Warning! Huge Bates Motel spoilers past this point! Read at your own risk!
It will never not be crazy to me that Rihanna was on Bates Motel. One of the biggest celebrities in the world appeared on a well-liked but modest, not particularly buzzy cable drama. It's like if Beyoncé was on Vikings. The show's producers found out she was a fan and took a swing at offering her the part of Marion Crane, the iconic murder victim from the movie Psycho, which serves as the source material for Bates Motel. She accepted because she does what she wants. And then we got two immensely satisfying episodes out of it.
The second episode of her two-episode arc aired Monday night. She looked incredible and her acting was good enough. But the episode's big surprise was that she didn't die. Bates Motel did a really clever twist on Psycho's famous shower scene, having a man died instead of a woman.
Marion arrived at Bates Motel with a suitcase full of stolen cash with the intention of having her boyfriend Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols) meet her there. Sam, though, was with his wife Madeleine (Isabelle McNally), whom Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) fancies, and wouldn't leave to meet his mistress. Marion and Norman bonded over their history of parental trauma, and then Marion took a shower while Norman watched through a hole in the wall. In a cute wink, she said, "I'm not doing this" and got out of the shower. She meant that she wasn't going to wait around for this man to show up, but to viewers it signaled that this wasn't going to be the expected Psycho story.
She went to Norman, who told her that Sam is married and gave her his address. She went and smashed his car with a baseball bat, then went back to the motel to collect her things. Norman, sensing that his attraction to her was going to summon his mother's wrath, which would lead to something terrible happening, told her to run away and start a new life. So instead of getting killed by Norman Bates in the shower, she drove off into the night.
Then Sam finally showed up to talk to her and found her gone. He decided to wait for her by taking a shower to gather his bearings for a minute as his life fell apart, and then Norman came in — as himself, not disassociated as Norma (Vera Farmiga) — and stabbed the terrible two-timer to death in the shower.
Fans on Twitter were loving the twist.
OMFG BATES MOTEL RECREATED THE PSYCHO SCENE BUT NOT WITH RIHANNA AS MARION CRANE THEY ARE SO ICONIC— childish carrino (@carrieevasquez) March 28, 2017
They went for the man in the shower stabbing death! 😵😵😵 Good! We didn't want to see Rihanna chopped up like that. #BatesMotel— Wayne Pittman, Jr. (@Sony12Play) March 28, 2017
It was really fun to watch people prepare themselves to see Rihanna get murdered and then realize it wasn't going to happen.
And then see their satisfaction when skeezy Sam took her place and got his comeuppance. Austin Nichols played a similarly cowardly character on The Walking Dead named Spencer, who got dumped and then got knifed, so it was a sort of funny coincidence to watch him go through it again here.
The episode also was very important for Norman, as he finally came to terms with the fact that when he sees his mother, it's his mind dissociating so he can cope with pain of his horrible childhood that would be too overwhelming otherwise. She — actually his own mind taking the form of his dead mother — told him that now that he knows, he has to feel the pain and know who he is and what he does. And so Sam, standing in for Norman's father, becomes Norman's first victim when Norman knows what he's doing. Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga continued their consistently excellent work this episode.
The murder wasn't just a tribute to Psycho; it was a hugely significant character moment that will carry Bates Motel through its series finale in a few weeks.
And finally, the episode was an origin story for the woman who would go on to make world-conquering songs like "Bitch Better Have My Money."
#BatesMotel *Marion drives into the night* And that, kids, is how we got pop star Rihanna— 📺 Michael 👀 (@michaelcollado) March 28, 2017
Bates Motel airs Mondays at 10/9c on AMC.