Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beauty and the Beast, Season 1, Episode 5: Saturn Returns

Vincent is all energised and excited because he’s seen Catherine – who makes him feel like he has a life again (awwwww. That would be the adrenaline spikes caused by her constantly putting you, her and JT at risk). JT pours a big dollop of reality onto his squee and insists on accompanying him on his walk also taking the time to talk about his issues and whether he’s misreading the signs of a woman he wants to ask out (I actually really like this – it’s rare to have side characters ever talk about their issues and it tends to make friendships look horribly exploitative and one sided).  Vincent is distracted by his super-hearing picking up an armed robbery which, of course, he has to go stop by throwing the robber into a fridge. Nice – unfortunately he was caught on CCTV which is probably going to be a lot less nice.

Catherine goes through her morning routine, dodging her nosy sister Heather’s questions – and it’s Catherine’s birthday! Which she doesn’t celebrate, so in the tradition of every piece of fiction ever written, heather is throwing a surprise birthday party for her.

To work, to see Tess (who makes a gentle, but still pointed comment with regards to her mood swings) and we get the case of the week – Michael Walters and his missing fiancée Amy. For 3 hours. He came home and found her engagement ring on the table, the wardrobe door open and Amy missing. Tess carefully tells him that she may have left him. He reacts as expected and Catherine agrees to look at the apartment – she calls it heartbreaking, Tess calls it pathetic. (Sorry, don’t buy it – Catherine has been a police detective in New York for years, this lack of cynicism is questionable).

Catherine spots a photo of Vincent’s vigilantism and recognises him from his coat – she quickly runs to the warehouse to confront him! How could he be so reckless, his coat could be recognised (unlike the cop who REPEATEDLY goes to this supposedly abandoned warehouse during work hours, the same cop who has checked out his unit on the internet, the same cop who rand his DNA through the database 6 times – that’s  totally not suspicious). JT is quick to join in condemning the recklessness. Catherine plans to check the CCTV to see if there was more identifiable scenes on the tape and JT  plans to beef up security (which involves stealing things from the university campus. Catherine “I didn’t hear that”. JT: “I didn’t say it.” Hey they may get a rapport going).  Catherine and Vincent discuss her birthday angst and how hard she’s finding life constantly having to lie to people she cares about.

Following their promise to Michael, Tess and Catherine go to his huge apartment to investigate Amy’s disappearance. What strikes Catherine is that the apartment is clean, impersonal and has no sign that Amy (or any woman) ever lived there. Michael says he has nothing with Amy’s name on it and Catherine finds a huge container of bleach in the bathroom and a long hair under the plughole. In the closet Tess finds a lot of empty coat hangers – and blood on the light switch.

At work they present the evidence to Joe and suggest Michael’s killed Amy and then gone to the police to divert suspicion. He gives them the ok to start digging quietly while he sets undercover cops watching Michael (and Tess puts in another quiet dig about the secrets Catherine’s keeping from her).To Evan where they get a DNA match between the hair and the blood and smudged fingerprints from the newspaper. And she gets to taunt Evan about the online dating site on his computer (and call his accent sexy).

Catherine also checks the CCTV of Vincent’s vigilantism (just in case any agencies watching her haven’t noticed her interest) and find the tape has no identifying images – she reports the good news to Vincent (in person, of course) and finds more security but also calls the warehouse a refuge since it’s a place where she doesn’t have to lie. Rather than spend her birthday alone, he invites her to spend the night watching movies and eating pizza. She accepts and notices something about the warehouse – it has no personal objects. Because Vincent and JT may have to leave at any time, they don’t have things that matter to them left out that may take time to pack or would end up being left behind.

She goes to Tess and applies this to Amy – that she disappeared in 20 minutes because she was ready to do so. Evan adds his input – Amy doesn’t exist. But her prints come back for a woman named Lilly – who has a driving license and nothing else, no other records. Which is when Joe comes in to take them aside – to meet Marshal Gibson, Amy’s handler. Amy/Lilly was in witness protection after having witnessed her parents being murdered. She saw her engagement photo in the paper and ran, fearing her identity may have been exposed.

Case finished, Tessa tries to subtly take Catherine to her surprise party – which runs aground on Tessa’s terrible acting skills. Eventually resulting in a “it’s at 9:00, act surprised.”

JT, meanwhile, is on the road of romance. While raiding the university for supplies, he’s approached by Sarah, the object of his affections. Who, after waiting for him to make a move at some point has finally decided to ask him out for coffee. And he runs away.

Back with Vincent, JT elaborates as to why, and what it was like for him being where Catherine is now. You have a secret and you continually have to lie to your family and friends, you continually have to make excuses and dodge. In the end, it was easier to leave family and friends behind than try to maintain both. And if he brings in Sarah then he will put her in the same situation he was in – having to lie, having to hide. This means when Catherine goes to Vincent to tell him she’s going to be late for their pizza date, Vincent is angsting over what he did to JT’s life and worried about doing the same thing to Catherine.

Party time! Actually the party is pretty awesome. Tessa, Heather and Catherine get to snark about Evan’s new girlfriend and play with a rather original feature – a photo booth. And Evan kisses Catherine in the photo booth (Drama! We totally didn’t see this coming honest). And it’s witnessed by poor Vincent watching from the window – awww, like he doesn’t have enough angst fuel. He goes home and pouts – and seems to have some beast issues.

Meanwhile Marshal Gibson goes to see Michael to explain where his fiancée is gone.  And then we cut to a crime scene – Tessa and Catherine arriving at Michael’s flat, Michael is missing and there’s signs of a struggle.  Joe tells them that when he called Witness Protection to check the Marshall’s credentials (my gods he actually did! That’s a first on these kinds of programmes! Normally a flash of a badge and a smile is enough to trust anyone!) his phone was hijacked and he was actually speaking to someone in Jersey.  And the real Marshall Gibson’s body just washed up on shore. The Marshall they saw? Is James Mason – the man who killed Amy/Lilly’s parents and who she is testifying against. Catherine, with all her experience of people on the run (and by applying common sense) realises Mason has taken Michael to try and find where Amy/Lilly is and adds that, like Vincent, Lilly should have a safe haven, somewhere she runs to when she feels scared. Following her history of camping as a child and some credit card activity she’s done to try and send Michael a message (again, extrapolated by Catherine) of her whereabouts they get a location.

Catherine catches up with Amy and they have a talk – about dragging loved ones into your life on the run, how it puts them at risk, how it’s a terrible situation to put them in, crossed with them being the ones to make that choice, how they may want to join you on the run if they care and could they be any less subtle in drawing the comparisons? Really? Nuanced, this show is not.

This is when Mason, with Michael tied up in his car, catches up with them. Time for the fight scene in which Catherine takes him down most satisfactorily. Amy and Michael get to reunite and she can come out of hiding since the got the guy (and, in case you missed the subtlety of the last scene, he tells her it should have been his choice whether to follow her on the run)

Time for Catherine to go see Vincent and treble the lesson. Her birthday was awful – she was surrounded by friends and loved ones who don’t even know her any more. She constantly lies to them and hides from them. Vincent says he can’t ask her to be in his life and she says he doesn’t have to – and she wants him to come to dinner at her house so she can just spend some time with someone she doesn’t have to lie to or hide from or constantly watch what she says around. She doesn’t want a normal life, she chooses what she wants – so the invite stands.

Time for the wrap up – set the music going. Catherine prepares dinner, JT sees Sarah and approaches her, making up for running, Vincent gets his coat and begins to walk to Catherine’s – but on the way he has a sudden headache and collapses. CLIFF HANGER TIME

I’m glad to see JT was developed considerably in this episode with his own life and issues. I’d like to see something similar happen to Heather, Joe and, especially, Tessa. It’s episode 5 now, the side characters could use some work to make them more than names and faces. Especially since the dynamic between Tessa and Catherine is really growing strong and is, in doing so, underscoring how difficult the secret keeping is.

There was some nice underscoring of the nature of agency and that thrice be-damned trope of having to make decisions for other people to “protect” them. I appreciate the challenge – but Beauty and the Beast is not even remotely subtle about these things. The repetition and blatant comparisons feel very clumsy.