‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: ‘Bob & Carol & Vincent & Cat’ Raises the Stakes
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 3 Episode 3 – Bob & Carol & Vincent & Cat:
Over the past three weeks, Beauty and the Beast has become a more action-packed series than it’s been at any other point in its history. And…well, I kind of love that change.
Each episode is more pulse-pounding than the one before it, giving the series this manic energy that adds urgency to the pacing, while retaining the character-driven elements that helped make the series what it is. “Bob & Carol & Vincent & Cat” is a great episode, with huge implications for the future, as the stakes have been considerably raised by the introduction of Bob Hall (Alan Van Sprang) and Carol Hall (Natasha Henstridge), married agents from the Department of Homeland Security who aren’t exactly what they seem. I suppose it shouldn’t have been such a big shock to find that out, and yet Beauty and the Beast has often split the difference on its portrayal of the feds: sometimes they’re friends, sometimes they’re foes, but every time, they’re always holding something back from our heroes. So it didn’t seem that far out of the realm of possibility that the show was simply introducing a replacement for Agent Thomas and his partner; i.e., two supporting characters within Federal Law Enforcement who become allies to Vincent (Jay Ryan) and Catherine (Kristin Kreuk). But that ended up not being the case…like, at all. And while I now feel a wee bit foolish for not seeing that twist coming (I mean, come on! It’s Alan Van Sprang! OF COURSE he’s playing a bad guy!), the episode is a thousand times better for that reveal. As is the season, as a whole, since we now have faces to put to this shady organization other than the “innocents” being experimented upon.
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. One of the things that “Bob & Carol & Vincent & Cat” throws into relief, for me, is how each episode so far this season, and each case that comes with it, comments upon Vincent and Cat’s relationship, in some way. In the premiere, the person they were hunting was someone whose beast side claimed him, causing the destruction of his happy marriage, as a result. In a sense, it was a cautionary tale about what Vincent might become if he ever fails to rein in his beast side. Last week, the climax again centered on how key Cat has become to keeping Vincent in check. Here, the episode is less about Cat’s effect on Vincent’s beast side, and more about how their relationship is struggling under the weight of its own future. Bob and Carol are depicted as a mirror of Vincent and Cat. They’re intelligent, loving, and trusting of one another. They’re also super-capable, working together as if they’re one person. Vincent and Cat aren’t quite at that level of efficiency yet, and it seems to bug them, at certain points in the episode. They’re bogged down by the realization that, with Agent Thomas dead, no one else knows about these mysterious experiments and their victims. They’re also stressed by the wedding planning, even though they’ve left it all to Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson). In addition, they’re finding it virtually impossible to find free time to spend together, as Vincent is either too tired, or people are trying to kill them. Throughout the episode, there’s a pervasive sense of doubt. Not of Vincent and Cat’s romance, but of the normalcy they’ll be able to achieve once they’re married. After all, not many married couples have to deal with a mysterious sniper haunting their every move. But that’s apparently VinCat’s lot in life, as they attempt to investigate the case against their Captain’s orders, and find that every time they get a new lead, the sniper is there to stop them, making impossible shots from impossible angles.
To Cat and Vincent, Bob and Carol are absolutely necessary to completing this investigation, since they can’t seem to get anything done without them (and with good reason, since Bob and Carol are impeding the investigation at every turn). And yet, beyond the investigation itself, Bob and Carol prove themselves valuable to VinCat, from a mentorship perspective. Bob and Carol offer advice about marriage, and it’s these moments that feel the most organic, as we see that Bob and Carol had the same worries themselves, and have grown to a point where their marriage is a natural extension of who they are as individuals, rather than some vague thing they have to worry about all the time. In this sense, it’s almost a shame that Bob and Carol aren’t who they say they are, since this could mean they’ve been lying about everything, even their marriage. Of course, it wouldn’t necessarily nullify any of the solid advice they give (such as when Carol tells Cat never to lose sight of her fierceness and her independent capabilities). But it’s hard to trust the advice of anyone who shoots at your with a sniper rifle multiple times. Yes, Bob and Carol are revealed to be working with whatever agency is responsible for these experiments. Worse, they’re serum-enhanced themselves, acquiring heightened reflexes that essentially allow them to slow down time and anticipate their opponents’ every move. Hell, their reflexes are so adept that they achieve their impossible sniper angles and ricochets through a skilled maneuver in which Carol fires a shot from her rifle, and then Bob fires a shot from his from across the way, with the two bullets connecting mid-stream to create the perfect angle. It’s sheer madness, and although we never see it in action, I don’t know that it’s necessarily something we need to see in order to understand the threat Bob and Carol possess with their abilities. However, we do get the opportunity, luckily, to see firsthand just how dangerous Bob and Carol can be.
The case of the week drama was underwhelming for the first half, largely because it involved a villain that couldn’t be seen. This is why the twist at the end was so damn effective, because it revealed we actually had been in contact with the villain throughout the entire episode. It made for an exhilarating reveal, as it recontextualized the episode and pretty much made a re-watch not only necessary, but happily welcome, to see if there are moments that hint that Bob and Carol aren’t who they say they are. But even without the twist, the case of the week picks up in the second half, with Cat and Carol sneaking into a party at the penthouse of drug kingpin and weapons dealer Julio Espinoza, in order to access his computer and download information to a flash drive about the shady organization with whom he’s working. Cat gets a chance to kick ass, flipping her heels off and using them to bludgeon a few guards, in a wonderful little moment that allows the women to be the center of the setpiece for once. And the climax, in which Vincent and Cat fight Bob and Carol in Vincent’s boat house, is awesome stuff that helps advance the overarching story of the season in a big way. Why? Well, it’s because of Vincent, really. He beasts out to take on Bob (with Cat encouraging him!), and the realization that Vincent is an altered specimen too prompts Bob and Cat to change the parameters of their mission. This is no longer simply about taking out Vincent and Cat, it’s about bringing Vincent in, since they can’t go back to their employer empty-handed now. It might feel like a bit of a retread to once again go back to the threat of Vincent being hunted and captured for experimentation, but this feels more dangerous than Muirfield ever was, largely because we don’t know anything about this organization that’s doing the experiments. And that mystery lends an ominous pall over everything. It’s genuinely unsettling, in the best possible way.
Of course, one of the real strengths of this episode is in its character work, as the relationships at the show’s center continue to shine. Jay Ryan and Kristin Kreuk are showing some fine comedic chemistry here, such as when Cat deadpans, “There goes your safety net” after she and Vincent narrowly escape the exploding houseboat, which had been rigged with bombs by Bob and Carol. Ryan also has this wonderful big brother-little sister chemistry with Nicole Gale Anderson, as Heather and Vincent once again find themselves in an inverse of last week’s awkward situation, with Heather walking in on a sleeping Vincent this time, and Vincent scaring the bejeebus about of her when he shoots awake. Heather constantly nagging Vincent about wedding details also feels like a natural extension of that relationship, as Heather is starting to view Vincent as her brother, and it’s resulted in Heather revealing more about her own neuroses as well. I’m surprised at how much I care about Heather’s broken heart — due to her lousy ex-fiance — despite the fact that we knew next to nothing about that relationship. It speaks volumes of how well Nicole Gale Anderson is playing the character, and how well Jay Ryan is easing into that familial relationship that feels altogether different from the one his character has with Cat. But my favorite bits actually come from J.T. (Austin Basis), who spends half the episode helping VinCat, and the other half trying to figure out what powers he was given by the serum, if any. When Bob and Carol shoot his hand in an attempt to destroy the flash drive that had Espinoza’s information on it, we discover J.T.’s power is…well, healing really fast, basically. I’m kind of hoping there’s more to it than that, since I was intrigued by the possibility of J.T. having a more action-oriented focus as a character, going forward. Yes, he should definitely still be a character who primarily uses his intelligence to contribute, but I’d like to see what J.T. is capable of as an action hero in his own right. That reveal was really my only disappointment, because the rest of J.T.’s story is great, due mostly to the surprising tenderness of the relationship between he and Tess (Nina Lisandrello). The way he supports her, and the way she always has his back, makes it one of my favorite relationships on TV right now. The arrest of Espinoza and Tess’s eventual promotion to Captain of her precinct felt like a culmination not just for Tess’s career, but for her relationship with J.T., as their faith in one another reaches a payoff that I hope is just one of many.
“Bob & Carol & Vincent & Cat” is another fun episode, and one that irrevocably raises the stakes for Beauty and the Beast Season 3, as Vincent and Cat become the hunted, all while they continue to hunt the serum-corrupted “innocents”, and the organization that created them. Maybe it’s not the deepest story in the world to be telling, but it’s well worth checking out, as the characters — and their relationships — are evolving in ways that make up for the story’s lack of inherent depth. This is a tale that is as old as time, of good guys learning to work together to bring down evil, all while sustaining themselves on the love and trust they have for one another. In a lot of ways, it could be cheesy, but I feel like this cast is doing a great job bringing this story to life, and the behind-the-scenes elements are coming together in a big way as well, from the writing to the direction and even the editing. Beauty and the Beast feels like a new show, but not an unrecognizable one. It simply feels like the show it was always meant to be, a fantasy drama encoded with the DNA of a superhero blockbuster. Here’s hoping the rest of the season can keep up this pace.
But what did you think of “Bob & Carol & Vincent & Cat”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, check out my review of last week’s episode, “Primal Fear”!
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Thanks for reading!