It's no secret that the renewal chances for Beauty and the Beast were slim, so when executive producer Brad Kern sat down to write the Season 2 finale he knew the most important thing was to make a satisfying ending for the loyal fans.
"We designed it as a possible series finale and frankly, we saved up a lot of money to be able to make it big and epic in case it was the end," Kern tells TVGuide.com. "We felt we owed the loyal audience a special ending, but we also put in the elements that would allow us to build off of if it if we were lucky enough to get Season 3."
Fortunately, the call came and the show got another life. Now the biggest worry on fans' minds is if Vincent (Jay Ryan) and Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) will survive perhaps the biggest enemy they've yet to face: a super-charged, beastly Gabe (Sendhil Ramamurthy). Who will make it out of the finale alive? What mythology will be explained? And why do Tess (Nina Lisandrello) and J.T. (Austin Basis) fans need to worry? Keep reading to find out.
Congratulations on the renewal! Did you have a feeling the show would get picked up?
Brad Kern: We had no idea. The [season] was shot and in the can and the network [saw] all six episodes that the audience had not seen and that factored into their decision to pick it up. They liked what they saw and where they saw it going and coupled with the loyal fanbase who watched the show week in and week out are the reasons we got the word.
If it was shot as a series ending, is it all wrapped up in a bow?
Kern: The best way to describe it is an emotional roller coaster that ends a chapter of Beauty and the Beast, but hints at the next chapter which will be Season 3.
Vincent and Gabe are going to face off. Is this the biggest fight the show has staged?
Kern: Yes. I was hired after the end of the first season, but I personally felt like the Vincent-Gabe beast fight was not as cool as it could've been. With Vincent super-charged this year and wanting Gabe to be super-charged when we get to the end, it's fair to say the battle this year will be a bigger, more intense battle. It has to be if we're escalating Vincent's powers and the emotional energy behind both Vincent and Gabe vis-à-vis Cat; we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't elevate the final battle.
Do you believe Gabe deep down is a good guy or is he irredeemable?
Kern: I always look for the honest, saving-grace motivation for bad guys. Even Reynolds (Ted Whiitall), who was the bad guy the first half of the season, was just trying to undo the damage he had done to try to save his daughter. He was doing bad things, but he thought for good reasons. For Gabe, Sendhil did such a great job making you really wonder if this guy can be redeemed. He was a nice guy, but you can't change your past. Even as he goes up against Vincent, I personally believe in his warped heart he too believes that if he can't have Cat, then Vincent is bad for Cat and he can't have her either. However warped, he thinks he's doing it for the greater good.
How does Cat factor into their fight?
Kern: Her concern in this last episode is more about Vincent surviving. The only way for Vincent to defeat this new, super-charged Gabe is to lose his humanity, and if he loses his humanity, he loses their love. Her concern is more about that than about Gabe, and she'll have to reach into her own place in the mythology to find the answer.
Will this have to do with the journals that Cat has been reading from her ancestors?
Kern: That's a mythology that will explode in our exploration of it in the season finale. Cat's place, Vincent's place, the journal, Rebecca, the beast creature, everything will come together and be explained and utilized in the season finale. We'll build upon that going forward, but the season finale really leans into Rebecca and the journal and Cat's place in the mythology heavily.
When we spoke in January, you said that Cat and Vincent needed to earn their relationship. Have they yet?
Kern: Unfortunately, when we last spoke, I was still under the impression we were going to air all 22 episodes in a row. I didn't know they'd suspend the last six and had I known that up top, it would've been a whole different design. They just barely got back together again and then we're off the air for two months. So for me, that gap hurts us in terms of trying to show they earned their way back together again. We tried to adjust episodes 17-22 to have them fight for their love and no longer question whether they should or shouldn't be together because that's been answered. The question from 17 going forward is: How do they save their love and get to enjoy what they sacrificed and risked losing to get it back? That journey will continue now into Season 3.
What have you learned this season that you might change going forward?
Kern: It's a different mandate going into Season 3. The mandate going into Season 2 was that the network wanted to do everything to expand and reach out to broader audience. That success was checkered and the audience that continued to watch, thank God, stayed with the show every episode. So, going into the third season, what I've learned ties into what the reality is, which is that people who watch the show are the ones who need to be honored, and if we can reach out to broader audiences, fantastic, but the focus is what the loyal audience likes best and that's Vincent and Catherine.
Finally, everyone seems to love Tess and J.T. together. Will they be put through any struggles next season?
Kern: The most fun part of this job is when you discover things. Austin and Nina are terrific, but together they just have chemistry and it was a pleasant surprise. [CW president] Mark Pedowitz felt the same way. He was against it at first, but then saw it. It's been fun to write, but their ability to continue on in Season 3 depends upon their ability to survive the finale.
So that means some casualties?
Kern: It's definitely safe to say that there will be casualties.
The Beauty and the Beast finale airs on Monday at 9/8c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)
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