By Jessica Ritchey
Beauty and the Beast
Season 2, episodes 21 and 22: “Ceremony of Innocence” and “The Rest is Silence”
Original airdates: May 19 and May 26, 1989
And our story comes to an end, in more ways than one, though we’ll get into to fallout and reaction to Hamilton’s departure next week. Having dispatched the reporter in the last episode, Paracelsus sends his photos to Father to blackmail him into showing up for a meeting. He puts the drop on him and goes Below to play his final ace. Disguised as Father, he goads Vincent with false details of his birth, that he clawed his way out of his mother, that his humanity is just an increasingly untenable cover for his bestial nature. Roy Dotrice has great fun in these scenes: he’s glowing with glee as he sees how much his tactics are working. Just as Catherine and the real Father arrive, they witness the lengths he’s willing to go to claim Vincent for his side. Paracelsus pushes too far and Vincent tears him to pieces. Removing the shreds of his mask, Paracelsus grins in triumph, it turns out Vincent was his son after all and he expires.
The poison from that act grows more toxic in the Season 2 finale as Vincent begins to fall into madness. Catherine tries, with increasing lack of success, to damage control this, while Father and Peter look for answers on what to do. Vincent trashes his room, quotes Dylan Thomas, and finally flees to the catacombs to let the darkness claim him. Catherine goes in after him, a tense moment, and then we hear her scream his name and credits.
Now what that was supposed to be we’ll get to again next week, but these two episodes have a wonderfully dark operatic quality to them. Vincent’s unwise attempt to separate the animal from human nature in him, constantly spurred on by Father, has lead him to this point. Instead of recognizing how they are inseparable and strengthen each other more often than not, his refusals to see his differences as anything other than a curse had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Interwoven with this is an interesting changing of the guard with Catherine emerging as Vincent’s new protector and conscience. She has seen the humanity in him in ways Father refused or wouldn’t let himself, so it’s only fitting that it’s her alone who goes in to the cavern after him. There’s a dangerous undercurrent to their relationship now, but it also sparks with a renewed energy and life, and she tends to him, he finally tells her he loves her. It’s an exciting cliffhanger, and one no one involved knew it was actually them tumbling clean off the edge for good. But again, that’s a story for another time…
Next week twas a half season order that killed the Beauty and defending The Huntress.
- You get a sense, too, of who the writers actually liked in these stories with the supporting characters who pop up the most. Mouse of course, and Eliot in the first. Vincent’s goodbye to his family could have used more familiar faces, though that might have been for budget and actor availability reasons.
- Again, it was lazy cutting corners to not have them take the reporter’s camera. They could have found another way for pictures to get taken.
- One of the few hints at what Vincent actually is occurs when then lab they’ve sent Vincent’s blood to for testing calls back that their must be a mistake as it’s not human. But coming from the age of TV mysteries spread out and over-explained in agonizing length, I’ll put down the vagueness over his origins as a plus.