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BEAUTY & THE BEAST: Officially Extended & Officially Good

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Episode 105: “Saturn Returns”

THERE ARE SPOILERS AHEAD!

[Photos: Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW]

I’m a guy’s girl, if you will. I adore sci fi, fantasy, action and horror; I’d choose to watch a Bond movie over a rom-com any day of the week, and when I buy beer in restaurants or the beer store, I inevitably get into deep conversations with the staff about our favorite microbrews. Now, in fairness, I do love boots, but I don’t count that as a ding against me. In general, most my tastes aren’t that “girly.”

Accordingly, over the last few weeks as I’ve watched the Beauty & The Beast episodes on the CW, I have congratulated myself on my superiority. “That whole Twilight period was just a fluke. I don’t like this overwrought drivel,” I thought, “I am clearly above this.”  But God, or whatever higher power you believe in, has decided it’s time (again) to bring me down a peg. To wit: the writers of B&TB slipped the first real signs of romance into the show, and all of a sudden, I’m hooked. Yep, I acknowledge it. I’m a ridiculous hypocrite.

Ok, so let’s dish on the romance. After a great scene that shows off not only Vincent’s physique, but also again demonstrates how caged in Vincent feels, J.T. asks Vincent why he’s so amped up. Vincent acknowledges Catherine as the source, that she makes him feel like he has normal life. I call bull here. It’s not really that Catherine makes him feel like his life is normal as much as his interest in Cat is a normal guy interest.  Whichever, I must confess that I am starting to warm to Jay Ryan.  His three billion daily situps probably play an unfair role in my change of heart.  More confessions on my shallow nature; sorry, readers.

Here’s why that scene works to pull in the female viewer: Cat has clearly gotten under Vincent’s skin. Men are usually so busy trying to play things cool and to keep women from thinking they’ve gotten the upper hand, most women have no idea where they stand with a man. Seeing Vincent’s nigh-giddiness, that he really likes her…well, that’s what most women want for ourselves, just to be liked that much. We wish we could see that in our own relationships. Is that so wrong!?

Another romantic tidbit that works occurs later in the show. J.T. makes a sarcastic side comment to Cat in front of Vincent, something to the effect of, “Since Vincent met you, he feels alive.”  Although the line is delivered with derision, the point is made to Cat nonetheless, and the subtly stunned look on Vincent’s face is priceless.

Of course, the juiciest proof this week [SPOILER, SPOILER!!!] of Vincent’s feelings for Catherine comes when Evan, despite having brought an attractive date to Cat’s party, lays a kiss on Cat. Because they are situated in front of the fire escape, a poorly timed visit by Vincent gives him full view of the tête-à-tête. Vincent’s reaction is to pull away emotionally, but Cat comes over later, and she assures Vincent (in a bit of a dig at the male species) that she doesn’t want a normal man, that what she wants is someone she doesn’t have to pretend with. She invites Vincent over for what would likely be their official first date, if only Vincent hadn’t passed out and ended up on top of a bridge instead. Is your reaction, “Huh?”  Yeah, mine too. At least it gave us more beautiful shots of New York City at night. Despite the proximity challenges, more romantic intrigue is destined, I am sure.

Last week, I praised the show for humanizing our little cast of wooden characters, and that’s continued this week. J.T. has been presented most consistently as a one-note character (and let me be clear, this is because of the writing, not the delivery), but his awkward fumbling around his co-worker Sara is endearing. I dig the actress they cast as J.T.’s prospective love interest. She is utterly believable as someone who might be interested in J.T., and she is also completely adorable. Thank you for making J.T. a little less of a stick in the mud.

The scenes with Tess continue to be the funniest in the show. The week’s best scene took place in a photo booth, with Tessa and Cat cutting up. Their Charlie’s Angels pose poked fun at the fact they’re still a little hard to take seriously as officers of the law. Their silliness in this scene gives the impression that these are women who are genuinely friends, and for the first time, I thought, “You know, I’d like to hang out with them.”  Uninteresting characters don’t elicit that kind of response. And while I’m on the subject of Tess, what is going on with Tess and her boss, Joe Bishop?  They look entirely too familiar with one another for nothing to be going on there. Must continue to monitor that situation…

The show also did a good job in this episode of exploring secrecy and how it causes people to push each other away. As multiple characters talked through the issue, it contextualized the ambivalence that Vincent feels about Cat, and that while he wants her around because she brings him up, he doesn’t want her to be restricted to the same small life he leads. Without that context, any evidence of Vincent pulling away from heroine Catherine would potentially demonize Vincent to the audience, so the writers were smart to employ this tactic at this time.

This week’s nit list comprises two entries only. First, Bishop’s phone is hijacked for 20 minutes when he calls to verify identity of the witness protection marshal. That seems just awfully convenient. I don’t disbelieve it’s technically possible; it just seems logistically difficult to pull off.

The other nit, and this is a bigger if stupider one: that date that Evan brings to Cat’s party is tall and pretty and accomplished, and she’s supposed to make Cat feel inferior. I’ll admit to a bit of a girl crush on Kristin Kreuk (although I still think she’s probably better as a model than as an actress), so maybe I’m not objective. However, I don’t buy it. Cat is gorgeous, Ivy League educated, and one of a few female homicide detectives in a city where being a homicide detective really is an accomplishment. Maybe the writers are trying to show that Cat is just like every other woman out there, and is plagued by insecurities?  If that’s the case, sorry writers, you’ll have to work harder to convince me.

Now, last week I mentioned that I was going to pull in my much hipper, smarter niece to do a consult. After her review of last week’s show, she noted that a four-story arc ending in Silverfox’s death seemed unnaturally short, and she wondered who the enemy will be now. Good point. However, she agreed that the songs were better in this episode, that the details of Cat’s case were more interesting, and that the characters were more relatable. In fact, she plans to watch Saturn Returns, so congrats CW for finally pulling in a viewer based on the merits of the show and not just because you air on Thursdays.

I will admit that up until week four, I had not-so-secretly hoped and fully expected that B&TB would get the ax. This week, EW.com reported that B&TB just received an additional nine episodes from The CW (see the EW article). My relief and excitement surprised even me a little. So with that news, see you guys for thirteen more episodes!

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[Official Show on CW]     [Previous Recap: “Saturn Returns”]

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