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BEAUTY & THE BEAST: Basic Instinct to Run Abates

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Episode 104: “Basic Instinct”

THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!

[Photos: Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW]

A wise man once told me that the key to happiness in life is low expectations. Alas, I was born a Virgo. You might know something about astrology (be honest, if you care enough about Beauty & The Beast to read my recaps, there’s a higher than average chance that you know at least a little about astrology; I say that in the nicest way possible).  If you do, then you know that Virgos have high expectations. Long story short, I’m not easily impressed. Even if you don’t know much about astrology, you’ve probably gathered I don’t impress easily from my previous B&TB episodes.

In fairness to myself, however, last week I indicated that I felt like we may be on an upward trajectory with the B&TB shows. Is it possible that I’m lowering my expectations so as not to be disappointed weekly?  Or is the show really getting better?  I can no longer answer that question with any real clarity, so it’s time to bring in a third-party expert. Exhibit A: my gorgeous, funny, sarcastic, and fair-minded niece. She has agreed to help her aunt out by giving the latest episode a view and letting her know if she’s off her rocker. Said niece also watched the first episode of B&TB and found it abysmal, and hasn’t watched since, so she’ll provide valuable data points. Tune in next week for results of our little experiment.

This week, I’d like to end my recap on an up note, so let’s start with the cons and end with the pros, shall we?

Dear B&TB writers, would you stop with the weekly introduction/premise summary?  Be grateful that I, at least superficially, am a good Southern, church-raised girl, or I’d have resorted to f-bombs by now. I get it, I get the premise. We all get the premise!  You see a preview, you get the premise!  Stop the insanity!!!

Vincent, in his search for redemption and boredom relief, trolls the streets at night for potential victims to save. Suddenly, he hears a heartbeat and zeroes in on an injured young man who has been left for dead in a dumpster. But really, in a town of a gazillion people with almost the same number of heartbeats, how is it that Vincent zeroes in on this one guy?

Another thing about Jay Ryan, the actor who plays Vincent…I may admittedly be a little hard on him, because he doesn’t personally do it for me. I don’t like beefy men. Muscles, yes; bulk, no. Jake needs to lay off the steroids and just go for definition, you ask my opinion. In all honesty, between his roidy physique and his cardboard acting performances, I’ve wondered how he landed this acting gig in the first place. Today, I watched a red carpet interview with him and Kristin, and things cleared. The man has an adorable smile, and while I profess to not being taken in by superficialities, Jay’s New Zealand-Australia accent is beyond charming. Show me an American-born woman (or a man) who claims not to adore a British or Aussie accent, and I’ll show you a liar. So why is this a con, you ask?  Because Jay gets to use neither asset to his advantage on the show. I’m not sure much is left when you take away those two gifts from God.

As for Cat, she graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and at the top of her class at the police academy. She’s an NYPD homicide detective, and her mother was a molecular biologist. We know she’s not a dumb girl. But in this episode, she receives a doctor’s report about an assault victim, and goodness me, she’s all in a tizzy figuring out what a depressive cranioectomy is. Thank goodness for handsome, smart medical examiner Evan to help her with her dumb girl ways. Hey Cat, just Google it next time.

Onto the next critique. Cat has feelings for Vincent, that much is clear. It’s not yet obvious (if you’re an idiot) what the nature of those feelings is, but there’s something going on. And yet, Muirfield guy Silverfox, who is hardly an objective third party, gives Cat some new info about Vincent having lost control over his beast side. All of a sudden, she’s afraid of him?  Cat explains to Vincent later that she didn’t realize that his victims extended beyond casualties of war. It seems to me we’re splitting hairs at this point. His victims are dead either way. Mostly, however, it’s bothersome that she so quickly changes her opinion of Vincent without giving him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he’s proven himself to her time and again.

Illogical Cat also tells Vincent that he shouldn’t worry about Muirfield because she can defend herself. So she is not afraid of Muirfield who has attacked her, kidnapped her, and killed her mother, but she is afraid of Vincent who has done nothing in recent years but help and protect her and other people in NYC?

After Vincent turns himself in, Cat and J.T. work together to find him. The speed with which Cat is able to get a fingerprint from her car (with lipstick?) of the Muirfield goon who drove it, find the print in the fingerprint database, then locate Vincent (even though the fingerprint owner works for a top secret organization within the military) all within a matter of minutes…it’s just a little too hard to believe.

Vincent’s beast mode. I have no new negative words to say here. Just grrr.

Now that I have that off my chest, let me ‘splain you why I think there’s improvement in the show.

Music. This episode included not just one, but three tracks that I liked: “Everybody’s on the Run” by Noel Gallagher; “Nitesky” by Robert Koch; “Round and Round” by Imagine Dragons.

J.T. surprised me a little this week. Vincent said he was going to help Cat, and JT actually held his tongue for a few moments. That’s a nice change for this broken-record character.

It’s taken me a few episodes, but I begrudgingly have to admit that Cat’s character actually fights pretty well.  I think it’s probably a combination of editing and Kristin’s actual skill (she has a purple belt in karate, if IMDb is correct), but the fight scenes are pseudo-believable.

Speaking of editing, there is great editing in the scene wherein Vincent is back at the warehouse pacing; you get a strong feel for the stir craziness that Vincent must experience most of the time as he’s holed up away from society. I hadn’t really stopped to consider up to this point how lonely and antsy the situation must make him feel. It was a “duh!” moment for me that was created without any dialogue. See, “show, don’t tell” does work!

I have watched a million episodes of CSI, Law & Order, etc. I can pick out the bad guy the first time I see him (her). I didn’t this time. It was a nice surprise, and a credit to the actor who played the part.

The biggest source of pleasure in this episode was the heart that all the characters showed. Really, that’s what we care about in a TV show. In the interest of space and time, I provide a bulleted list:

  • The team is prepping for a softball game against the fire department. Cat’s lame softball skills humanize her, and the trash talk she endures is hilarious.
  • Tess needles Cat over her sexless life and the role it must play in her lack of athleticism. Tess also obsesses over what she thought was the cause of Catherine’s disappearances, to amusing effect.
  • After missing a ball to outfield, Cat goes digging in the nearby woods, where Vincent shows up to tell her about their most recent case. As her team starts yelling at her to hurry up, Cat awkwardly buys time with the excuse, “I’m just peeing”. That’s something I would do!
  • Vincent prepares to tell J.T. that Cat had been kidnapped by Muirfield with the introduction: “Sit down. Here, drink.”  #popsopenbeer
  •  J.T. calls Cat, accusing her of getting Vincent captured before he sees Vincent’s goodbye note. He then says, “Forget the last five seconds of conversation”, to which Cat replies, “I didn’t understand the last five seconds of conversation!”
  • The whole goofy softball victory dance at the end of the show is ridiculous goodness.  You can tell the crew had a great time with the unadulterated joy of cutting loose.

On a final up note, previews are starting to hint that these characters are feeling something for each other beyond, “hey, let’s hang out because we’re both damaged and can solve some crimes together.”  Good grief, they’re both adults and neither has enjoyed conjugal relations in the last several years?  Of course they’re going that direction, but I pray that the writers will draw it out and keep it interesting.  Next time, friends!

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