Recap and review for Beauty and the Beast – Season 1 Episode 7 – Out of Control
Beauty and the Beast has only spent a cursory amount of time really exploring the implications of Vincent’s affliction. He repeatedly talks about how dangerous he is to others, but not until the advent of this “unexplained blackouts” plot two episodes back have we really been given any indication of just how out of control Vincent (Jay Ryan) can be when unhinged. Aptly enough, the episode is titled “Out of Control”, and concerns itself with charting Vincent’s pathos resulting from the fact that he can’t really live a normal, public life – not just because he has government agents after him, but because he has only a tenuous control of his own power. Though the episode tries to float the idea that Vincent is responsible for the murder in our case of the week, it’s relatively clear he didn’t do it – but there’s still the question of whose blood he’s covered in. In that sense, Vincent doesn’t need to have committed the murder for the storyline to explore the curse of Vincent’s condition, and how it makes a normal life untenable.
We pick up from the stinger at the end of our last episode, in which Vincent woke up from one of his blackouts in an alley, covered in someone else’s blood. Vincent refuses to leave the loft until he and J.T. (Austin Basis) can get to the bottom of whatever is causing these blackouts. According to J.T.’s tests, when Vincent blacks out, his frontal lobe is basically suppressed. He comes completely unglued…which is exactly what happens when he attacks J.T. while in one of his blacked-out rage states. Thankfully, J.T. has a tranquilizer gun to put his friend down; less fortunate is J.T.’s discovery of a murder that’s made news – one that might well have been committed by Vincent during one of his blackouts. It’s the most significant intersection of Vincent plot/case of the week we’ve yet seen, and it mostly works by tying the case into Vincent’s angst about his condition. Though he’d initially pledged to remain in the loft until he and J.T. could harness his chaotic outbursts, Vincent can’t help sneaking out to track down Cat (Kristin Kreuk) and warn her that the killer she’s looking for might actually be him.
Except it’s not. Evan (Max Brown) gets a new apprentice, a student taking an internship in the precinct. The kid, named Peter Hollingsworth, seems suspiciously enamored of Evan, and follows him around like a puppy dog, paying attention to every detail of his work in the investigation. It turns out that Evan actually having a fan isn’t enough of a red flag to the other detectives to clue them into the fact that Peter’s investment in the investigation is more than simply academic. Peter is a psychopath who’s spent his time in school practicing on university cadavers, all in preparation for his role as a copycat killer, of whom this week’s victim, a fraternity brother named Derek, was his first. When Evan discovers that the perp was likely someone seeking to copy famous murders throughout the city, Peter decides that in order to maintain his cover, Evan is going to have to be his next victim. Evan is abducted, and now Cat is in a race against time to save her would-be suitor from the clutches of an anal retentive killer obsessed with recreating the murders exactly, one of which is Vincent’s mauling of Cat’s attackers in the subway a while back. Peter takes Evan to the abandoned subway station, and prepares to stage another masterpiece.
The whole business isn’t nearly as tense as it should be, and it even comes across as slightly goofy, in places. The show is usually smart to hide Vincent’s transformations with clever editing and lighting tricks, often bathing him in shadow. But it doesn’t really work here. When Cat deduces that Evan is being held in the subway, Vincent comes with (but not before J.T. hands him a tranquilizer gun to give to Cat if things get out of hand, although why he didn’t just give the gun directly to Cat is anyone’s guess). Once at the subway, Vince starts to feel an involuntary transformation coming on, and though the makeup department does a decent enough job with the gnarly teeth and dark, gangly skin, Vincent’s pleas seem kind of silly when he’s stuck between man and beast forms. But it’s more than that. For one, Evan’s safety is never in doubt, as the show hasn’t shown itself to be one that would have the guts to actually kill off Vincent’s only challenger for Cat’s affections, much less a significant cast regular. I guess these are minor complaints, though, since other shows routinely put lead characters in danger, and their safety is never really in doubt. But those shows hardly make the entire enterprise feel as contrived as it does here. Cat has a perfectly effective tranquilizer gun, but she opts not to use it on Vincent, and the decision results in Vincent brutally mauling Peter. Though the act results in Evan being saved, J.T. astutely observes that Cat should have taken the time to think about what affect her decision would have on Vincent, who is wracked with guilt every time he kills, even if the killing is involuntary.
Vincent’s lack of control in the subway, and the fact that Evan heard the entire incident, leads Vincent to the decision to confine himself in a makeshift cell in the loft, since he can’t be trusted to roam free. While Evan didn’t see much of anything down in the tunnels, he saw enough, through Peter’s ruined body, to see that whatever killed Peter wasn’t entirely human. Cat tries to convince Evan that he was just imagining things in his panic state, just like how she “hallucinated” a “beast” the night her mother died, but Evan doesn’t entirely take the bait. And even if he did, it wouldn’t allay Vincent’s guilt about putting Cat in danger (to say nothing of killing another human being…again). Cat, whose feelings for Vincent are more apparent than ever, as she lets out a sigh of relief when J.T. calls to tell her Vincent is okay after the subway incident, the couple is going to have significant difficulty getting their relationship off the ground. Set to Michael Logen’s “St. Christopher (On My Way)”, which is arguably the show’s first decent music cue this season, J.T. and Vincent reveal the findings of their studies into the blackouts. It turns out that every blackout has one thing in common, whether it was Vincent on his way to dinner, or flipping out in the subway: Cat. Vincent can’t hope to have control of himself so long as he’s around Cat.
“Out of Control” solves the mystery of the blackouts and presents a plausible alternative obstacle to Cat and Vincent’s relationship. I never bought Evan as someone who could conceivably come between the two in any reasonable respect, and it would have felt contrived if the show would have tried to sell him as a serious contender for Cat’s hand, and not simply the red herring/plot detour he clearly is. Yet having Cat be the cause of Vincent’s unhinged outbursts sells Vincent’s inherently dangerous nature to the audience, while also keeping the two apart for just a little while longer while the romance builds steam. It’s a smart approach, although the episode built around it is relatively rote and uninteresting. It’s a step back for the series, which had been making pretty significant progress in becomes compelling in its own right, even if the quality from episode-to-episode was spotty, at best. But really, the show will never be perfect, and so the positive is that there’s plenty of room for growth.