‘Beauty and the Beast’ Season Premiere Review: ‘Beast of Wall Street’ Charts New Path
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Season 3 Premiere – The Beast of Wall Street:
It feels like a lifetime since Beauty and the Beast was last on the air, and with that distance comes a premiere that reclassifies this as a show with a much broader scope. “The Beast of Wall Street” is a fascinating premiere, not simply because it delivers much of what we’ve come to expect from the series (action, romance, a mystery hinting at a larger threat), but because it charts a new path for the series by exploring that broader scope, while also centering on how extraordinary people struggle to attain normalcy in a situation that is anything but.
The major thrust of the episode is the suggestion that the story of Vincent (Jay Ryan) and Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) isn’t an insular romance, but one that spans generations, and includes a destiny neither seems fully capable of comprehending right now. Of course, I say that, but Catherine spends nearly the entire episode trying to get Vincent to see her way of thinking: namely, that they have a destiny. Catherine believes she and Vincent have a responsibility to carry on the work started by Rebecca and Alistair over a hundred years earlier. But there’s only one problem: Vincent finally has the normal life he’s always wanted, working as a doctor in a New York hospital, and having sexy dinners/breakfasts with Cat. To rope him back into all this Beast business would require tearing him away from that peaceful life he’s finally found. After all, it’s only been a few months since the events of last season, meaning everyone’s nerves are still raw about the whole Gabe business. So Cat is understandably hesitant to get involved when Agent Thomas comes around, demanding she use her influence to get Vincent to help them fight new, superpowered threats. What I like about this setup is that it puts Cat in the middle of a serious personal dilemma. On the one hand, you could argue that Cat really ought to be involving Vincent in these conversations, since he’s the one who’s going to be thrown out into the field to fight these superpowered lunatics. On the other hand, she’s not really making any concrete decisions without his involvement. Rather, she’s trying to ascertain whether or not these new threats are valid before even raising the matter of getting involved to Vincent. And yet, the interesting part of this situation is that, naturally, by trying to keep Vincent out of it, she winds up putting herself in harm’s way, to such a degree that he was going to end up involved whether she wanted him to or not. Cat’s intentions are good, but they result in a series of complications that are difficult to overcome.
Agent Thomas needs help tracking down a Wall Street broker who’s been acting strangely and expressing beastly powers, and he’s far from the only one. There have been reports all over the city of similarly superpowered humans on the loose. Vincent wants to hold onto his humanity, and fears he won’t be able to do this if he’s forced to engage his beastly side again (and yet, he still utilizes his beast powers while working as a doctor; in one terrific sequence, he uses his amplified hearing to detect what’s wrong with Agent Thomas’s heart after he’s nearly killed by the titular Beast of Wall Street). Put simply, Vincent is gradually losing control, and he’s simply uncertain if he’ll be able to come back from the brink as he did before. For him, the only way to win the game is never to play: he can only maintain his humanity by never going down the beastly path again. Now, naturally, we know this isn’t the case, because if it were, we wouldn’t have a show. But the premiere illustrates that while Vincent is likely to do most of the actual fighting from here on out, Cat is absolutely as vital to his success as he is to hers.
Basically, Vincent can use his abilities to track the beasts, Cat can use her detective skills and police resources to apprehend them, Vincent can use his powers to fight them if anything gets out of hand, and Cat can bring him back from the brink if things get too serious. Vincent is opposed to the idea of getting involved with Agent Thomas and his men, even as Cat lays out a strong argument that they’re both meant for something bigger than their respective roles as doctor and detective. But, by the end of the episode, Vincent is compelled to help out when the Beast of Wall Street breaks into Agent Thomas’s hospital room, finishes him off, and leaves to set a bomb at his former place of employment, leaving Vincent with no choice but to put a stop to the rogue beast. You could argue that there’s less impact in the choice being made for Vincent, since he’s more or less forced into saving the day, as the alternative is to let a whole bunch of people die. But, really, Vincent still makes a choice. He’s still forsaking his happy ending to continue fighting for people who’ll never know his name. While the climactic final fight is a choppily-edited, dimly-lit fiasco, it’s unmistakably dramatic, as Cat must pull Vincent from the brink of committing murder. After all, while these beasts are a threat to the city, they’re victims themselves, having been altered by unknown, dangerous methods.
I mentioned in my spoiler-free review of the premiere last month that the show feels more like a gritty, adult fairy tale than before. The issue of destiny is at the forefront, as is the broader notion that love isn’t something promised, it’s something earned between two people. In this sense, Vincent and Cat’s conflict plays like the aftermath of a fairy tale, the “well, what now?” of happily ever after. In some cases, “happily ever after” is deferred when it turns out the world still needs saving. And so it is here. Vincent’s powers give him the ability to choose whether or not he gets involved, but while power gives its wielder the freedom of choice, it also bestows upon them the responsibility to serve. The narrative, then, is split into two halves, with Vincent initially seeking a normal life, and later coming to the realization (through Cat) of the necessity for Beasts in this world. Well, maybe not for “Beasts,” but for Vincent Keller. Because, really, who else is going to stop these unfortunate souls? But he can’t do this alone, as he needs Cat. It’s a two-way street, which is why VinCat is one of the more rewarding, well-done relationships on television…and why their engagement is the highlight of the episode. Yes, I’m sort of burying the lede by neglecting to mention that Vincent and Cat end the episode as fiances, but it really is a moment that is a LONG time in coming. The emotion of it all comes forward in a rush, as Vincent takes a knee, Cat puts two-and-two together, and…well, you saw it. Tears were shed. Kisses exchanged. It felt like the culmination of a relationship that has been through far more ups and downs than I’d have probably expected it to. In a lot of ways, this felt like a make-good for all the love triangles VinCat shippers had to endure. Part of me is a bit skeptical, since this almost played out too much like a fairy tale to actually end happily ever after, but it’s hard not to bask in the glow as it stands now.
But things aren’t nearly as good for J.T. (Austin Basis) and Tess (Nina Lisandrello), at least at first. In the two months since Gabe’s attack, J.T. is still troubled by the feeling that he’s not supposed to be here, that he was meant to die in that attack. It carries over into an academic curiosity, as J.T. doesn’t know what was done to him to save his life, and it’s gnawing at him. And, in turn, his defeatist attitude is gnawing at Tess, who has basically had about enough of his survivor’s guilt. But while I get why Tess is angry with him, it all feels a bit premature. Can the man have more than two months to process his near-death experience? Hell, the guy is freaking experimenting on himself to figure out if there have been any changes in his body as a result of the serum Agent Thomas and his men gave him. In this way, J.T. is driven by the sense that larger forces are at work, that there’s destiny at play. Granted, while J.T. is able to eventually come to grips with the notion that he’ll miss the good in his life if he dwells on the bad — eventually making amends with Tess in a wonderful little capper to their episode-long quabble — he’s still got it in his head that Cat is right. And so J.T. serves a larger narrative function in the premiere, as he’s part of the chorus of voices getting Vincent to agree to pursue his destiny. I get the feeling that this will prove to be the overarching theme of Season 3, Destiny. And that knowledge has me genuinely excited for what’s to come.
“The Beast of Wall Street” is a solid premiere, exploring the shifting dynamics of the two central relationships in this show, VinCat and JT&T. Beauty and the Beast is speeding ahead at a pretty strong pace, since I didn’t expect Vincent would be all-in on the mission by the end of the premiere, suspecting this would be a more drawn-out story of character growth in which Vincent eventually accepts the call to action. But I’m glad the series isn’t pulling any punches, or wasting any time. The storylines are fleet, but not without depth. Beauty and the Beast is back, and I couldn’t be more excited about the prospects for what’s ahead.
But what did you think of “The Beast of Wall Street”? Sound off in the comments! And thank you for reading!
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