Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 1 Episode 5 – Saturn Returns
The CW’s Beauty and the Beast has really hunkered down in recent weeks in terms of establishing the stakes of its storyline. While the viewer might like Vincent (Jay Ryan) and want him to continue to live his life, unmolested by Muirfield agents, we don’t get a tangible sense of the strain this existence is taking on him, and on his best friend and figurative partner-in-crime, J.T. Forbes (Austin Basis). J.T. had thought he could occupy Vincent’s dark world of secrecy while maintaining his regular life. However, it became quickly apparent that the former life would consume the latter, and J.T. came to realize that you can’t be half in Vincent’s world. It’s all-in, or get out. But in a broader sense, “Saturn Returns” explores what it means to take away someone’s right to choose what’s best for their own happiness, both through the interactions between Vincent and birthday girl Cat (Kristin Kreuk), and in this week’s case.
It’s Cat’s birthday, and while she’s expressly stated she doesn’t want a surprise party, her sister, Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson), teams up with Cat’s partner, Tess (Nina Lisandrello) to make it happen anyway. The back drop of the birthday allows us to see how Cat has become reserved in her personal life, less likely to really branch out and engage with her family and friends at any meaningful level. It’s easy to infer that this began with the death of her mother, yet the series seems to paint this as a recent, Vincent-related trend, with Cat often excusing herself to go God knows where, with God knows whom. She’s keeping secrets from her loved ones out of necessity, both Vincent’s and her own. However, with secrecy comes the need for distraction, and so Cat has a bit too much to drink at her birthday party, and she winds up getting kissed by British medical examiner Evan (Max Brown), who is admonished by Cat for the impromptu makeout session, though Evan quickly notes that she wasn’t exactly pushing him away. Naturally, Vincent sees this kiss and misinterprets this as evidence that she’s taken his earlier advice to move on without him.
“Saturn Returns” is our first substantial step towards escalating the Vincent/Cat dynamic from uneasy friendship to outright romance, as Vincent gushes to J.T. about how Cat makes him feel like he has a life again. He wants to get more involved with Cat, but he rethinks his position when J.T. opts not to go out with a pretty lady named Sarah, rationalizing that if they really care about someone, they won’t let them get involved in this shadowy life they have to live. Vincent recognizes the truth of what J.T. is saying, and begins going out of his way to put Catherine off. It’s an overused trope in romance fiction, but it’s well-deployed here, as Vincent still seems to be a bit spooked by the Muirfield business, and is more concerned with Cat’s safety than his own happiness. As he tells Cat when he’s explaining why they can’t see each other anymore, “I didn’t save you nine years ago so you could hang around in a dusty warehouse.” His heart is in the right place, even though he doesn’t seem to comprehend that it’s not really his choice to make, unless, as Cat says, he has some other reason holding him back. Maybe he should have employed the even more tired trope of “the man who pretends he doesn’t love the woman, in order to protect her from getting caught in the crossfire.” But then, that really wouldn’t have done much to tie into the theme of making up someone’s mind for them, when it’s not your choice to make, since such an act would have depended upon Vincent being dishonest to Cat, since he does care about her, or else he wouldn’t have been as clearly hurt as he was by seeing her kissing Evan through the window.
But Vincent has other problems, specifically a close call in a convenience store, in which Vincent foils a robbery by hulking out, but gets caught on the store’s surveillance camera. The supernatural element of the show takes a bit of a backseat this week, outside of these few brief scenes dealing with Vincent’s close call, and an additional subplot in which Vincent feels dazed for unknown reasons, culminating in his blacking out at the end of the episode, and awaking on top of Brooklyn Bridge. This could lead to bigger problems for Vincent, particularly if he proves himself incapable of controlling these blackouts. If nothing else, it caused him to miss a dinner date with Cat, who, as a result of epiphanies inspired by the case she was working, confronted Vincent and declared that he doesn’t get to decide they can’t hang out anymore. Her happiness is her own choice, and she knows and accepts what she’s getting herself into. Fair enough. Shame about dinner though. That wine looked of a singularly excellent vintage.
Cat’s case, which elucidates the week’s themes, follows Dr. Michael Walters (Jeremy Glazer) and the sudden disappearance of his fiance, Amy (Annie Murphy). It initially appears to be an abduction, and even eventually a homicide, once a body that is similar to Amy’s surfaces. But these are all red herrings, and as the Vincent and Cat plotlines escalate, it becomes clear that Amy disappeared of her own accord. It turns out that Amy is really a tortured soul named Lily Carter, who pushed Michael away out of fear that someone was getting too close to her dark past. Much like Vincent, her recent life has been spent having to constantly be ready to pack up and run at a moment’s notice. Vincent confiding in Cat that he and J.T. have an escape plan that will allow them to be out of New York in minutes is what gives her the idea of just what “Amy” has been up to. Cat meets Amy at the hotel in which she’s hiding. Amy insists that she can’t ask Michael to give up his life to be on the run with her, but Cat insists that this isn’t a choice she can make for Michael – she has to give him the opportunity to make that decision for himself. Of course, this ignores that Michael has been bludgeoned and abducted by a man named Malcolm, the man after Amy. In yet another overchoreographed fight scene, which is becoming a weekly staple of BATB, Malcolm is arrested, and Michael and Amy are reunited, but Cat isn’t as lucky with Vincent. I’m sensing a theme with this show. The Cat and Vincent pairing is probably going to be teased for a few more episodes before anything substantial happens, but for now, we’re left to ruminate on how happiness can prove difficult when it’s shrouded in the need for secrecy.
“Saturn Returns” is the best episode of the series thus far, primarily on how clearly and comprehensively the themes are illustrated, and in the relevance of the week’s case to the overall character arcs of the episode. Beauty and the Beast is still a guilty pleasure, but at least it’s not an out-and-out nightmare, even if it occasionally dips into well-worn trope territory.