‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: Compelling ‘Patient X’ Leads to One Big Conclusion
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 3 Episode 10 – Patient X:
With Liam now out in the open, Beauty and the Beast has gotten great mileage out of the threat he represents in just three episodes. But “Patient X” takes us a step further by illustrating the enormity of his threat. In short, after this episode, I felt there was only one big conclusion left to draw: somebody has to die.
Of course, people have been dying left and right this season, whether it’s been Julianna, Alton Finn, or any of the other countless serum subjects whom Liam has been systematically hunting down. But this episode really illustrated, to me, the transitional nature of the threats on this show. No matter who we think is the bad guy, there’s always someone higher up on the food chain. Thus, for these new villains to really prove themselves as a threat, I feel as though something big has to happen. Basically, someone we know — and care about — has to die. If nothing else, this episode gave me the impression that the end is drawing near for at least one of our characters, given the narrative’s focus on sacrifices, and how the connections we make in our lives anchor us through increasingly difficult situations. J.T. (Austin Basis) and Tess (Nina Lisandrello) get back together while caught in the middle of this Liam hunt, as they spent the entire episode hiding out together. The reaffirmation of their love for one another, and the willingness of both J.T. and Tess to sacrifice themselves for the other leads me to believe that one of them could be in mortal danger by the end of this season. In fact, the episode basically tells us as much: when packing up to leave with Tess, J.T. gets a nosebleed, a symptom that indicates that the serum remains in his system. Worse than that, it means he might not have very long to live, considering that Julianna’s brother, Russell, seemed to believe that the nosebleeds indicated a terminal side effect from the serum. Russell believed he only had days, if not less, to live. And, considering he’s the “Patient X” to which the episode’s title refers, he’d know better than anybody just how bad the side effects can be.
Yes, we meet Julianna’s brother, and it’s from him that we learn the backstory I really wish we’d have gotten weeks ago: Julianna initially started out as a researcher looking into cellular regeneration. When Liam found out, he sought her out for help with a neurological condition that was slowly killing him. Julianna created the serum and injected it into him, and the results were better than she could have imagined. However, Julianna didn’t know “what Liam was,” and it’s implied that if she did, she never would have helped him in the first place. Cat (Kristin Kreuk) asks Russell what he means, but the former Patient X states that not even he knows what Julianna discovered about Liam. All he knows is that his sister immediately set to work trying to create a serum that could stop Liam. Russell even tried to help out on his own, injecting himself with the serum in the hopes that he would be made as strong as Liam. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect, and Julianna had to put her little brother on a strict regimen of drugs to keep him alive. However, now that Julianna is dead, the drug flow has been stopped, meaning Russell’s symptoms are returning. Thus, he doesn’t have much longer to live, whether Liam finds him or not.
This is all intriguing backstory, and while I do wish we’d have gotten it earlier, I’m glad we’re getting it at all. Too many shows set up this sort of mystery and then never fully explore it, leaving too much of it up to the interpretation of the audience, out of some warped idea that some mysteries are just never meant to be solved, and it’s better to just raise questions you never plan on answering (I’m still looking at you, Lost). Granted, I’m not necessarily advocating for spoon-feeding everything to viewers, but there has to be some sort of middle ground between spoon-feeding and obfuscation. You can withhold information without keeping viewers blind, and you can divulge secrets without giving up the entire plot. That sort of middle ground is what “Patient X” achieves here. Naturally, what I like about this backstory is that we’re given just enough to broaden our understanding of what Julianna was trying to do. In a lot of ways, it retroactively makes her into a bit of a tragic figure. Never mind that her life was ended by Liam, it was ruined by him too, and long before he killed her. He took her life’s work and perverted it into something grotesque. And, in her attempts to stop him, Julianna became something grotesque herself, performing inhumane experiments all in the name of atoning for the sin of creating the monster Liam became. A few weeks ago, I talked about how eye-opening it was that, just prior to her death, Vanessa Chandler seemed committed to undoing her mistakes with Muirfield. Her murder kept us from ever really knowing what she would have done to atone, but it’s not that hard to believe she might have turned out like Julianna: someone with good intentions who is ultimately twisted by her search for justice and redemption.
The plot itself goes back to the cat-and-mouse well that this season has gotten so much mileage from, and I don’t blame the series one bit. Realistically, Vincent (Jay Ryan) has been more tested as a beast this season than any other. It’s not simply that he has to face other beasts who may/may not be more powerful than he is. Rather, it’s that he’s facing these sorts of obstacles while also battling with himself. One of the things I liked about “Patient X” was the cinematography: when Vincent is tracking Liam, he’s able to “see” events that happened in that room. It’s how he knows Liam murdered an old woman in her bed, and how he knows J.T. and Tess were able to escape after Liam killed Russell. Sure, it’s a bit of a corny trick, in some regards, since it really doesn’t make any sense how Vincent should be able to completely visualize everything that happened just by being in the same room Liam was in. But the script explains this by noting that Vincent isn’t really tracking Liam so much as he’s “channeling” him, which sounds a lot like he’s linking with Liam telepathically in some way. Either way, I’ve always loved how the show visualizes Vincent’s powers. It’s “show, don’t tell” storytelling, allowing us to get a sense of what Vincent is doing without having to hold our hands through the entire process (like when Vincent listens to the heartbeat of one of the DHS agents way back at the beginning of the season to figure out what was wrong with his heart. Just an awesome little moment).
But back to the dilemma Vincent is facing. This season, Vincent is not just dealing with the enhancement of his abilities — he’s also facing the immeasurable difficulty of controlling them, which puts him in conflict with Cat, who’s downright mortified when Vincent expresses his desire to just straight-up murder Liam rather than take him in. Vincent’s loved ones have never been more imperiled than they’ve been this season, so it makes sense that his attitude would change, and his vigilante instincts would take over. And yet, it’s understandable why Cat, a stickler for justice, would be so discomfited by this. It adds dramatic weight to the climax, when Cat tells Vincent directly that they need to be able to trust each other if they’re going to stop Liam. Again, this is what the season has been building towards, a clash that puts VinCat to the test as a team. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of the show overall, particularly if someone does die this season, because that failure wouldn’t just belong to Vincent or Cat. It would be the responsibility of both beauty and beast.
When Vincent finally comes face-to-face with Liam, the episode builds up to a big twist that, frankly, I had assumed everyone knew already: Liam is a beast too. He’s been going around killing off all of the test subjects because he can’t afford for anyone else to be enhanced out there but himself. This is why he’s after J.T., although it doesn’t explain why he backs off upon realizing that Vincent is like him. Vincent gets a lot of good shots in, but it’s clear that Liam is still the stronger of the two, so it was a bit puzzling as to why Liam didn’t just kill him then and there, particularly since the presence of Cat, Tess, and J.T. ultimately didn’t do much to sway the tide of battle, as Liam has been shown to be impervious to bullets. That said, I don’t mean any of this as a complaint, largely because I don’t think Liam allowing Vincent to live is a plothole. I think it’s indicative of a change in Liam’s plans. I can’t say for sure, but I would imagine Liam realizes now that he can use Vincent, that perhaps they can help each other out in some way. I think this is what Liam means when he tells Vincent, “This changes everything.” He wasn’t expecting anyone else out there to be so much like him. He simply expected to find a bunch of test subjects who were affected by the serum, but haven’t changed completely. Hence, why he kills Russell, Alton, and nearly kills J.T. this week. Liam is tying up loose ends. And yet, we’re still left with the mystery of just why he’s doing all this. Does he really just want to monopolize the beast market so he can go on crime sprees without ever being stopped? Or is there some sort of bigger plan in motion? I’m legitimately intrigued by this, since Liam comes across as a far more calculating villain than your average non-Vincent beast.
By the end of the episode, the episode-long hunt for Liam has proven fruitless: in murdering Alton with a bomb at the hospital, Liam killed countless innocent people, including cops; he murders Russell in cold blood, and nearly takes out J.T. and Tess before Vincent and Cat intervene; and even through all this, he still gets away. For the heroes, it’s a frustrating episode, and all the more reason why I feel someone almost has to die to truly cement Liam as an unconquerable threat. Granted, I don’t actually want anyone to die, and besides, my predictions for this season have been even more fruitless than tonight’s mission was for VinCat and co., lest we forget my prediction of Vanessa Chandler being behind this all. But I still think with all the talk of Vincent and Cat showing trust for one another, as well as the development of J.T. and Tess getting back together (which, honestly, I thought happened a bit too soon. They only just broke up. Explore their dynamic as exes a bit more!), I would imagine one of the core four is at risk, although I really do hope I’m wrong. Hell, it could be Heather, for all anyone knows. But I think I’d flip out if that were the case (if I owned a Trapper Keeper, I think I’d have hearts circled around the name “Nicole Gale Anderson”). Regardless, I think the final three episodes of this season will build to some big consequences, far bigger than we might expect. Bigger than we might even be willing to accept. And, at the risk of sounding morbid, that kind of excites me, even while I find myself terrified for these characters.
“Patient X” was a downright enthralling hour of TV, thanks to the cat-and-mouse nature of the plot, and the emphasis on action mixed with some nail-biting close calls. Maybe it wasn’t as focused on character development as some of the other episodes of this half of the season, but I still found myself appreciating the delicate balance the story attempted to achieve, since it can be difficult to maintain this level of suspense without giving away too much. I’m confident Beauty and the Beast will be able to keep up the tension, although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried for the well-being of these characters. Hell, with a guy like Liam out there, it’s hard not to be.
But what did you think of Beauty and the Beast, “Patient X”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, check out my review of last week’s controversial episode, “Cat’s Out of the Bag”!
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