By Jessica Ritchey
Beauty and the Beast
Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2, “Chamber Music” and “Remember Love”
Original airdates: Nov. 18 and Nov. 25, 1988
“Sometimes you can’t go home again” is the lesson the season two opener of Beauty and the Beast pushes. “Chamber Music” turns around a former music prodigy who had been discovered by a Helper, but who’s now wandering the streets as a hopeless junkie. His exile comes from guilt: his ne’er- do-well brother and his friends killed his piano teacher in a mugging. Vincent tries to reach him in the end, but a moving speech sometimes just isn’t enough. He retreats back into the shadows, and it’s left to Catherine to console Vincent with the notion that maybe he at least planted the idea of forgiveness and return in the broken man.
It’s a rather bleak way to begin things in season two, and you can feel the effects of the 1988’s writer’s strike. A late start cost the show its Halloween episode and, likely, a lighter premiere. And again, a subplot really would have helped. It’s a solid story, but there doesn’t feel any reason to tell it. The young man’s fall from grace doesn’t resonate, we’ve never seen him before, and we won’t see him again until the third season, in which his reappearance has more to do with patching over Linda Hamilton’s departure from the series.
“Remember Love” is much more fun, as it’s the requite It’s a Wonderful Life riff episode. Catherine offers Vincent a chance to leave Below for a weekend trip to her family’s cabin in Connecticut. He barely broaches the idea to Father before it’s shot down. Not willing to stand up to Father, Vincent throws himself into a “I wish I’d never been born” sulk—and gets his wish. Catherine appears as a rather ridiculously dressed “spirit” (apparently she’s from the part of the afterlife where Bed Bath & Beyond was having a sale on drapes), and shows Vincent what life would have been like had he died outside that hospital that cold January night.
It’s rather neat seeing the Mirror Universe Below. Paracelsus is in charge of it, of course. It’s now lit up all purple and green like a more New Romantic Deep 13. Jamie’s got wild curls and carries a chain and Father is reduced to boring the other hobos with his stories in a vacant lot. Catherine still survives her attack but she’s an unhappy wreck; Vincent’s glimpse at what could’ve been ends with her shooting him. He awakes to find her in his arms, content for the moment.
The show feels surer and more consistent now. I wish for more of an ensemble piece but that’s not the show they made, and in the one they did make, the chemistry between the two leads is as strong as always. They feel like a couple now, and their world feels richer. Even when things don’t work out, they have each other.
Next week isn’t feeling too good, and there’s one child born to carry on.
- 24 and Homeland hitmakers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon had been Beauty and the Beast staff writers since season one, and “Chamber Music” is their first episode as co-producers. Gansa also wrote the pulp treat “The Alchemist.” It’s interesting to wonder how Brody or Carrie would react to Below; if anything, Vincent would be impressed there’s someone even more terminally screwed than he is out there.
- Mirror Below is also something I wish we’d seen again. Or at least finally give us a cabal of Paracelsus groupies. The show was never comfortable about fully committing to urban fantasy.
- As the Nor’easter chill moves in, this week’s YouTube Huckleberry Hound whistle is Roy Dotrice, still playing a doctor, but modeling something from the summer collection.