‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: ‘Meet the New Beast’ Is Emotional High Point of Season
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 4 Episode 11 – Meet the New Beast:
As we near the end of Beauty and the Beast, it’s become more clear just what the stakes are here, as we see what really matters to these characters. In this respect, “Meet the New Beast” is the emotional high point of the season so far, featuring moments I really didn’t think we’d get. It says a lot about how far this show has come that new character beats can still be found in different relationships on this show.
I’ll dig into specifics in a little bit, but first, let’s talk shop. Much of the episode centers on Vincent (Jay Ryan) and Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) considering their two options, either capturing the new beast in order to cut a deal with DHS, or using the fake identities J.T. (Austin Basis) is creating for them to start new lives somewhere else. Now, for the majority (okay, the entirety) of this season, I’ve been suspicious of Kyle (Michael Roark) and his intentions with Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson). First, I suspected he was the beast buyer. Then, when that wasn’t the case, I figured he’d be the new beast. Well, as this episode implies, that isn’t really the case either. Granted, it still could be, considering he’s instrumental in helping DHS capture Vincent and Catherine at the end of the episode. But if he were the new beast, I think he’d rather have Vincent permanently out of the picture by killing him, rather than just having him arrested, so his actions wouldn’t entirely make sense. No, as it turns out, Kyle is just a guy who ends up doing the wrong thing, despite good intentions. Of course, it’s hard to buy that he’s really “protecting” Heather by dropping the dime on Vincent and Cat. And yet, it’d be kind of disappointing if this is all Kyle’s character ends up being, you know? Maybe it’s just that I’ve been building him up in my mind as this bigger villain all season, so when it’s revealed that he’s just a normal guy who ruins everything through misguided “good” intentions, it comes across as an anticlimax.
Either way, despite being called “Meet the New Beast”, we never really do meet the new beast. Granted, it increases the suspense for the final two episodes of the series. The drama is actually heightened through the knowledge of just how close Vincent and Cat come to meeting the beast, despite ultimately failing to do so. Basically, Vincent and Cat discover Muirfield is back, and go after the man who bought the company, only to find him murdered by the new beast. So they track down a contact named Garrus, who helped improve on the work Muirfield already started. This new beast can camouflage, for crying out loud! And he’s apparently impervious to tranq gun darts, if Garrus is to be believed. So Vincent lays a trap using Garrus as bait. But everything goes horribly awry, as Garrus escapes and ends up being killed by the new beast before Vincent can get to him. This is basically an episode of close calls, and promising leads sent swirling down the drain. As hopelessness builds, Vincent and Cat are faced with Option B, to assume new identities and flee. Heather helps by stealing the files of two deceased patients from the hospital, so that J.T. can use those identities before the deaths are logged into the system (apparently, in the information age, simply making up an identity won’t work. They need the identities of real, pre-existing people). While the episode tries to build up the hope that Vincent and Cat won’t need to rely on Option B, hope is eroded to the point where it’s clear they really have no other choice.
And yet, even as Vincent and Cat attempt to escape by fleeing to the airport, they can sense something wrong about this. One of the key elements that make Vincent and Cat so compelling is their commitment to doing the right thing even when it won’t benefit them in the least. Earlier this season, we had Vincent refuse to blow up the DHS building for Braxton because it would lead to the deaths of countless innocent people. Here, Vincent and Cat decide not to flee, since they can’t just leave the new beast to roam free, killing people all over the city. Granted, it’s a decision they reach far too late, as Kyle has already informed DHS that Vincent and Cat are still in the city. By the time they’re ready to turn away from boarding the flight, Agent Dillon is right there with a full team to arrest them both. It’s a total disaster, but an intriguing one. Dillon made it clear that DHS has no interest in cutting a deal with Vincent, adding that he’ll be shown no mercy. So I really can’t think of a way out of this for them. Yet I can’t believe for a second that this show would have a downer ending in its series finale. So how the hell do Vincent and Cat get out of this one? Does DHS come face-to-face with the new beast and realize Vincent is the only one who could stop him? At this rate, I really feel like that’s the only solution, having Vincent and Cat capture/kill the new beast in exchange for their freedom. But I’d be interesting to hear any other theories as to how Vincent and Cat could potentially get out of this predicament.
But beyond the central dilemma, there are some absolutely outstanding character moments here, which is why I consider this the emotional high point of the season. The big scene I’m talking about is when Vincent has a heart-to-heart with Tess (Nina Lisandrello). These are two characters who, while not exactly cold towards one another, have never exactly been buddy-buddy. Tess’s tolerance for Vincent and his drama mostly extends from her love for Cat and J.T., and her commitment to doing the right thing. But here, four seasons into this show, we get a scene that feels entirely new, and it explores a relationship that’s never truly been explored before. Tess shows concern about potentially losing Vincent and Cat when they go on the run, but Vincent has trouble believing she’d miss him at all. It’s at this point that Tess admits she’s never liked the beast, but she’s always liked the man behind the beast, due in large part to how he loves her friend. Vincent responds by giving Tess a big ol’ “beast hug”, which is just about the most endearing moment of this season. Both Ryan and Lisandrello play the moment with a warmth and familiarity that can only really come after four seasons of being through hell together, as these characters are among the few who can really share in each other’s dilemma. Vincent telling Tess that it was silly of J.T. to ever let her go was also a wonderful little moment that ties into a similar scene in which Vincent — during their “last mission” together — makes J.T. promise he’ll get back together with Tess. This comes full circle later on when J.T. brings it up with Tess after she laments possibly losing her best friend. The familiarity between Lisandrello and Basis, and the lived-in history of those characters, made this interaction instantly believable, as J.T. jokes that they should at least have sex one more time, which breaks the tension and helps Tess to see that she could have a future with J.T. as a friend, even if both of them realize they’re destined for something more.
On the subject of being destined for something more, I also really enjoyed the scene in which J.T. has an epic meltdown about possibly losing Vincent, despite everything he’s done to try and help him. J.T. has been such a support structure on the show that it’s easy to forget that his suffering is often internal, since he has bigger fish to fry at any given moment. He can’t let loose, because his troubles seem petty by comparison. So it all comes out in a torrent of pain, as he intimates to Heather that he feels as though he’s failed Vincent. It’s a heartbreaking scene that, while eventually leavened a bit by his warm interaction with Tess, illustrates that there’s a hidden depth to J.T., and a struggle that continues to be one of the more compelling subplots of the season. It’s matched only by Tess and Cat’s moment later. While I didn’t love this as much as the other one-on-one interactions, I think this did a good job of bringing Tess and Cat’s partnership full circle, with Tess admitting she’ll probably never find a better partner, and Cat warmly telling Tess she’ll never find a better friend. It really does feel like only yesterday that this was a completely different show that focused, in large part, on a murder of the week that may or may not have anything to do with beasts or romance. In those days, the show relied more on the chemistry between Cat and Tess as they worked a case, so this relationship was critical in getting the show off the ground until VinCat became a thing. While Beauty and the Beast didn’t really stick with that Law & Order approach, the friendship between Tess and Cat has remained central to the show, and it’s been one of the universal constants through Gabe, Vincent’s amnesia, Tori, Reynolds, Liam and everything else they’ve been through. I think Kreuk and Lisandrello have a way of making their interactions feel more natural than they might seem on the page, which is why I really have enjoyed watching them together all these years.
While this could have served as a series finale (albeit a bummer one), I’m glad it didn’t. Because it means we get to spend more time with this cast, in this world, with this story. We might not have all the answers we want just yet out of this season of Beauty and the Beast, but everything is coming to a head. And “Meet the New Beast” is setting us on the path to closure. Well, hopefully.
What do you think of Beauty and the Beast Season 4 Episode 11, “Meet the New Beast”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, read my review of the previous episode, the thrilling “Means To An End”!