By Jessica Ritchey
Beauty and the Beast
Season 2, Episodes 19 and 20: “The Hollow Men” and “What Rough Beast”
Original airdates: May 5, and May 12, 1989
“The Hollow Men” comes from a script that had been floating around since the first season and probably should have stayed that way. It’s a atypically nasty tale about Vincent witnessing two thrill killers’ latest work too late to stop it, but putting Catherine in a bind on how to bring them to justice while protecting him from discovery. It feels tedious in that way the show did when it didn’t have enough plot to go around for a show, and you have plenty of time to wonder why Catherine didn’t try having someone else testify with Vincent’s information. A moral dodge that would have added some very interesting complications to the show, and in Catherine’s character to demonstrate how her code becomes rather flexible when Vincent’s involved. The killers themselves aren’t of much interest either, a clad in Esprit Leopold and Loeb, and they seem more likely to be sulky over not getting a new boombox for Christmas than vicious serial killers.
It isn’t until the very end that some actual fire appears, with Catherine finally admitting that her risk taking is a not-so-subconscious desire to bring Vincent to her through their bond. And that if they can’t actually have a healthy relationship, well, she’ll take her champion killing for her instead. It’s bit more than the show can bear, but it sets up the final run of episodes for this season nicely. The story has something a of a point after a few too many treading water episodes. Episodic television can work if don’t feel “That’s it?” as the credits roll, and as not quite together as the story is, it builds to a dark enough climax that you see the terrible places in humanity’s soul that George R.R. Martin would make his stock in trade in the Song of Ice and Fire series.
Discovery of Vincent starts to inch ever closer as a nosy reporter starts to put together the slayings and sightings of “The Central Park Creature” and the assistant D.A. who always seems to be on the scene when they occur. He’s aided by a literally shadowy figure who is totally Not Paracelsus sitting in the corner of the room until the big reveal. Totally Not Paracelsus clues him in to Catherine’s usual entrance spot, and even arranged for goons to grab and bring her there. Vincent appears, bends, shreds, spindles, and mutilates while the reporter gets it all on film. Then one of the series biggest “Oh come ON” moments happens as Vincent spares him, but doesn’t destroy the camera. The shaken reporter returns to his source’s headquarters and Gasp! Shock! the figure that emerges into the light is none other than Goldy Face. The reporter starts to get second thoughts, and Paracelsus responds with a pocket knife in the gut. And we close on a shot of Vincent in his chambers, looking very much like he is done, and I mean done, with everyone’s shit. Seriously.
Next week plunges into the heart of darkness and the center stops holding.
- In keeping with lesser episodes having lesser clothes, oh my God what was up that inexcusable nautical themed tent Catherine was wearing at the reception when she confronted the killer pair? A Love Boat fire sale?
- The writers never seemed at ease writing office and courtroom scenes, as it feels they would rather this be in one of their Miami Vice specs, and it makes Catherine come off as not all that good at her job. When if anything, having a stronghold Above keeps the tension going on why she hasn’t just packed up and left for a nice grotto Below.
- Paracelsus was a great reoccurring villain, but I’d like to have seen for variety sake’s a more regular, just a greedy, magnificently awful bastard one. Like the treacherous antique dealer from Fever, who according to Martin was going to fit that description until the actor’s flat at matzoh performance sentenced him to plunging into the Abyss.
- Again WHY DID YOU NOT TAKE AND SMASH HIS CAMERA TO BITS?
- And really, the reporter really should have been introduced several episodes ago, to feel like anything other than a sweater clad plot device. Still, a flight of man-permed angels sing thee to thy rest Reporter Dude, really wish I could remember you name.