Vincent's Contradictions and Obstacles, or Just Exactly When Will We See That Lake, Vincent?

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Title: Vincent's Contradictions and Obstacles, or Just Exactly When Will We See That Lake, Vincent?
Creator: Elaine Landman
Date(s): June 1994
Medium: print
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast
Topic:
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Vincent's Contradictions and Obstacles, or Just Exactly When Will We See That Lake, Vincent? is a 1994 Beauty and the Beast essay by Elaine Landman.

It was printed in Soulmates - A Neverending Dream #2.

Series

It is part of a series, a regular column, by Landman called "One Fan's View."

Some Topics Discussed

  • Beauty and the Beast (TV)
  • Vincent Wells's sometimes difficult personality and expectations of himself and of others (mainly Catherine Chandler)
  • Vincent's inherent clamness, his white knighting
  • the story that makes up Kaleidoscope #3
  • "The difficulty in maintaining a relationship with Vincent cannot be overestimated. Vincent often sends Catherine mixed signals, seeming to push her away with one hand while desperately clinging with the other."
  • "No wonder Catherine decided to see a psychiatrist in A HAPPY LIFE. It's completely understandable that the stress of their relationship would eventually take its toll. Catherine is involved with a "man" who loves her deeply, but can't make a full commitment to her. (Hey, maybe this relationship isn't so unusual after all.)"

Excerpts

I adore the character of Vincent.

The very first letter I ever wrote for a letterzine I entitled "Vincent: The Nature of His Appeal?" And, after all, what's not to love? He's charming, compassionate, noble, devoted, just, tender, gorgeous, and he adores Catharine with every fiber of his being. Okay, so he's just plain perfect, right? To that I say, no way, not by a long shot.

There is another side to Vincent, and this time I'm not referring to his 'dark side,' Vincent has his flaws, and plenty of them. One of his biggest faults Is that he strives for perfection in himself and does not seem to fully comprehend that perfection is an impossible goal. Therefore, whenever he falls short of this self-imposed impossible goal, he feels like a failure... "destined never to find the Holy Grail." A perfect example of this attitude is In A FAIR AND PERFECT KNIGHT, when Vincent felt that he "betrayed" Catharine and Michael merely because he envied what they shared. As Is often the case, It wes necessary for Catharine to explain the reality of the situation to him and put what happened and what he was feeling in the proper perspective. Only then was Vincent able to put aside his feelings of shame and jealousy and go to Michael.

Almost from the beginning, jealousy has been a big problem for Vincent. In SIEGE, Vincent told Father of being "poisoned" by feelings he never felt before. Because he felt unworthy of Catherine, his jealousy of Elliot Burch was all the more painful. But he also assumed that Catherine would prefer Elliot because of all that he could give her. In CHINA MOON, Vincent sided with Lin In her choice of a poor boy over a wealthy one because her true love could give her "his heart." Why did he think that wouldn't be enough for Catherine?

And then there's the burden Vincent places on Catherine by insisting that she be put on some thirty foot pedestal. He likes his women on pedestals. Vincent did the same thing to Lisa. (Let's face it, When Lisa said that what had happened between them was "child's play," she was essentially right.) It's not very easy being a flesh and blood woman under those circumstances. Catherine kept trying to climb down, but Vincent kept pushing her back up where he felt she belonged.

There was one occasion that I thought Vincent was blatantly and intentionally dishonest with Catherine. The episode was NOR IRON BARS, A CAGE. When Catherine came to Vincent about the job in Rhode Island, it seemed to me that she was all but begging him to give her a reason to stay. Instead, he spouted that nonsensical Hallmark card dialogue about how she must go for him, and then they can truly be together. The instant she left, we saw his true feelings. In this instance, nobility won out over honesty.

Later, in his discussion with Father, Vincent said, "Those are just words. Father. They offer no consolation." Vincent went Above right after this conversation, and I always wanted to believe that he was going to Catherine when he was captured. It was my hope that, after sensing her sadness, he was planning to tell her what was really in his heart, and not "just words."

At "Space Trek" in June of 19B8, Ron Perlman said that the reason he co-wrote this episode was because the one thing he felt was missing from this version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was the very powerful element of "the beast willing himself to die." Well, in all the other versions of the story, the beast was dying because he had lost his Beauty. And while part of the reason Vincent was dying was certainly because he was caged, it's my opinion that his melancholy state was primarily due to Catherine's leaving him.

The only other time I felt Vincent was dishonest with Catherine was in REMEMBER LOVE when he promised her that someday they would see that lake. This time I don't think the dishonesty was intentional. In all probability, Vincent genuinely hoped to be able to fulfill that promise some time in the future . . . but how, and when? What was going to change that would make it possible. I doubt that Catherine believed him any more than I did, but she took it a lot better than I would have. Her restraint in not making demands on him is both admirable and frustrating.

Vincent has a tendency to be annoyingly uncommunicative when he decides he doesn't want to discuss something. While Vincent has the advantage of their bond to tell him what Catherine is feeling, Catherine often has to coax and prod him into revealing his feelings.

Vincent has a |save-the-world complex and thinks he should be able to right all wrongs. And in his innocence and naiveté,' he often drags Catherine into his crusades. In TRIAL, Vincent has became obsessed with the senseless death of a small child, certainly an understandable, even commendable reaction. But he laid a major guilt trip and burden on Catherine when he told her that the child "stands in silent judgment of us all." I'm sorry, but I can't agree. That child stands in silent judgment of the person who brutalized him. We cannot all be responsible for every evil in the world, Vincent has yet to learn that, but because of his extreme sense of personal responsibility, he sometimes expects the same of Catherine. He always has every faith that she can make things right. "Catherine will not fail us." Catherine lives in the "real" world; she's part of it and understands it, but at the same time, she doesn't want to disappoint Vincent. So, despite all odds, she does her level best to make his crusades her own.

In KALEIDOSCOPE 3, Diane Davis (aka Cynthia Hatch) had Catherine tell Vincent that the main reason she stayed Above was because of him. I loved that she wrote that because I totally agreed with it. In many ways, it is to Vincent's benefit that Catherine stay in her world. Her connections with the District Attorney's office and other powerful people enable her to help him and his "family" in ways she never could if she moved Below. And Vincent took full advantage of those connections. How many times did he come to her for help, and did she ever say no? Catherine wanted to help Vincent in any way she could, and she wanted him to be proud of her.

Also, more than any other person, Catherine acted as Vincent's conduit to the world Above. Through her, he learned were about her world, things he might never have otherwise experienced. With her, he was even able to spend a night out on the town "when the walls between the worlds grew thin." Catherine tried to make those walls a little thinner the other 364 days as well.

The difficulty in maintaining a relationship with Vincent cannot be overestimated. Vincent often sends Catherine mixed signals, seeming to push her away with one hand while desperately clinging with the other.

In A HAPPY LIFE, Vincent spoke of their bond as an obstacle to "the children waiting to be born." He obviously didn't think those future children of hers would be his. Even at this late date, he still believed that Catherine would leave him one day. I know that this was because of his insecurities about his ability to have a fully realized relationship with Catherine, but that excuse only goes so far with me. After a while, it actually began to feel insulting to Catherine. It was as if Vincent simply couldn't bring himself to believe that Catherine could have the same depth of feeling for him that he had for her. Time and again she had to reassure him that a life with him was what she wanted.

No wonder Catherine decided to see a psychiatrist in A HAPPY LIFE. It's completely understandable that the stress of their relationship would eventually take its toll. Catherine is involved with a "man" who loves her deeply, but can't make a full commitment to her. (Hey, maybe this relationship isn't so unusual after all.) She can't share any aspect of her love or his world with her friends and family, and yet he can and does share every aspect of his world with her. All of his friends and "family" know about Catherine.

Her position as assistant district attorney is compromised every time he kills, (however good the reason) and she doesn't report it. All the secrets she must keep also compromise her. For example, in THE ALCHEMIST, Catherine kept what she suspected about Paracelsus to herself in order to protect Vincent. If she hadn't, perhaps her friend, Jimmy, wouldn't have been killed. Moreover, she selflessly risked everything to bring Vincent out of his drug-induced state.

Vincent definitely hit the nail on the head uihen he said that their dream "exists at the cost of all your other dreams." A HAPPY LIFE will always be my favorite episode for many reason, not the least of which is that it displayed in such a compelling and poignant manner the sacrifices and hardships this relationship consistently imposes on Catherine.

Clearly, Vincent is flawed, but more often than not, his flaws are what make him so very endearing and appealing. His pity parties, his (at times) child-like innocence, (sadly lacking in third season) his vulnerability, and even his contradictions all combine in creating a character of unparalleled complexity.

Happily, by the time of ORPHANS, Vincent had begun to show signs of real progress. He actually admitted that he didn't want Catherine to leave. And when he said, "it doesn't mean our dream can never be," I nearly fell off the couch in delighted surprise. Truly, their journey was "just beginning," and it saddens me anew to realize how little time we had left to witness that remarkable journey of "something that has never been."

Fan Comments

Elaine illustrated how Vincent's biggest fault is that he strives for perfection in himself and that he does not seem to comprehend perfection is an impossible goal. She went on to point out that he keeps Catherine on a pedestal* and that even when she tries to climb down, he keeps pushing her back mere he feels she belongs.

Haven't we all, at one time or another, set our goals too high? I know I have, and it always becomes too demanding on myself ... and on those around me.

I can clearly imagine Vincent, the mentor Below, having a heart-to-heart talk with someone he cares for, cautioning them that certain expectations will only lead to frustration or defeat . . . but would he ever see this as advice for himself? Hardly. As Elaine reminded us, in CHINA MOON he sided with Lin in her choice of a poor boy aver a wealthy one because her true love could give her his heart. But in his own relationship with Catherine he didn't see himself, or her in that same light. A definite contradiction — but why?

Perhaps it's because ha has lived his entire life surrounded by the virtuosity of a utopian society. He has been taught that because he's "different." He would never survive or succeed outside of this private world, and maybe this assumption has lead him to the unrealistic belief that because of his physical abnormalities, he must strive for emotional perfection.

I'll quote Rod McKuen here: "Love at best is giving what you need to get." Could this be why Vincent seems to expect perfection from Catharine? Because he loves her, and that by encouraging her justness and goodness, he is inadvertently nurturing his own?

Elaine's article made me consider something else as well. In REMEMBER LOVE, Vincent told Catherine that they would "someday see that lake." But I don't think he really thought they would someday rent a van and drive up there far the week-end. My feeling is that his "promise" to her was actually an analogy of their relationship — that someday when they both fully accepted his limitations they would be able to "see things together." And by comparing it to the tranquil image of spending time at the lake she once loved, it made their shared moment of disappointment more bearable.

I disagree with Elaine's thoughts that this was an intentional untruth on Vincent's part; I see it as a figure of speech, an offer of hope that after all they've bean through together, there will indeed be a "someday" for them. [1]

I am thoroughly enjoying your column. I am a newcomer to B & B, having only discovered it this past February on the Sci-Fi Valentine's marathon. Your column is a welcome forum for me because, being six years behind on things, it's hard to find a topic that isn't "old news" to those readers who have been involved in fandom from the beginning. I appreciate your willingness to bring out these old topics or issues, dust then off, and re-address them, I have come to feel a bit cheated having missed out on the early discussions, theories, and debates that took place during the time the show was on the air, as well as immediately following its cancellation, and I hope your column will stir up some of the same kind of exchange that took place during the early years of B & B fandom.

[snipped]

Some of your comments about Vincent were new to me. I had never thought of Vincent as flawed before (being still in the obsession stage!) but it made me realize that I had felt some subconscious fidgeting whenever he sent Catherine those horrid mixed signals — his "push her away, pull her close" attributes which bewildered them both so much (and thusly, me). [2]

References

  1. from a letter of comment in Soulmates - Neverending Dream #3
  2. from a letter of comment in Soulmates - Neverending Dream #3