Saturday, November 3, 2012

Beauty and the Beast, Season 1, Episode 4: Basic Instinct

 We open to another crime – Vincent hearing a heartbeat falter and then stop. This prompts him to launch into a series of random gymnastics. Having shown off for the cameras, he finds the guy in a dumpster, drags him out and performs chest compressions to get his heart pumping again – and hustles him to a hospital where he blurts instructions to someone with a gurney before disappearing into the night – like a much more poorly equipped batman.

Catherine, meanwhile, is failing badly at baseball, which is apparently bad because they’re playing a game against the firemen and winning is Important. She would be good if she could only learn to trust her instincts (pay attention to this clumsily lampshaded message, it’s the episodes theme). Vincent’s also watching the game, because stalking her and randomly appearing any time she happens to be alone is his idea of a good time and totally not creepy, honest. He tells her about the guy he dumped at the hospital because this then magically makes it her case

Tess and Catherin meet at the police station to start with all the preliminaries. The comatose kid is Tommy, he’s 19 and still has his wallet so it’s not a robbery. He has a lot of old, healed injuries that point to long term abuse meaning they cast a suspicious eye at the father. When he arrives they do the suspicious interview but he reveals Tommy had ADHD and before he took his meds he had terrible impulse control leading to him getting into a lot of fights and got into a lot of petty crime, mainly theft. He’s worried Tommy may be off his meds because he has a new Xbox and a really shiny watch.

Case summary with Joe (what does Joe actually do all day?) reveals 3 lines of inquiry: the father who has a reputation for having a short fuse. Tommy to see if he has dipped back into his criminal ways after no longer taking his meds. And a picture in Tommy’s wallet of a pretty girl to see if there’s a relationship problem…

We interrupt this crime investigation for a sinister government agency intervention! JT reminds us (again) that Vincent being in touch with Catherine is putting them all at risk blah blah Muirfield blah blah hide, just copy and paste last week’s warning and lines about ulcers, it hasn’t changed. This sets us up for Catherine to get into a fight with some Muirfield goons and be kidnapped! She’s taken to an ominous warehouse where a Muirfield agent tries to convince her they’re the good guys. His argument is not convincing.

The man tries to convince her that Vincent is a monster, not a person. That he could snap and kill at any time – showing photographs he alleges are from a village destroyed in Afghanistan – it was blown up and set on fire (which is pretty good for a man who becomes bestial and monstrous when he loses control). Catherine tries to pretend not to know what he’s talking about but can only feign it for 5 seconds before slipping. Still, she’s disinclined to be all that trusting of the men who killed her mother. But he shows her another picture of a man called Simon with a pregnant wife who he says Vincent killed. Catherine is disturbed by this totally trustworthy evidence from this totally trustworthy source (got to admire those detective skills). And the Muirfield man asks why would they spend so much money if Vincent wasn’t dangerous (because it’s not like they have a vested interest in covering up their experimenting on soldiers, killing them like animals then faking their own death… right?) There’s some added blatant lies about not hurting Vincent, wanting to fix him (at least she challenges these) and a promise that, if Catherine hands Vincent over, they will give her all the information she wants about her mother – and show a picture of her working in their labs.

She’s released – but with a number to call which will work for 3 days, after that they will reutn to more threats and kidnapping.

In the meantime Vincent has returned to where he found Tommy to look for evidence with his super senses. And he finds a very large watch which he moves so the police searching the scene can find it easier. Uh-huh – a point of note, don’t do this. Where evidence is found can be very important to an investigation and it’s not like the watch was small or not out of place or likely to be missed without Vincent’s super-senses here. The techs would have to have been pretty inept to miss it.

Tess and Evans are trying to discuss the case. Well Evans is, while Tess is worried about Catherine, her running off on her own and being so secretive – she had hoped she was running off for quickies with Evan, but alas not. He points out the strange, circular bruises on Tommy, the cuts on his back that indicate he was dragged and a tox screen that says he was still taking his ADHD medication

Catherine returns to her flat to find her stalker, Vincent there waiting for him. She tells him he was kidnapped and that he has to go. She’s visibly shaken and frightened and tells him that she’s putting him at risk as he always said (finally she gets it!) and the safest thing for her would be if he just left and stayed away. At work, she’s still fixated on Vincent and looks up Simon, one of Vincent’s supposed victims, on the crime computer.

Alas, Tess interrupts with this pesky police case she insists they work on. The watch has been tracked down – it was bought by Lois Whitworth from the Westchester Polo Club and she also runs an organisation that helps rehabilitate troubled youth – and Tommy was one of those troubled youth. Evan also adds in that the soil found on Tommy was unique to Westchester Polo Club. Also a clue fairy came down from  the sky chanting “polo club, polo club polo club” and in his coma-sleep Tommy gasped “west…chest…er…” Beauty and the Beast is not known for its subtle clue presentation. Oh and Catherine missed her baseball practice because she was kidnapped. It matters, apparently.

Enough of this plot interfering with our angst! Back to Vincent who is stressing with JT (well, JT is stressing) about Catherine being kidnapped. JT wants to head for the hills (being sensible and all) but Vincent is determined to stop Muirfield once and for all – to protect Catherine. He goes to watch Catherine practice her baseball and, when she’s alone, he appears (of course… Catherine you’re never alone. Ever. Unless you need to be kidnapped of course). She tells him about the card she has with the phone number and urges him to leave. He wants to know why he can help Tommy but not her, if he leaves they’ll come back and hurt her. He tells her of the plan to stop them and she protests “how by killing more people?” Ummmmm… yes? Muirfield, organisation that has driven him into hiding for years, experimented on him, tried to kill him, killed his friends and now may torture anyone around him so they can put him down. And they’re probably involved in many more nefarious activities. Count me in for team killing and finding Catherine’s accusing moral outrage… dubious.

She then flinches when he tries to touch her. See, she’s not afraid of Murifield, she’s afraid of him! The monster! She asks about Simon and he tells her he was pinning down a woman and he defended her. Catherine is a cop! She puts people like Vincent away, damn it (what, victims of government experiments who are being chased down by hit men and torturers? Wow, that’s a job description for her).

Vincent is rather upset by this and goes back to his warehouse. He fills several phials with his blood and puts them in a beaker filled with ice and a note “proof I existed, take back your lives.” He destroys his cell phone and leaves.

Back to the plot! Tess and Catherine go to the not-obvious Polo Club and find it extremely exclusive and expensive. They also note that the polo-mallet is the exact same shape as the bruises on Tommy (just in case you missed it). They tell Lois Whitworth that they think Tommy was attacked at their club. She confirms that tommy was on the programme and that he finished 6 months ago but was hired afterwards because he did so well. They show her the watch and she recognises it as one she bought for her husband and realises that Tommy may not have rehabilitated as they thought. She also recognises the girl in the picture Tommy had as her daughter, Clarissa – but she wasn’t Tommy’s girlfriend, she has a boyfriend, Sean.

On to Clarissa, and it turns out she gave Tommy the watch – because she loved him (Sean is yesterday’s news), or so she thought. But that changed when she found out that Tommy was doping the horses so he could gamble on the games! He even doped her horse, Whiskers! She kept it really quiet because she feared people would disapprove with rich her and poor, criminal him.

Sean has his own 2 cents to add as both Clarissa’s ex and the chairman of disciplinary committee – he would certainly have been angry with Tommy, but he was leaving to go to Florida anyway – so he didn’t need to.

Far too much plot, time for JT to call Catherine after finding out Vincent has disappeared. They meet up and, looking at the note, they see the blood phials and conclude that this is their contingency plan – should Muirfield come after them they can reveal the truth (eeerrr… Catherine has already checked Vincent’s DNA on 6 cases – scientists look at it and say “huh, corrupted evidence” so I’m not sure how well that will work). From this they decide Vincent has decided to turn himself in… no I don’t know how they came to that conclusion either.

Catherine tells JT about the number on the card – which she no longer has, Vincent sneakily took it from her. But she remembers the agent driving her – he must have left finger prints behind! With them they can run it through the database, find out who he is then track his position with his mobile phone!

INTERJECTION – what? There’s so much wrong with this I’m struggling to decide where to begin. She can do this in 2 days? All of it? And how come last time she tried to check on Muirfield she got her computer wiped, but she can track down their agent’s finger prints and requisition their mobile phone GPS no problem? And where is she even getting the authority to access all this information?

Ok, disbelief SEVERELY suspended. It’s not so much suspended as beaten thoroughly into submission.

Catherine also takes the chance to ask JT if he’s ever been afraid of Vincent. He says no because even though he’s freaked out when Vincent loses it, he knows he’d never hurt him. He just does (this would the instinct theme thing, I think).

Vincent talks to the Muirfield people and agrees to hand himself over so long as they agree to leave Catherine Chandler alone – and he warns them about the contingency plan he set up (couldn’t he set that up anyway and tell them to leave him alone as well?) They assure him she’s safe because he hasn’t even told his bosses about her – after all, it’d look bad that he’d let Vincent’s existence come to the attention of an NYPD detective. (Great, kill them all Vincent, you’re both safe…. Right? Alas no).

With their mystical tracking ability, Catherine and JT arrive to tell Vincent to stop. They fight Muirfield – JT with a baseball bat and Catherine with a gun which she fires from a nice safe distance then runs in and starts wrestling. I suppose because martial arts justify more freaky camera angles than gun fights. Vincent loses it and roars. And roars. And roars some more. No, really – I think these guys were cancelled as soldiers because anyone could pick them off when they decided to pose and roar rather than fight. He throws a gas canister at a guy, it hits him then explodes some distance away from him so we can add dramatic flames to the dramatic roaring. After some more dramatic roaring Vincent leaps (dramatically) over the right to grab the Muirfield man and strangles him unconscious (I think he’s supposed to be dead). Do I sound unimpressed by the fight scene? Yes? Excellent

He tells Catherine to return to her case, he and JT will do the clean up.

Oh yes, the case, remember that? Well Tessa and Evans have done some more checking up and found that the horse Clarissa says was being doped was completely clean. Checking Tommy’s financials shows no large purchases or large sums of money – it’s unlikely he’s been involved in any scam (or if he is, he’s really bad at it).

So time for an interview with Clarissa over her lies. Catherine arrives late but in time for the confrontation. They match the tire tracks of her car with tracks in the alley and point out she lied about the doping. Clarissa claims that Tommy attacked her mother, it was self-defence, after her mother, Lois confronted him about the doping. She just had to keep it quiet for the reputation of the club and the rehabilitation centre. She tries to fall back on Tommy’s record – look what kind of person he is. But it doesn’t wash and Catherine says it sounds like her mother talking, not Clarissa herself. Clarissa folds and tells them her mother must have seen Tommy wearing the watch and realised what was happening – and she asked Clarissa to help move him after she attacked him.

To the polo club! They impound the mallet and inform Lois they’ve checked her financials and she’s completely broke. She was relying on Clarissa marrying the very very rich Sean to pull herself away from bankruptcy. They also found Tommy’s phone in Clarissa’s car with messages telling Clarissa he won’t leave and from Lois arranging the meet him. Yes, she really couldn’t have left more evidence behind

Case is over, time for the baseball game and of course Catherine hits a home run. She trusts her instincts (apparently).

From there its back to the flat where Vincent praises her on home run (“you saw the game?” “oh Catherine I’m always watching you from hiding! MUAHAHAHAHA!”). She talks about how hard the situation is, she’s used to everything being black and white but working with Vincent is so grey (um… no?) She has trouble with the things he’s done (me too, the rampaging vigilante! Oh, you mean all the murders he’s supposed to have done but you still haven’t really shown us?) but she knows he can’t control it (though we have seen him control it every time) and he has a good heart. Vincent tells her he gave himself up because he didn’t want her and JT to be collateral damage (did you really have to underline this? It was pretty clear). And back to the instinct thing – like JT she has a gut feeling that Vincent would never hurt her.

So, I think I’ve noticed a trend. Beauty and the Beast likes “themes”. Last episode it did this with clumsy voice overs. This episode we had the baseball game with its rather dubious “trust your instincts” and “don’t over think it” vague messages. And like last week that was pretty much not covered at all during the episode, but since we returned to it at the end, I assume it was this show’s message – because

But the conflict is so… ridiculous here. She’s seriously considering handing over a living victim to torture and death because they give her information on her dead mother? Wow, really? And the whole idea that she is suddenly afraid of Vincent because of what the guy who has EVERY REASON TO LIE TO HER has said (wow, and she’s a detective?!) is ludicrous! She’s talked Vincent down from his rages on several occasions so it’s not like all this is a shock to her – or that she hasn’t seen that he has GAINED control.

The only bad thing she KNOWS Vincent has done is kill this Simon fellow – a man Vincent describes as having pinned a woman to the floor. Was he involved in crimes in Afghanistan? All she has is the word of a man who, again, has every reason to lie to her – and then isn’t the blame on the commanders and the people who did this in the first place? Her “deal” with Muirfield has no sense of accountability to it.

On a stylistic point – the action scenes in Beauty and the Beast are awful. I can’t tell if they are well choreographed or not because the minute something happens the camera man seems to have a seizure. Is this an attempt at art or is he just really excitable? Camera shake, rapidly changing angles and perspectives – it’s jarring and looks awful.

Maybe it’s because the show hasn’t engaged me so I’m more inclined to pick at flaws, but I feel there are a few plot holes creeping in that’s making it a bit shaky.