
TVLINE | How many different scenarios were you batting around for the shower scene?
KERRY EHRIN | [Laughs] We talked about that episode for a long time in the writers room. That [represented] a major chunk of time out of our six months together. It was a big responsibility to take an iconic film and use [that sequence] in a way that both honored it but also integrated it into the story we were telling. And the idea of the person in the shower being Sam and being a type of a metaphor for Norman’s own father who was violent and who had really started all of Norman’s problems seemed so fitting to the story we were telling.
CARLTON CUSE | We did not want to just do what the movie did. And we didn’t feel like Marion would come across as a particularly empowered character if she was murdered in the shower. We wanted her to be a fundamentally stronger, more decisive character.
EHRIN | A survivor in the true sense.
TVLINE | Were you throwing a little shade at the original Psycho in terms of its portrayal of Marion?
CUSE | We were definitely not throwing shade at it. That movie was light years ahead of its time in 1960. That type of portrayal was appropriate for 1960, but not for 2017. The movie has to be judged in the context of the time in which it was made. And when it was made it was radical [in how it broke] the narrative rules. To have this character who appears to be the lead [of the film] die in the first act was just an amazing idea.
EHRIN | But it was a portrayal of a woman created in a world of men.
TVLINE | Why wasn’t Norman in drag when he killed Sam?
EHRIN | It was a very specific choice to make that killing about his clarity of who he is as opposed to being lost inside of Mother. The whole buildup of the two episodes is about him gaining to an understanding of what’s going on inside of him. In the most basic terms of therapy, when you [begin] to understand what’s going on inside of you, you can start to have the power to change certain behaviors. Norman trying to get Marion to leave the hotel is part of that. It’s part of him trying to overcome that. But when Mother lays that information on him in the office [about his father] it’s so overwhelming and it pushes him so far back into his own brain and his own craziness that he becomes a child again. And Sam represents his father.
CUSE | We have been very conscious of Norman’s culpability for all the acts of violence that he committed over the five seasons. This turn represented a significant advancement. He was not in drag [because] he’s conscious of his act of violence. And even though Sam is a [jerk] he doesn’t deserve to be murdered. And Norman’s conscious awareness of that is a hugely catalytic event that leads into how we plan to end the series.
EHRIN | It’s like a birth for Norman because it’s him trying to kill the source of his illness.
TVLINE | How did you go about selecting “Crying” as the shower scene’s quasi theme song?
EHRIN | We tried a lot of different things. And [this one] brought tears to my eyes. It seemed so incredibly appropriate. It was just poignant as s–t as opposed to just being horror. It was about what Norman was going through and the tragedy of his life and what it had led him to.
Launch Gallery: <i>Bates Motel</i> Season 5 Photos