‘Beauty and the Beast’ Series Finale Review: ‘Au Revoir’ Is An Emotional, Fitting End
Recap and review of Beauty and the Beast – Series Finale – Au Revoir:
I’m not really sure what to write. The series finale of Beauty and the Beast aired tonight, and “Au Revoir” was more or less what I was expecting: an emotional conclusion, but one that was more sweet than bittersweet. I absolutely loved it, but it’s also a bit difficult coming to grips with this being the end, even though I generally felt it was a strong way to end the show.
I suppose I should explain why this show has meant as much as it has over the last four years. Beauty and the Beast premiered at a time when I really needed a bit of fantasy escapism. It seemed that TV was irrepressibly bleak, and it didn’t help that my life had its own stresses at the time. Frankly, I wanted to cover a show that would seem like a bit of pulp fun, where I could forget for an hour that anything was bothering me. Of course, what’s funny about all this is that I hated the show when I first saw it. It was due in large part to the series not being what I anticipated it to be, and coming to realize that I was now stuck with this show for the rest of the season, at least. But over time, I came to recognize what the show was, and what the show was going for. As it turns out, it really was the show I was expecting it to be, just not in the way I was expecting. It grew into the serialized fantasy drama that I had been hoping for, evolving out of a run-of-the-mill procedural in its first thirteen episodes, and becoming a supernatural epic that had one of TV’s strongest romances. By the end of Season 1, it was one of my favorite shows on television, and even though Season 2 had its ups and downs, I thought it was every bit as strong. This was due in large part to the cast.
One of the big reasons I initially asked Rickey if I could take on the assignment was because I loved Kristin Kreuk’s work. And I feel that following her paid off in a big way. Aside from Kreuk being one of the most consistent actors on The CW, I think she delivered some of the best work of her career on this show. And following her led to a bunch of other great discoveries, even outside of the show itself. For me, Jay Ryan was the big discovery here, to the point where I found myself wondering how he wasn’t on my radar before this. More than anyone else on the show, I felt his arc was the strongest, and not just because his character is the titular beast, but because Ryan took the pains to portray Vincent differently in each season. There was a sense of how far Vincent had come, and also how far he had to go. Vincent was never someone who was completely settled into one state of existence, and it made his portrayal not only consistently interesting, but also rewarding, as we see him grow and change throughout the series. In addition, Kreuk and Ryan had terrific chemistry together throughout the series, developing into one of the better couples on television, even when they were on opposing sides. I really can’t stress enough how important the cast was to making this work. Even people who didn’t stick around all four seasons like Sendhil Ramamurthy, who turned Gabe from a one-note villain into a layered character, a decent man who simply couldn’t overcome his inner demons; or Max Brown, who seemed to exist solely to be a romantic rival for Cat’s affections, but who developed into a hero in his own right. And then there were the supporting players.
During the pilot, I felt Nina Lisandrello deserved to be a bigger star, and I still do. She has this effortless, tough girl charisma to her that makes her fun to watch. The show didn’t always give her a lot to do, but I felt like Lisandrello always made the most of her screentime. And I feel the same way about Austin Basis, a guy who, ironically, I first discovered while following another one of his co-stars. My affection for Shiri Appleby prompted me to check out Life Unexpected, and that’s the first time I remember seeing Basis onscreen. While that show didn’t exactly last, he left enough of an impression that I recognized him when Beauty and the Beast premiered. And to say he’s built the character of J.T. Forbes from the ground up would be an understatement. J.T. very easily could have been a run-of-the-mill techie/comic relief character who served no other purpose than to be a sidekick. But Basis imbued J.T. with a warmth that essentially made him the heart of the show. He took the best friend character and gave us a guy with his own hopes and dreams, his own goals and desires. Sure, a lot of his personal arc is tied to his best friend’s, but I’d argue that J.T. is the most lived-in character in the show. He feels like a person I met run into on the street, someone with this inner world I’d know nothing about at first look. And I love that. In the same way Lisandrello shows us that Tess is someone far more emotionally incisive than her tough girl exterior would imply, J.T. is far more relatable than most. This would be a good place to pivot towards talking about the actual episode, since I thought Basis and Lisandrello did some amazing work, some of their best of the series, in this finale. Particularly when both characters are saying goodbye to Vincent and Cat, respectively. It was pretty hard keeping it together, seeing these characters face what could be the end of their journey together. And it was one of the highlights of what was a great, if somewhat subdued, finale.
The thing that I really liked about the finale was that subdued demeanor though. At the start of the episode, Vincent and Cat are essentially left with nothing to do. You would think, in the series finale of a show, it would be wall-to-wall action, with Vincent and Cat hardly being able to find a moment to breathe. But the opposite happens, as they’re stuck waiting around for J.T. and Tess to locate Braxton and the Prince, respectively. While waiting, Vincent and Cat decide to tie up some loose ends that only serve to create anguish in the people they love. Cat draws up her final will and testament, and Heather (Nicole Gale Anderson) flips out. This leads to an emotional scene between the two sisters, as they face the possibility that Cat and Vincent may die in the fight ahead. Heather needs to be prepared for this, and she needs to be able to move on if/when the time comes. It’s powerful stuff, and helps cap off an episode that’s among the best Anderson has ever had for her character. Yes, I’m kind of sounding like a broken record here, stating that each member of the cast turns in some of his or her best work. But I really do feel this is the case. Anderson really opens Heather up to reveal her pain at potentially losing a sister, and it’s made all the more profound by the contrast with her comedic scenes, such as when she gets Kyle (Michael Roark) to help her by threatening to never have sex with him again. It shows that the series hasn’t lost its occasional lighthearted touch. Hell, even Cat gets to make a crack when she suddenly finds herself having to pee during the climactic final mission. Beauty and the Beast has always struck a delicate balance with drama and humor, and I felt this episode embodied a lot of what has made the show work over four seasons, since the humor doesn’t feel out-of-place in an episode that is, ostensibly, the most dramatic in the history of the series (by sheer virtue of being its final chapter).
And yet, the occasional lighthearted touch takes a backseat to the character connections coming full circle, such as when Tess refuses to say a final goodbye to Cat, confident that she’ll see her best friend again; or when Vincent and J.T. embrace and declare each other brothers, all while fighting back tears. Or when J.T. and Tess think Vincent and Cat have been killed by Braxton’s car bomb while saving the Prince, in the most emotionally raw moment in the history of the series. Hell, J.T.’s speech at Vincent and Cat’s funeral positively wrecked me. These are the kinds of moments that can only work with four seasons worth of history behind them. But the payoff is definitely worth it. Even though the group doesn’t end up together in the way fans probably wanted them to, Vincent and Cat still get their happily ever after by faking their deaths and moving to France. Granted, I imagine if you told fans four years ago that the show would end this way, I’m not sure how they would take it. But I think it’s one of the few endings for Vincent and Cat that feels right. I don’t know how else they could have cleared Vincent and Cat in such a way that it could have been business as usual for the old gang once again. But this feels like the right kind of compromise, with Vincent and Cat returning to the place they started the season (France), and being reunited with their friends for their wedding anniversary. It’s kind of beautiful, and it fits the situation for these characters. And hey, there are some surprises too, and I’m not talking about Heather’s haircut! We learn that J.T. and Tess have finally gotten back together and moved in with each other, Kyle is actually a good guy after all (seriously the biggest shock of all), and Vincent and Cat continue on their crimefighting ways with Cat passing the French bar, and the married duo leaping into action to stop a mugger while Vincent teases beasting out. It just feels right, you know? I suppose the bigger shock would be the one-two punch of J.T. and Tess being the ones to kill Braxton (and hey, J.T. ROCKS that shotgun!), and Vincent never being cured. That latter one is particularly shocking, because it seemed like that’s what the show has been building to for four seasons. And yet, this feels more apt to the story that’s been told for all these seasons. It’s never been easy for Vincent and Cat, so their Happily Ever After couldn’t possibly be as neatly wrapped as everyone else’s. And that’s okay, because it’s still a happy ending, you know?
I guess that’s the moral of “Au Revoir”: Happily Ever After is possible for anybody; but you have to earn it. And Beasties certainly earned the hell out of the past two seasons. I can’t imagine I’d even have occasion to write this if not for all the Beasties campaigning to get the show renewed when it seemed so certain that it would be canceled in Season 2. I’m thrilled to have had the privilege to review this show for four years, and to share my affection for this show with so many other people. Beauty and the Beast is a show I never felt received a fair shake, critically, because it was approached with expectations that weren’t met, for many critics. But it really grew into something that was far more than it initially appeared to be in its first 13 episodes. In much the same way The CW is one of the more well-rounded networks on TV, purely from a variety standpoint (I mean, the network hosts all sorts of genres), Beauty and the Beast has been one of the most well-rounded genre shows on television, and it had one of the most underrated casts, in my opinion. I’ll be interested to see what each of them do next. I can’t really offer any more thanks to the show than what I’ve written here. But trust me when I say, I’ll miss Beauty and the Beast. It’s a show that’s meant a lot to me.
What did you think of the season finale of Beauty and the Beast? Sound off in the comments!
And for more from finale season, check out our complete recap and live blog of the America’s Got Talent 2016 finale with videos!
And, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading all these years! It means more than I can say.r