By Jessica Ritchey
Beauty and the Beast
Season 1, Episodes 19 and 20: “Everything is Everything” and “To Reign in Hell”
Original airdates: Mar. 4 and Mar. 18, 1988
In this age of 13-episode orders and half-seasons, it can be a learning experience to venture back to when 22 or more was the norm. It means that even for serialized shows, not every episode has to move the plot forward. While it’s nice that a show like Beauty and the Beast can allow itself some breathing room, we’re nevertheless back to my lament from last week of not using subplots. “Everything is Everything” is a nice simple story, and that’s just it—it’s a nice simple story where the viewer knows its end at the beginning. It’s a pleasing way to spend the hour, but at the end neither the characters nor their world feel any bigger or deeper.
The story concerns a family reconciled. In the opening gallop of a bad day, Catherine crosses paths with Tony, a Roma boy who has been living on the streets since his father was exiled from his grandparents’ home for stealing and soon after died. Tony swears his father was innocent, and a few more run-ins with Tony convince Catherine to try to help him. She enlists Vincent in the effort, as one of their Helpers is a Roma woman who knows the grandparents. Vincent takes the rather unorthodox tack of appearing to the grandfather late at night, where the man—half-convinced Vincent is a dream—heeds his advice to call a meeting to give Tony a second chance.
But Tony’s uncle, played by Robert Pastorelli, has been watching the unfolding events with a wary eye. As it was he who stole the money, he’s none too happy about the possibility of his life unraveling. But he’s no match for the powers of both justice and Vincent’s heretofore-unmentioned dog whispering (!) abilities. Tony is embraced back into the fold, his uncle is sent away weeping, and the audience watches Catherine and Vincent share a warm hug and wonders if we couldn’t have maybe seen, oh, I don’t know, Mouse nearly get eaten by a tunnel troll or something.
But patience is rewarded in the next episode: Paracelsus is back baby! Yes, he did not perish in that fire back in “The Alchemist.” He just got burned badly enough to have to fashion himself a little Phantom half-mask in gold. He’s bristling for a rematch with Vincent, and he gets things rolling right off by having his hulking brute henchman kidnap Catherine right off her balcony. She’s carried to his lair, all the while inexplicably trying to tamp down her connection with Vincent. Granted, Paracelsus wants her to summon him, but Catherine should know that a middle-aged antiquities professor with rage issues is going to be pretty easy pickings for a superhuman hybrid with claws.
But Vincent picks up enough to know her general location and sets off in quest. His only companions are Winslow and Pascal, with tunnel tomboy Jamie scampering off after them with her crossbow when she’s told to stay behind. It’s an old saw to run a promo that “one of these people will die tonight” and then either cheat outright or off an expendable character. So is the circle of life completed on this trip as Paracelsus’s brute kills Winslow. And in another old saw, it was originally going to be Pascal, but well, James Avery asked for a raise…
They pause to bury their companion, and Vincent alone staggers into Paracelsus’s lair to tear the brute to pieces and save Catherine from burning alive. Naturally Paracelsus slips away during the ruckus, but he’ll be back, and I for one look forward to it. There’s a nice coda where Vincent and Catherine boat back to home on Below’s river, because sure why not?, and Lee Holdridge gets to show his stuff as the music plays us out of another adventure Below.
Next week makes indecent proposals, and we come to the end of the first chapter of our tale.
- I’m always curious to spot early examples of characters or types writers/artists would run with. I’d be very interested to know if Jamie served as a model, or a first draft, of Arya Stark when BatB writer George R.R. Martin began the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
- Honestly, “Everything is Everything” would have been a very good excuse to use Devin again as a parallel story, in which case it’s the estranged child who has to open himself up to the idea of forgiveness.
- There was mention that when Paracelsus was expelled from the community he had a faction of followers. Alas, we’ll never get to see him with more than one henchmen. Rather a lost opportunity for a rival community Below and the investment both groups have in whatever happens not being discovered by Above.
- Today’s YouTube prize decoder ring is from the Skeletons in the Closet side of things. Here’s Linda Hamilton helping out another small person in the rather understandably not-picked-up pilot Wishman.