Saturday, May 18, 2013

Beauty and the Beast, Season 1, Episode 22: Never Turn Back

Vincent and Catherine are being all cutsey getting out of the city for a day to visit a small town, including candy floss (and no, that nasty stuff isn’t edible). It’s all so cute and saccharine. They also fit in a recap about his happy death pills. Mopey time

But back at home JT has a major revelation – the pill works VERY differently with Vincent than it did with Gabe. It’s attacking his animal DNA constantly, even long after the time limit Gabe has, and if it continues to destroy Vincent’s animal DNA he could be fully cured of being a manimal.

Of course the bad news is Gabe is still plotting to kill Vincent to get his shiny cure. And he’s clearly troubled at the decision. Tyler reminds him that he’ll die – if he doesn’t get the lethal medical stuff from Vincent he will become BeastiGabe permanently. They plan to wait until his pills wear off to confront Vincent. But JT is following them – being the most unsubtle stalker ever.

Catherine receives the good news from Vincent and launches into a massive leap forwards – getting fake IDs for Vincent and planning to move them to a small town in Colorado so they can not only cure Vincent but can live without Muirfield. Oh and it has good schools. This is the normal life she’s always wanted and she could never dream of a future before!

Uh-huh… that’s a pretty huge step. And doesn’t Catherine have friends? A family? A career?

But as an added plot twist. Catherine gets an urgent call from her father to meet him. She goes to see him on the street and someone behind him pushes him out onto the road in front of a speeding car.

To the hospital, Catherine donates blood and her father is unconscious in a hospital bed. Heather arrives and they discuss his injuries – he’s expected to recover. Catherine is convinced it isn’t an accident and Heather is annoyed at her for seeing conspiracies everywhere and always being a police detective rather than a sister and daughter.

Catherine leaves and tells Vincent she thinks Muirfield is at it again. Lots of plans on how to investigate and Vincent plans to check the scene – but without his manimalness he doesn’t actually have anything to offer.

And JT calls Vincent to tell him he’s been investigating Tyler and Gabe and all the many many essential organs that Tyler plans to chop out of him for Gabe. He advises Vincent not to go meet them and then destroys their computers.

At the police station, Catherine brings the computer and phone her father was carrying to the IT department to see if they can open it up. Tess is doubtful, like Heather she thinks Catherine’s a bit too quick to rule out an accident. Catherine cracks and starts crying when Tess tries to calm her down – her frenzied activity is about not standing their helpless, as she was when she saw her mother murdered. Tess promises to check the computer but tells Catherine she has to go back to the hospital with her sister and get past her feelings of helplessness.

Tyler gets back to her little lab and finds the mess JT left. She calls Gabe and warns him that Vincent has opted out of being murdered and harvested. Gabe tells her to get new equipment because he’s going to force Vincent by going after his weakness – Catherine. Which is why, when she gets in her car, Gabe is in the back seat with a gun pointed at her.

Meanwhile, Tess, after some smacking of the condescending tech guy, finds the contents of Catherine’s father’s tablet – a report from Homeland Security about a man back in the country

And we cut to that man investigating Tyler’s lab – looking for Gabe’s research. He is determined that Gabe won’t “slip through his fingers again.”

Gabe takes Catherine to a rather palatial estate (do people really build modern replicas of European castles to live in?) in the countryside where she tries to convince Gabe that Vincent is being cured by one pill. Gabe doesn’t buy it. Some speeches about giving up all their power and abilities for love and happiness and then through the secret door up the secret staircase to a secret lab with a doctor who warns him how the delay is the procedure more difficult. He calls Vincent and demands he shows up within the hour.

He locks Catherine in a cell – apparently one he used to be locked in. It’s metal reinforced walls are covered in marks where, BeastiGabe tried to fight his way out when he was a child.

Vincent and JT decide to go for a little tit for tat and kidnap Tyler. Since they’ve both turned each other’s girlfriends into damsels in distress, Vincent proposes finding another way of healing Gabe that doesn’t involve murder. Alas, Gabe isn’t playing this game and says “go ahead, kill her”

Yeah, the garage-flowers-apology-bouquet you will be buying better be incredible epic, Gabe.

This leaves Vincent with one choice- going in armed to the teeth. JT warns Vincent that Gabe will be BeastiGabe but Vincent reminds JT before he became a Beast, he was a soldier – he knows how to fight. Tyler, reeling from betrayal (and, perhaps, not wanting Vincent to go in with a gun since his options them will be to kill Gabe not defeat him) tells Vincent how to reverse his transition to human – anything that boosts his immune system (like a vaccine that stimulates it) will fight the cure and return him to Manimalness. JT also brings up a lot of off-camera whining that’s apparently been going on: Vincent feels numb as a human, and that he’s lost his purpose. But Vincent wants to stay human – especially after Catherine’s rather elaborate picket fence fantasy life in rural Colorado.

Yeah, I don’t understand that either.

Back with Catherine, at least Gabe’s prison comes with room service and Gabe pours out his guilt and childhood history; and how his adoptive parents were afraid of him. And how he accidentally killed his mother and, shortly afterwards, his father died as well leaving Gabe with epic angst loads of guilt. He leaves – and Catherine steals a knife. But Gabe is rapidly losing control and leaves her the keys to her cell – so she can lock herself in to keep away from him.

Tyler and JT geek out on science together until she breaks free and hits him with a metal pipe. She escapes and… runs into the guy who was shown in Catherine’s father’s tablet – who shoots her several times.

Tess arrives at the flat looking for Catherine and rescues JT while indulging in some cuttingly accurate snark. JT fills Tess in on the problems he knows about and she adds the Homeland security guy problem. Lots of problems!

Is that enough revelations? Let’s have an ethically questionable nurse add more! In the hospital the nurse tells Heather that they need to operate on their father’s leg and they need blood to do it – ideally a family donor would be best. Heather explains Catherine already has donated blood and the nurse says “surprise! Your sister’s not your father’s daughter! And it’s totally ok for me to tell you this without her or her father’s permission!”

At the palatial home Vincent begins his infiltration, smacking guards and climbing walls, while Gabe freaks out all Beastiboy outside Catherine’s cell. To escape Gabe she pries the cover off the window and pries at the bars, as Vincent climbs up on the outside to help hammer at it, removing a bar and letting her climb through.

They begin their escape and Catherien thinks it’s time to have a heart to heart discussion while they’re trying to dodge past the guard.  Because that’s totally sensible. She wants to know if Vincent took the pills because he wanted to be human (which, y’know, he has been trying to do SINCE BEFORE HE MET HER! Remember? The medical lab in the Warehouse?) or if it was just for her and her dreams of a picket fence in rural Colorado. She declares it doesn’t matter to her if he’s a beast or not and…

Oh for gods’ sake people! There are guards YELLING behind you and you’re having this conversation  now?! And how many times do we have to do this? Is she supposed to be even remotely convincing?

C:“I don’t care if you’re a beast,”
V:“oh, I found a cure!”
V:“cure’s off.”
C: “That’s ok, I totally didn’t care. Honest. I love you anyway and you’re totally not a disappointment”
V: “cure’s back on!”

This is like the 3rd or 4th time we’ve played this game

Vincent realises he should have turned back as JT said – and Beastigabe runs out the building and throws a car at them. See they could have been trying to get away rather than have a heart-to-heart but nooooo.

Vincent tries to shoot Gabe but he moves too fast and throws him aside. Catherine runs inside the building with a gun, taking down a random guard, to hold Gabe’s doctor at gun point (where does he get all this staff anyway?) and demand a vaccine. Any vaccine. She runs out to where Vincent is dodging Gabe throwing rocks (it’s a good thing Gabe doesn’t just jump on him and kill him in seconds as he’s more than capable of) and stabs Vincent with the vaccine.

Gabe throws them both – Catherine far enough that she should be pretty wrecked and Vincent into a stone wall so hard he shatters the stonework. But that’s ok, the vaccine triggered his immune system to work IN LESS THAN A MINUTE! Someone call the WHO! Vincent goes beastly  and it’s beast fight time – and Vincent looks to be raaaaather a lot stronger than Gabe.

But a helicopter interrupts the fight, inside which is the ominous guy on Catherine’s father’s tablet. He and his men shoot Gabe repeatedly – and then fire a net over Vincent. Catherine wakes up to see him being taken up into the helicopter. She tries to hold Vincent down which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t work. And the man in the helicopter stops his sniper from shooting – and says Catherine is his daughter.

Ok, I suppose there are a lot of revelations there for next season, while at the same time it has nicely closed all the current issues with this season. Vincent is no longer (I hope) going to be “waah I don’t want to beast!”  and Gabe is effectively a closed issue. – we have a whole new set of issues for next season.

My main problem with Beauty and the Beast is that the plot was very forced and very contrived. We had a lot of moments when conflict is forced through bemusing actions on the part of the characters that are not only not supported by the character development, but also not supported by even the slightest pretence of common sense. Evan’s willingness to trust Muirfield. Evan continuing to trust Muirfield even after it’s clear they’re evil as evil can be. Alex trusting Muifield. Vincent taking ridiculous risks exposing himself after they’d faked his death. Why Muirfield doesn’t share information with itself. The many “misunderstandings” between them in the run up to the “will they won’t they.” Even one would have been too many, but this entire show is saturated with extremely forced plot. Nonsense has been written into the story to make the plot move – it’s clumsy, it’s ridiculous and it undermines a lot of the show.

And why does Catherine keep saying things like “I couldn’t picture a future before” about uncertain futures! She has done this 3 or 4 times! By the end of the show Vincent will find out that *gasp* he has to stay a Manimal at which point she’ll have to backtrack AGAIN because she’s just said how doomed and horrible their life together is. It’s more convoluted conflict creation –  after the first time, she’d learned and realised that she’s making huge plans based on expectations Vincent can’t meet and how hurtful that is, then fine. But doing it repeatedly?

This made it hard to enjoy any aspect of the plot because the plot was too clumsy – and I wasn’t sold on Vincent’s acting. I admit a lot of this is personal taste – star crossed lovers on their own is never going to be a plot that fascinates me, but there wasn’t enough else, or not enough well done to hold me.

Inclusionwise, we actually have a surprising number of POC including: Catherine herself (Asian), Catherine’s mother (Asian), Joe (Black), Tess (Latina), Heather (the actress is half Filipina and was playing Catherine’s sister), Gabe (South-Asian).  As well as past characters like Kyle, the Muirfield boss. We did focus mainly on Catherine, Vincent and JT but I wouldn’t say the others were completely removed or remotely irrelevant.

There were also a lot of women in Catherine’s life who became strong friends – I was worried about Tess and Heather moving away because of the secret and I don’t like how Alex was portrayed, but Tess and Heather both came back strong. What is bothersome is, despite all of these female relationships, Catherine, Heather and Tess had usually 2 topics of conversation: Work (required with Tess) or men. The men Tess’s dating, the men Catherine’s dating, Vincent, Evan, Joe, Catherine’s father – it’s a lot.

Unfortunately, this New York City is an entirely straight place.

We shall see what the next season brings – I can’t say I’m excited, but nor will I hate it.