Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 1 Episode 17 – Partners in Crime:
Beauty and the Beast started out pretty rough when it premiered, and I let it be known in my reviews that I didn’t think the series could bounce back. However, I couldn’t possibly be happier to be proven wrong, as the series has matured into a more sophisticated show than it had initially been as a straightforward crime procedural. The minute they ditched the “case of the week” format is the minute the show took off, and in impressive fashion, as the serialized aspects to the story made for eminently engaging television. This approach to the story also had the added benefit of giving the cast more to do, and it’s for this reason that “Partners in Crime” is ultimately one of the best episodes of the season. Nina Lisandrello hasn’t gotten a whole lot to do as Tess, as of late, other than grouse about Cat’s (Kristin Kreuk) questionable life choices in between makeout sessions with her boss, Joe (Brian J. White). Yet she’s front and center in “Partners in Crime”, revealing a complexity to her conflict with Cat that, once again, makes this dilemma feel organic, natural, and all the more compelling since, once again, it’s not like Tess is even in the wrong here.
If we look at it from her perspective, Tess sees a friend who’s trapped in a potentially abusive relationship, making excuses for a man who murdered the innocent brother of their boss. Worse, she sees a person, in Cat, who’s done nothing but lie to her and obstruct justice in order to keep her boy toy from going to prison. From this point of view, it makes sense why Tess might be more than a little upset that Cat has tossed aside their friendship in favor of a guy she barely knows, while also contributing to the wasting of valuable taxpayers’ dollars, since the detectives remain on a wild goose chase for a man they can’t catch because one of their own is on the inside, making sure that doesn’t happen. I’d be mad too. Yet Cat has a legitimate quarrel over her own, as she sees in Tess not only someone who doesn’t understand, but someone who doesn’t even want to try. She’s not wrong that Tess sees things strictly in black-and-white (even though she later takes back this criticism), and she’s also not wrong for expecting a little leeway after years of friendship. That Tess so quickly jumps to conclusions without trying to look at it from any other angle but her own is part of why Cat is so hurt. She may not have expected receiving the benefit of the doubt from Tess, but she at least expected to get a fair hearing, and I’m not sure she did.
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here.
Strangely enough, the first half of the episode is like a one-act play between Tess and Vincent (Jay Ryan). Picking up directly after last week’s cliffhanger, Cat pleads with Tess not to turn them in, resulting in Vincent subduing Tess while he and Cat try to explain their side of the story. But then JT (Austin Basis) shows up and tranquilizes Tess, which does little to help their argument that they mean no harm. Cat goes topside to meet with the cops and to figure things out while Vincent remains in the sewers with Tess. These scenes between Vincent and Tess are surprisingly subdued, as Vincent attempts to explain his actions by detailing his past. Tess is suspicious of Vincent’s motives in telling her that his brother died on September 11th, suggesting that he’s simply playing the sympathy card, to which Vincent responds, “I’m just playing the cards I was dealt.” Vincent asks Tess to just talk to Cat and hear her out before she makes any decisions, and Tess seems to come to a point where she isn’t immediately hostile towards him. However, when Vincent goes to get Tess a granola bar from his knapsack (because you should never leave home with granola. #RealTalk), Tess clocks him and runs off.
Meanwhile, Cat participates in a press conference with ADA Lowell (Sendhil Ramamurthy) about the death of The Vigilante, and though everything seems to go fine, Lowell gives her the third degree back in the precinct, since his default expression is suspicion. He gets really passive-aggressive with Cat, insisting that if Cat cares so much about her best friend, who has yet to check in from her patrol, then she’ll go looking for her. When Cat agrees, just to get him off her back, Lowell insists on coming with. The two go to Tess’ apartment, and Cat sees all the old pictures that Tess has kept of the two of them, and though Cat is able to shake Lowell, she isn’t able to shake Tess, whom she encounters outside the apartment. Cat tries to get Tess to take a look at the files of all of the cases in which Vincent was involved, in an attempt to make her see that he’s always tried to do the right thing. However, Tess doesn’t really want to hear any of it. She gives Cat an ultimatum: if she turns Vincent in, she’ll cover for Cat. If not, she’s on her own. Cat refuses Tess’ bargain, and I’m doing a bit of a disservice to the emotional impact of the scene, as both women really portray how devastating the end of a friendship can be. Neither one wants to have to do what they’re doing, but they’re passionate about their positions: Tess about Justice, and Cat about Vincent, and his inherent goodness. The former partners, both in tears, part ways as Cat rushes to meet with Vincent so they can make their escape. Tess, meanwhile, calls Joe to let him know they got the wrong guy — The Vigilante is still out there.
This leads us to our climax, in which Tess is accompanied into the sewers by two of Lowell’s men in an attempt to apprehend Vincent. The two men are lousy at following orders, as her orders not to just fire at anything that moves is ignored by the trigger-happy cops. Eventually, things get out of hand, and Tess comes into conflict with one of the cops, who shoots her in the back. Tess falls into the water and is sucked down into a storm drain, with the water gradually filling up around her. She has only minutes before the water level raises and she drowns. Luckily, Vincent and Cat are nearby. Vincent hulks out and fights with the two cops in the only part of the episode that doesn’t really work, since it’s shock very shakily and in near total darkness. The latter part makes sense, since it’s an unlit sewer, but the shaky-cam action is really unnecessary. But then, it isn’t much of a fight to begin with, as one of the men subdues Vincent with a cattle prod until Cat breaks free of the other cop, steals his cattle prod, and fries his partner by combining the electricity with the puddle beneath him. Cat realizes that Tess should be with them, and fears something bad has happened to her.
Cat and Vincent split up to find her, resulting in Vincent coming upon the storm drain just in the nick of time. He hulks out again (I didn’t know he could do it at will, but I’m for it, if that’s a change they’ve decided to make) and pulls the sluice gate free, rescuing Tess. Cat happens upon the scene and rushes to Tess’ aid, as her former partner and best friend cries in her arms and tells her she’s sorry. It’s a genuinely touching moment in an episode that tackles problems that, on the surface, seem straight out of The CW’s more traditionally high school oriented focus (“She doesn’t want to be my BFF anymore because she doesn’t like my boyfriend!”), but which are actually resoundingly effective when portrayed in an adult context. The resulting scene in which Cat and Tess resolve their friendship is my favorite of the episode. It’s a mix of lightheartedness and severity, as Tess jokingly asks Cat if she kisses Vincent in his beast form, before transitioning into a more honest interrogation of his merit, asking if he’s ever hurt her or if he’s ever hurt anyone innocent. These are questions that need to be asked for the sake of continuity, since it’s the only way to make Tess’ acceptance of Vincent fit her justice-oriented character. However, Lowell isn’t as easily satisfied. When Joe grills him over his men never showing up to accompany Tess, Lowell goes into the sewers by himself and discovers claw marks from the early fight. Though JT and Vincent were able to dispose of the corrupt cops’ bodies, they were unable to remove all evidence of Vincent’s presence. Lowell knows that The Vigilante is still alive, meaning the hunt is likely back on. Yet I still have to wonder what Lowell’s intentions are in all of this. One of the better theories I’ve read is that he’s like Vincent too, and is hoping to study him in order to find a cure to their split personalities. Either way, I can’t imagine he’s with Muirfield, since there would have been some overlap in recent weeks between his storylines and the ongoing Muirfield saga.
On the subject of Muirfield, Evan (Max Brown) is happy that The Vigilante case is closed, but the victory is bittersweet, as JT inadvertently forces Evan to realize he’s in love with Cat and that he was only doing this for her. JT tries to talk Evan out of it, but he refuses to be dissuaded. Unfortunately for Cat and Vincent, he approaches Cat’s apartment building just as the lovebirds are kissing on her fire escape. At first he’s just heartbroken, but heartbreak quickly turns to curiosity when he sees Vincent do his “beast jump” from the fire escape on the fifth floor all the way down to a passing truck, and then onto the street, without so much as spraining an ankle. It seems that Lowell won’t be alone in his suspicions that The Vigilante is still out there. And even worse, jealousy will be coloring all of his actions — and other than the desire for power or revenge, jealousy is the emotion that most tends to make men ruthless on a show like this.
Ultimately, “Partners in Crime” does a fine job of exploring the theme of partnership, deepening the relationships between these characters while resolving some of the long-simmering arcs of the season, such as Tess’ distrust of Cat and her lack of knowledge about Vincent. The episode also sets up some compelling stories for the weeks to come. The season is nearly at an end, and the pace hasn’t really slowed down — and I appreciate that. We won’t be getting another episode for three weeks, but I imagine the tension will still be there once the show returns. And once it does, it’s a straight shot to the season finale. Should be interesting.