by Mieke Trudeau
“It’s about more than law and order, It’s about right and wrong”
After the game changing Means to an End and a short show and personal hiatus, I rewatched Meet the New Beast and No Way Out back to back and was really struck by how well these two episodes dove tail into one another and how perfectly they tee up the series finale, scheduled to air Thursday September 15.
I was most impressed by how the series’ arc started to turn and ended up reaching full circle by the time I was done watching No Way Out. Every one of our heroes, and especially Cat and Vincent ended up where they started, but with valuable lessons learned. Most of all though, not only did we find the show and cast of characters looking back on what led them to this place, we as viewers and fans found ourselves doing the same. We watched their history coming back to quite literally haunt them, their victories and losses used against them. Was there a larger purpose, or did they bring these endless battles upon themselves, by not being satisfied with each fight they won, always looking for the next one? For both Cat and Vincent it all started with losing family and trying to right a wrong. A just fight, to be sure, but one that has come at an ever increasing cost, to them and their loved ones. When is is it enough? When is it time lo let go?
Meet the New Beast finds our friends at a crossroads. They can only make one more last ditch effort to exonerate Vincent or face a life time of running and hiding from the world; something none of the team wants. With Braxton dead and the incriminating tape of Vincent beasting out still in the wind, our team faces perhaps their hardest rock and hard place yet. The plot thickens quickly when Tess reveals that there are other players in Braxton’s game; a whole cabal of them in fact (what television writer first came up with that particular ubiquitous term, I wonder?). Several partners are discovered, all suspiciously pointing towards a revival of the Muirfield program. There is the money man, Lars Ecklund (Gary Brennan) who bought up the old company and labs, the scientist, Albert Garrus (Carlo Rota) with just the right expertise, and of course Braxton himself (Mark Singer), the military man with the vision.
Was this reboot successful in creating another beast, as Braxton claimed and is it on the loose creating almighty havoc in Vincent’s name? The money man is found dead before our friends can even ask him any questions and the scientist boasts of smarter and faster beasts, but he also is murdered after he escapes JT’s custody.
As Tess learns that DHS has no intention to cut Vincent any deal even if he delivers a beast and a confession on a silver platter, all hope seems lost. The evidence is stacked against Vincent and matters have now escalated from, “was it murder or self defense”, to a full blown case of domestic terrorism. Vincent and Cat see no option but to run and with the help of Heather, JT and some new IDs, they head for the airport. Little does Heather know that Kyle (Michael Roark) is keeping tabs and has been reporting to DHS agent Dylan (Anastasia Barzee). He spills the beans on the aliases our heroes are travelling under and Meet the New Beast ends with Cat and Vincent in custody of DHS, as a horrified Heather finds herself too late to warn them.
As No Way Out progresses we find Cat in prison with Agent Dylan trying to persuade her to do the “right thing” and turn on her husband and Vincent locked away and interrogated (read: tortured) in some deep black ops prison dungeon. JT, Heather an Tess are desperately working on bailing Cat out and locating Vincent. When Cat finally does come home and is confronted with the hopelessness of their situation, she fleas to a place of solitude and comfort; her mother’s grave, where a tearful Heather catches up with her.
We are treated to a stunning array of character arc from all our beloved scoobies. Heather, sweet, innocent and slightly goofy, is forever loyal and devoted to her sister. She feels terribly guilty about bringing Kyle into the fold with disastrous consequences and she fears losing her sister more than anything. JT once again sacrifices anything and everything for his best friend. He has cashed in his 401K and sold all his precious computer equipment to bail Cat out of prison and find Vincent. We look back on everything JT has gladly set aside for this cause, his career and Tess, yet the fight is never ending. Where is his happy ending?
And then there is Tess; perhaps the biggest character arc of the season. I wrote a little last time about how Tess seemingly stepped outside of the team, making decisions based on her own moral compass; therefor providing a much needed outsider’s perspective. As the big bad slowly revealed itself, she stepped back into the fray, realizing the greater good needed to prevail. In this episode, her arc comes full circle when she is forced to make a choice; the letter of the law as spelled out by DHS, or the spirit of justice and how it should protect what’s right against what’s wrong. She vehemently chooses the latter and sums up one of the central themes of Beauty and the Beast: “It’s not about law and order, it’s about right and wrong”.
Cat herself questions her own motivations, as she cries at her mother’s grave. How much of her fight has been motivated by revenge for her mother’s death and when did it turn into something about her? Vincent, meanwhile, is confronted with his own story in the most violent way. His jailer beats him, injects him with poison and throws his memories at him relentlessly. As Vincent cries out and bleeds, we see flashbacks of all the iconic scenes throughout the show’s history. From the moment Vincent watches the twin towers fall with his brothers inside, to him saving Cat over and over, to him holding the still beating heart of one bad guy or another in his hand. His interrogator yells in his face that he is nothing but a man made monster, out for revenge. That his destiny is set, he is a killer who will rot in a dungeon forever, having ruined his own and his loved ones lives. They push Vincent for the plans for his next attack; which of course don’t exist.
Vincent’s jailer makes one mistake, however, one that many have made, to their detriment; he brings up love and Cat and what she means to Vincent, meaning to use it against him. As always, this is what saves Vincent, what reaches the deepest parts of his soul; the part underneath and around the beast within. Vincent finally realizes what has been plaguing him all along, the fact that he can’t seem to make any connection to this rogue seemingly invisible beast out there causing havoc. There is no beast! This has all been a carefully and brilliantly executed long con, with the sole purpose of throwing suspicion on Vincent and away from the real culprit; Braxton himself. The, not so dead after all, Graydal founder apparently found himself in hot water after government agencies got wise to the resurrection of the Muirfield program and his partners were eager to throw him under the bus and bail.
Vincent is able to escape his prison, which turns out to be on the bottom of the Hudson river, and make his way back to Cat an the team, where he reveals what he has learned. Our friends finally have a workable plan, to find Braxton and reveal how he has been behind the whole plot all along. They set up surveillance at an apartment Braxton set up to appear to be Vincent’s lair and soon they find that their nemesis is actually right in the building. Unfortunately, in her guilt ridden eagerness to make amends, Heather tries to follow and when Braxton spots her, he turns to shoot her at point blank range. Luckily Heather is OK, but the shocking incident allows Braxton to once again get away.
The episode ends beautifully with JT and Tess toasting each other and flirting over some beers and Vincent and Cat reuniting at the 9/11 memorial fountain, a timely and solemn reminder of sacrifice and consequence. I have to add a special shout out to Jay Ryan’s performance in this episode. Not only did he break my heart during the torture scenes, but he most notably impressed during a much quieter scene later in the episode, where he stares at himself in the mirror, after he has made his way back to Cat and the team. His dark and silent self examination made me pause and rewind a few times. Quite a feat to be able to convey so much with nothing but a stare and silence.
We will find out where it will all end in a few days, but meanwhile we have found ourselves full circle to where it all started for each of our beloved characters. We have made this journey right along with them, and it’s been quite a ride. One I have enjoyed tremendously, in large part because of the company I have met along the way. Thank you, Beasties! I will be there with you on Thursday, to watch our heroes ride in to the sunset. Get your tissues ready and drop me a note.