‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: ‘Love Is a Battlefield’ Delivers On Its Title
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 4 Episode 8 – Love Is a Battlefield:
Beauty and the Beast is kind of a lucky show, although I suppose calling the show “lucky” implies it wasn’t designed to be this way. I say it’s “lucky” because it can occupy a bunch of different genres at the same time, and this isn’t exactly a new opinion of mine. “Love Is a Battlefield” is a spy/heist drama and a straight-up screwball comedy, except without the battle of the sexes element. Then again, I suppose you could argue it’s still a bit of a battle, as Vincent (Jay Ryan) and Cat (Kristin Kreuk) manage to get in each other’s way during what should be relatively straightforward missions.
Despite feeling a bit less substantial than last week, I still thought this was a really fun hour of escapist TV. The episode centers on Vincent furthering his infiltration of Graydal by teaming up on a heist mission with a sexy assassin named Diane Vaughn (AnnaLynne McCord), who just so happens to be wanted by Interpol for murder. On its face, the plot sounds thoroughly ridiculous, in complete opposition to the seriousness of Vincent and Cat’s situation. I mean, for crying out loud, these are two people who are being hunted by an assassin whose identity still hasn’t been identified. In fact, it’s a good deal more severe than that, since it’s not just Vincent and Cat being hunted by this person who’s put out the bounty, as Tess (Nina Lisandrello), J.T. (Austin Basis), and Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson) are also targets. Basically, VinCat’s life is a hot mess express, and it’s kind of miraculous that they’re even in a position to come up with any sort of plans whatsoever. This episode relies largely on a willing suspension of disbelief. There’s absolutely no reason at all that Vincent or Cat’s plan should work. Vincent is volunteering for a heist to be accepted into Graydal, while Cat has to compromise her affection for Vincent by pretending she actually does want to bring him in to DHS. They’re essentially on opposite sides of the law, in a but of a Mr. and Mrs. Smith situation.
And yet, it’s that kind of self-awareness that makes this such a fun little romp. For instance, Vincent has to kiss Diane to keep his cover when they go to a high society pool party to case the target of their heist. When J.T. hacks a DHS drone, he’s able to spy on the party, and that’s how Cat is able to spot Vincent kissing his new “wife”. In a previous season, this might have become a big issue between the two. And it probably wouldn’t have been too far out of the realm of reasonable responses. That kiss just seemed weird, in the same way the entire Vincent/Tori business did in Season 2, or the Cat/Gabe connection later that same season felt, or the way Cat’s dream world connection with Evan felt off just a few episodes ago. Of course, in this case, the awkwardness seems to have been the point. Ryan and McCord lack the same sort of chemistry that Ryan has with Kreuk, and as a result, the connection between Vincent and Cat is further emphasized, since they simply don’t have the same sort of physical connection with other people, no matter the artificial nature of the connection. Because, really, two good-looking people like Vincent and Diane should, in theory, be able to create a believable connection. But because we know the depth and breadth of Vincent and Cat’s connection, the fake romance between Vincent and Diane simply doesn’t track.
And this is further emphasized throughout the episode, with Vincent and Cat talking about how ineffective they are, both personally and professionally, without each other. They can still get the job done, but they’re a team, so it’s just not the same when they’re tasked with getting things done separately. And you can see this with how Vincent acts around Diane. Sure, he plays it cool, as if he’s completely confident in his connection with his new “wife”, but his body language speaks volumes, such as when Diane gets up close to fix the collar on his suit. There’s a sense of discomfort with Vincent that makes the scene both tense and awkward. Granted, you’re not going to have the same chemistry with a person over ten minutes that you have with someone you’ve been with for three seasons. Still, there’s a feeling that we, the audience, are supposed to feel pained about Vincent’s impromptu relationship with Diane. But Cat’s acceptance of the necessity of the relationship, despite her later flare of jealousy, illustrates the relative maturity of VinCat’s relationship. And I definitely appreciate that, since there’s a feeling of actual progress here.
But then, I’m sort of burying the lede here. There are a bunch of exciting moments in this episode. This has one of the best climaxes of any episode this season, in my opinion, as Diane forces Vincent to murder a security guard to prove his loyalty. This is one of the moments where Beauty and the Beast completely subverted expectations, at least for me, as I had every expectation that Vincent, as a doctor, would know some way to safely subdue a man without actually killing him. But nope, Vincent actually kills the guy by choking him to death. Then, when Cat arrives on the scene to pursue Diane, Vincent launches into action to revive his fallen victim. In essence, Vincent kills a guy and then brings him back to life. It’s so over-the-top that it’s almost kind of hilarious. I mean, seriously, this is awesome. It’s the kind of thing not many heroes on TV can get away with, because it inherently paints them as morally dubious. But here, we know Vincent is a good guy, and was just doing what he had to do, even if the security guard didn’t necessarily understand it. It’s such a cool moment of subversion, and it feeds into the parallel climax with Cat. It’s an awesome action sequence in which Vincent’s two wives fight like hell, with Cat getting the upper hand in a stylishly modern kitchen…only to accidentally kill Diane, as she ends up landing — chest-first — onto a knife. It’s the kind of ending that I would imagine would be pretty divisive, since it implies Cat simply got lucky, and that Diane might have finished the job if she hadn’t suffered her unlucky break. But I love this finish, in large part because it places Cat in the same position as Vincent. She’s killed in self-defense, and her situation creates a contrast with Vincent’s. The authorities understand the necessity of what Cat has done, whereas Vincent remains public enemy no. 1. These two remain incapable of being together because they’re on opposite sides of the wall. Sure, Graydal actually needs Vincent now, due to Diane’s death, and DHS actually believes Cat when she says she wants to bring Vincent in, since she saved her boss’s life in the process of taking down Diane. But all that does is further separate husband and wife, albeit in interesting ways.
As for the rest of the episode, there were some nuggets I really enjoyed, such as J.T. and Tess continuing to figure out what their relationship is, exactly. J.T. gets jealous when Heather tells him that Tess is starting to date again, and although he tries to make a grand romantic gesture, J.T. strikes out. Tess isn’t unsympathetic, but J.T. is so humiliated about striking out at Cantuccio’s that his emotional state is pretty understandable. Still, I love that this episode really highlighted why J.T. is important. There’s a wonderfully touching moment where J.T. explains that, despite receiving the “you shouldn’t put yourself in harm’s way” speech from Vincent, he can’t just sit by while his best friend and his wife are in trouble. In that moment, Cat is so touched by J.T.’s loyalty and bravery that she reaches out to hug him, which just might be the first moment of real kinship and affection between them, as far as I can recall. At the very least, it’s been a while. And here, we see just how much J.T. means to everyone, and how hard he’s working to help Vincent and Cat achieve their happily ever after. He doesn’t know what his true purpose is, but he admits that, perhaps, it’s this. Hell, he’s even trained Heather to be a hell of a tech wiz in her own right. In short, J.T. could end up being the lynchpin to this entire season. As a fellow nerd like J.T., I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for him.
Ultimately, “Love Is a Battlefield” delivers one of the more amusing episodes of the season, as Vincent and Cat remain on opposite sides of the law. Sure, I’d love to see Vincent and Cat back on the same side, but this extended period apart is going to make their inevitable reunion all the more effective. If nothing else, Beauty and the Beast seems to understand this, as Vincent and Cat are continually denied their happily ever after, in service of further obstacles. It makes for a good story, even if it’s kind of frustrating that the status quo has been disrupted so considerably. But hey, that’s what makes this exciting, in my opinion.
But what did you think of Beauty and the Beast Season 4 Episode 8, “Love Is a Battlefield”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more Beauty and the Beast, read my review of last week’s thrilling “Point of No Return”!