It’s fitting that tonight’s episode of Beauty and the Beast is all about the search for a heart. The very literal search for a donor’s missing heart works on a number of levels throughout the episode. Most importantly, it’s an apt metaphor for Vincent and Cat’s relationship struggles. They’ve been combative ever since they got engaged, and now, as the episode establishes from the start, they’re seeing a marriage counselor after a particularly bad fight.
“Heart of the Matter” uses Cat and Vincent’s visit to a marriage counselor (played by Saul Rubinek; Frasier fans rejoice!) as a framing device for the episode. The couple dives into their problems but focus specifically on a case from the previous day that left them feeling at odds with each other.
Cat is investigating a case where a woman named April drilled into her own head and killed herself, but considering how outrageous such a death seems, she begins to question whether or not it was a suicide. When she finds out that the woman was an organ donor and that her heart, which contains a very rare blood type, is going to a dying billionaire (Marshall Zolman? Solomon?), she gets even more suspicious.
Cat believes that this billionaire could be the man behind the experiments on innocents. How or why she believes this is rather convoluted, but that’s par for the course with Beauty and the Beast this season; Cat just has “instincts” rather than, you know, evidence.
Needing to confront Marshall and find out if he murdered April for her heart, Cat enlists Vincent for a date night (while he’s on a double shift!) under the guise that they haven’t spent much alone time together lately. Vincent agrees because he also thinks their relationship has been struggling as of late.
Needless to say, he’s not too happy when he shows up to Marshall’s apartment and finds out that Cat is working a case. They begin to fight in front of the guests, with Vincent reprimanding Cat for interrogating Marshall too aggressively—the heart attack he suffers would suggest he’s right in his criticism.
With Marshall now in the hospital, the heart must be rushed over for him to survive. Right before he’s about to head in for surgery though, somebody steals the heart. This makes Cat think that she’s on the right track. There couldn’t possibly be any reason why someone would want to steal a heart unless it was loaded with superhuman serum, right?
Not according to Vincent. He thinks Cat is too focused on the case and too focused on hunting down whoever is experimenting on innocents, so much so that it’s causing a rift in their relationship. She accuses him of avoiding their issues by working long hours at the hospital. Basically, nobody wins, and they end up separating in order to work the case on their own. That means that Vincent is trying to find the heart to keep Marshall alive and Cat is looking for the heart to make sure Marshall doesn’t get it.
NEXT: Zing go the strings of my heart[pagebreak]
While all of this is going on, Tess is dealing with the new pressures of being Captain—which mostly means dealing with Cat’s constant demands—and therefore ignoring J.T. He’s having his own troubles, struggling to deal with the fact that he’s been injected with the serum that creates superhumans.
He flings himself down a flight of stairs to see if his bullet-healing powers were just a one-time thing, but alas, all his bones heal themselves in no time at all. For J.T., this doesn’t mean he’s cool and invincible; it means that he might end up crazed like all the other innocents, and he doesn’t want that, so he starts work on an antidote that he hopes will cure him.
Meanwhile, Cat and Vincent track the heart thief to the same place, where they find him murdered in a dumpster. Vincent tracks the heart from there, leading them inside a freezer in a meat-packing warehouse. Cat grabs the cooler holding the heart, but before they can escape someone shuts them inside the freezer.
The only way to escape is for Vincent to beast out, which leads Cat to freak out when he’s reluctant to go Full Beast. Understandably, Vincent is pissed. Cat has been telling him all season that she wants him to retain his humanity and that she’s sick of talking him down, but now she wants him to go fully primal? It’s hypocritical, and Vincent knows it. Still, he does it for her and they get the heart back to the hospital.
Above I mentioned that the search for April’s heart was a nice metaphor for Vincent and Cat’s relationship struggles. I also think it’s a solid metaphor for this season’s larger issues. Since disposing of Gabe and Muirfield, and since Vincent and Cat got engaged, the show has struggled to find its heart, the thing that gives it life. There’s no beating pulse this year, no tension or dramatic stakes.
Much of the third season so far has felt stale, the show spinning its wheels. With Vincent and Cat’s relationship issues, it feels like the show is manufacturing conflict; it doesn’t feel natural to the characters, to the Vincent and Cat we’ve known for two seasons.
The marriage counselor tells them that they’re co-dependent, that they’ve lost part of their individual selves. That may excuse some of the contrived conflict in this season—they need to argue and bicker in order to show the flaws of their relationship—but for the most part, that’s a convenient way to write off the out-of-character interactions between Vincent and Cat that have plagued the early part of this season.
Eventually, Vincent and Cat find their way back to each other and discover that Marshall’s wife is the one who hired a thief to steal the heart. She’s spent 20 years with him and now that he’s dying, he’s giving everything away to charity. Her co-dependency, her complete sacrifice of self for Marshall, has lead her to feel cheated, so she arranges for him to die.
Vincent saves his life just in time though, using his beast vision to operate on Marshall when Marshall’s wife’s goons cut the power to the hospital. From there, Tess arrests the wife, consoles J.T. about his superpowers (his antidote, despite working on April’s heart, doesn’t work on himself), and Vincent and Cat make up.
“Heart of the Matter” is a decent episode of Beauty and the Beast, but it does expose some of the season’s most glaring issues. There’s contrived conflict that doesn’t feel true to the characters, and a general listlessness to the plot. We’re not any closer to finding out more about the experiments on innocents. Plus, that story line isn’t that much different from the previous two seasons, where Vincent and Cat’s digging into the mystery of Muirfield.
Despite its promising season premiere, which signaled a way forward for the show by focusing on character relationships, Beauty and the Beast is stagnating as of late. “Heart of the Matter” is a fun thriller, but it’s not much more. Here’s hoping that with eight episodes to go Beauty and the Beast can find its footing before it’s too late.