It’s been a long wait, but the final season of Beauty and The Beast is here, with “Monsieur et Madame Bete” airing this past Thursday on The CW. Vincent and Catherine’s honeymoon is cut short as a bounty hunter goes on a killing spree in his search for our titular Beast, while the threat of exposure looms over them all. Unfortunately, as Heather herself said, … “what else is new?”
Here lies the heart of the problem with not just this episode, but the show itself. The story, and the issues our characters face, is trapped in redundancy. Beauty and The Beast has always struggled to evolve and explore past its core elements, leading to recycled plot and recycled dialogue. I’ll return to this later on, but first let’s look at each of our characters and see if we can find anything new amongst the old.
For Better, Or For Worse
Last season’s finale saw VinCat tie the knot, and now here they begin their journey as Mr. and Mrs. Beast. This, of course, falls into the “New” category, yet they are held back in completely enjoying their post-nuptial bliss as they are plagued by that ever present risk of exposure.
Catherine, once again, has flipped in her viewpoint. Gone is talk of destiny and a higher calling, replaced with a questioning of if Vincent should even be saving people. This is concerning, as these two wouldn’t have even met if Vincent hadn’t decided to save her. Luckily, Vincent reminds her that neither of them are the type of people to just stand by while people are in danger. She concedes this point, but still wants to find a way out of this vicious cycle. When do they get their Happily Ever After, complete with a white picket fence, three children, and a small dog?
So what changed her mind? What changed from Season One’s “Date Night”, where having a normal life didn’t matter, as long as she was with Vincent? What changed from thinking there was some grand design that placed she and Vincent on some path of a higher calling? Does she believe that they fulfilled that destiny? Was it simply to stop Liam, stop him from committing the same egregious crime that he had with Rebecca and Alistair two hundred years before? Part of the problem is that their supposed destiny was so poorly defined that I never bought into it.
Maybe Catherine’s change of heart is rooted in the video message from her mother from “Chasing Ghosts.” Vanessa Chandler told her daughter to not fall into the same traps as she herself had. To not sacrifice her life, her happiness, in some attempt to save the world. It’s possible this message has finally sunk in for Catherine and she is ready to be done risking her life, and the life of her loved ones, to save the world from secret organizations, genetic experiments, and ancient beasts.
While Catherine’s thought process and motivations have always been hard to peg down, and seem to change as the plot necessitates, Vincent is a different story. He has had a pretty steady growth of character over the years and his current mindset fits that pattern of growth. He has accepted who he is, who they are, and is content to live their life together without worrying about what may be around the corner. If something happens, they will deal with it as they always have.
Look how far Vincent has come. It wasn’t long ago that he was “dead”, on the run and in hiding from Muirfield, living in fear of the beast within. Now he is married, a doctor, and even able to take a plane to Paris to celebrate his honeymoon with his wife. For Vincent, he has made it. This is the life he has longed for.
This is the mindset and direction that I want to see for our characters. Not forever locked in the same conversation of the worry of exposure, but accepting who they are and living their lives.
It seems as though J.T. and Tess are reenacting the same play that Vincent and Catherine were at the beginning of last season. One intent on moving on and living a normal life, the other looking for their destiny. In my review of “The Beast of Wall Street” I spoke of the characters searching for purpose. J.T. ended up finding purpose in his friendship with Vincent and support of Tess. While it was enough at the time to bring him out of his doldrums, it was still just a stop-gap. For years, ever since Vincent became a beast, J.T. has played a supporting role. Not that that’s a bad thing, as he has helped to save so many lives. However, his own life has been on hold. He cut ties and receded into the professional background in order to help his friend.
As J.T. said, this way of life changed him and formed him. Without it, he started to feel a little lost, which Tess viewed as an over-eagerness to return to the rough and tumble of world of beasts. In reality, it was a desperation to find a cause and returned to something familiar. But it’s time for J.T. to become the leading man in the story of his life. What are his dreams, his aspirations? What was he moving towards in life before Vincent became a beast? What is his destiny? It’s time for him to find out. Luckily, as he once supported her, he has Tess to support him.
Someone also feeling lost is our dear Heather. This is a girl who has never had a steady job, relationship, or living place. Strangely enough, it was becoming involved in the world of beasts that finally made her feel like she was a part of something. Yet this, too, was snatched away as Liam was put six feet under and Catherine and Vincent went off to live their happily ever after. So the chance to feel useful again was just too tempting to pass up. Even falling three, I mean, two and a half stories was not enough to change her mind. But something/someone that might be able to switch her focus and give her direction is Carl, uh, Kyle.
One of my wishes for this season is the introduction of new characters. Part of the problem of redundancy is with our core group being too isolated. New characters bring an infusion of new conflict and avenues for story and character growth. Perhaps Kyle will be able to do this, and also fulfill another of my wishes for the season: giving Heather something to do. Or, at least, someone to do.
How It All Came Together
The job of a season premiere is to present new conflict and lead our characters in new directions. I felt that to be lacking here, with an otherwise capable episode being mired by tired plot and oft-used words like “exposure” and “moving on.” Thankfully they left out “humanity.” Even though Vincent killed someone, it does look like the fear of Vincent losing his humanity has passed. At least, for now.
Perhaps the point of this episode was to focus on the uncertainty of the characters when it comes to their lives. However, there must be a balance between what has come before, and building off of that to pursue something new. This applies to character and to the show itself. With this being the final season, I am hoping for an exciting story to give us a satisfying conclusion. Unfortunately, not much was offered here to point a direction for this season and leave me intrigued for what is to come. The future is uncertain. And not in a good way.
Even so, with the show resting on its laurels, writer Brad Kern, and lead director Stuart Gillard succeeded with the cast and crew where it always has. Jay Ryan and Kristin Kreuk never fail to be cute together; they had me grinning with their banter. The action and excitement was top notch, with spectacular stunts. The lighting, the set design, and the location shots of Paris were absolutely beautiful.
I don’t expect those qualities to fade, but I do wish that the story offers some new qualities as we head towards the series finale.
To Sum Up
A solid episode in terms of succeeding at what the show does best, yet lacking in exploration outside of that and leaving one with the feeling of… what else is new?