Comic-Con: 'Bates Motel' Brings Norma's Brother Back as 'Dark Presence' Looms

Kenny Johnson Headshot - P 2014
AP Images

Kenny Johnson Headshot - P 2014

A&E's dark and twisty Bates Motel is upping the family drama in season three.

The Psycho prequel series will bring back Kenny Johnson to reprise his role as Norma's (Vera Farmiga) brother — and Dylan's (Max Thieriot) father — for its upcoming season as a series regular, with the actor making a surprise appearance during the show's Comic-Con panel on Friday.

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"There's a great deal of unfinished story in the relationship of Caleb to the Bates family," says co-showrunner Kerry Ehrin of his relationship with Norma. "You can't just sweep something like their twisted history under a rug and hope it will go away. You can be sure when he reappears in their lives it will test the boundaries of everything Norma and Dylan have worked so hard for."

While season two saw Dylan learn of his shocking parentage — Norma was raped by her brother — season three will see the eldest of Norma's sons focus more on achieving his own dreams, with Caleb potentially becoming an obstacle on his path.

"The dark presence of Caleb will be a fascinating story of Dylan caught between what he knows about Caleb and a longing that any person would have to know their own father. But knowing Caleb is a dangerous venture," Ehrin says, adding that Caleb's return will also create a source of conflict for Norman (Freddie Highmore). "Norman's main emotional duty, in every instinct in his body, is to make sure his mother is happy. Given that, it's a complicated and fascinating journey for Norman to accept Caleb at all, in any fashion, let alone look to him as a father figure. But the lure of a father, even a father figure, is a powerful thing."

On a larger scale, season three will see each character wage the age-old internal battle of good vs. evil. Norman will struggle with, to use a Dexter reference, his "dark passenger."

"Norman's consciousness of who he really is will continue to emerge," Ehrin says. "He will change in the way that any decent person must change in order to overcome a horrible truth they have discovered in their own life — he will try to fight it and in fighting it he will grow up, he will become more complicated, he will struggle and he will be tested. This season has really been fascinating to work on because it is dealing with so much of Norman's psychological relationship with Norma — him having little glimpses of beginning to understand what's underneath. It's amazing territory and so exciting to unfold."

Meanwhile, Norma will explore what lengths she'll go to in order to keep her son safe. Dylan will wonder where he falls if his father is a horrible person. And Romero (Nestor Carbonell) will see his deceit and depravity go public as some of his own history is finally revealed.

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