Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 2 Premiere – Who Am I?
What an absolutely breathless premiere!
Beauty and the Beast certainly wasted no time getting viewers up to speed with everything that’s happened in the three months (in-universe) since Vincent (Jay Ryan) was abducted by Muirfield. “Who Am I?” is an episode that hits the ground running, never taking a minute to let things settle long enough to be considered, and while this is an approach that might not have worked on another show, it works beautifully here. You could say a lot about the issues with using amnesia to essentially reset the central romance, and you could probably get on the show’s case for having so many intriguing developments happen off-screen (Gabe is alive! Captain Joe is fired! Cat’s dad died! Vincent has been reprogrammed!), but those shortcuts are all in service of keeping the more pressing story in motion. Far too many shows take a langorous pace with storytelling these days, failing to recognize that it isn’t necessarily the pace with which you dole out your story, so long as you have enough story to suit the pace. And I feel there’s plenty of story here worth telling. In short, the season 2 premiere of Beauty and the Beast is pretty damn terrific, and it gives me a ton of confidence about the direction of this season.
Vincent has amnesia. Let’s just make that plain as day. We’re not sure of the specifics of what was done to him over the last three months, but we know that his memories of Cat have been obliterated, and his DNA has been upgraded to allow him to now acutely focus his powers. (Oh, and his scar is gone. That, too.) Much of the episode’s emotional weight comes from this revelation, as Cat helps rescue Vincent from a Brooklyn shipyard only to discover he has no memory of their relationship. Worse, he seems openly hostile to everyone around him, particularly J.T. (Austin Basis), whose neck he threatens to break when his former best friend refuses to allow him to leave their loft. Jay Ryan does an admirable job presenting Vincent as an entirely new character, and Kreuk is just as good, illustrating the heartbreak of having lost the man she loves all over again. Though amnesia is a bit of an overwrought trope in fiction, it mostly works here by sheer virtue of there being little no other way to realistically introduce a hurdle into Cat and Vincent’s relationship: it wouldn’t ring true to introduce a love triangle, nor would it do to have had Vincent continue to be missing for several episodes while we follow Cat’s search, as so much of the series is rooted in the connection between Cat and Vincent, and the narrative momentum that pairing creates. In that sense, this episode gets a considerable boost by depicting the couple following separate paths, providing Cat with a mission to find Vincent, and Vincent with another mission entirely. But before we get to that, let’s reset for a bit…
As we learn from a series of breathless conversations Cat (Kristin Kreuk) has with J.T. , Gabe, and Tess (Nina Lisandrello), Vincent has been missing for three months, and in that time Cat has become estranged from the people who love her most, as she’s grown fiercely determined to find Vincent, no matter the cost. This determination is grounded in Cat’s desire not to lose anything else in her life, as her father has passed away from his injuries after being struck by a car last season. Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson) is genuinely concerned about her sister, as she hasn’t returned any of her phone calls, and has completely forgotten about a memorial service being held by their father’s old law firm, and while Heather wants to tell Cat the truth about her parentage, she hasn’t been able to find the right time. The subject of Cat’s biological father becomes much more important than I would have expected it to this early in the season. This is because Cat’s biological father, last seen riding in the helicopter that took Vincent at the end of last season’s finale, is an FBI agent named Bob Reynolds. And ol’ Bob has had a huge hand in Vincent’s transformation into the very different man he is upon resurfacing from his captivity.
The FBI, fronted by Reynolds, is behind everything that has happened to Vincent. Not only is he looking to use Vincent as a tool of destruction, but he’s also looking to keep Cat out of the situation entirely, which is more than likely the reason for the targeted obliteration of all of Vincent’s Cat-related memories. As the episode unfolds, Vincent is held in a Brooklyn shipping yard by the head of Muirfield, ex-geneticist Li Zhao, who sold out to the FBI to provide them with the Black Ops super soldiers they desperately wanted to create over a decade earlier. And so Vincent is intent on murdering his “creator,” and uses his new, heightened powers to do so. However, Zhao gets away, realizing that the meeting, in which a beaten Vincent is delivered right into Muirfield’s hands, was a setup to get Vincent alone in a room with him. We inevitably learn that Vincent has been specifically sent on a mission by Reynolds to kill Zhao, and it’s this mission that brings him into contact with Cat.
But first, let’s talk about Gabe being alive. It turns out that all it takes to come back from a Sonny Corleone-esque rain of gunshot wounds is a defibrillator to the heart, as Cat was able to resurrect him. But it turns out she only did it with the hope that Gabe would be able to help her find Muirfield. However, he proves to be relatively useless to her, since it wasn’t Muirfield that took Vincent at all, and so Cat takes out her frustrations on the ADA, and with good reason. As remorseful as he is for how he behaved, the fact of the matter is that he still abducted Cat and tried to kill Vincent, and so Gabe don’t exactly have their trust — even if he is cured of his beastliness. Yes, it turns out that Gabe is now fully cured, and though the episode is vague about how this was accomplished, he wants to help Cat and J.T. find Vincent in order to help him be cured as well.
Ultimately, all these disparate plot threads come to a head in a shootout at a Muirfield laboratory, as Zhao once again escapes, and Vincent is faced with making a choice: chasing after the elusive baddie, or rescuing Cat, who is slowly succumbing to smoke inhalation as the lab burns to the ground around them. As if compelled by an instinctual longing, Vincent chooses Cat and whisks her to safety, and it’s the first piece of a larger puzzle being filled in. Vincent may not have his memory back, but he has Cat’s certainty that they’ll be able to fall in love again. It’s interesting that Vincent appears so simultaneously amused and weirded out by Cat’s conviction, as he isn’t really sure how that he agrees with her assertion that they’re “meant to be.” However, when Cat breaks down in his arms and cries about having lost so much, a realization flashes across Vincent’s face in a wonderfully subtle moment from Jay Ryan, as if Vincent is thinking, “Holy s***, this girl must have really loved me.”
But that sudden, guilt-stained realization isn’t enough to keep Vincent at home, as Cat is awoken in the middle of the night to discover that Vincent has fled…and has likely taken another victim: the body of Li Zhao has been discovered, and the ex-geneticist has been mauled to death by something beastly. “This is going to be a hard one to cover up,” Tess says, and like that, we suddenly have our stakes for the season, as Vincent could go from anonymity right back to being public enemy no. 1, with or without Captain Joe leading the charge.
“Who Am I?” is a premiere that has a terrifically breakneck pace, unloading the story in massive rushes of action and information. I’m thrilled that the series is back, and with a more overarching sense of purpose than it had at the same point in its first season. Color me excited about the season to come.
Thanks for reading my recap and review of the Beauty and the Beast Season 2 Premiere – Who Am I? Feel free to discuss the episode in the comments, and check back next week for continued coverage!