By Jessica Ritchey
Beauty and the Beast
Season 2, Episodes 17 and 18: “Trial” and “A Kingdom By the Sea”
Original airdates: Apr. 21, and Apr. 28, 1989
It’s certainly a trial but not very much tribulation at all in the first episode of this pair. The series had always be curiously shy about showing Catherine actually trying a case, and if this was the weak tea result they perhaps were wise to do so. It’s also partly my Law & Order addiction (original recipe only please) ruining me, but I kept waiting for the twist at the twenty- minute mark and the Forty-Five Minute-Revelation when we find out who really did it. None of that here, Catherine has to prosecute an open and shut case of a child dying by a parent, and you see every seam as they stretch it out until the credits.
Even the potentially interesting idea of Vincent catching glimpses of the spectral child doesn’t lead anywhere, even something as corny as Vincent helping the tot cross over. It’s an example of how 22-24 episode season can be a problem when to fill out a season you produce an episode that needed a few more rewrites or really, should have stayed on the slush pile.
Elliot Burch proves again to be this series’ ace in the hole when he reappears in “A Kingdom By The Sea.” This time, the yuppie veneer gets lifted and we learn that New York’s most eligible bachelor comes from rather humble beginnings. And it turns out that his blue collar pop is in trouble with Central American crime cartels, as it does. And Catherine is off on a lively, none-too-shabby aping of Miami Vice–style adventure to protect both men. It also nicely revives Vincent’s jealously wrapped in a pastry shell of self-loathing at watching Catherine do all this for a man who still would be willing to marry her on the spot. Even going so far to kiss her when they part after their last adventure, she assures Vincent she wishes it had been him, and he seems to actually be starting to believe her.
Again, Edward Albert is always a welcome presence, as his character helps shake out the stodgy routine the show, and Vincent and Catherine’s attendant relationship could fall into. A genuine romantic rival, even if Catherine would never leave Vincent, Elliot is charming and capable of kindness and serves as a good reminder that Above has its own stories, and triumphs and tragedies, too.
Next week thrill kills and a villain begins his endgame.
- This late into the game and we finally get the rose imagery associated with the fairy tale, in the form of the rose bush Catherine is now tending on her balcony. It will bloom both red and white roses (symbolism!). And we get a surprisingly bold exchange when Catherine pricks her finger on a thorn and Vincent kisses it, making the viewer wonder again just how their relationship would have gone if Hamilton had stayed with the show.
- Is it coincidence that “Trial” is one of the worst episodes and features poor Catherine in one of the ugliest dresses? No, it is not.
- It was always strange to see the show do “topical” issues, in this case secret wars in Central America. It’s a bit like reading a Dickens novels and coming across a mention of an iPhone.