‘Beauty and the Beast’ Review: Thrilling ‘Shotgun Wedding’ Unleashes Chaos
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 3 Episode 8 – Shotgun Wedding:
Any given story on Beauty and the Beast will often stand as a testament to Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. And so it was in “Shotgun Wedding”, a thrilling hour of TV that unleashed chaos on the characters, and ended with a major turning point for one of our characters. This may have just been my favorite episode of the season so far.
Of course, a story like this has some difficulties that must be overcome first. For one, we have no idea who this “Liam” guy is or why we should be so afraid of him, so when Julianna (Gloria Votsis) insists that he’s the one Cat (Kristin Kreuk) and Vincent (Jay Ryan) need to be taking down, it rings a bit hollow, particularly coming from someone who was just trying to kill our heroes last week. Secondly, Julianna’s actions this week make her actions last week even more confusing. If injecting Vincent with the serum was the key to everything all along, then why the hell didn’t she inject him with it last week when she had him tied up? Julianna insists that Vincent is the only one who’s a match for Liam — lending credence to Bob and Carol’s assertions that Vincent might finally be “the beast [Julianna’s] been looking for” — and adds that only with the serum will he be powerful enough to defeat the villain. But again, Julianna’s inconsistency as a character creates another hurdle for the storyline to overcome. Lastly, this is a story that attempts to heighten suspense by putting our characters in peril. Yet, because we know these characters have Plot Armor, we know they aren’t going to die. So where’s the suspense? These are three major problems going into the episode…
And “Shotgun Wedding” thrillingly overcomes each and every single one of them.
First and foremost, the Plot Armor question: sure, we know none of our core characters are going to die just yet (maybe in the season finale, but this isn’t like The Walking Dead, where major characters bite it mid-season. Well, unless their name is Evan Marks. Or Tori Windsor. Or…you know what, forget I said anything). But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still danger. What I loved about this week was that the drama comes not from wondering who’s going to die, but in whether or not Vincent and Cat will actually get to tie the knot. We know the wedding is going to be interrupted somehow, but will Vincent and Cat actually get to be declared husband and wife first? Or is this another instance of a happy ending deferred? Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but I was actually more invested in the question of whether or not the wedding would happen than I was in the reveal of Liam. I was right there with Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson), freaking out about everything going smoothly at the wedding, and Vincent and Cat finally getting their day in the spotlight to share their love for one another. Every wrinkle in the story challenged that possible happy ending, and it led to an ongoing story in which everything that could have gone wrong ultimately did: Julianna escapes and tries to kidnap Cat, J.T. (Austin Basis) keeps the captured Julianna tucked away in the backroom of the church so she won’t interrupt the wedding, Vincent and Cat get into a fight over keeping the existence of Liam a secret, and then — well, the climax is the ultimate “thing going wrong”. Not only does the wedding not happen, Vincent finds himself face-to-face with a beast he can’t possibly defeat on his own. In fact, the best part about Liam’s arrival is the vastly different reactions Vincent and Cat have to the encounter.
So after a full episode attempting to track down the existence of this “Liam” guy through every database in the country, Tess (Nina Lisandrello) inevitably discovers that the reason they couldn’t find him in any database in America is because…well, he isn’t American. Liam arrives at JFK International Airport from London in search of Julianna. And he comes with beast capabilities so heightened that he’s able to pinpoint the exact location of Julianna from way the hell on the other side of New York City, without even moving a muscle to track her. And once he bursts into the church, he not only murders Julianna, he rips her arm out of her socket! He then tosses Vincent away like yesterday’s garbage, and makes his move against Cat. She throws a knife, and it pierces his neck in what should have been a killing blow. But Liam simply removes the knife, and his wound heals instantly. It’s one of the more genuinely unsettling moments of the episode, as it signifies the realization of just what Vincent and Cat are truly up against.
In one last coup de grace, Liam tosses Vincent through the wall of the church, leaving him a bloody, broken mess on the floor. In short, Liam is here, and he’s absolutely freaking terrifying. And now I can see where the writing has been going this season with the various beasts of the serum storyline. Liam possesses all the qualities that, individually, have manifested in the serum subjects that we’ve encountered this season. He has the speed of the Beast of Wall Street, the strength of Vincent, and he’s presumably got the time-slowing, “see what you’re going to do before you do it” powers of Bob and Carol. And, most tellingly, he has the healing factor that J.T. had, except it’s so far advanced that he’s able to heal instantaneously. So Julianna really wasn’t kidding when she said Vincent would need some sort of boost if he hoped to have any sort of shot against Liam. And Vincent himself seems to recognize this now. But his reaction is not reflected in Catherine’s response.
Jay Ryan and Kristin Kreuk have been doing a great job at portraying Vincent and Cat as two people who need each other, but who are also two distinctly independent individuals. When Vincent encounters Liam, he finally sees what Cat has been saying about their higher purpose. There’s a greater destiny for both of them, and that destiny involves stopping Liam. Because, if not them, who the hell else is going to do it? But the encounter with Liam prompts a completely opposite response in Cat. Last week, I was perplexed at why Cat seemed to be resentful of her beast-hunting role, considering her big speech at the top of the season about her greater destiny. But now, it all comes full circle. The encounter with Liam has prompted Cat to realize that this entire beast-hunting career is kind of B.S., actually. At some point, these beasts have to stop being their problem, specifically. “Liam could have easily killed us today. So why are we going after him when he’s not even coming after us?” Cat tells Vincent. “Who says this has to be our fight? It’s not. It’s all over. I quit.” And you know what? For as much as we might want our heroes to stand up for good simply on the principle of goodness, I can’t say I blame Cat for that decision. What has all her do-gooding won her? More near-death experiences? Does someone they love actually have to die before they decide enough is enough? Or will this just go on forever? Cat still wants to marry Vincent. She still wants that happy ending. But she recognizes that she and Vincent are never going to get that happy ending for as long as they’re hunting beasts, because there’s always going to be a bigger threat on the horizon. It will never be over.
Cat has essentially gone from being the most gung-ho about setting things right, to being the one rejecting her destiny. Meanwhile, it took Vincent coming face-to-face with an impossibly powerful beast to recognize the true scale of his destiny, and the responsibility thereof. Cat sees a confrontation with Liam as untenable, whereas Vincent sees it as inescapable. Liam has become his responsibility, and because he knows he can’t do this without Cat, it must be theirs as well. Yet Cat’s resistance to the call to action is like something out of a Joseph Campbell study. Before long, she’ll accept her responsibility, but what’s going to happen to bring her to that point? I’m legitimately worried someone is going to die here. And that sort of unspoken tension is a hallmark of a great thriller.
Naturally, this was another episode that featured strong performances. I had a really hard time deciding, actually, who stole the episode. Nicole Gale Anderson had me in hysterics throughout, as her fretting over the wedding continued to escalate into cartoonish proportions. And I mean that as a compliment. She provided a welcome sense of levity to an episode that was rife with tension. I think she’s far more valuable to the ensemble than many people realize, considering she’s been offering much of the comic relief this season, and her presence broadens the core “beast-hunting” team, so that we have another person for the core four characters to bounce ideas off of, and to share dramatic scenes with this season. However, I think Jay Ryan ultimately won this episode, for me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him give a more impassioned speech than when he’s chasing an angry Cat through the streets of New York City, pleading with her to forgive him for hiding Julianna’s escape from her. “We have been through Hell and back together, okay. But we’ve made it, we’ve finally made it. And right or wrong, there was no way I was going to let anything else keep this day from happening,” Vincent says, on the verge of tears. “Come on. Ten years, I was living in the shadows. Completely lost. Except for you. You saved me, you loved me, and now here we are, finally. Alright? Please, no more sacrifices. We deserve this, don’t we?”
It’s a fantastic speech that Ryan delivers with great passion and intensity, and — most impressively — without his accent ever wavering. I know I’m beating a dead horse, but it seems like more and more people are coming from overseas and getting parts in American TV shows where they play Americans. Yet Jay Ryan is the only foreigner whose native accent I can never hear in anything he does. That dude is SO much better than he ever gets credit for, and it’s a shame, because he’s been absolutely killing it this season. And his impassioned plea to Cat at the end of the episode is just as compelling. He plays Vincent as someone who’s shellshocked, who recognizes now what his destiny truly is. Vincent doesn’t understand why Cat is refusing to hunt Liam, since it’s unambiguously the right thing to do, to protect this city and to defend humanity. Vincent is torn between his destiny and his love for Cat, and he shouldn’t have to pick sides, and yet I understand why he might have to, since Cat has a point herself about whether this is really their fight or not. I love that kind of dramatic pull, where both sides have a point.
Of course, I have no idea where the story with Liam goes from here, whether Vincent tries to take him down on his own, or if something happens that compels Cat to make this her fight too. But I’m interested to see the direction this is headed. There are so many spinning plates in the air right now that it can seem hard for the narrative to successfully balance them all. Once again, I found the stuff with J.T. and Tess quite touching, as J.T. does his best to show Tess that if he can’t be there for her as a boyfriend, he’ll always be there for her as a friend, at least. It’s minimal process, but it’s worth exploring. I also really felt for Tess when she was going chewed out by the police captain in front of the entire precinct. Yes, it was a combination of J.T.’s bad judgment and her own decision to let it slide, but it’s hard not to feel sympathetic for her. Tess is one of those characters who I really want to see happy when this is all over, as she’s had a lot of cool moments this season. Hell, in this episode alone, she had a wonderful hug/friendship moment with Vincent (more of those please!), and a really touching phone call with J.T. at the end. This ensemble has created an on-screen bond that deepens the investment in the show and its characters even when they’re doing mundane things. However, “Shotgun Wedding” won’t be judged by its mundane moments, but rather by the totality of its elements. And, luckily, by that rubric, it deserves a pretty high score. I mean, I don’t grade episodes or anything, but this was probably my favorite episode of the season so far. I say “probably” mostly because I’d need to think it over. But my gut reaction to this episode was ecstatic. Beauty and the Beast is on a roll, and I’m more than stoked to follow it on that roll.
But what did you think of Beauty and the Beast, “Shotgun Wedding”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, check out my review of last week’s divisive episode, “Both Sides Now”!
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