‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: Blackmail Leads To Answers In ‘Means To An End’
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 4 Episode 10 – Means To An End:
We finally have answers…well, sort of. Beauty and the Beast has finally revealed the identity of the beast buyer, and all it took was a complicated blackmail scheme to get us to the truth. “Means To An End” is one of the more satisfying episodes of the season, for this reason, although the answers we do get ultimately just lead to more questions. Particularly, who is the new beast that’s out there?
On the one hand, it was cool to finally get confirmation that Graydal head Peter Braxton (Marc Singer) was the one who placed the bounty all along, even if it does feel a bit anticlimactic. Basically, the “buyer” orders Braxton to put Vincent (Jay Ryan) through a series of tests to prove he’s the right type of beast. These tests involve stealing evidence that will allow Triad gang member Erik Lee (Adrian Nguyen) to walk, and blowing up DHS headquarters to eliminate Agent Dillon, a woman who’s getting scarily close to getting at the truth behind Graydal’s shady dealings. Before long, Vincent and Cat (Kristin Kreuk) come to the realization that all these tests are just benefiting Braxton, so it stands to reason that he’s likely the person behind it all, and that the beast buyer doesn’t actually exist. In essence, they’ve been chasing a ghost all season.
On the one hand, it’s kind of a frustrating development, since you’d think there would have been a bigger payoff to the mystery surrounding the beast buyer. And yet, what we got was the reveal that a guy we met a couple episodes back — someone who already came across as sinister and suspicious — was the culprit from the start. Similarly, it’s hard not to groan at Braxton’s explanation that he only went through all this in order to get Vincent ready to fight a bigger threat. Yup, it’s pretty much Season 3 all over again, as there’s a bigger, scarier beast out there who needs to be taken down, and Vincent is the only one who can stop him. Still, for as frustrating as this development is, I can’t really say I’m not excited by the possibilities. Sure, it’s pretty much Liam redux, but if the show truly sets this up as Vincent and Cat’s final test, the final obstacle in the way of their happily ever after, then this has the potential to be quite a bit more epic than the Liam business felt last year. If nothing else, we get to see just how vicious this new beast is, as Braxton turns up dead by the end of the episode, having been killed and torn apart by this new threat. And he left so little of Braxton’s physical remains, there was hardly anything to see. We don’t even get to look at the corpse, but the fact that the sheet covering the body in the morgue gives the outline of only fragmentary remains tells us all we need to know about how completely his body was ripped to shreds. It’s a situation where less is more, and the mere hint of this new beast is more frightening than actually seeing him this week would have, in my opinion. There is a real air of tension and dread heading into next week, and with only three episodes left in the series, the story has really become a powder keg waiting to explode.
But back to what made “Means To An End” work specifically. One of the things I enjoyed most about it was how the script allowed Vincent and Cat to find a solution through intelligence and reasoning rather than through brute force. We only see Vincent beast out once, and it’s when he’s in captivity at Graydal, being pumped full of electricity as a test. We never really see Vincent (or Cat, for that matter) get all that physical. Even in the finale, Cat doesn’t lay a finger on Braxton. She simply holds him at gunpoint, and then traps him in the “beast cage” he designed by shooting the electronic door pad. Basically, this is an episode where, by virtue of the problem they’re facing, Vincent and Cat can’t use brute force to solve everything. Braxton blackmails Vincent and Cat into breaking the law, and you can’t exactly clear your name by upping the aggression. In short, Cat steals a gun from the evidence locker of her old precinct, and Vincent returns it to its original owner, a Triad gang member who’d used it to commit a murder. No gun means no trial, and the gang banger walks free. And, to make matters worse, Graydal has pictures taken of Vincent giving the gun back to the Triad, and then hands those pictures over to DHS, which leads to Tess (Nina Lisandrello) discovering what Cat did. As a result, Cat is arrested by Tess in one of the more heartbreaking scenes of the season, mostly because we see how deeply this is hurting both women. Hell, Cat is only able to secure her freedom by appealing to the cop side of Tess, since it’s unlikely Tess would listen to any sort of friendship argument Cat might make, considering Tess likely feels Cat has been abusing their friendship during this whole Vincent fiasco. Cat is given 48 hours to bring down the “bigger fish” setting Vincent up, and this is really where the episode kicks into high gear, because we now have a ticking clock adding to the tension surrounding the episode.
The script pretty much wrote Cat and Vincent into an impossible situation, but had them think their way out of it: Cat follows the money trail (or lack thereof) to deduce that Braxton has always been behind this all; Vincent then comes up with a plan to bring DHS directly into Graydal by leading them on a high-speed chase that, honestly, I wish had been a bigger setpiece within the episode, since the little bit we saw of it was kind of awesome (with Vincent knocking down Graydal employees, and then telling the desk clerk that she might want to think about putting her hands up). Combined with J.T. (Austin Basis) using Graydal’s own camera system against Braxton to capture his confession, the team essentially saves their own skin without having to shed any blood. And, as an added bonus, Braxton’s confession implicates Erik Lee, so now they don’t even really need the gun to convict the Triad member. It’s really the kind of deftly-handled storytelling I love about this show. Brute force has its applications in an action drama, but I feel like brains and quick thinking really should be a key component in why the protagonists deserve to have us rooting for them.
Of course, there were some cool character moments too, generally centering on J.T.: in one of the most touching moments of the season, for me, J.T. tells Cat that he’s not just helping out Vincent for her sake, he’s doing it because he feels it might be the one good thing in his life that he’s supposed to do. Cat responds by telling J.T. she loves him, and in a wonderfully subtle reaction shot, J.T. is rendered momentarily stunned. It’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, but just seeing that brief flash of genuine emotion on J.T.’s face left me really impressed with the subtleties of what Basis can do with the character, and how earnest and lived-in this character feels after four seasons. Hell, it’s all the more impressive when you consider it’s a conversation that takes place over the phone, so he was reacting without a scene partner. It’s just great stuff. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention how much fun it was to see the friendship continue to develop between J.T. and Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson), as he advises her to actually talk things out with Kyle (Michael Roark) and give him an answer about whether she’ll move in with him or not. Later, Heather agrees to infiltrate Graydal with him by posing as his wife, which leads to a cute little dynamic between the two. Maybe it’s just my innate mistrust of all things Kyle, but I almost felt like Heather had way more chemistry playing marriage with J.T. than she’s had with Kyle. But then, maybe the point is that something just seems off about Kyle. Granted, this was the one week where he seemed well within his rights to be utterly confused, as DHS shows him a video of Heather and J.T. entering Graydal as “husband and wife”. I’m guessing jealousy will rear its ugly head next week — or maybe we’ll get a different kind of ugly head if Kyle is really the new beast, which is basically my active theory right now. Would it make any kind of sense whatsoever? Probably not. But then, maybe it’s a Jekyll and Hyde situation, where he beasts out and then has no memory of it later. Just grasping at straws, since I have to find something to theorize over endlessly until next week.
Lastly, I enjoyed that we got some playful banter between Vincent and Cat, since it seemed the severity of their situation had smothered some of the lighthearted interactions in their relationship. The talk in the bathroom, in which Cat “exposes” Vincent while making a play on words about Vincent avoiding exposure for being a beast, is one of my favorite little interactions they’ve had so far this season. Much like with Basis, I feel Ryan and Kreuk have developed characters who just get each other, intrinsically. It’s to the point where I don’t even really need to bring up the matter of chemistry, because it’s such a lived-in relationship that it has all the appearances of the real thing by now. And that’s something the show will always have on its side in these final weeks, these relationships. The Cat/Tess arrest scene wouldn’t have been as poignant without four seasons of knowing just how close these two are. Lisandrello really sold that she hated having to arrest her best friend, but she would do it because she believes in justice. However, her love for Cat and her trust in her former partner’s instincts ultimately win out. Of course, it doesn’t feel like an out-of-character choice for Tess to have let Cat go, because it’s all been established, and it all feels real, which is all the more impressive considering the fantastical subject matter.
All in all, I thought “Means To An End” was one of the better episodes of this season. Beauty and the Beast is gearing up for endgame, and it really shows, as the plot is starting to come to a head. I’m not sure where it’s going, but I’m excited all the same.
But what do you think about Beauty and the Beast Season 4 Episode 10? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, catch up on where the show left off before hiatus with my review of the solid “The Getaway”!