‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: Kristin Kreuk Delivers in Complicated ‘Chasing Ghosts’
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 3 Episode 6 – Chasing Ghosts:
I love Beauty and the Beast, but I’ll admit I have a bit of a complicated relationship with “Chasing Ghosts”. I loved the episode, but was befuddled by some of the characterization. For the first time in a while, I felt an emotional disconnect from an episode — at least for the first half. Which is why I was so surprised to find myself in tears by the end of it, and all due to Kristin Kreuk.
But first, a little back-tracking. I didn’t really notice it until last week, but the character of Catherine Chandler has been wildly inconsistent this season, in ways that the narrative doesn’t really explain. In the premiere, she’s enticed by the notion of a greater destiny. She’s the one who pulls Vincent (Jay Ryan) back into the beast hunt, long before they become targets themselves. But that motivation has largely disappeared, as Cat declares, after a potential outbreak threatens to turn all of New York into superhumans, “I thought we were done hunting beasts.” In this moment, it’s as if she regrets the pull of that destiny, and the necessity of it all. And yet, she still feels her morality tugging at her all the same, as Cat chooses to avoid the bridal shower Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson) has planned because of the threat to the city and its innocents. It’s a Cat that is bother alien and familiar, in that moment. But it becomes all the more perplexing when we discover Cat has apparently adopted a vitriolic opinion of her mother. I mean, I recall she was disappointed to learn that her mother was involved in creating Vincent, but I don’t know that she’s ever felt this level of resentment towards her mother before. So I found myself confused when she spent much of the episode refusing to discuss her mother, or even suffer to hear her mother’s name spoken. In short, it felt like we were getting several different versions of the same character, from several different possible realities. And yet, with all that said, here’s the thing: “Chasing Ghosts” ultimately stitches these different Catherines together in a compelling way, to where these apparent contradictions are actually part of the fabric of a character who’s far more complex and complicated than we might remember. And at the center of it all is Kristin Kreuk, delivering arguably her best performance of the series.
What’s interesting about “Chasing Ghosts” is that I think it could have worked — and would have worked even better — without the outbreak storyline. Normally, I’m a huge proponent of the Case of the Week, and how the developments of the one-off villains often reflect some aspect of Vincent and Catherine’s relationship. But this week, it felt intrusive, even while it was adding to the intrigue of the overarching mystery this season seeks to solve. The character story at its center was so much more interesting than the brass tacks of crime-solving that I wished we could have just stuck with Vincent and Cat’s complex relationships with their respective families. Long story short, Cat’s aunts are in town for her bridal shower, while J.T. (Austin Basis) has set up a bachelor party with Vincent’s cousin Hank. Vincent is awkward around Hank because he’s a reminder of his dead brothers, while Cat is dodging her aunts because all they’re going to want to do is reminisce about her mother. Dropped into the center of this family turmoil is the case of a possible outbreak at Vincent’s hospital, as one man has been infected with a temporary version of the serum, which spreads like a cold to anyone who makes contact. Cat correctly guesses that this staged outbreak is an attempt to draw out Vincent and reveal his identity to the people who are looking for him, since they don’t actually know whom they’re looking for, only that this person is a beast made with proto-beast DNA. Basically, this is a busy episode. But there are real gems to be found. Namely, that Kristin Kreuk performance I keep mentioning.
Cat has to be a bit of a tough character to play, considering all the changes she goes through, and how much internal continuity has to be kept straight in order to effectively play her. There’s a history to Catherine Chandler, and it leaks out in every frame of this episode, in ways both big and small. The way Cat cringes when her aunts lament the death of her poor “father” Thomas, the spiteful way she spews the words “St. Vanessa”, even the way she continually uses the case to avoid the subject of her aunts. Sure, she’s genuinely interested in solving the case, but there’s a deeper emotional issue plaguing her, and that’s the internal war she’s fighting over her mother. Does she choose to love the woman she remembers? Or does she choose to forget that version of Vanessa Chandler and replace her with the hateful image of a woman who turned the man she loves into a beast? The episode is mostly the tale of how Cat reaches middle ground, accepting that what her mother did isn’t representative of who she was. As with Vincent, people have light and dark sides. And just like Cat herself, people make mistakes. It all culminates in an absolutely devastating scene, as Cat watches a video her mother left her, in which she apologizes for the things she did while with Muirfield, and states that she wants to try and make amends however she can.
However, in a tragic twist, we learn the video was recorded the night of Vanessa’s death (the flashback to the night of her murder really wasn’t necessary, by the way. We totally remember, guys). Throughout the entire scene, Cat is in tears, as if fighting the urge to still hate this woman who’s indirectly responsible for nearly everything she’s faced the past three seasons. It reminds me a lot of a similar scene from Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey (which I won’t spoil, but it’s more or less like this). And that scene absolutely wrecked me, just as this one did, due to the performances. Kreuk depicts Cat’s internal struggle without uttering a word, allowing her tears and her pained cries to illustrate her hardened stance toward her mother gradually softening. Cat is brought to a point where she understands her mother, and can see how shortsighted she was to condemn her mother outright. And yet, right as that moment comes, Cat is painfully reminded of how her mother was ripped away from her. It’s as if Cat wants to reach into the TV screen and plead with her mother not to go. It’s an achingly beautiful scene, and Kreuk almost allows Cat to revert back to childhood for an instant. It’s hard not to see her tear-streaked face and not imagine a lost girl who simply wants her mom back, if only for a moment. It’s representative of why Kreuk is so good in this role. She’s a very expressive actress, and capable of saying a lot without saying very much at all. Hell, that’s true even in the lighthearted moments. In one of my favorite bits of the episode, just after she and Vincent have gone church-browsing for their wedding, she kisses him and then lets out a giggle that goes unexplained. She plays it like it’s nothing, and it easily could have been taken as a response to her joking comment, moments earlier, that by encouraging him to call his cousins, she’s just trying to help Vincent fill out his side of the church for their wedding. But once Vincent gets to the loft and finds his cousins are already there, we can instantly look back on that giggle and know that Cat had something to do with setting it up. And, lo and behold, she did. It’s a wonderful little moment in a sea of similarly strong scenes that culminate in Vanessa Chandler’s video at the end. And her tearful embrace with Heather after watching it reflects the difficult dynamic of their family relationship. They may not share a father, but they share a mother, and they both had fundamentally different perspectives on who that woman was, as a person. But now, they’re united in understanding. And that’s just about the most poignant resolution to which this episode could have come.
But there are still mysteries to solve, and I find those are becoming more interesting by the week. About halfway through the episode, when Cat was at the peak of her anger towards her mother, I started to wonder if maybe Vanessa Chandler isn’t still alive somehow, searching for beasts in an attempt to create a serum that will help her undo her mistakes. Here’s why I think so:
1) While it’s a necessity of the narrative to place these scenes side-by-side, it did seem telling just how often we’d go from mentions of Cat’s mother and the secret identity of Bob and Carol’s boss. More than that, the script emphasized that whomever is hunting beasts, they don’t know who Vincent is, only that he’s the beast they’re looking for. Keeping Vincent and Cat’s identities a secret from the big baddie of the season has to serve some kind of function, no? And yet, Vincent and Cat’s identities are compromised at the end of this episode when one of the infected snaps a picture of Vincent and Catherine and uploads it to his mysterious boss before dying. Normally, this would break my theory about Vanessa Chandler being behind this, except for the final moment of the episode…
2) If you’re a villain, and you know who Vincent and Catherine are, and you know they’re in a church at the moment you find them, don’t you choose a more effective way of capturing/killing them than sending gas through the windows? For the first time since this mystery person has been after Vincent and Cat, this was the first time where it felt like great pains were being taken not to harm the targets. It’s really no wonder Vincent and Cat escape so easily (albeit with a huge, shadowy figure chasing them, as we cut to the credits). But the fact that they were able to escape at all, that they weren’t immediately surrounded in the church, that more effective means weren’t taken to just shoot them down with tranquilizers, makes me think Vanessa now knows this is her daughter and Vincent. So it makes sense she wouldn’t want Catherine hurt in any way. Granted, she wouldn’t want Vincent hurt either, since he’s likely the key to whatever antidote she’s working on. But it felt like there was a fundamental change in the assassins’ approach once that photo of Vincent and Cat got uploaded to the boss.
3) In Vanessa’s video, she openly states she wants to make amends for what she’s done. She’s supposedly killed before that can happen though. On the one hand, this could just be a thematic parallel to Cat’s journey, as Cat is now inspired to finish the redemption arc her mother never had the chance to begin. On the other hand, it could be a more literal foreshadowing of her mother’s attempts in the present day.
Granted, this theory has more holes than that one good Shia LaBeouf movie. For one, why on Earth wouldn’t Vanessa contact her daughters at any point over the past decade-plus? How on Earth could she have survived getting shot at point-blank range like that? Maybe the same way J.T. survived? Oooh! Oooh! What if she’s not just looking for the antidote to atone for her sins, but also to cure herself so she can reunite with her daughters again?!
UGH, SO MUCH SPECULATION!
It’s a completely hare-brained theory on my part, but I love that the show presents a storyline that allows me to do this. I mean, I didn’t exactly love the case this week, and Vincent’s family issues with his jerk of a cousin — and the depiction of just how much Vincent misses his brothers — didn’t exactly resonate with me like I’d hoped it would have. But I found that the good in “Chasing Ghosts” far outweighed the bad. Hell, if Kristin Kreuk’s performance had been the only good thing about it, that probably would have been enough for me.
But what did you think of Beauty and the Beast, “Chasing Ghosts”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, check out my review of last week’s episode, “The Most Dangerous Beast”!
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Thank you for reading!