‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: ‘Heart of the Matter’ Examines Co-Dependency
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 3 Episode 4 – Heart of the Matter:
Beauty and the Beast has gotten into the routine of subverting expectations, which is probably the best sort of routine a show like this could get into, at this phase. “Heart of the Matter” continues a trend set by last week’s terrific hour by once again making it seem like business as usual for the first half, before a late-breaking twist turns the story on its head.
With that said, I found myself a bit divided throughout the episode. On the one hand, the character work is fantastic, as we really dig into the complexities of the relationship between Vincent and Catherine. On the other hand, the frame story prevented us from really understanding the true nature of their problem with one another until the end of the episode. Granted, this is exactly how it should have been laid out, but for some reason, even with that solid narrative framework in place, it was hard for me to really love this episode in its first half. But now I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, so I’ll just give the quick-and-dirty on tonight’s story: Vincent and Cat go to couples counseling in order to sort out their relationship woes after getting into a fight (or “disagreement,” as Vincent insists) over a case they’re working. We see the case in flashbacks throughout the episode, as Vincent and Cat each explain their side of the story, and what caused the argument. Long story short, a wealthy businessman is dying of a heart condition, until an otherwise healthy woman is found dead of an apparent suicide…in which she drilled a hole in her skull?! Naturally, Cat suspects the businessman, Marshall Zolomon, of having the healthy woman killed so he could get her heart. However, their investigation reveals that the woman was actually very sickly before undergoing a mysterious treatment that somehow “supercharged” her heart. Cat’s theory is that Zolomon experimented on the woman to make her organs healthy enough to harvest, and that this links him to the experiments that have been creating superpowered innocents all over the city. Of course, Cat’s theory ignores the obvious question of why Zolomon wouldn’t have just used the life-restoring serum on himself in the first place. But even without that obvious hole in logic, Vincent still doesn’t exactly buy that Zolomon had the woman killed. In fact, he thinks Cat is grasping at straws, obsessed with working the serum cases because she’s tied to the whole idea of serving a higher, destined purpose. And he may be right…
Part of my issue with the first half of the episode is Cat. For the record, I think Kristin Kreuk is a wonderful actress, and her chemistry with Jay Ryan is as strong now as it’s ever been, particularly since their constant arguing this week shows a side to their relationship that suggests the connection is far stronger and more durable than we’ve gotten to see. That said, Cat is just too over-the-top in the first half, tracking Zolomon down to a charity gala and accusing him with such intensity that he ends up having a heart attack. Suddenly, his much younger wife (Emily Swallow) is threatening to sue the NYPD and Vincent’s hospital if her husband dies. It’s a necessary inciting incident to get the plot rolling along, and Cat is ultimately on the side of justice, since this IS her job, after all. But there’s just something about her approach here that rubbed me the wrong way. Yes, somebody is out there experimenting on “innocents,” and yes, the woman was obviously murdered in some fashion. But the fundamental problem with Cat’s approach here, and the main reason she’s so off-putting in the first half of the episode, is that she doesn’t seem to want to engage with Vincent in any reasonable way. She dismisses his concerns as avoidance, accusing him of not wanting to solve cases because…I don’t even know, really. She basically just declares that he’s dodging cases because they represent issues he doesn’t want to deal with, but that’s never been the case before. Not in the way Cat is describing it. And even if she’s right, the very least she could have done was try to see things from Vincent’s point of view. He’s not exactly wrong when he says that fighting crime is all they ever seem to do, and it’s easy to see why he’d be upset to be invited out on what he believes is going to be a date night, only to discover Cat is using it as a pretense for investigating the case. I mean, I’m on Cat’s side in this, in that I understand that these are cases that need to be investigated, and need to be solved. But there seemed to have been very little consideration for where Vincent was coming from, which felt jarring and uncharacteristic of her, in my opinion. With that said, the second half of the episode quickly resolves the issue by delivering a hell of a twist, and a whole lot more.
I would imagine a lot of viewers weren’t exactly surprised that Bob and Carol turned out to be villains. Or, at the very least, they weren’t as surprised as I ended up being. And maybe it’ll be the same way tonight, with some viewers having totally called the whole Mrs. Zolomon reveal. But honestly? That twist absolutely took me by surprise, in a big way. The episode had been subtly hammering home the notion that this was a woman obsessed with money, between her threats to sue and her apparent somber attitude about her husband giving away his fortune to a charitable foundation. It seemed so obvious that she would be the one behind it all that I never considered she actually would be. It was a total “hiding in plain sight” twist, which are always among my favorites. Seriously, this was a blast that brought us to a conclusion that allowed Vincent and Cat to prove that while they’re “better together,” they’re just as good as individuals. In the climax, Vincent operates in the dark after Mrs. Zolomon has the generators in the hospital shut off to prevent her husband from receiving the transplant, which would leave her as a VERY wealthy widow. Luckily, because Vincent has beast powers that include night vision, the surgery goes off mostly without a hitch (although I’m glad I wasn’t eating dinner during those shots of Zolomon’s open chest cavity, with the beating heart inside). Meanwhile, Cat goes to the hospital basement and turns on the generators, but not before kicking the ass of basically everyone down there who tries to stop her, including Mrs. Zolomon’s henchmen. Although Mrs. Zolomon gets away, she’s eventually tracked down and arrested, proving that Cat’s instincts as a detective were right on the money. Something was up with the Zolomon case, and she got to the bottom of it, while Vincent embraced his duty once it became apparent that Cat’s conspiracy theory was panning out.
What I loved about this, ultimately, was that it was a form of teamwork that illustrated Cat and Vincent’s individual merits while also pointing out their strengths as a team. Sure, Cat could have totally saved the day on her own, since she didn’t really need Vincent’s beast powers to take anyone out this week (although she did need him to beast out and knock down the door to a lock-in freezer they were trapped in). However, without Vincent, Zolomon would have died and Mrs. Zolomon very well might have gotten away with murder. It’s a delicate balance, but one that the show manages well. And both Ryan and Kreuk continue to play Vincent and Cat’s relationship as a natural extension of the characters’ individual selves, which is part of the reason it’s so compelling. It feels “meant to be” in a way that is also true to life. Their connection doesn’t feel like a contrived fantasy romance. Instead of feeling like two people who fight beasts who also just so happen to be in love, it feels like two real people who are deeply in love, but who also just so happen to fight beasts. It continues the ongoing trend this season of having each Case of the Week serve as a reflection of Vincent and Cat’s relationship. Vincent notes that seeing the co-dependency issues in the Zolomon marriage helped him to catch onto it in his own relationship with Cat before it was too late. And that seems to be the overarching moral here: you can be the greatest team in the world, but you can’t be defined solely by your place in that relationship. A person still needs to be an individual, even when he — or she — is part of a whole.
It’s a poignant moral that ties into the ongoing struggle with J.T. (Austin Basis), who is continuing to experiment on himself upon realizing last week that he’s capable of rapid healing. This week, he throws himself down a flight of stairs, fracturing his tibia…which heals before Heather can even get him to the hospital! This gives J.T. the confidence that an antidote synthesized from his own blood will serve as a cure for all of the “innocents” who were experimented upon. Unfortunately, it’s a good news/bad news situation: while the antidote works on the “supercharged” heart Zolomon is given, the cure doesn’t work on J.T. himself. Now, the genius is crushed by the weight of inevitable madness, as it turns out that the murdered woman DID kill herself, but not on purpose. She was driven to madness by the effects of the serum, so much so that she tried to drill into her own skull to alleviate the pressure she was feeling. J.T. worries that a similar madness awaits him, and it’s a fear he struggles to share with others. It culminates in a poignant phone conversation with Cat in which he expresses his concerns, prompting Cat to tell newly-minted captain Tess (Nina Lisandrello) to check in on him and avoid letting her job consume her. Much like with Vincent and Cat, J.T. and Tess have a very natural chemistry, and their relationship is actually the most true-to-life of any on the show, at least from my experience. It all feels very familiar and relatable, and a lot of that has to do with the strength of Basis and Lisandrello, and how naturally they vacillate between off-the-cuff humor, quiet sincerity, and sad severity.
With all that said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention just how funny this episode ended up being. There’s a fantastic scene in the first half of the episode in which J.T. has Vincent, Cat and Tess on hold, and has to switch between all three calls, all while getting the lines mixed up and further irritating the already-angry trio, as Cat is mad at Vincent, Vincent is mad at Cat, Tess is mad at Cat, and Cat doesn’t want to talk to Tess OR Vincent. It’s a total screwball comedy of the Laurel and Hardy style, and it actually helps advance the plot too. I also really dug the scenes in Dr. Glenroy’s office, as the doc expresses genuine confusion at what Vincent and Cat are talking about, since they refuse to be forthcoming about just what they mean when they say they “save each other”. Saul Rubinek is a terrific actor, and it was great to see him pop up here, as he sold a lot in his subtle facial expressions and line readings (“So your argument caused a man to have a heart attack?!”). The result was an episode that had a whole lot more going for it than just the dramatic aspects, or the character study at its heart (no pun intended, I swear).
Ultimately, “Heart of the Matter” is a bit of a mixed bag, as I didn’t love it like I’ve loved the other three episodes of Beauty and the Beast so far this season. However, the episode was wrapped up into such a compelling, engaging conclusion that I ended feeling far more positive about it than I initially thought I would. This was a fun episode that seemed to just fly by. In a very real sense, I was left wanting more, as this almost felt shorter than other episodes. The cast is what elevates the story, as their interactions can make even the most iffy hours into a blast, and it was no different here. I could never hate this show, even in those rare situations where I don’t love what it’s doing. This was a case where the episode had its hits and misses, but came out the other side smelling like roses.
But what did you think of Beauty and the Beast, “Heart of the Matter”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, check out my review of last week’s episode, “Bob & Carol & Vincent & Cat”!
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