By Jessica Ritchey
Beauty and the Beast
Season 2, episodes 13 and 14, “Arabesque” and “When the Bluebird Sings”
Original airdates: Mar. 13 and Mar. 31, 1989
Young love is always a difficult enterprise, all the more so when you’re covered in fur tipped off with razor sharp claws. Alas, poor Vincent’s first experience with Cupid’s arrow was a bit of a disaster and the still radioactive fallout from it hangs over “Arabesque” and leads to one of the best close out scenes between Vincent and Catherine.
The girl from Vincent’s past has gone on to become a Prima ballerina, and to marry ill-advisedly. In one of the most fantastical touches the show ever tried, it turns out her white collar crook of a husband might actually go to jail—that is, if Catherine can convince her to testify. She’s more interested in running to Below for sanctuary, and picking things back up with Vincent, or at least playing on his feelings to let her stay. She’s gotten so used to performing that she doesn’t know how to stop, and it takes a few firm rebuffs from Vincent for her to finally let the glittering pose drop.
She’s never dealt with the incident that sent her away. A stolen moment in the Great Hall that lead to a teenaged Vincent accidentally leaving claw marks on her back and Father, in his typical over protectiveness, sending her away without a goodbye and cautioning Vincent it might be best to avoid that kind of contact in the future. On Catherine’s balcony, Vincent finally lays down his burdens over what transpired and mournfully notes that it taught him that his hands were only meant to harm. Catherine refuses to accept his insistence on his basic inhumanity and takes his hands in her own, kissing them and telling him they beautiful and they are “her hands.” It’s one of the most irresistible, unabashed romantic moments of the show. And underlines the healing power of love and healthy relationships.
The paranormal pays a visit in “When the Bluebird Sings,” the classic “Was this person really a ghost? [Yes, yes they totally were]” episode. Catherine keeps having run-ins with an irritatingly cheerful young man in a Mets cap named Kristopher. He surprises her as she’s about to meet Vincent, and his lack of shock at Vincent’s appearance only serves to make Catherine more insistent on ushering him away. Begrudgingly, she begins to piece together his story, one of a typical starving artist who supposedly died broke and undiscovered.
He leads Vincent and Catherine to a warehouse where his paintings where kept and he’s finally put to rest by having his work displayed and appreciated He leaves one last final surprise, an oil portrait of Vincent and Catherine that they ponder at the show’s close. And it’s a nice reminder of what a 22-episode season can do; in not having to make every episode count toward a main arc, a show can breathe and have some fun with a frothy episode like this.
Next week watches every breath you take and leaves on a jet plane.
- “Arabesque” almost falls into “characters must protect performing artist of some sort from threats on their life” but unfortunately or not decides to stay more grounded. If there was one ’80s stock plot I would have dearly loved to see on this show, it’s that one.
- I like how the show seems to realize Father’s bluster and unwillingness to bend is what would enable a community like Below to exist at all and at the same time make him absolutely terrible at maintaining and repairing the delicate business of interpersonal relationships. He still doesn’t seem to realize, or want to, that he’s willing to hurt a lot of people for Vincent’s sake.
- The person who did the paintings seen in “Bluebird” is pinup artist Olivia De Berardinis. Do not do a Google image search at work, just a friendly tip.
- The producers and CBS were never happy with too much—really, any—supernatural/fantastical stuff, and more’s the pity. I’m plenty tired of vampires, but there was an utterly mad Vincent versus The Werewolf Halloween episode lurking somewhere in this series if it had lasted.