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August 27, 2016

Reimagining ‘ever after’ for Beauty and the Beast’s finale

Only a few episodes remain before Beauty and the Beast’s series finale and time is running short for Cat Chandler (Kristin Kreuk) and Vincent Keller (Jay Ryan).

Pursued on all fronts by evil forces, the unlikely pairing of Cat and Jay has viewers wondering what ending awaits these fairytale-inspired characters.

The familiar fairy of the same title revolves around a prince who needed to break a fairy’s curse. The prince would only break this spell if a woman would come to love him despite his hideous form. And as he lay dying, the Beast received the love he needed so he could return to his human form. 

A 1987show inspired by the fairy tale had no such ending. Instead of having a princely human form, the Beast remained as he was so his inner qualities could stand out. This beloved show was the inspiration of the new series starring Kreuk and Ryan.

If the original series ended that way, what ending awaits Cat and Vincent this time?

A spell that must be broken

Like the fairy tale’s Beast, Vincent also faces a curse. This time, however, he is not dealing with an enchantress. Vincent struggles with the effects of an experiment which caused mutations in his body and gave him superhuman strength.

Vincent and many others used for the experiment were to be sent to Afghanistan to win the war in that country. When the experiment turned awry, the government ordered the immediate deaths of the experiment’s subjects.

While struggling with the beastlike qualities brought about by the experiment, Vincent is then forced to run from those who would kill him.

If one would follow the fairy tale’s original plot, reversing the mutation’s effects could be Vincent’s own transformation and redemption. In the show however, Vincent found himself asking if he in fact wanted to reverse the experiment’s effects or not, when finally faced with a cure.

Not a damsel in distress

One compelling element of the show is how it inverts the tired ‘Beauty’ trope of the old stories. While the fairy tale portrayed Beauty as a prisoner, Kristin Kreuk’s Cat Chandler is anything but a typical damsel in distress.

A detective working for the New York Police Department, Cat is trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s murder—a case that is linked to the experiment performed on Vincent. This unsolved mystery then led Cat to Vincent and the two developed a romance.

But while the two came to love each other, a bitter undercurrent of conflict runs throughout the relationship. Overcoming the odds, Cat and Vincent married despite their personal clashes and the outside forces threatening to pull them apart.

The marriage of the prince and his lady is often the beginning of an idyllic ‘happily ever after’ in fairytales. This was not so for Vincent and Cat as they continued their flight from Vincent’s would-be captors and killers.

Finding themselves on the opposite side of the law, Cat has to find ways to lead these hostile away from Vincent.

‘Love is a battlefield’

This refusal to stick to old fairy tale conventions is the beating heart of the new show. Much like real life, there are no tidy endings, and no single character coming to the rescue of another.

‘Ever after’ then is not just about a prince rescuing a distressed damsel or a princess breaking away from an evil curse. The show doesn’t shy away from the many dangers that a forbidden love brings.

The big question remains: will Vincent finally reclaim his humanity by the series’ end? Yet while this moment has yet to happen, one can say his humanity had already been restored when Cat came into his life.

Perhaps the change that mattered most was not the cure to his condition but Cat’s willingness to love him, flaws and all.

Catch Beauty and the Beast’s series finale on August 31, 9:00PM at RTL CBS Entertainment HD.

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