The Beauty and the Beast Consummation Scene

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The consummation scene in Beauty and the Beast (TV) (often referred to as a variation of "roses and lava") was long, long-awaited... and a great disappointment.

From the parody zine, The Absurd Season. The artist is P.S. Nim: "We watched a flower open," Vincent tells Father.
A limerick by a fan printed in Once Upon a Time... Is Now (~ December 1992, special issue) -- the reference to Bobby Ewing in the shower is a nod to the Dallas Dream Season and the creativity and ridiculousness of TPTB's decision-making

Fans found this scene silly and terrible for several reasons.

The first reason was how it was presented with a collage of cheesy images of flowing lava and opening flowers accompanied by music, "The First Time I Loved Forever."

The second because the scene was one in which Vincent was apparently unconscious. Because of this, Catherine Chandler's sexual contact with him was non-consensual.

The third reason was that not only does Vincent not remember the scene, he doesn't remember Catherine Chandler's name for a time afterwards.

From the book, Textual Poachers (1992):
[Fans'] intense displeasure in the third season fed upon several years of disappointment in the series' refusal to gratify their romantic fantasies, a history of TV Guide blurbs promising romantic interludes which proved more teasing than gratifying, and scenes that edge toward romantic commitment, only to be interrupted or to have the characters back away from consummation. If, for many fans, the cryptic and hurried consummation in "Though Lovers Be Lost ... ," the third season opener (with its trite images of "lava flowing and flowers opening") was a "ludicrous nightmare," denying viewers the desired warmth and intimacy, that moment was simply the last in a series of "insults" to their hopes and expectations: "They were tremendously electric scenes but afterwards you just felt annoyed." [1]

Comments by TPTB

Comments by Victor Lobl: 1990

More flapdoodle involves Director Victor Lobl. Rumours circulated that he had said something at TunnelCon to the effect that the entire movie "Though Lovers Be Lost" was the biggest embarrassment of his career. Let's not make the man regret his candor. Yes, the word "embarrassment" was used, but in reference to the love scene's fireworks and roses collage, not the entire production. [2]

Comments by Ron Koslow: 1990

Koslow remains equally coy when it comes to discussing the unique sex scene which produced Catherine and Vincent's child, initially dubbed Julian by Gabriel and later renamed Jacob by Vincent in the last scene of "Invictus," Beauty's final episode. "It was a surreal interlude and what happened between the two of them doesn't need much explaining," claims the show's creator. "Clearly, Catherine did what she had to do to bring Vincent back to life" after he had been traumatized by Paracelsus (Tony Jay) at the second season's end. [3]

Comments by George R.R. Martin: 1993

The bestiality thing was a concern with certain network execs, and some crazed viewers out there, but it was not the reason for the “no-kissing” rule. Koslow, Witt-Thomas, and CBS were all afraid of going too fast and losing the sexual tension.

[...]

The thing you have to remember, however, is that right up through the trilogy, all of us on the show were quite confident that B&B would run four or five seasons, minimum. The day that Tony Thomas phoned me and said CBS had only picked us up as a 12-episode mid-season, instead of giving us a full order for 22 and a place on the fall schedule, I was shocked. I really never saw it coming. Then we had the bombshell of Linda leaving us, which everyone knows about, and the less-heralded but equally crucial replacement of Kim LeMasters by Jeff Sagansky, and... well, you all know how the story ends.

The famous lava and roses sequence and the whole cave/pregnancy thing was the writers desperately vamping. We never expected to have to go that far so fast, after having proceeded at a glacial pace up to then. Left to a more natural progression, Catherine and Vincent’s romance would have gone very slowly indeed, stretched out over a full five seasons. [4]

Comments by Fans

Unknown Date

Unlike those episodes, this novel does not end on a cliffhanger, with Catherine's distant voice, from the cave, screaming Vincent's name. It goes beyond, into the opening moments of "Though Lovers Be Lost," the opening of Third Season, to dramatize how Catherine brought Vincent back from death through their becoming "truly one." No lava and roses here, folks. [5]

1989

Well, I feel as though I have been run over by an emotional dump truck. [The episode] “Though Lovers Be Lost” was a disappointment to me. What happened? WHY wasn’t the consummation scene handled better than that? I thought all those suffocating rules were going to be “smashed”. I did NOT get what I wanted. During the roses and lava scene I was muttering to myself, “THIS is IT?? That’s all??” It’s sad to say, but that first bitter disappointment (even before the credits stopped rolling) set the tone for the rest of the show. [6]

1990

Wow, it was a surprise to learn that Catherine and Vincent were blessed with a child through their physical joining (her kiss when he had collapsed in the tunnel) and not sexual intercourse. I know, some of you believe that they made love “off camera”, but that is not my opinion. Isn’t it great to have a variety of ideas about the conception? And all the implications of the loss of the bond, or the alteration of its manifestation! Incredible! [7]
For two years, we've waited for that grand, passionate kiss of our dreams and what we get instead is mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and not much of that! ... The fact that Vincent never once remembered that anything had happened just makes it worse. For him, subjectively speaking, nothing did happen. And now that she's dead, nothing can ever happen.... Why did the writers deny this experience to Vincent and Catherine (and to us) when they'll never have the chance again?! [8]
I waited with bated breath through those endless (but, I realize, important) opening commercials and was finally able to relax when I saw Catherine walk into the tunnel. My heart was in my mouth, let me tell you! And what happens? He is unconscious when she kisses him; they have "metaphorical" sex ...; when Father finds them they are not even slightly disheveled (!); Vincent can't remember WHO she is; she doesn't feel like telling him she's pregnant when he can't even remember her name; the Bond is broken (talk about telegraphing information); we have NO kiss, NO romance, NO poetry... [9]
I’m sorry but I have not waited 2 years to see undulating roses. [10]
Possible topics for next month: Was it A) Bestiality, B) Necrophilia, or C) Immaculate conception? Stay tuned. [11]
I'm so glad you wrote "One Night, Forever"! What a wonderful scene your version could have been if it had been filmed, sigh. After all the fan's patience I still can't believe they gave us flowers blooming and lava flowing! At least now I can imagine ("One Night, Forever") in its proper place. [12]
The consummation was a travesty. I understand that it was supposed to be a mythic union, not a physical one (producing a physical child?). What a crock!!! Yes, I wanted to see a romantic love scene with flowers, candles and Vincent bending over Catherine but I'd even accept the lava and roses bit if Vincent had been conscious and aware of what was going on before and disheveled and holding Catherine in his arms afterwards. [13]

That pathetic consummation scene was like something out of a Pee Wee Herman movie. Exploding roses and flowing lava! Vincent, if Catherine made "the earth move for you," you were still out in La La Land as were the viewers. All of us are a little more intelligent than that. Gone were any traces or hints of the tenderness and compassion that they shared.

Instead, it was like watching 2 total strangers. "You're the woman I love, but I can't remember your name." Not only did Vincent forget making love to Catherine but he can't even remember who she is. I haven't met a guy yet who can't remember his first time! Even Ron P. and Linda H. seemed to have difficult in keeping a straight face throughout these scenes. Was the scene of Catherine vomiting due to the drugs or more Linda's reaction to the script? [14]

People say that CBS censors couldn't allow love scenes with Vincent. He's more human than most; for example, he’s the only hero to agonize over the deaths he has caused. His love and caring have been models for all. And he has to be human, because, genetically, he couldn't otherwise father Catherine's child.

Viewers expected, from well-written earlier episodes, that Vincent's concerns about intimacy would be handled in a "richly rewarding" way. Instead, a cop-out: Catherine kisses a dead Vincent (what magnificent drama, if his revival had been shown!). Then inadequate flames and roses replace sensitively and beautifully handled cuddling, Vincent's acceptance of Catherine's willingness, and the beginning of their spiritual or physical intercourse. Or did Catherine have sex with a dead body or with Vincent unconscious or too weak to object? Did Vincent block off his memory as the only way he could cope psychologically with his dark side, or because he was raped? Or did Catherine have an immaculate conception? Showing necrophilia and implying rape, and later showing the torture of a pregnant woman and her murder, are acceptable, but showing SOME intimacy between loving adults isn't? [15]
...writing a love scene isn't the only thing the writers were suddenly ignorant of. [16]

1991

I would like to direct this to the male B&TB fans. CBS wanted to bring more people to watch, so they thought they would dangle bait to help matters. Who were the major, important viewers? The fans, or someone else? Where did the strength lie with the Nielsens? It was the women who were the majority of viewers, but we were not strong enough. So who would be? It must be the male audience! What would draw mem to this show? I could see the executives of CBS sitting around a table clapping their hands together. "We need violence! Where do we begin? Get Catherine Chandler and give us TLBL." We do not have to go into those details again, we all know what happened in that. Well, men, did that give you a better enjoyment of our beloved show? What does CBS think our men, or the men we hope to have in our lives believe in? Is this what entertainment is? It is scary to think people do love, enjoy, and believe in this. Why can anyone not understand why we women love Vincent? He is everything we believe in. It is for the male audience that the consummation between Vincent and Catherine was done the way it was. (Why give them anything but roses and volcanos?) Did men who felt threatened by our love of Vincent want to see anything beautiful happen between this Man-Beast and a beautiful woman? It would hurt their ego. What was now important to ratings was, get to the "meat" of the show. One fan once called those of us who wanted to see something just a little more tender and visual happen between Vincent and Catherine "voyeurs." I did not want to see Vincent throw Catherine down on the ground and jump on her. But I thought there should have been a lot more dignity involved than Vincent looking at Catherine a little later and not even knowing her name. Was the road then being paved for the end? [17]

1992

The long-delayed consummation scene was reduced to a succession of quick and cliched images. So cryptic and confusing was the sequence that some fans have jokingly referred to Catherine's baby as the result of an "immaculate conception." Rather than using consummation to achieve greater trust and intimacy between two lovers, of resolving the conflicts separating them, sexual intercourse broke the empathic bond that joined them; Vincent lost his memory not only of that moment but of much that transpired between the couple. [18]

1995

After that, two "circulating" Republic Pictures guys talked to fans at various tables and got earfuls on what we wanted to see in a movie (V & C together for most of it, no lava and roses, all of the Tunnel people). [19]

2006

Of Flames and Roses: IMHO, my interpretation is that this music montage symbolizes the Bond and Catherine’s spiritual journey on the silver thread of connection to Vincent’s soul. The opening rose is the clarity of the Bond blooming within her. The flame is her love, a beacon of light and warmth for a wounded soul to move toward. Perhaps, the fireball is Vincent fighting off the last of his resistance to Catherine’s love and the final meshing of his natures. He must break free to live. Perhaps it is the fusing of their souls. Symbolized by their hands touching, Catherine’s love and passion is reaching for his tired and retreating soul, he finds the strength to reach for her love, their souls touch. She captures him up and brings him back from the brink of death. (So, I am a hopeless romantic.)

Tangent: Lava and Roses. Some fans love this sequence, others hate this sequence, still others gag on it. There is little satisfaction in the sappy, unfulfilling sequence of blooming roses and “flames of passion.” Sort of in the same mood as the “shadow” kiss at the end of “A Happy Life.” Fans would have been much happier with a good, deep, passionate kiss with Vincent awake and participating. <sigh> (If only.)

To be perfectly honest: We do not know what happened in that cave. On the one hand, the symbolism is obvious. On the other, take into account the status of C &Vs relationship. I will let each fan decide for themselves what happened between them in the cave and leave “what, where, when, and how” to your own imaginations.

There are two POVs that I have encountered. First, is that the sequence means that they consummated their relationship. (This is TPTB intent. ) In one giant swoop after two years of a platonic relationship, their love is fulfilled. I have no idea if we are to believe that Vincent was a willing partner or that Catherine had her way with his unconscious body. (Fanfic has run every scenario.) The second POV is that they did not. IMHO, I do not logically see how Vincent and Catherine consummated their relationship because (1) Vincent is unconscious and there is no way Catherine would take advantage of him in such a state. She loves and respects him too much. (2) Vincent and Catherine are fully clothed and not a stitch is out of place. Vincent is a big, heavy man. Catherine would have a hard time moving him around. (3) Vincent does not remember anything that happened in the cave and I would think he would remember making love to Catherine.

In addition, I will maintain my “mind set” in sharing my thoughts on the episodes that “I do not know what is going to happen next.” Therefore, I have not found out what really happened in the cave until the events of Season Three begin---so in a “Classic” sense---the “Lava and Roses” sequence is open to each fan’s own interpretation. (And, I respect each and every POV.) [20]

2019

There was no easy solution to the romantic situation. The sexual tension between the two added to the excitement and uncertainty, and yet they were already waxing lyrical about their impossible love by episode two. The delicate balance was not helped by a conservative network who didn’t even want the eponymous lovers to kiss for fear of bestiality accusations. Season 1 ended in a consummation of sorts, in which the writers tried to balance the warring demands of network and fanbase with a few moments of physical affection, the result of which was the infamous ‘soul kiss’ in which Catherine and Vincent finally locked lips – but only in silhouette, and even the embrace itself was presented as metaphorical one rather than literal. The only other times they kissed onscreen were in the season 2 episode ‘Orphans’ and in the season 3 opener, the latter of which immediately precedes perhaps the cringiest lovemaking montage in visual media (featuring very little of the characters and rather a lot of roses bursting into bloom and volcanoes erupting in slow-motion as a syrupy song version of the series’ love theme plays). I think it’s because Beauty and the Beast wanted to have its cake and eat it too in regard to being both a family show AND a mature romance. It couldn’t successfully be both, and at some point, they had to choose – when they finally did, it was too late. [21]

References

  1. ^ from Textual Poachers
  2. ^ from Pipeline v.3 n.11 (November 1990)
  3. ^ from Starlog
  4. ^ GRRM Discussion Posts 1993 to 1995 (Wed Mar 17, 1993)
  5. ^ "review".  of Beyond Words, Beyond Silence (unknown date)
  6. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #17 (December 1989)
  7. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #18 (January 1990)
  8. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #18 (January 1990)
  9. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #19 (February 1990)
  10. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #19 (February 1990)
  11. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #19 (February 1990)
  12. ^ from Shadows of the City (March 1990)
  13. ^ from Once Upon a Time... Is Now #20 (March 1990)
  14. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #20 (March 1990)
  15. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #21 (April 1990)
  16. ^ from Once Upon a Time...Is Now #22 (May 1990)
  17. ^ from Tunneltalk v.2 n.3 (May 1991)
  18. ^ from Textual Poachers (1992)
  19. ^ from a con report for A Distant Shore (1995)
  20. ^ My Two Cents
  21. ^ from Once Upon a Time is Now: Looking Back at Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990) (2019)