This review contains spoilers.
1.17 Partners in Crime
We knew this episode would be focus on Tess and oh man, did it deliver. Nina Lisandrello knocked the ball out of the park with her performance. The show had a chance to expand Tess’ character, and seized it on almost every possible level.
Two scenes stuck out for me. First was Tess and Vincent talking to each other. It never occurred to me that the two of them would have a face-to-face scene like that, but once it was happening it was so sublime I couldn’t look away.
Jay Ryan was so vulnerable and heartbreaking in his exchange with Nina Lisandrello. Everything that comes out of his mouth is so earnest and desperately sincere. Tess never let her guard drop for a second but Vincent’s walls had never been lower: how much he loves Cat, how he lost his family, how much he wanted to help but was at a total loss… In an ace move, Tess used that to get away, or at least try. She’s a cop through and through. She uses what she has, in this case Vincent’s sympathy and desire to get Cat the support and friend she wants, to escape. It have worked if he weren’t a supersoldier. When Vincent lets her go it shows us even more of how squishy he is inside, even if Tess can’t see it yet.
Tess couldn’t see it because she refuses to ignore the pesky little fact that Vincent is technically a serial killer. As much as Tess loves Catherine, she doesn’t let that get in the way. She can’t because Tess Vargas is first and foremost a good cop and we see it over and over in this episode. She loves her friends and her job, is smart, works hard, and makes mistakes (looking at you Joe). Above all, Tess believes in what she does which is upholding the law.
The law says that Vincent is a criminal, therefore he needs to be tried in the courts. Tess’ relationships have nothing to do with that, right up until Vincent proves himself to Tess in a cliched, literal life-or-death situation. Tess had to be at death’s door. Vincent had to be the one to rescue her. Otherwise, they would never have made the transition to allies. Tess’s behaviour all season has shown that nothing less would change her mind.
So was the scene with the near-drowning and rescue predictable? Oh yeah. However, it was also truly necessary for the story they wanted to tell so it gets a pass just this once. Don’t pull a blatant cliche like that again, show. Your viewers can see what you’re doing, and personally I’m only letting it side because this episode was so excellent in almost every other way.
Speaking of excellence, this instalment focused on our main female friendship. I prayed they would, and the TV gods answered me with the confrontation between Catherine and Tess on the street. One of the reasons I wanted to review this show back before the pilot was because this is the first time a show had two female police partners as leads since Cagney and Lacey. I checked. Tess and Cat are the first in over twenty years. That matters. The fact that these two women have a eight-plus-year friendship and partnership that is broken by more than just a boyfriend (which is a typical on-screen reason) matters too.
The great thing that Beauty and the Beast did with this episode is it took the tired ‘boyfriend’ catalyst, turned it on its head, and used it as a spring board for issues that have nothing to do with him in my second favourite scene. The real fight was about ideological differences between Cat and Tess and the change in Catherine’s behavior in towards other people and her job. Their dispute is because of dishonesty, treatment of the justice system, and general betrayal on top of plain old-fashioned not being there for your friends. Scenes like that between two women in a TV landscape dominated by men are shockingly rare.
Even more rare? Both parties owning their mistakes. Catherine admits she was lying and hiding and she apologizes. She uses Vincent’s situation as an explanation but never as an excuse. Later, after things settle down, Tess apologizes for saying “I’m sleeping with my married boss” so who is she to judge. I’m not sure it’s the same but thank you for saying it, Tess. I like you even more knowing that you’re aware of your own failings. Isn’t it great how many characters act like adults on this show?
JT was a little shining star in this episode. His little “what?” hand gesture after shooting Tess with the tranquilizer and his gang sign for “M” added muted humor to scenes without overwhelming them. I really enjoyed the scene where he and Cat “met” each other at the station. A loyal JT, the one who tries to be Evan’s friend and protect Vincent at once, was something I enjoyed even more. Rounded out, human JT is so much more enjoyable that Catskills comedian JT.
Speaking of people who need to stay human: Evan the decent guy, what happened? You were developing a personality all your own with depth and interests, then bam. You spot your crush making out with her genetically modified boyfriend, and crash right back into douchebaggery. I am so disappointed in you, sir. You’re going to ruin everything with your ridiculous jealousy. You’ve proved in past episodes that you’re better than this.
I don’t imagine he’ll get better by next episode if the trailers are any indication. I don’t care too much though because Tess is in Team Vincent now. I dont know if we’re do for any other good news any time sure but at least we should get a bit more Tess Time and that’s a great thing to me.
Read Rachael’s review of the previous episode, Insatiable, here.
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