Beauty and the Beast – Midseason Finale – Recap: I Don’t Love You But I Always Will
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 2 Episode 8 – Midseason Finale – Man or Beast?:
At what point is Vincent (Jay Ryan) beyond salvaging? “Man or Beast?” is a midseason finale that ranks with the best episodes the show has ever delivered, not only from a purely visceral perspective, but from a character standpoint. Beauty and the Beast is long past the point of trying to present Vincent as a strictly romantic lead, instead shading him with hints of a darker nature that is only now coming to the surface. This change in his personality seems to have little to do with the presence of Tori (Amber Skye Noyes), the loss of his memories, or the the procedures done to him by Reynolds (Ted Whittall) after being abducted at the end of last season. For better or for worse, the choices here are all Vincent’s. So the question becomes not whether Vincent can still be saved, but whether he’s actually worth the trouble of saving? “Man or Beast?” suggests that Vincent may be too far gone, and that Cat (Kristin Kreuk) would be better served cutting bait. Of course, since the show is called Beauty and the Beast, it’s virtually impossible for things to ever truly be over between our two leads. But it’ll be an awfully hard sell to convince Beauty and the Beast audiences that this current iteration of Vincent deserves another chance.
The reason I say this is because “Man or Beast?” frames the central issue as a matter of choice: Gabe (Sendhil Ramamurthy) has a plan that will bring Reynolds to justice without compromising Vincent’s humanity, but it’s up to Vincent to actually have enough trust in his friends to be able to execute the plan. And from the very start, Vincent has trouble keeping the faith, as he’s all but convinced that Reynolds will inevitably escape justice. Vincent feels it’s his duty to kill Reynolds, as it will be the only way to ensure he doesn’t return to haunt them all later. But Cat says she could never be with someone who would make such a ruthless choice. She recognizes that Reynolds is Vincent’s handler, and has manipulated him, warping him into a killer and attempting to dispose of him when he no longer had any use, but Cat feels that mercy is the only thing that separates them from people like Reynolds. And so Vincent is in a bit of a moral dilemma, with Cat as the angel on one shoulder telling him that they can still work things out if he can keep his thirst for revenge in check, and Tori on the other shoulder, egging him on to seek vengeance.
Tori’s role as the chaotic influence on Vincent’s life brings much of the story to light. Vincent is both alarmed and exhilarated by how much Tori’s presence heightens his powers, as they wouldn’t have been able to escape the trap Reynolds set for them last week without syncing up their abilities right before the penthouse exploded. The pairing is one of the more interesting aspects of the episode: while I have absolutely no desire to see these two as a couple, their mentor-student relationship is kind of fascinating in the sense that she has as much an effect on him as he has on her. Gabe’s plan requires capturing Reynolds’s accomplice alive in order to convince him that they have someone willing to sell him out to the authorities, and so Vincent goes about teaching Tori how to “track,” honing her beast skills to obtain a clear picture of the Bombmaker and how to find him. Returning to the blown out penthouse, Vincent helps Tori to focus, and it’s a remarkably effective scene considering that it’s just two people standing in a room with their eyes closed.
The show doesn’t really get too deep into the specifics of how tracking is possible, and I definitely prefer a less explicit approach to the mechanics of the beast powers, as it’s a concept that could easily break under the weight of its own silliness. All we need to know is that Tori puts together a clear picture of her attacker, and it isn’t long before they’re off to his secret compound. But before they go, Tori continues to work her angle with Vincent. She thanks him for opening her eyes and showing her the freedom that her beastly form allows, adding that they need to stick together and take out Reynolds before his forces have the chance to take them out first. And so, against his better judgment, Vincent allows Tori to be the one to take down the Bombmaker once they track him to his compound. Tori, still new to the whole “beast” thing, can’t contain herself once she has the Bombmaker in her hands. She grabs him by the throat and crushes his throat, killing him instantly. Vincent is furious and mortified in equal measure: they needed the Bombmaker alive in order for Gabe’s plan to work. Now they’ll likely have no other choice but to kill Reynolds in order to stop him. In itself, it’s a bit of a predictable development, yet it becomes infinitely more interesting when the show subtly suggests that perhaps Tori killed the Bombmaker on purpose to force Vincent to embrace his darker nature. Evidence for this comes not only in Tori’s unrepentant attitude for his impulsive actions, but also from her claim that Cat’s plan was stupid anyway, and never would have worked. She believes that men like Reynolds need a harsher brand of justice, and Cat is disgusted when Vincent doesn’t disagree with Tori. Granted, he doesn’t endorse her opinion either, but the fact that he’s conflicted at all casts serious doubt in Cat’s mind about whether Vincent really can be saved at all.
Yet Cat still tries to save him anyway, and goes along with a modified version of Gabe’s plan. Sure, the Bombmaker is dead, but they still have his cell phone, which can be used to convince Reynolds that he’s about to turn him in. Tess (Nina Lisandrello) and JT (Austin Basis) procure the body of Zachary Hayes (Vincent’s former squadmate from Afghanistan) to serve as the evidence with which to blackmail Reynolds, while Gabe and Cat meet with Reynolds to plant the idea in his head that the accomplice of Vincent’s handler could be going rogue. It’s a pretty smooth plan, and it actually works out pretty well thanks to Gabe rubbing a solution on Cat’s hands that allows her to cry on cue once she touches her face, which gets Reynolds to believe that Vincent truly is dead. Unfortunately, the plan works a bit too well, as a spooked Reynolds books a flight out of the country, cutting the amount of time they have to spring into action. And so they move forward with the big reveal: Gabe meets with Reynolds and reveals himself to be the blackmailer, coaxing the FBI Agent to confess to the killings of all the beasts while Cat captures the entire conversation from a safe distance. Reynolds calls Gabe’s bluff, but he coolly sticks to the story. It’s a fantastic scene for Ramamurthy, who’s all steely-eyed swagger in the face of a situation that could easily go badly…and nearly does. Reynolds trades cars, taking Zachary’s body while Gabe takes the car that has the blackmail money (although Gabe smartly intuits there’s a bomb inside, and decides not to get in, in a clever subversion of a pretty standard trope). As Reynolds makes his getaway, Cat intercepts him and places him under arrest.
From here, the midseason finale speeds by at a breakneck pace, and it works to the episode’s advantage, as everything feels so immensely urgent and climactic. Vincent intercepts Cat’s car, landing on the hood and attempting to bust through to get at Reynolds. This causes the car to crash, leaving Cat unconscious as Vincent brutalizes Reynolds with his bare hands. Pinning the FBI Agent against a column, Vincent intends to finish the job. But Cat is there with her gun in hand, pleading with him not to kill Reynolds and cross over into a point beyond salvaging. For a moment, it looks as if Vincent is about to see reason, as he eases up his grip on Reynolds. But in a flash, Vincent loosens his claws, at which point Cat instinctively fires, putting a bullet in Vincent’s gut. Vincent flees, leaving a devastated Cat to take her biological father into custody.
Reynolds openly admits his wrongdoing, and says he plans to confess to all his crimes if it means Cat will no longer have to worry about any of this coming back to haunt her. If Cat never wants to speak with him again, that’s fine, but Reynolds claims it was all worth it if it means Vincent is finally out of her life. And it isn’t until after Reynolds makes that claim that Cat realizes he’s right: Vincent is out of her life, he was a beast beyond controlling. With that crushing realization, Cat completely breaks down in Gabe’s arms, while Vincent tends to his wounds, finding Tori at his door as he stitches himself up. Ultimately, the episode ends with Cat returning to the rooftop where she and Vincent shared their first kiss, looking out on the city all alone, despairing of the ruin her life has become (as the closing strains of the aptly titled “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars plays, with its pained incantation, “I don’t love you / But I always will”). It’s a completely gutting end to the midseason.
Now, for some odds and ends: for me, this was Kristin Kreuk’s best episode. It was a total showcase for her from start-to-finish, from the moment she realizes Vincent survived the blast, to her fake crying for Reynolds, even the moments where she tries to keep her hatred for Reynolds in check during the last meeting at the cafe before their relationship irrevocably changes. Kreuk is outstanding here, and I found myself far more engaged in her side of the story than in Vincent’s. I’m not entirely certain how the show gets around the problem Vincent has become. I don’t think he’s beyond redemption or anything, but the series made a clear case that he made a decision not to be with Cat, since it was a fairly binary choice: let Reynolds go and keep Cat’s love and respect, or give in to bloodlust and lose her forever. I don’t see how the narrative gets them back together without making Cat seem like a glutton for punishment. Vincent has to change first. And that could be a long process, as he needs to first recognize that there’s a problem, and then take measures to correct it. Tori is one of the biggest issues in play, as she feeds his beast side with reassurances of the rightness of his anger. She plays into his exceptionalism about beasts, as if to convince him they’re some sort of master race above the law, and above judgment by regular humans. I don’t think Tori is necessarily a bad person (yet), but it’s clear she’s having a corrupting influence on Vincent, and it’ll be hard to get him back to being the Vincent of season one (if that’s even possible) if she’s still in the picture.
So the question then is, can Vincent really be saved? “Man or Beast?” seems to suggest that the Vincent we all grew to love in season one is basically gone, irretrievably lost in the face of the choices he’s made, and the actions he’s taken. For better or worse, this will be a changed show, as the dynamics have fundamentally altered. This isn’t to say that it won’t still be a good show, but Beauty and the Beast is much bleaker, and much darker than it ever has been before. While I kind of like the more serious, moody approach, I imagine it could alienate a lot of viewers. What do you guys think? Is the narrative’s direction harmful to the sustainability of the series? Or is the show as good as it ever was? I fall down on the latter side of the argument. I still love the show, but I can’t pretend that our leads haven’t changed in substantial fashion from season one. But then, in many ways, that’s the point of a narrative: to depict the evolution of characters over time, through the action of a story. The show could never remain the same way forever, because that would require nothing ever happening. And what’s happening now is far more compelling than the average genre series that keeps to the safe lane. I’ll be interested to see how the show handles its change upon its return. As for “Man or Beast?”, there are few episodes that could serve as a better midseason capper for Beauty and the Beast than this.
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@OrangeMoon13 this is a great review
Thanks Nick. Illuminating as always! Painful as it is to watch our precious VinCat suffer so many heartstomping loop de loops this season the storytelling has been stellar. I love the moody darker undertones of Season 2 especially Beast 2.O. and I want to see the pay off in a huge increase of viewership which we badly need to secure a Season 3 altho frustratingly that doesn't seem to be happening in US. I realize that the direction BATB is taking is meant to create new exciting ways to explore the main characters' growth but I am afraid that it is also alienating a segment of impatient shortsighted female fans who just want the sweet without the bitter. I hope for the sake of our show they are only a minority as we cannot afford to lose fans. I wish more people would take time to appreciate the compelling storytelling that is going on in Season 2. I just pray Brad Kern knows what he's doing as all I want is to enjoy BATB for as long as possible.
When I didn't think your reviews could get any better, you come out with a phenomenal one! Bad daddy started Vincent's road to ruin and dangled his daughter like a carrot! I believe a spot of humanity showed when he told Cat to walk away last week. I think it was crucial to this arc to have Vincent's evil twin come out and "show himself" because we all know that the only way a Beast can be a Beast is to be a tortured soul and hate what you've become. That point is going to come and hopefully we'll see redemption before Season 2 ends. We need a Season 3 so vote for BATB #scifitv and Kristin Kreuk #scifiactress #PeoplesChoice
@NickRomanTV any idea where I can find the last song from the midseason finale?
Always enjoy reading your take on the episode. This season is so much better than last. I miss VinCat and Vincent 1.0 from last year as well, but I really do think the entire show has just stepped up on so many levels, I still feel their connection in every episode and cannot wait until Jan 13 to see how they find there way back to each other.
It's Thanksgiving, Nick. So I thought I would list here the things I am thankful for with regards to BATB:
I am thankful for the writers who turned a procedural-with-a-twist show into a badass show that can deliver an episode like THAT. I am thankful for Cat, a true female lead who is strong enough to draw a line and say "that is not right". I am thankful for a show that won't sweep bad deeds under the rug just because the actor is (so very) good looking. Strangely, I am thankful that, while I will always want VinCat, they have set up other satellite relationships that are both believable and, in the case of Gabe, not necessairly bad choices. I am also thankful for a cast that is not only good looking but has chemistry and can act (this could have easily turned into "beautiful people running around").
And finally, I am thankful for you, Nick. You write clear, concise and insighful reviews. What use is a show if you don't have a friend to talk with about it? You enhance the experience for all of us and we are grateful.
Enjoy your holiday!
I agree that the show has fundamentally changed and has lost or risks losing a lot of viewers. Some viewers are complaining about the direction the show has taken. This one can understand. Beauty and the beast is essentially a fairytale about love and romance. You have the beauty falling in love with a beast to fight all those that seek to destroy him and their love.
S1 was like that but S2 has placed more emphasis on the drama and destroyed the basic essentials of the fairytale - love will conquer all. It is difficult to see how anyone could love a beast like Vincent. The man totally refuses to listen to reason and instead always wavers on the side of the beast.
That being said, its a television show and they have to create the drama otherwise there would be no show. It would be too lovey dovey. The Vincent of S1 was no beast, he was more man than beast. This season, they have shown us the struggles that he potentially went through to get to the S1 Vincent. It took 10 years to reach that Vincent whereas this one has only had a couple of months since being brainwashed. He trusts his handler much more than he does Catherine, well at least he did until he realized he was on the list.
I imagine JT could have something to say about the friend that came back from the war compared to what we are seeing now.
I would like to see the journey, see his growth from beast to man. We didn't see it in S1 but we have an opportunity now.
Another great recap! Unfortunately for my little romantic heart, you are right about the show having to change or stagnate. I will trust in the writers to keep giving us terrific action packed eps but like a lot of others, will be grieving for our VinCat. Sounds silly but they represent hope and an escape from an increasingly value less world.
Oh Nick. So many feelings and emotions when reading this review. Your perspective challenged my perspective on this episode.
V did make some choices yes but I don't think they can be completely divorced from everything that has happened to him in these past few months. Those things must and did factor into what we have seen in this ep.
I don't think Vincent is too far gone because throughout this ep he was struggling morally. Even when they almost got blown up, the place he went first was to Cat's place cause he knew she would be distraught.
I guess he did choose the beast side or at least to kill Reynolds (don't blame him, Bob is the worst) but Cat kind of took that choice away from him with the instinctual shot (don't blame her). But boy did he look shocked hurt when she did that. Great acting from all in that scene.
And shootout to KK who was fantastic in this ep she delivered and then some. Also JR has been great in this arc and I can't wait to see the shift to Cat in the next one.
Re the tone/shift in the show. I think JT was necessary and effective. Maybe the problem last season was the romance was the only saving grace of the show because we knew that KK/JR could rise about a dodgey episode and deliver great emotions and romance. But now that the surrounding storyline and plot have been elevated, the romance has been put on the back burner.
I don't think all is lost but I think for the story they wanted to tell right now, the romance had to be swept to the side but I'm sure it will be back in spades when both V and Cat deal with their separation and relative issues by themselves.
All in all, loved your take on the ep and show so far. As usual, reading your review was a highlight for me!
@SaveEachOther Aww, thank you so much for reading! I really love having people to write for each week and share love for this show with.
I love the change S2!! I think it will just keep getting better. Your reviews are always on point! I also agree, that if Vincent and Catherine's relationship was always good and lovey, dovey, what kind of show would this be. I like that they are separated and need to find their way back to each other. That's what's real!
@Debbie4cat Thanks for reading! And I agree completely about voting. What's funny is that the show is actually a thousand times more popular overseas than it is here, so maybe the huge international numbers might be able to save it, even though ratings aren't great here. But still, vote vote vote!
@msd1423_daly Agreed completely. I'm so stoked to see how this all plays out. And thank you for the kind words!
@MandyMcAwesome I, too, am thankful for a show that isn't simply "beautiful people running around" (great description). I'm also thankful for a show I can easily get lost in every Monday night, no matter how crummy my day has been up to that point (which is thankfully rare). But I'm mostly just thankful for this job, and for having the best readers in the world. Because seriously, I have the best readers in the world.
Happy holidays, fellow Beasties!
@Chilly20 On the JT front, I've often wondered what his opinions are on this change, since we haven't heard a whole lot from him outside of his romance with Tess and his role as the tech guy for the team. I'd like the show to address, in some fashion, how JT is feeling about losing his best friend. The show did a great job a few weeks back by having them hang out and attempt to reconnect over sports, which was probably the funniest moment of the season to me. But I still find myself hoping for more.
@Chilly20 that is a really good take on it. I agree, bad things need to happen or there would be no story, no drama.
@KarenLBarnes1 I don't think that sounds silly at all! That's a great way of putting it actually.
@Lisa E You're probably right about the romance coming back once the show sorts itself out. I'm prone to worrying about change, since I'm all for it so long as it doesn't veer too wildly in one direction. But I trust the show to keep it together in an interesting way.
@ruthjccassidy You're welcome! :)
@NicoleColquitt Thank you for reading! I'm glad others are digging the darker change in season 2, even though it's a bit touch-and-go at the moment, as far as where the story could be heading. I'm excited though.
@batbitalia01 @NickRomanTV Thank you! And I agree. KK did a fantastic job. Her best work, in my opinion.
@NickRoman1 @Chilly20 Yes, I suspect the man has a lot to say about all this. At least he has been around from the beginning so his take maybe somewhat very different from Catherine's ultimatums of me or the door.
I just saw the promo for S2X09 and it looks like JT is front and centre so we may get our wish, Nick.