Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Beauty and the Beast, Season 2, Episode 5: Reunion

Firstly we have a Beast on the rampage breaking stuff on Vincent’s boat

Then to Cat preparing for a get-together with her old school friends (she’s having some “me” time) while Gabe calls her to tell her that a) he’s having trouble finding her biological father and b) to put his foot in it repeatedly about Vincent and his own crush. Bless.  And Vincent is lurking in her bedroom having sneaked in through the window. He wants to continue poking his memory but she kicks him out because she’s having some “me time” with girls only.

Yes she kicks him out. Yes I am impressed, shocked and astonished by this.

So we can have a room full of women who are all good friends and they sit around and talk about… men. Uh-huh, someone post the writers the definition of the Bechdel Test, please. It seems Cat has an ongoing habit of “bad boy” boyfriends – and boyfriends who are “projects” to fix.

At the police station the mayor is pissed at Gabe; he wants an explanation for all the unsolved murders that have happened during the whole series, which includes several dead police. Gabe tries to blame Joe but Tess isn’t letting that stand and he admits it’s all Muirfield and Beast related. They’re all in trouble if they can’t clear up the cases but the cases themselves are untouchable – and Tess teases Gabe some more about his crush on Catherine. Poor Gabe.

As Cat’s party breaks up she goes to her bedroom to collect one of her friends handbags – and the Beast-of-the-Week is there and grabs her throat demanding to know about Vincent. When her friend calls out he is distracted and she manages to hit him repeatedly and drop him to the floor. They fight, he starts to strangle her, for reasons unknown choosing a really slow way to kill her rather than use his super strength to pull off her head and play a series of different sporting games with it; he’s interrupted by Cat’s friend running in an gasping and rather than kill them both with simple Beasty violence, he decides to run away. Muirfield may need to return to the drawing board with this one.

The police arrive and Cat’s friend, Beth is really honest – describing a man with glowing yellow eyes who jumped to the street from the 5th floor and is a little irritated that Cat won’t second it all. Gabe and Tess arrive and get the wonderful news that Beth is a journalist. Cat wants to warn Vincent but Gabe warns her that Vincent will just charge in without research and Beasts are now coming in weird and wonderful varieties because the writers are running out of ideas. Cat does have DNA from when she hit the Beast so Gabe takes it to JT to analyse

And doesn’t realise Vincent is there visiting JT when he breaks the news – his voice climbs a good 2 octaves. Vincent rushes off to check on Cat so fast all they hear is wind and a door slamming. On the plus side, Cat manages to convince her friend to hold off on the story since she will ruin her hard won credibility if she reports something so fantastic with so little evidence.

Vincent drops in to do his super-senses investigating and follows the other Beast’s trail with abilities that would seem considerably more ridiculous and supernatural if the guy last week hadn’t thrown fire. He catches up to the other beast in an abandoned church – and he recognises Vincent. He’s shocked, he thought Vincent was dead. Vincent attacks while, the Beast, Zack desperately lists how they know each other, having being in the same company in the army: but Vincent has that pesky amnesia. Vincent gets the upper hand and starts strangling the other beast – and some flashbacks kick in just before Vincent strangles him.

Which means Cat and JT are several kinds of shocked when Zack and Vincent arrive at JT’s hideout all chummy. JT recognises him as well as an old friend (and attended his funeral as well – looks like he also faked his own death). They explain this obvious thing to Cat (just in case you’re not paying attention and need it lampshading) and Zack apologises to Cat for the whole trying to kill her thing but she’s not all that ok with an apology (I think when apologising for attempted murder, one should at least include a good fruit basket). Zack was hunting Vincent because he was all kind of nervous about all the Beasts being killed lately so was tracking him down to be the hammer rather than the nail. He totally wouldn’t have tried to kill Cat if he had realised she was important to Vincent.

Y’know, Beauty and the Beast has an almost Vampire Diaries moral code here – these police are willing to let an awful lot of killing and attempted killing go.

At least Cat isn’t entirely on the yay-Zack! train since he did try to kill her (I’d be more praising of this if it weren’t for the fact if the victim were another innocent and not Cat, I’m not sure how upset Cat would be) and says as much to Tess when she goes to work (Cat is at work! I know I’m shocked too! She still has a job!) She plans to do a background check on Zack (ah, she needs police resources, she’s not actually working). Tess also encourages Cat to go to her reunion – making the awesome point that Cat needs to spend as much time on her own needs as she does on Vincent’s. Cheerleading along her, well said Tess. Of course, Tess offers to do the investigative work for Cat so she can leave the police station before anyone asks her to do some detecting.

Out at a bar, JT, Vince and Zack play pool and Zack tries to trigger more of Vince’s memories by dragging up an old girlfriend, Gabriella who came after Alex the Annoying (who may or may not have been killed by Muirfield last season and I really really do not care, so let’s hope if they did they buried her very very deep or far out to sea). Yes that’s definitely going to get him in Cat’s good books. And Vincent gets a memory hit off the barmaid. JT is unhappy, probably anticipating the future relationship angst like I am and wanting to cower in a corner whimpering “no no no no.”

Agent Reynolds, Cat’s secret biological father, FBI agent and puppetmaster pulling Vincent’s strings drops in on Gabe to check if Cat is ok. Gabe is bemused and suspicious at the FBI getting involved in an assault case and politely invites Reynolds to jog on. When Reynolds insists he wants to help because he promised Cat’s father that he’d look out for her, Gabe ropes him in on the search for her biological father. Ok, I get that this is for a nice twisty story loop – but as far as Gabe knows Reynolds is a near stranger to Cat and possible acquaintance of her father’s – you’re going to just drop the whole “Cat is adopted” info on him?

Tess arrives with some info on Zack: it seems his DNA was found on the shredded murder victim, Gabriella. She also decides to tell this to Gabe in front of Reynolds which will totally not get him interested in a case you’re trying to hide, right Tess?

At the bar, Zack keeps trying to focus Vincent on the woman who looks like Gabriella trying to inspire more memories. And apparently Gabriella left Zack for Vincent and now Vincent has a couple of memories of her he picks a fight with Vincent over stealing his girlfriend. JT breaks it up and calms them down before they go all beasty in the middle of the bar. Zack leaves, but not before threatening to rip Vincent’s heart out.

Back at JT’s, JT assures Vincent he didn’t break the “bro-code” since he didn’t know Gabriella was dating Zack (the “bro-code?” Really?  Couldn’t he have just said “you didn’t know they were involved?” That doesn’t need a “code”, it needs the common politeness not to hit on one’s friend’s partners). Vincent wants to go make it up with Zack while JT thinks being both a Beast and alone and angry for so long makes Zack impossible to reason with.

Cat is busy at her high school reunion party and her friends insist she and Beth turn off their phones. Which means Cat doesn’t get any message from JT warning her about everything (especially since you know Zack’s “I’m going to rip your heart out” means Cat). She does get hit on by a creepy guy in a bear costume, learns that her dad has been generously donating to the school every year – including this August after he died which is rather odd and Gabe shows up. He definitely wasn’t her classmate. He and Tess are there to fill her in on what they’ve found out

While Vincent gets a call from Reynolds through his voice disguiser about Zack the murderer and how he is on the list but he was unsure about sending in Vincent because of their history (which would make sense if Vincent didn’t have amnesia. I mean, surely it goes without saying that Vincent would have had some contact with several Muirfield experiments?). Vincent wants to reason with Zack and Reynolds says that Cat has made him all weak and fluffy.

Vincent goes into the church and talks about Muirfield making them angry beasts and Zack leaps on him. The fight ends quickly because Zack runs out to hunt down Cat (told you, like that wasn’t predictable).

Vincent goes to join Cat at the party where she is angsting to Tess and Gabe about how her life isn’t what she wants it to be and lacks botox and lawyers. Cat is upset, Vincent apologises and she says “it’s not your fault” in that tone that means “I don’t care whose fault it is, you are so getting blamed for this”. She does raise a good point in not being able to complain about what’s happening in her life and how it sucks – because Vincent’s problems are so epic.

Meanwhile Zack ambushes the creepy nerd in the ridiculous bear suit, of course. He will now wear said bear suit to get close to Cat without being noticed. Except he is – not just by Vincent but also by other party goers who aren’t impressed by the guy in the bear costume grabbing Cat. Zack throws the party goers around and then Vincent tackles him into the punch and snack table and dismantles the stage. This conveniently takes out the electricity leaving everything dark except for dramatic strobe lighting and causing all the party guests to run away so the beasts can do their fighting unobserved. Zack makes a run at the just-returning-to-consciousness Cat and Vince manages to move at even faster speed, catch him and break his neck in one movement. Clearly a tactic Zack has not mastered as we have seen over and over again.

The FBI collect the body and everyone’s all sad about the death of a veteran chalking it up to Muirfield (except, y’know, men have been killing their partners since the dawn of time and the idea that a man killing a woman he thought was cheating on him was entirely due to Muirfield kind of ignores this happens every day and it’s a bit of a leap to assume only genetic experimentation is responsible in this case. And in a selective morality stance, I don’t remember anyone cursing Muirfield and the poor waste of life when the murdered beast WASN’T Vincent’s friend or an American veteran).

Beth interviews Gabe who says the soldier had PTSD and they had no idea why he was so focused on Cat. They also play ignorant when Beth asks if there was anything physically odd about the man. Tess also takes the chance to tease Gabe some more about his crush on Cat (Gabe is cute when embarrassed).

Vincent checks up on Cat and we have a weird memory moment – Vincent remembers how to be a doctor and has all his medical knowledge but doesn’t remember being a doctor. He apologises to her because as his memory returns he realises how much Cat has sacrificed and risked for him. With added angst that he would be just like Zack if he didn’t have her (because Zack didn’t have Gabriella – errr, because he killed her. Remember that part?)

Gabe then takes his shift on reassuring Cat and she thanks him for all he’s done to help her. They jokingly thumb through some of her old photos from the reunion – and see that Agent Reynolds was at her graduation. This calls for a huge leap of logic! AGENT REYNOLDS IS HER BIRTH FATHER!

(Or maybe you went to school with his kid or niece or maybe he was a friend of the family showing support or maybe he wasn’t an FBI agent back then and was an undercover cop trying to investigate various trouble – y’know there are a gazillion reasons he could have been there).

I find it somewhat dubious that Vincent is the only beast without severe violent problems. Ok, maybe that can be proof of the damage Muirfield did to them, but I feel it’s also a cop-out that so many of them are hurting or scarred by Muirfield in ways that leaves them violently dangerous. Also, if that is going to be accepted as the excuse of why these Beasts are all dangerous, it’s pretty pathologising of the mentally ill: most people severely traumatised by experience aren’t dangerous (not to others anyway). Especially since the Beasts we’ve seen aren’t suffering from the lack of self-control we saw in Vincent in season 1 (since that has already been established as something we’re supposed to feel sympathetic towards), but with more “mundane” pathologies: the violent arsonist, the man trying to kill his father, the hit man and now the man who killed a woman who rejected him and is now gunning for his romantic rival.

It lets the writers avoid the actual moral implications of Vincent literally working down a list of people who are only on that list because they were picked out for some deeply unethical scientific experimentation and then killing them all. In short, it’s a way to justify Vincent doing to these beasts what Murifield spent the entire of season 1 trying to do to Vincent.

In the end, we’re left with only one conflict – Zack is Vincent’s friend – never the idea that hunting down Beasts for some extra-judicial execution is dubious.

I do like several points raised in this episode – both that Cat needs to take some time out for her own life as well, she can’t exist just to serve Vincent (fine, but Tess and JT also need to take that advice) and how that relates to her not being able to complain or worry about the stuff in her life (and between a dad dying a sister relocating, suddenly revealed secrets et al, she has stuff in her life) because Vincent’s stuff is so epic. I think that’s a general issue worth raising for many people’s lives – when we have a friend/relative who is going through EPIC HORRIBLE SHIT it can feel… churlish to spend time or require attention for one’s much lesser shit – but that doesn’t mean said lesser shit is not still, well, shit and worthy of time or attention.