Beauty and the Beast – Recap: We’re On Each Other’s Team
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 2 Episode 12 – Recap and Review – Recipe For Disaster:
Sharing responsibility is a matter of inner strength. It requires you to have the humility to recognize that not everything that happens is about your own suffering. Everyone has problems. Everyone has goals. Everyone, for the most part, has agency over his or her own life. To imply “This is my problem. You’re not getting involved” ignores that other people might have a stake in how things turn out. Over the past season and a half, Beauty and the Beast has shown the extent to which Vincent (Jay Ryan) has tried to keep his loved ones from getting hurt, but “Recipe For Disaster” illustrates that the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry, as Vincent can’t control the choices his friends make, nor can he always control the consequences of those choices. However, what he can control is whether or not he chooses to cooperate with his friends, as this episode makes it fairly clear that your chances of survival are much better with someone watching your back. “Recipe For Disaster” is an episode about sharing the load, both physically and psychologically, as Beauty and the Beast posits that no one is better off for their solitude. Yes, we risk losing the ones we love, but that’s a risk that comes standard with loving at all. Whether man or beast, to care about someone is to acknowledge the possibility, no matter how remote, that they could be lost to you some day. The recognition of that risk shouldn’t be an excuse to push away our loved ones once we’ve chosen to care about them; rather, it should be the reason we treasure them once we’ve made that choice.
So what does all this sappy rambling have to do with tonight’s episode? Well, this was the week in which we’ve had what is basically our second major character death of the series after poor Evan Marks. Tori (Amber Skye Noyes) dies as a result of experiments done to her by Tony Barnes (Colm Feore), who is revealed to be the man spearheading the initiative to retrieve the gem (it was his hand reaching out of the limo last week to accept the necklace). Her death scene itself is the emotional climax of the episode, yet I found myself engaged in the moment less for what was actually happening, and more for what it would mean to the overall arc of the season. This could be the spark that brings Vincent out of his self-imposed solitude, recognizing that beating himself up with guilt and pushing others away doesn’t do any favors for anyone. Hell, everyone is carrying some measure of guilt, but it’s better to bear that burden as a unit.
Ugh, I’m rambling again. Let’s just talk about the episode, shall we?
So Cat (Kristin Kreuk) takes a cooking class with a too-horny-by-half Tess (Nina Lisandrello), all in preparation to cook for a celebratory party being thrown for J.T. (Austin Basis), who has won a lucrative research grant. The first act of the episode tells some fairly unique character stories that I wish had gotten a bit more time for exploration: Cat learns that Gabe (Sendhil Ramamurthy) is transferring out of the precinct for a change of career scenery, and she takes this personally, assuming it has something to do with her decision not to pursue a relationship with him right away. Gabe, however, states that he avoided telling her of his decision to leave the precinct precisely because he didn’t want her thinking it was because of their almost-relationship. He makes a fairly trenchant point when he notes that their careers need to be separated a bit, since they’ve spent so much time working on beast cases that it’s threatening to define their entire relationship. Cat begrudgingly agrees, but she’s not the only person facing almost-relationship problems. Tori is getting more and more territorial about Vincent, wondering why he’s sneaking out of bed to call Catherine, even though she knows they’re working a case together. Her passive-aggressiveness extends to J.T.’s party, as she bails after claiming that everyone is treating her like an outsider.
Vincent, who has no idea how to handle Tori’s fluctuating emotions, since being with her doesn’t seem like something he ever really planned (or wanted), gives her the ol’ “I think we should spend some time apart” talk. He notes that her presence has an effect on him, not just emotionally but physically as well, as his powers heighten and threaten to go out of control. However, Tori is convinced Vincent’s change of heart is all about Cat, as she says she can sense her heartbeat when he’s around her. And it’s an accusation Vincent can’t really deny. Yet Cat appears to side with Tori in the matter, telling Vincent that he doesn’t always make it easy on people. She knows what it’s like to be in Tori’s place, wondering if she did something wrong to cause Vincent to shut her out. However, Tori has the added concerns of trying to deal with her emotions all while coming to grips with being a beast. And now she’s just been dumped. I mean, no wonder she’s rocking the Friendzoned Face…
So yeah, these little character conflicts kept the first half of the episode from dragging. And even if they hadn’t, the second half more than made up for things. Basically, J.T. is kidnapped under the pretense of checking out the lab he’s set to work in as a result of winning that illustrious grant. Of course, the grant story is a complete hoax, and it’s all just a ruse to abduct J.T. and imprison him in an underground lab to force him to work on a serum that will allow Barnes to create his own lineup of controllable beasts. Barnes needs J.T. in order to work alongside his other prison, a haggard scientist (Tom Everett Scott) who’s been locked in the dungeon for longer than he can remember. This would be a perfectly serviceable plot on its own, but things get even crazier once Tori comes home to find Agent Landon (Elisabeth Röhm) ransacking the boathouse. In the cold open to the episode, Landon had set up surveillance on the boathouse, waiting to hear some story that would confirm her suspicions — and it doesn’t take too long for Landon’s surveillance to pay off, as she overhears Vincent and Tori talking about the gem. So she breaks in while Vincent and Tori are away at J.T.’s party, only to be interrupted when Tori comes home early. Long story short, Tori ties up an FBI agent and holds her hostage.
This development adds to the growing tension between Vincent and Tori, as he discovers what she’s done to Landon, and basically has a stare down with her, in which Tori nearly beasts out on him. Landon sees the entire thing, and now Vincent has no choice but to let the agent in on everything that’s been going on concerning the gem and the search for those who seek to use it for evil. He also explains his beast side, and it’s a strangely effective scene of camaraderie, as Landon is instantly okay with Vincent, and willing to help. This, of course, is because she’s as desperate to find the people who stole the gem as Vincent is, since they’re the people who are presumably responsible for having murdered her husband, Sam. But the entire group is given added incentive to gem-hunting, as Barnes sends a coded mass email from J.T.’s address that basically alerts our gang that J.T. is in enemy hands. With Landon now on the team, everyone splits up. Landon and Tess do the work of locating the abandoned factory using maps and notes from Cat’s ancestor, Rebecca Reynolds. Meanwhile, Cat and Gabe head out for the factory, keeping in close contact with Landon and Tess back at the loft. But Vincent has already taken matters into his own hands, using his tracking skills to find J.T. on his own. Everything seems to be well under control, except for the wild card…
In blowing off Tori’s attempt at an apology over the phone, Vincent lets slip that J.T. has been kidnapped. Hoping to win Vincent’s affections, Tori decides she’s going to track J.T. herself. It strains credulity a bit that Tori, who only just learned how to track, would get to the warehouse way before Vincent, but her early arrival is necessary for what happens next. Barnes sent out the mass email in order to lure J.T.’s beast friend, since he knows full well that J.T. has one, and Barnes needs the blood of a beast in order to get his serum to work. However, while Barnes knows J.T. has a beast friend, he doesn’t know who that person is, hence the mass email. When Tori arrives, Barnes assumes this is the beast he’s been waiting for, and he catches her off-guard with several tranquilizer darts. J.T. is incapable of stopping them from placing the gem around her neck to keep her docile while they carry her off to extract all the blood from her body.
By the time Vincent arrives, Tori’s blood has already been drained, and J.T. has already synthesized a possible serum, although he’s not exactly proud of himself for having done it. But not only does his life hang in the balance, his fellow prisoner’s life is at stake as well, so J.T. completes the serum…except he never gets the chance to see if it works, as Vincent bursts in and rescues both J.T. and his cellmate. Unfortunately, he learns from J.T. that Tori has been captured, and this brings us to the climax of the episode, as Vincent finds Tori in one of the iron-barred cells, slowly dying — presumably from blood loss. A teary-eyed Vincent pleads with Tori not to give up, but it’s already too late. He asks her forgiveness for neglecting her, but Tori’s response seems to be foreshadowing for the direction of the back half of this season. It’s hard to imagine that the rest of the episodes this season wouldn’t be about the gradual reunion of VinCat, as Tori’s last act is to tell Vincent that he and Cat belong together. It’s a moment that crystallizes the function of the character, as she initially was responsible for tearing them apart, and now begins the process of bringing them back together by cementing the notion in Vincent’s head that Cat is the one, despite his best efforts to put those feelings out of his head.
Barnes arrives and locks Vincent in the cell with Tori, and gloats over his victory. Vincent beasts out and attempts to break through the bars, but it’s no use. Barnes whips out his gun and prepares to kill Vincent, but this ends up being a moment that illustrates how Vincent’s “going it solo” approach isn’t as effective as a team-based effort, as Cat rescues Vincent at the last possible moment, shooting Barnes dead. The day has been saved, but it’s too late for Tori. Vincent mourns her and tells Cat this is precisely why he tried so hard to shut her out all through last year, out of the fear that exactly something like this would happen (wait, so Vincent remembers last year? I keep forgetting just how much of his old memories he actually has right now). He admits to Cat that he wouldn’t know what he would do if anything ever happened to her, and while it’s a relatively understated moment, it plays like foreshadowing. Of what, I’m not sure, but it’ll be interesting to see where the story goes from here.
As for the conclusion, Cat elucidates the theme of the episode by telling Vincent that it’s her choice to be involved in this case, as she wants to get to the bottom of who she is and where she comes from every bit as much as Vincent wants to do the same for himself. Vincent is unnerved by his lack of control, but it’s really something he’ll have to deal with sooner rather than later. He can’t control the danger Cat places herself in, any more than he can control whom she dates. And she’s apparently ready to move on from Vincent, as she tells Gabe she’s ready for a relationship. Gabe’s a great guy and all, but this pairing feels so passionless that I can’t imagine it lasting any longer than the next two or three episodes. But hey, I’ve been wrong before. It’s hard to know where the romance stuff is headed, since one would think Vincent and Cat would have been back together by now, and they’re nowhere near that period. Granted, I’m not really complaining, since I have faith in where it’s all headed, but it’s a bit of a strange approach. I mean, it’s not as strange as the random pair of twists at the end of the episode: in the first, we learn that “Tony Barnes” was really just an alias for conman “Frank Darnell”, and that the real Barnes is still at large; but the bigger shocker is the second reveal, as we learn that J.T.’s cellmate is Sam, Agent Landon’s late husband, who’s been alive all this time. They’re both absolutely stunned to see one another, and it feels weird to say so, but I found this pretty touching (even while I have a peculiar suspicion that Sam is the real Barnes. It’d be such an Unusual Suspects route to take).
Ultimately, Vincent blames himself for what happened to Tori, and this sparks a back-and-forth argument with J.T., as they basically attempt to play a game of “Who’s most to blame?” It all culminates in J.T. confessing that he’s the reason Vincent was on Muirfield’s radar in the first place. In trying to protect Vincent by ensuring he received genetic enhancements for combat, J.T. inadvertently ensured his best friend would become a beast. “You win,” Vincent tells him, but J.T. doesn’t despair. He feels a weight has been lifted off his shoulders now that everything is out in the open. And, as he smilingly tells Vincent, it’s just the two of them now, like the old days. Well, that is kind of grim, given that Tori isn’t even cold yet. But Austin Basis has such a lovable disposition that it’s hard to really have any kind of problem with anything he does. Seriously.
“Recipe For Disaster” is a solid hour of TV that helps Vincent to grow in substantial fashion, as Tori’s death fundamentally places him on a different, more interesting story path: will this be the spark that brings back Vincent’s former humanity in full? Or will it simply provide the impetus he needs to track down the real Barnes, learn the truth about the gem (which he claims to have buried so deep that no one would ever find it), and win back Cat? It’s hard to say, but it should be fun to watch. As for Tori, she was never really the most compelling character on the show, but I admit that the underlying arc of her character was pretty interesting. She was someone entirely new to the identity Vincent comfortably inhabits, as she had no idea how to be a beast until he showed her the ropes. Given her naivety, aggression, and youthful flights of emotion, her development as a beast often came across as a metaphor for development into womanhood. It was never exactly an elegant parallel, but it was one I thought worked. Tori was like a puppy that Vincent hardly noticed follow him home, and so her death in tonight’s episode not only brought her character arc full circle (as she ultimately went out having let go of her jealousy and anger), but it allowed Vincent to learn about the cost of caring about another person, and perhaps accept that while these sorts of tragedies happen, it shouldn’t be cause for going through life alone.