Prologue: A Timeline
In December 1959, Norman Bates became the most infamous resident of Fairvale, California. His murder of Marion Crane led to the discovery that the deaths of Norman’s mother and her boyfriend the decade earlier were a double homicide instead of a murder-suicide. Norman was also connected to two other murders within the decade between his mother’s death and Marion’s.
Shortly afterward, during the trial, Norman was found not guilty of Marion’s murder due to mental illness. Norman had developed a second personality, that of his mother, after that first murder, and had committed the subsequent murders in the second personality.
In 1960, filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock directed a biopic of Norman, Marion, and the murder, based on the writings of Robert Bloch.
In 1982, Norman Bates would be released from the mental hospital where he’d been treated for the last 22 years. This would trigger two sets of events: Lila Loomis, the sister of Marion Crane, and Lila’s daughter, Mary, conspiring to convince Norman he’s resumed killing with his mother’s personality; and Emma Spool, a local waitress, committing murders in order to protect Norman.
Until late in this series of murders, with the exception of the murder of Mrs. Loomis by Ms. Spool, it was unclear which murders were committed by which woman.
One such murder was that of Warren Toomey, the sleazy manager of the motel Norman once owned, having reopened it two years prior to Norman’s release from the hospital, as a more adult-friendly motel.
Upon discovering that Emma Spool was the sister of Norman’s mother, and that she believed herself to be Norman’s birth mother, Norman killed Ms. Spool, preserved her body as he’d once done with Mrs. Bates’, and developed another personality of his “Real Mother.”
For the rest of that summer, Norman closed the motel in order to renovate it into something more like he’d remembered from when he’d originally run it.
Early that fall, the Bates Motel was reopened.
And the reopening of the motel would be Norman’s second downfall.
A nun named Maureen Coyle, who was kicked out of a nearby convent after killing her Mother Superior during a failed suicide attempt, ended up at the motel. She was closely followed by aspiring musician Duane Duke.
Around this time, Norman began killing again under his “mother” personality. The final two deaths would be Maureen, who’d become a potential love interest, and Duke, who’d come close to exposing Emma’s mummy to the world.
A local reporter called Tracy Venable discovered that, while Emma Spool was Norma Bates’ sister, she was never Norman’s mother. She’d killed Norman’s father in a fit of jealousy because she’d been upset that he’d married Norma, before trying to kidnap Norman to raise as the son she’d imagined she’d had with his father. She’d been released from a different mental hospital a matter of months before Norman.
Tracy also discovered a shrine Norman had set up for Maureen. Norman was re-arrested and sent back to another mental hospital.
Two more biopics about Norman, regarding the events of the summer and fall of 1982, were released: One in 1983, and the other in 1986.
In 1990, a made-for-TV special was released. It was written by Joseph Stefano, the man who’d penned the original biopic.
While it’s true that in 1989, shortly before the TV movie was released, Norman was released from the hospital again, and had gotten married, what had happened in this final film was greatly sensationalized by Stefano in order to include plot points he’d wanted to include in the original (only to be rejected by Alfred Hitchcock because they didn’t quite fit the story).
Norman’s wife, Connie, wasn’t actually his doctor who’d entered an unethical relationship with a patient. Connie was someone Norman had met through church after leaving the Fairvale area post-rerelease. While she had gotten pregnant after birth control failed, it was never an intentional plan from Connie to have a child that Norman didn’t want to risk inheriting a genetic predisposition to mental illness. In fact, the child (who’d been implied to have been born at the end of the movie) had actually been miscarried, and the strain eventually drove Norman and Connie to divorce.
The prominent flashback moments in the 1990 movie, ones that Joseph Stefano wanted to include in the 1960 movie, weren’t completely the result of mental illness-related unreliable narrator issues. They were just sensationalized interpretations of how Norman killed his mother and her boyfriend in the late 1940s and two more women in the 1950s (though Norman’s mental health was a factor, it was highly overexaggerated by Stefano).
While Norman did actually burn down the Bates Motel and his childhood home behind it, he never intended to kill Connie there as well. They went their separate ways post-miscarriage and divorce.
And so, it sat there until 2018. The daughter of Norman’s former sister-in-law, Connie’s niece, found the motel and decided to get a few friends together to live in the home behind it and reopen the motel itself. It took over a year, nearly two years, for everything to be rebuilt...