by Mieke Trudeau
“It is what it is”
The title of the seventh episode of the third season of Beauty and the Beast is certainly an apt one. After several installments of character exploration, I feel that Both Sides Now took things a whole step further. Perhaps one of the best demonstrations of character development in the series; the episode showed us sides of our heroes and insight through role reversal unlike anything we have seen before.
Cat and Vincent are in hiding and Tess has put a reluctant Heather and JT under police protection while the new super beast (Alexander Cendese) is hot on their tail. JT is particularly hyped and eager to solve this case and he soon finds a rare substance in the blood of the previous victims that should lead him to the lab where the beast serum was created. With the city, Cat and especially Vincent in immediate danger, JT feels a tremendous sense of urgency and he is cutting personal corners in order to come to the rescue. He insults and evades the police escort Tess arranged for him, at her own professional risk and he uses his personal connection to the police captain to gain access to restricted computer files. He feels completely justified in his quest and doesn’t seem to question whether he is doing the right thing. Meanwhile, Tess is doing the same, but from her perspective. She was just promoted to police captain and feels a responsibility not only to protect her city and her friends, but also to take her new job seriously. Tess understands the stakes all too well and she knows what motivates her friends and especially JT, but it seems that JT has no time for seeing things from Tess’ point of view; not when Vincent is in danger.
That is the beauty of good writing and good acting of course; both Tess and JT are right, from their individual perspective. Their motivations are clear and it is hard to think what other choices they could have made. We want JT to come to the rescue and we cheer him on for his newfound boldness, but we also feel rejected along with Tess, when JT so easily dismisses her and when he won’t stop to listen to consider her fears. It is to the credit of Austin Basis and Nina Lisandrello that we feel for both sides and can identify with JT and Tess at the same time. Both actors give us a performance true to their characters and not just to a plotted conflict.
Interestingly, Vincent is going through something quite similar. In true fashion, Cat wants to take control of this unpredictable situation and lure the super beast out into the open. She steamrolls through with a plan to fake their elopement, because to her, control is better than the unknown; plus, she is desperate to keep her loved ones safe and get back to a “normal” life. To be honest, I am not so sure what “normal” would ever look like for Vincent and Cat; he will always be a beast for one, but mostly, I think that Cat is quite invested in this grand mythological mystery, as Tess calls it. Vincent gets increasingly uneasy with the plan and when he and Cat are walking down the aisle of the Niagara Falls wedding chapel, in a long line of other prospective newlyweds; he finally puts his foot down and walks away. I think what hurts him the most is the idea that Cat thinks nothing of going through with this decidedly unromantic, business-like wedding. To him marrying Cat is so much more than a piece of paper, or a ruse to solve a case; to him it personifies that normal life he so craves and wants to protect.
Once again, we can see both perspectives. Cat feels completely justified in doing what she can to be a good cop and protect her city and her loved ones. She also doesn’t need a piece of paper to prove to herself or anyone else that she loves Vincent. Vincent however, has had so much of his life stolen and to him, these special moments, like the ritual of exchanging vows in front of family and friends, is what he is fighting to protect. Once again, the performances sell the story. Jay Ryan is able to convey his growing anxiety without drifting out of character and Kristin Kreuk plays a driven Cat like no one else could.
Once our heroes are captured by the super beast and brought to his boss, Julianna (Gloria Votsis) the plan and also the story come apart just a little. The reveal of this big bad is a bit anticlimactic, at least until we realize that there apparently is an even bigger bad yet to come. Julianna appears to be the CEO of a fashion magazine or label, and just earlier has lured Heather to her office with the promise of a job. Under duress Heather has revealed some secrets, which gives Julianna and her super beast the upper hand when Cat and Vincent are brought to her lair.
Julianna wants to know who Catherine and Vincent’s are working for and who is behind this sabotage of her program. Vincent is out cold and tied up and she is threatening to kill him in order to get Cat to talk. This whole sequence is confusing for a few reasons. First; it seems like Julianna already knows who is working against her, besides Vincent, Cat and their friends. She almost sounds like her beast project is meant to protect the world from this mystery person. She mentions “the greater good” a few times, a concept our heroes are not unfamiliar with. Second; it makes little sense for Julianna to be so ready to destroy Vincent on a cellular level by threatening him with a syringe full of failed and deadly serum. Bob and Carol were eager to bring Vincent to their boss, like the prize proto-beast he is. It doesn’t add up that after going through all the trouble to bring Vincent to her alive, Julianna would just kill him, and for information she already has? Maybe we will learn more later that will clear these things up, but for now it all didn’t really add up for me.
In any case, there is still plenty to be excited about in this scene. JT saves not only Heather but Vincent and the day! Vincent beasts out with some added power from JT’s adrenaline cocktail and he snaps the super beast’s neck without too much trouble. There used to be a day when that would have caused great guilt and worry, but this is now the second time in recent episodes that Vincent has unceremoniously taken a life without too much emotional fallout. I am wondering if it is going to come back to bite him, so to speak, or if it is meant to signify how much more in control Vincent is of his beasty powers, since he is able to pull himself back fairly quickly.
My guess is the latter, because of how the rest of the scene plays out. While everyone is focusing on the beast fight, Catherine takes on Julianna. Long after she has incapacitated her, Cat keeps beating her mercilessly. Cat’s eyes are wide and frenzied and for someone who so loves to be in control, it’s a stunning role reversal. Vincent, JT and Heather look on in shock as Cat pummels her nemesis into a coma, perhaps taking out years of anger and frustration on a convenient target. It is finally her sister crying out her name that shocks Cat out of her beast-like state.
There is fallout all around. Julianna is now unconscious, perhaps permanently, and our team is no closer to catching the true big bad. Cat has to deal with losing control the way she did, but at least she and Vincent are able to talk about how they should be married. They listen to each other, like they have learned to do, and come together in their plans to make their wedding one of those special moments to treasure forever. I am sure I am not alone in saying that we all want to see that!
JT is not so lucky. He is riding high on his win and is completely blindsided by Tess’ sadness and her decision to walk away from their relationship. That’s the whole point of course, he never saw what his behavior and his decisions were doing to her. Tess understands the choices he made, but she can’t be with someone who can’t see her in the process. Once again Austin Basis and Nina Lisandrello give us so much with so little. Their performances are quiet and powerful at the same time.
Overall another great episode, regardless of some of the confusing plot points. The performances of all the actors have been wonderful all season and this episode was no exception. Even though I feel sad about JT and Tess, I am really excited to see what’s next. Tell me your thoughts, Beasties! What is next for VinCat and JTnT? Is it over for our second favorite couple? How about that wedding? Who is this even bigger bad and what do they want? Drop me a comment below.