‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: Great Performances Elevate ‘No Way Out’
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 4 Episode 12 – No Way Out:
We’re at the penultimate episode of Beauty and the Beast, and I think it’s finally hitting me. This is it. Just one episode left. It’s something I wasn’t entirely sure I’d get around to believing, yet here we are. And yet, “No Way Out” is as good as just about any episode this season, due in large part to great performances from everyone in the ensemble — but none more so than the performances delivered by our two leads.
Of course, I’m kind of split on the storyline itself. In some ways, the drama is non-diegetic: it doesn’t come from the story depicted onscreen, but from what we bring to it. I’m not sure I would have been anywhere near as nervous throughout the entire episode if I didn’t already know this was the second-to-last episode of the series. Recognizing that the series is nearing its end, and that anybody could potentially be killed, led to an episode in which I was fearing for everyone’s safety. Yet, in isolation, there isn’t really any reason to suspect this would be any different from business as usual, with Vincent (Jay Ryan) and Cat (Kristin Kreuk) doing everything in their power to track down the person framing them, and coming close to the truth, only for it to slip through their fingers. In a sense, that’s exactly what the episode delivers, but it’s a hell of a lot more than that. For instance, imagine my surprise when, in the final minutes of the episode, Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson) is shot by a returning Braxton (Marc Singer). It was a total jaw-dropper of a moment, and the kind of incident that pretty much put me in my place for thinking this was going to be business as usual. Granted, I doubt there’s any possibility in the world that we don’t get a happy ending next week, but the events of this episode hinted at the potential for something more bittersweet than outright joyous. And I love that uncertainty and unpredictability heading into the series finale. This is a show that deserves an epic ending, and I’m confident we’re going to get one.
With that said, one last nitpick: was anyone else really let down by the reveal that there is no other beast, and that it was Braxton pulling the strings all along? For me, it came as a really anticlimactic reveal, especially after spending an entire season hunting a second beast. I suppose my problem with it is that, much like Liam last year, the threat of the season wasn’t fully developed, because it was introduced too late into the season to truly be as effective as it could have been. I liked Liam as a villain, and wished we’d gotten him sooner. And I think I would have liked Braxton more had we gotten a better sense of his overall plan earlier than now. Then again, I feel like part of it is my own confirmation bias: I expected the villain reveal to be some big shocker, someone we weren’t expecting, perhaps someone we expected was dead but truly wasn’t, maybe one of Vincent’s brothers or even Gabe. (Hell, I think I would have taken Kyle, at this point.) So my disappointment, naturally, is less with the story being told than with my own expectations of that story, which isn’t entirely fair, since you can’t bloody well review a show that didn’t take place. You have to judge a show based on what it delivered. And, from that standpoint, it’s actually kind of brilliant that the villain they were hunting was right under their noses the entire time. I mean, it doesn’t make sense that Braxton would hire Graydal operatives to track a second beast if there never was a second beast to find, but it would certainly add to the deception. Either way, the villain is still on the loose, and Braxton nearly killing Heather has made this far more personal than it was before. It’s always been personal, granted, but now VinCat are pretty much going to be on the warpath. And I’m totally down for that. In fact, I almost feel like we’d need a feature-length finale in order to wrap it all up. An hour doesn’t seem nearly long enough.
Anyway, enough negativity, because I actually did really enjoy this episode, and the big reason why was the performances. I think Jay Ryan delivered some of his best work during the “I’m Not a Monster!” scene, as he’s locked up in an underground gulag by DHS, and questioned by an interrogator who’s hellbent on getting him to admit he’s part of a larger terrorist plot. Certainly, the way the scene was edited added a lot to its impact, as Vincent is essentially haunted by memories of his past, both good and bad (I also feel like the cinematography deserves a shoutout too. The dreamy, sunbathed-yet-shadowy look is a perfect contrast for an episode this nightmarish for our characters). Seeing the flashbacks of his relationship with Cat was quite affecting, especially because it reminds us how far they’ve come from the days of hunting low-level criminals and putting an end to Muirfield experiments. We also see how far Vincent has come as an individual when he manages to suppress his urge to beast out, refusing to allow the interrogator to get the better of him, even after the man threatens Cat and then teases Vincent about being able to go home to his wife and children. It’s a harrowing scene and one of the best instances of Ryan showing off his intensity and pathos as an actor. By the same token, I think Kreuk has her best episode since “Chasing Ghosts”. In my favorite scene of the episode, Cat visits her mother’s grave with Heather, and laments how she’s failed over the years. I can’t really do the scene justice by describing it, but it really does feel as though Cat is letting out 14 years of anguish in one moment. All the pent-up frustration and heartache just comes pouring out, and Kreuk allows Cat’s mask of strength to momentarily peel back to reveal the true sorrow and desperation underneath.
In addition to the two leads, I thought we got some standout moments from the rest of the ensemble. I swear, Nicole Gale Anderson had herself a hell of an episode here, as her guilt over Kyle is pretty compelling. She didn’t do anything wrong, and — as Cat later admits — neither did Kyle, really. He was just trying to protect her from a threat he didn’t fully understand wasn’t a threat in the first place. The irony, of course, is that Kyle ends up being somewhat right, since her association with Vincent, along with a wrong place/wrong time bit of bad luck, results in her nearly getting killed by Braxton. But that’s neither here nor there in the context of what I thought was Heather’s strongest character arc in the series, as she has to learn how to forgive herself and stop “fighting the fight” regarding Kyle. Cat and Vincent forgive her, because, in their eyes, there’s nothing to forgive. And it isn’t until Heather accepts that that she can finally move on. When Cat absolves her in the hospital, you can just see the weight lifting off of Heather’s shoulders, and it’s a credit to Anderson that it all comes through without her having to really say a word. I would be remiss if I also didn’t single out Austin Basis and Nina Lisandrello, who didn’t have as much to do as I would have liked, but who had some wonderful bits of development regarding their relationship. When Tess learns how far J.T. has gone in order to bail Cat out of prison (digging into his pension, selling his computers), she’s reminded just how good of a guy he is, and how much she truly loves him. Similarly, by the end of the episode, with both of them trying to get some measure of relaxation at the bar, J.T. comes to an understanding of just how much Tess still means to him when he reassures her. In a lot of ways, however, his reassurances sound as though they’re every bit as much for his own benefit as for Tess’s, but that’s kind of what their relationship is. They reassure each other, because Vincent and Cat, while definitely their best friends, have too much on their plate. To some, that’s unfair to J.T. and Tess, but what I love about the characters is that I’m not sure they’d have it any other way.
And so it is that we build to next week’s finale, as Braxton plans on killing a prince who’s visiting New York on diplomatic business, all out of a sense of revenge. Yet DHS is still out there, hunting Vincent, and trying to prove he’s a part of this terrorist conspiracy. Beauty and the Beast has been building to this all season, and I think “No Way Out” does an excellent job of setting us up for a finale that could be the best the show has ever done. I’m sad to say goodbye to Beauty and the Beast, but I’m also excited to see what next week’s series finale has in store.
But what did you think of Beauty and the Beast Season 4 Episode 12, “No Way Out”? Sound off in the comments!
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