Beauty And The Beast 1.04 "Basic Instinct" REVIEW
Writer: Roger Grant
Director: Bradley Walsh
THE ONE WHERE Vincent rescues a boy who’s been beaten up. Catherine is kidnapped by Muirfield and offered a deal and there’s some sports happening.
VERDICT There’s a lot going on in this episode; the usual crime investigation of the week, the Muirfield plot moves forward quite a bit and there’s one of those inter-organisations sports games that US TV shows are so fond of throwing at us from time to time.
We’ll deal with the least interesting first; the sport. It’s a common plot for US TV shows to have a friendly rivalry sports contest at some point. Even DS9 did it. It feels like a very American thing and usually these sports events feature exactly the same elements: someone is needed to play to make up the numbers; that person – usually the show’s star – is crap at the game; and that person invariably ends up being the one to score the winning goal, make the pitch or hit the home run. This story is no different and as such it feels instantly dismissible.
The whole storyline did nothing to further the show in any way and did nothing to improve the camaraderie of the cast or make these characters look like friends. The only thing it did was cast more doubt on Catherine as a cop. Her gawky run for the ball just made us roll our eyes, she’s supposed to be a police officer, not a twelve year-old girl whose body is too awkward for sport. Several times her colleagues make snide remarks to each other about her poor sporting skills and this just serves to underscore her ineptitude.
The second plot this week is the crime investigation; it seemed to hang together pretty well, but it’s still hard to care. A boy from the wrong side of town who’s trying to improve himself is beaten up; there’s a girlfriend, her ex and a protective mother. It’s a story that has been told many times before in better cop dramas than this. Beauty And The Beast ’s take on it brings nothing new to the table and the whole thing is forgotten before the credits finish.
There’s also a moment in the investigation where Catherine is made to look stupid when she says she doesn’t understand any of the medical jargon in a hospital report. The creepy ME guy steps in to explain stuff to her. She’s a cop for God’s sake. You’d think medical reports were something she had a lot of contact with and you’d think a cop would at least be able to get the gist.
At one point in the episode someone mentions Catherine got top marks at the Police Academy and also did very well in college. Really? If this is the case why does the plot keep making her look helpless or inept? If they’re telling us she’s brilliant then they should at least make the effort to reflect that in the story and character.
Catherine’s partner Tess suddenly playing matchmaker is irritating too, especially considering the ME guy she’s trying to foist on Catherine is a creep and a bit of a player.
All this brings us to the final plotline of the episode; the encounter with the shady government organisation.
Catherine’s kidnapping and confrontation with the Muirfield bloke is by far the best drama on offer this week, and perhaps in the show so far. Catherine is offered a deal; give them Vincent and they’ll tell her the truth about her mother. They also try to discredit Vincent in her eyes, and while this does plant a seed of doubt, it’s to the character’s credit that she doesn’t reveal a thing to the bad guy threatening her and manages to hold her own in the encounter.
This strength quickly fades as we’re back to discussing Vincent and Catherine not seeing each other and yet another change in the arrangement; Catherine tells Vincent to run and says all she’s does is put him at risk. She’s finally catching on. Muirfield really don’t need to offer her a deal; if, as they say, they’re putting substantial funds into finding Vincent then they’re doing it wrong, they just need to follow Catherine.
The Muirfield plot does lead to some good drama; Vincent trying to sacrifice himself to save Catherine, JT and Catherine working together to find Vincent, the possibility that the bad guys really might have a cure. The final showdown is well handled and shows our heroes acting as a team for the first time, which is great to see.
Best of all, the idea of Catherine as a cop is called into question and for once it’s not in a “Kristin Kreuk doesn’t look or act anything like a cop” way. This week Catherine participates in the murder/beating up of the Muirfield bad guys alongside JT and Vincent. For a supposed good cop, being involved in this kind of crime has to shake her whole ethical code. Although the epilogue seems to suggest Catherine is just going to trust Vincent because her guts tells her to and because he’s a bit of a dish, there’s room for some good drama there if they choose explore this further.
For all of the complaints listed above this episode is far more enjoyable than the previous three. The show is a long way from perfect and still needs a lot of work, but it’s starting to show a little of how it could be if all the kinks were ironed out.
Oh, one final point; the Catherine voiceovers seem to have been dumped. None last week and none again this week. Hallelujah! Unfortunately the back-story voiceover intro seems to be here to stay, though there’s very little point to it if the characters constantly reiterate the arc plot every episode.
BEST FIGHTER Vincent, JT and Catherine all get a bit of action this week. Vincent does his usual Hulk thing, JT goes mad with a baseball bat and Catherine gets all high-kicky.
STALKER BEHAVIOUR OF THE WEEK Vincent sneaks up on Catherine while she’s hunting in the bushes for the lost baseball. He sneaks up again after the second baseball practice. Jumping out of the bushes twice in one episode... He’s almost a flasher in the park now.
MURDER DEATH KILL No killing this week. Well, not by any criminal types. A boy is beaten up by a mum trying to protect her daughter because she thinks he’s a bad ’un. Our heroes, on the other hand, take down four men from Muirfield.
Joe: "Chandler? Ball fall in the Hudson?"
Catherine: "No. I just... I’m just peeing..."
Joe: "Just throw in the damn ball!"
Steven Ellis @Steven Ellis
Beauty And The Beast has been picked up by Watch in the UK for broadcast early next year