This review contains spoilers.
I’ll be honest, I handwaved most of the first half of this episode. Not because it wasn’t good. It was! I have a word limit and all the good stuff happened in the back thirty so I’m going to use all my words there instead. Mostly, Cat’s plans for how to get Vincent’s memory back – although amnesia standbys (I mentioned that I’m not a fan of that trope last time) – were valid. However, the ideas were nothing compared to the execution which I think sums up this whole show.
Exposition is not the strength of Beauty and the Beast. It’s just not. English classes teach ‘show, don’t tell’ for a reason. We mostly are told what Muirfield/FBI/Cat’s sperm-donor (fathers raise you) are doing so it’s not so impactful. On the other hand, the things we see in action are the masterful moments that linger after they end. Example: the sweet trigger-y rooftop picnic. It sounds pretty basic, yet to watch it devolve from intimate encounter into absolute failure right before our eyes complete with a leap off a roof, elevated the concept from trite to intriguing. Segueing from the picnic we witnessed, to the car chase to Rikers’, to Catherine tied up on a boat seemed effortless.
Such simplicity put into action set off the chain reaction that led to my favorite thing about this episode – more than the delicious kisses or the ridiculousness of the chases or the frankly hilarious moment when Vincent pulls Catherine to him by the chair. Nay, the greatest thing about this episode is that after over a season, we are solidifying what they called over in the Buffyverse a Scooby Gang. Cutting Joe out is one of the smartest editing choices they’ve made (sorry Joe fans but it’s true) because his absence left a network of people bound together by a shared secret all working together for a common goal. Where the first season had a ‘You and me against the world’ feel to it – now there is a unit that gets more solid with each scene. Very few interactions that were wasted tonight, a difficult thing to achieve.
This episode in particular has proven that’s not the case because Tess and Gabe is one connection, then Cat and JT, Gabe and Cat, Cat and JT, Tess and Cat, and even JT and Gabe are another connection in the latticework of threads that tie these dynamically different people together with Vincent at the centre. The chase scene, all five parties tripping over each others’ relationships – via conversations, often literally – showed the attempts to straighten out the threads and untangle the knots into something that can work as an effective safety net for all of them rather than just one more web for their lives and careers to get caught in.
That said, I am not at all sad that Cat got away from her helpers and ended up on the SS HottieBeast. I talked last week about Muirfield wiping away things that went beyond memories – impulses and desires that seemed DNA-ingrained, like sexuality. This episode brought it up again. He doesn’t know what kind of food he likes. Really? Your taste buds are hardwired to your brain. What did Cat’s sperm-donor do to him?
I admire soldier Vincent a little bit more for tying her back to the chair after what seemed like bangin’ sex. “You can’t just leave me here. What if I have to pee?” was the best line of an episode full of great lines. She also made an excellent point that I always wonder about when you see a tied-up hostage.
I said it in other reviews last season and I’ll say here, Beauty and the Beast is one of the shining stars of multicultural and female representation on television and the above scene is why. She just slept with Vince, whom she loves, but when he ties her up, she still puts up a fight and even knocks herself over trying to get out. Gabe Lowen, played by Indian-American actor Sendhil Ramamurthy, finds her that way and not for a moment does she seem any less kick ass. If anything, it goes a step farther to build those ties I mentioned. The show is set in New York City, the most diverse city in the country – debatably the world – and unlike many cop casts, the Beauty Scoobies (™ Rachael Kates) actually *gasp* reflect that diversity with career cops who feel they can have both their softer sides of more traditional femininity while also being Xena-style ‘Strong Police Women’ along with a cast that simply has higher number of people of color than Wonderbread white boys, all of whom keep from falling into stereotype potholes that would be easy to trip into.
That responsible writing helps me swallow ridiculous things like Cat and Gabe’s foray into an exclusive underground nightclub where Gabe is apparently well known and provides me with my second favorite line of the night. “In my former life, I used to be cool.” What former life, pray tell? The one where you turned into a rabid monster if you didn’t take your pills? Did vitamins MDMA, THC and E help suppress your beastliness? Colour me skeptical on that one, even if you did do your best with the cartel girl which was sadly not good enough.
All in all, despite imperfections, this episode makes me want to climb on a table and shout “I love everyone in this bar!” I have no idea what happened over the hiatus but the writing got so much better over summer vacation! Whatever you guys are doing differently from last season, continue to do it – your viewers are already grateful and I bet your actors are too.
Read Rachael’s review of the previous episode, Who Am I?, here.
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