Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 1 Episode 16 – Insatiable:
Beauty and the Beast has gotten quite deft at creating new problems out of the peace of one problem’s resolution. Case in point, tonight’s “Insatiable”, in which the hunt for The Vigilante is brought to an end, only to be replaced by the revelation of Vincent’s (Jay Ryan) identity to Tess (Nina Lisandrello) as our conflict, going forward. And really, pitting Cat (Kristin Kreuk) against her former best friend and partner isn’t a bad direction for the narrative to take. Those climactic final moments really create a palpable sense of tension that drives the narrative forward in a big way, and I’ll be interested to see how the show finds its way out of this conflict of interest between Cat’s love of Vincent, and Tess’ dedication to justice. Because, really, neither party is wrong. Tess is right to doubt Cat because she actually is breaking the law to protect Vincent (from destroying evidence, to aiding and abetting a fugitive), while Cat is also right to ask for a second chance from Tess on principle, as Tess herself has a forbidden romance going on with her boss, Joe (Brian T. White). This one conflict is representative of the larger conflicts within the story, and this episode succeeds largely by addressing and deepening those conflicts. “Insatiable” is an episode that ups the stakes, which consequently makes it feel alive with purpose and tension.
In his singular purpose toward vengeance against The Vigilante, Joe is looking at every crime in town as though it’s the work of the mysterious fugitive. Cat’s insistence that The Vigilante is only violent in order to protect the helpless draws the suspicion of Evan (Max Brown), who believes that Cat and the cross-species “monster” are connected somehow. However, Cat isn’t the only one who thinks The Vigilante may not be the cold-blooded killer Joe and Evan make him out to be: Tess combs the streets, on Joe’s orders, and speaks with Vigilante eyewitnesses, and each one reveals that they’d have been killed had the mysterious man not intervened. A convenience store owner who was rescued by Vincent sings The Vigilante’s praises, though he leads Tess to believe, between describing the color of his eyes and the veins on his face, that The Vigilante isn’t exactly human. This theory is further bolstered when Cat accidentally leaves her scarf behind in Evan’s lab, and he tests it, discovering traces of mutated DNA. He confronts her on his discovery, and Cat tries to play it off as though the DNA adhering to her scarf was the result of having been at so many vigilante crime scenes, but Evan isn’t buying it. Of course, his obnoxious whining about trust is undermined by the fact that he’s hiding his own secrets from Cat, as he’s actively helping Muirfield in the hunt for The Vigilante so that the mysterious organization can get its hands on Vincent before Joe’s task force can.
Vincent, for his part, recognizes the danger he’s putting Cat in, and comes up with an idea to get both Muirfield and the task force off their tail for good. Using a cadaver from JT’s (Austin Basis) university laboratory, they stage an explosion at the loft for Muirfield and the task force to witness. To all appearances, The Vigilante will have gone up in flames, leaving a charred, unidentifiable body. Case closed, right? It’s actually a pretty clever plan, and it looks like it’s going to go off without a hitch until Evan, in frequent contact with JT, spills the beans to Muirfield. The agency storms Vincent’s apartment, and he and Cat only just barely escape the gunfire of Muirfield’s forces before the apartment bursts into flames. Joe accepts that The Vigilante is dead, and he can begin the process of moving on. He informs ADA Gabe Lowell (Sendhil Ramamurthy) about this development, and though he seems resigned to the facts of the case over the phone, Gabe immediately lashes out at two of his henchmen for failing to bring him The Vigilante, for reasons unknown. I don’t think he’s with Muirfield, since it would make the task force redundant. So what are Gabe’s motives? This is an intriguing mystery for the series, going forward, and it pairs well with the intriguing conflict introduced in the closing moments of the episode…
Following their escape, Cat and Vincent part ways in the underground tunnels below the apartment building, and as Vincent roams the dark corridors, he hears someone shouting for him to freeze, and identifying herself as NYPD. Turns out it’s Tess, and she gives chase as Vincent tries to avoid capture. However, he’s not fast enough, and Tess is able to get the drop on him with her gun, ordering him not to move a muscle. Vincent pleads with Tess to let him go, and to get away. The process has already begun in Vincent and we can see it, as the dark veins snake up the side of his neck and creep towards his face. His eyes turn yellow and his teeth get sharper. Tess is puzzled and horrified, and when Vincent turns to face her, she fires her gun, hitting him in the abdomen. Cat hears the commotion and races through the tunnels, coming upon the scene. She flips out, regressing into a full-scale panic attack as she weeps over Vincent, and pleading with him to hang on. Tess can only watch in puzzlement at her partner’s grief over The Vigilante. And boom goes the dynamite.
So Tess knows about Vincent and Cat, and that’s as compelling a conflict as the series has presented so far, I’d argue. It furthers the story of Tess’ mistrust, as well as the rift in she and Cat’s friendship/partnership. The show has done an excellent job redefining itself as a more serialized drama, instead of as a somewhat loosely-connected crime procedural, and it’s storylines like these that really hammer home the change. It also helps that the episode is loaded with scenes that utilize the chemistry between Kreuk and Ryan, as Cat and Vincent ponder a life away from the constant danger of Muirfield and the task force. They also get another love scene, no more salacious than last week, but still well-filmed, as far as communicating the couple’s emotive tenderness is concerned. There’s a building sense that these two people really do love each other, as opposed to lesser TV romances, which simply feel like a contrivance for the sake of the story. “Insatiable” really gives Beauty and the Beast an exciting injection of narrative momentum, and momentum is never a bad thing on a genre show like this.