Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast - Season 4 Premiere - Monsieur et Madame Bete:
We're finally back for more Beauty and the Beast, and it'd be an understatement if I were to say I was simply excited about this premiere. With this being the final season, barring some miraculous renewal on a different network or streaming service, the stakes for this premiere simply felt higher. There's no guarantee that any of the characters are going to be safe this season, and it left the premiere feeling more vibrant than it might have felt otherwise. And yet, what I liked most about "Monsieur et Madame Bete" were the character-building moments that illustrate that the more things change, the more things stay the same.
This internalized struggle is best represented in the form of J.T. (Austin Basis), who's settled back into his teaching job only to discover that some blogger is running his mouth about beasts on "the blogosphere" (and the show gets pretty decent comedic mileage out of the absurdity of this phrase). J.T.'s innate desire to solve mysteries and be the hero is now reawakened. And it's a character development that makes sense for him. Last season was about Vincent (Jay Ryan) and Cat (Kristin Kreuk) coming to the realization that they wanted their lives to have greater meaning, that they wanted to be a part of something far larger and more important than their own interests. However, by the end of the season, both Vincent and Cat were more than ready to put that part of their lives to bed for good. But J.T., despite finally making the choice to move in with Tess (Nina Lisandrello), still has the itch to do more than he can as a simple college professor. And why not? Last season was J.T.'s first real foray into the thick of the action. This isn't to say he hasn't been intimately involved in the weekly adventures, but it really felt like J.T. was either taking action or being put in harm's way every single episode. Suddenly, he could understand Vincent's side of things -- the danger, the adrenaline, the sense of accomplishment when everything goes right, and the feeling that the sum total of accomplishments lead to a better world which you get to take ownership in helping create. Why wouldn't J.T. miss that adventure, even with all the inherent danger and risks? It's a conflict that creates a bit of an internal struggle with J.T., in the sense that he doesn't want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt, yet he can't help but involve his loved ones once it becomes clear that this blogger is someone they're going to have to worry about.Credit: The CW
Of course, this would all probably have been a lot easier if all they had to worry about was one overzealous blogger. But J.T. quickly discovers that a killer is on the loose, and he's hunting beasts as the ultimate prize, a sort of take on The Most Dangerous Game. It's an interesting direction to take the story, even though the killer basically amounts to a one-off villain. I love the idea that there are actually bounty hunters out there looking to collect on a reward, because it presents us with a type of villain who doesn't particularly care about outing beasts to the general public. In fact, it behooves killers like this guy to help keep beasts secret, since he probably won't be able to collect on the bounty if the government and other agencies are in on the hunt as well. It provides the show with an opportunity to offer a villain that is a force of sheer greed and self-interest, rather than introducing another villain with a larger, farther-reaching arc. Not that I mind such villains, necessarily. I'm intrigued by the possibilities that the blogger presents, since the blogger is basically the closest thing to an overarching villain for the season we have so far. What are the blogger's motivations, and what is the blogger after? It could make for a compelling story if we have the gang coming up against an enemy who literally wants nothing other than to expose beasts, since it would essentially bring the story of the series full-circle. We go from Vincent and J.T. doing their best to keep Vincent's abilities a secret from an organization looking to exploit him, to the entire BATB family teaming up to protect Vincent from someone with no other motives than exposure. It's such a blunt, straightforward narrative that I think the show could really deliver, if that's the direction we're headed. Granted, we don't really know where the season is headed, in the grand scheme of things. But then, the unknown is kind of exhilarating, isn't it? And the nice thing about the one-off structure of the premiere is how it gives us more time to focus on the characters, and where they're at, respectively, following the events of last season.Credit: The CW
It hasn't been very long since the end of Season 3 in the world of the show, and in that time, Vincent and Cat have gone on their honeymoon to France, exploring whether or not they can actually live a normal life. Vincent is the positive one here, noting that he and Cat have been through so much that the universe HAS to be on their side this time. Naturally, I'd argue the world has practically been bending over backwards to keep them together, considering how easily they could have been killed over the past three seasons, but I do appreciate Vincent's sentiment here. It's encouraging to see him be the positive, upbeat figure in the relationship, since Vincent seems more prone to introspective brooding than Cat. With that said, Ryan and Kreuk have settled into a domestic type of chemistry that feels natural in ways that are rare for most network TV shows. It's one of the most genuine pairings on television right now due largely to the effortlessness of its effectiveness. We really don't need a whole bunch of "I love you"s thrown around to understand what Vincent and Cat mean to each other. They're under no delusion that their relationship isn't going to have its problems, but they've come to a point of acceptance about the need to work through those issues together. Though brief, the little montage depicting their sojourn in Paris is amusing, and it illustrates that these two people are capable of living a hassle-free married life, if they can only find a way to keep their more heroic instincts in check.
This latter issue is one of the more engaging conflicts of the episode, to me, since it brings up the moral dilemma of whether or not Vincent and Cat should actually help people, or if "living a normal life" means letting people die. For instance, Vincent rescues a couple trapped in a burning car, but to do so, he has to beast out. Unfortunately, he ends up briefly revealing his beast abilities to the groggy husband in the process, running the risk of completely blowing the peace he and Cat had worked so hard to earn. Of course, they're lucky that the man's testimony is written off as a side effect of the accident, but I feel this is an issue they're likely to come up against as the season continues. Like Vincent says, neither he nor Cat are the type of people to simply turn a blind eye to people in need. So they'll have to decide, at some point, whether they value the lives of innocents above their own peace, since it seems clear that the narrative isn't about to let them have both. This is the type of relationship problem I can get behind, because it's at least more believable than teasing a third wheel in the romance, for example. The show appears to have matured beyond that type of storytelling, and although last season was pretty divisive for some, I think it was all the stronger for its focus, and for the lack of extraneous love triangle drama. Granted, I don't expect everything to be perfect in VinCat's world, but it's encouraging that they're at least on the same page, you know?Credit: The CW
Of course, VinCat isn't the only pairing experiencing hardships. JTnT are going to have to deal with J.T.'s newfound sense of duty if they're ever going to move forward. Perhaps more than Vincent or Cat, Tess just wants things to go back to normal, and doesn't get why J.T. seems to crave the dangerous lifestyle. Although she understands once he explains that he wants his life to have greater meaning, Tess struggles with the problems J.T. introduces into their relatively normal existence, such as taking Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson) along to investigate the blogger, an act that nearly gets her killed when the killer causes her to stumble off a fire escape and fall three stories (well, two and a half). Sure, Heather turns out alright, and even meets a cute paramedic (whom I totally don't trust at all. Did anyone else get a "too good to be true" vibe off that guy? I swear this has nothing to do with my tireless Heather Chandling crush). But the fact of the matter is that J.T. is becoming reckless, a trait that seems to go hand-in-hand with heroism on this show. With his increased prominence in the actual action of the series, I feel like this is something J.T. is going to have to work out, sooner rather than later. If you're going to be a hero, you have to be smart about it. In theory, it shouldn't be hard for a genius like J.T.; and yet, it's still easier said than done.Credit: The CW
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the terrific climax, as Vincent tracks down the killer after he abducts Cat to draw him into the open. One of the coolest things about the sequence is how Cat isn't really a damsel in distress -- at least not the entire way through. She essentially rescues herself by luring the killer into a false sense of security, and then kicking his ass, freeing herself, and nearly taking him down, until a well-timed shot to a piece of rope sends a crate down on top of her. Vincent saves the day, but it doesn't feel like he's rescuing some shrinking violet from an ivory tower. Rather, he's helping out his partner. Because this is, after all, a partnership. But the ending is pretty dark, as Vincent ends up causing the villain to be impaled on a piece of rebar in the factory where the fight takes place. Suddenly, Vincent is confronted with the reality of his abilities, reminded that he possesses the ability to take lives at will. It's a credit to Ryan's acting that he doesn't have to say much to communicate the weight of what he just did, nor does Kreuk have to say a word to show she understands what Vincent is going through. It's a simple look, but it's a cross between shock and concern. Those wordless moments are some of Kreuk's best, and they go a long way in showing what works about this pairing. These two get each other's struggles, because hardship for one is hardship for the other. Of course, I was a little disappointed that the story didn't further explore what it meant to Vincent to take a life, as we go from the shock and horror of Vincent killing the bounty hunter, to having a stress-free dinner with Cat on the rooftop to make up for their interrupted honeymoon. Sure, the killing was in self-defense, and part of me is glad that they're not turning this into a rehash of Vincent's struggle to maintain his humanity. But I feel like that climax deserved a bit more analysis from the characters than we got. Perhaps it'll be something that comes up in subsequent episodes, especially if Vincent finds himself having to kill again to survive -- or to protect someone he loves. The real thrill of this season isn't simply that those types of shocking moments could happen, but that they might turn out to be necessary. Because the alternative is that the entire BATB family might not make it out of this season alive.
All in all, I thought "Monsieur et Madame Bete" was a solid premiere for Beauty and the Beast. In some ways, it lacked the urgency of what you'd think the premiere for a final season would offer. But then, that's kind of what I liked about it. It was business as usual, delivering more of the show I love, and allowing the viewer to ease back into this world after a hiatus that's been too long. This season looks to bring the series full circle, and allow our characters to find some measure of closure. Hopefully, the ending is more sweet than bittersweet.
But what did you think of the Beauty and the Beast Season 4 Premiere, "Monsieur et Madame Bete"? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on Beauty and the Beast, read our review and analysis of last season's epic finale!