By Dan Snierson
July 25, 2014 at 11:30 PM EDT
  • TV Show

Dylan’s dad/uncle (duncle?) is coming back to Bates Motel… and this time, it’s full-time.

At a Comic-Con panel on Friday for A&E’s suspense thriller and Psycho quasi-prequel, it was announced that Kenny Johnson would return to the show in a big way, joining the cast as a series regular in season 3. Best known for his dirty work on The Shield and Sons of Anarchy, Johnson guest-starred in two episodes last season as Caleb, the mysterious estranged brother of Norma (Vera Farmiga)—whom she says raped her and impregnated her with Dylan (Max Thieriot). “When Kenny Johnson came on the show last year, the writers and the actors fell in love with his character, even though his character was kind of gnarly,” executive producer Carlton Cuse tells EW. “He added this cool but also incredibly creepy element to the show… Kerry and I felt like once we wrote him in and wrote him out, we didn’t have enough. We underestimated what we could get out of that character, so this season is about rectifying that.”

The enigmatic nature of Caleb and his dark past with Norma will mean plenty of fertile (and surprising) territory to explore in upcoming episodes, according to Cuse. “There’s a lot that’s going on with Caleb that was up in the air,” he notes. “No one was really very clear about who’s telling the truth—Caleb or Norma—and this guy is both Dylan’s father and uncle. To say that there’s a lot of unresolved issues is kind of an understatement. So our goal is to really dig deeper into those relationships, and we have a real cool plan for what we’re going to do with the character this year… There’s a lot more to him than what you might imagine at first blush. He will defy your expectations.”

Speaking of expectations, the Bates producers confirmed at the Comic-Con panel that Nicola Peltz—who, as Bradley, was last seen fleeing town after committing a revenge murder—will indeed return in season 3 in a recurring role. “It’s awesome that Nicola has had this incredible feature career develop,” says Cuse of the actress who recently starred in Transformers: Age of Extinction. “Bradley has a special place in Norman’s heart. She’s part of the Bates family and we’re bringing her back because we always planned that there was another chapter for her character.” That chapter won’t begin immediately, though; Bradley re-appears later in the season. “She won’t be around all the time,” says Cuse, “but when she’s around, it will be meaningful.”

Season 3 of Bates is slated to hit the air early next year.

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