Beauty and the Beast: S01E05: "Masques"
By Kaylen Hann· Sep 24, 2012
I am delighted to inform you, hopefully-just-as-enthused reader(s?), that what I will give you is a run-down of the B&TB Halloween episode “Masques.” That’s right—IT’S A METAPHORRRR. (No, but also there’s a real masque. With masks. And metaphors.)
So first thing’s first: you will notice by now (if you are actually watching these episodes on Netflix, god bless you, and also you should come over; let’s be friends?) the addition of a lengthy-even-compared-to-_Ally-McBeal_ soft-focus intro, which lets our two characters stare into the navel of each others’ worlds and verbalize all that they see buried there, in husky romantiwhispers.
Worth it: Sweeping balcony scene of Catherine in what’s got to be the least sexy nightgown in the galaxy.
Worth it: “He comes… from a secret place.”
I’ll tell you up front that what makes this episode so funny. It breaks down three ways:
1) Fake Irish accents
Costumes that are about as equally wince-and-grin-worthy as David Lee Roth’s dance pants in the new Van Halen video.
(I just really wanted to share that with you guys. Again, you’re welcome.)
3) The sudden clarity with which our show’s target audience comes into focus.
Besides how I’m betting the majority of the audience were romantic-lit-enthusiast women of Irish descent, the episode has several crowd-pleasers thrown in. Almost as though it’s the result of their own polling/viewer-testing, “Masques” begins with a brow-perking and fanfic-inspiring scene of our buxom leading lady running to answer the door in nary but a towel and a smile…
…to hand out treats to a trio of totally un-phased children in costumes.
Of course there were any number of other ways to establish that this episode is set on Halloween. Of course there were, but obviously this is the scenario that won the writer room coin toss. Coin toss, or however they go about writing the episode plots, I don’t know, have you ever read The Wasp Factory…? Like that, but, more insane.
So: Halloween! The night where the wall between worlds is as thin as the top of a newborn’s head—a magical night where masques aren’t to hide from one other, but rather, are portals (face portals?) to a Brigadoon-temporary world where Vincent and Catherine’s freak love is possible. In case we don’t get that this serves a double, convenient meaning, this “wall between worlds is thinnest” line gets quoted at us roughly three times throughout the duration of the episode. And carefree carousing ensues, but not until much later.
Vincent and Catherine are off (for different reasons) to a masquerade ball where Irish author and peace activist Brigit O’Donnell (Caitlin O’Heaney, actually born in Wisconsin) is guest of honor.
Because nothing gets Halloween parties going like heart-rending reminders of the IRA conflict? Besides being a real buzz-kill, Brigit is also targeted for assassination. Because the Irish are in conflict not only with one another, but with romantic non-fiction writers? I ask because, I mean, honestly, from what I can ascertain she is an “activist” in the loosest sense of the word. I could be missing something, but all she really did was write an autobiographical romantic-tragedy to the tune of “Romeo & Juliet.” A novel, which Vincent is seen carrying around during his opening scenes.
Right off the bat, both father figures take care to remind us they are overprotective worry-warts who are out to kill our hero and heroine’s unconsummated sexyfuntimes together on Halloween. Catherine’s father dressed as a civil war hero…
…lectures her as she gets dressed and spins around in a corseted costume that’s a cross between Scarlet O’hara and Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke…
…on going out and seems to reiterate how much he wants her to shmooze all over high-ticket bachelors like he’s got stock in her sexlife.
Vincent’s “father,” on the other hand, after finishing up a ghost story to wide-eyed sewer children, gets a real porcupine in his bra about Vincent going out on the town.
Even though it’s Halloween and, if anything, Vincent PWNs all costumes with his melancholic jungle cat prince get-up. For many reasons, I find his father’s growing paranoia unfounded. I haven’t spent a lot of time in New York City, but in the brief days I have, I encountered at least three people way weirder than Vincent. And yes I mean you, goth kid with forehead piercing who demanded I name three Slayer albums before following me for roughly ten blocks, shouting lyrics ‘til I out-jaywalked you…
Catherine and Vincent show up to the masque around the same time, but never manage to meet up there, despite their emotional bond and what have you. Instead, Catherine is distracted and spends most of the party chasing fleeting glimpses of Vincent like a spurned and suspicious Woody Allen character, always catching him as he disappears around a corner. The token “dreamy dude” Catherine dances with doesn’t really seem bothered by this, and that should have been our first tip off. Sorry, spoiler alert.
Unaware of how frazzled Catherine is getting, Vincent makes off with the guest of honor for some intimate, commiserating balcony chit-chat.
Brigit details her life, surrounded by death screams and bombs going off around her, and practically in the same breath goes from sighing, “You can’t hear the fairy music through the gunfire,” to pouty exclamation: “I’m tired of safety!” And coerces Vincent into lending her his cloak for a night on the town, which both of them seem to have a hankering for.
This is clearly a horrible idea as this sketchy fellow…
…has rented an equally sketchy clown costume…
…and “cleverly foiled” the door man.
By “cleverly foiled” I mean: he turned around, pretended to get in the elevator, then somehow just turned back with some other people and walked right by him? The event’s security leaves a lot to be desired, especially considering no one minds/notices this guy slinking around out back?
Creepy Irish clown man hurries to follow Vincent and Brigit, very rudely not holding the door for Catherine as she tries to ditch suspiciously-still-into-her-pirate-guy (SSIHPG).
With no success grabbing the elevator or losing the guy, Catherine and SSIHPG hurry off to chase down Brigit.
While walking with Brigit in the park, Vincent instantly senses creepy clown guy tailing them…
…and puts a pouncing end to it. And just as quickly, sensing Catherine and SSIHPG approaching, makes off into the night as per usual. That is okay though; SSIHPG tells them he is, surprise, an agent of Interpol and HE HAS GOT THIS. Unfortunately, as Brigit, Catherine, and unconscious-creepy-clown-guy get into a car with SSIHPG, it becomes quickly apparent that he is not an agent of Interpol at all and pistol-brandishing-creepy-clown guy was actually sent by Brigit’s dying father to keep her safe. And the real threat? SSIHPG.
EVERYONE MAKE “OH NO” FACES!
VINCENT’S “OH NO, CATHERINE” FACE!
Now, I’ll walk you through it, but by the time Vincent shows there’s been so many people holding guns to each other, it gets about as confusing as the middle 20 segments of R. Kelly’s “In The Closet.”
The clown gets shot and is left dying in the garage, while the group is ushered by their captor over to the hotel room where Brigit’s father is staying. Even though there’s a hotel key, and people have said, “He’s in a hotel” at least a few times, just to make sure you really get that what happens next takes place inside a hotel room:
The gun is pointed at Brigit’s dying father…
…then at Brigit to wipe the smirk off her dying father’s face as SSIHPG threatens to kill him—but only after seeing his daughter die first. (Irish people are not very original?)
Then, after Catherine busts out some street fighting moves (tossing whiskey at the guy and jumping on him) the gun is in the old man’s hands, pointed at SSIHPG…
Then Brigit, again as she pops between her dying, gun-wielding father and SSIHPG with a “NO VIOLENCE PLEASE” cry that melts her dying father’s heart. SSIHPG could have gotten off the hook right there, but no, he’s gotta pull a move that’s as dickish as it is surprisingly successful:
Come on, guy. Feel the room.
Vincent, in the nick of time, shows up and makes haste to take SSIHPG out with the usual pounce and roar medley, and leaves him in a questionably injured or dead crumpled state on the floor. There is only so much time left in Halloween and this episode, and they are going to enjoy it together, goddammit.
Issues relatively resolved, he and Catherine canoodle around NYC while everyone thinks he is in costume. This is the way the director is telling you they are looking at New York things:
After their night of being tourists (I know this is fun for Vincent but why isn’t Catherine bored out of her mind?) this guy walking by seems to take no care that they’re having a private romanticwhispers moment and decides to act as an alarm clock for their happiness.
There could be several takeaway messages from this episode, but the one that rings loudest in my mind? Don’t let your father get involved with your love life. Whether he’s in the IRA, whether he’s just nosy (Catherine), or whether your father is both exceptionally nosy and also you live with him in the sewer: it’s not a good idea.
Also, don’t be this guy: