Well, it happened. I finally got to put a big “A” at the bottom of a BEYOND review. I’ve dabbled in mostly B’s and A-‘s, but I have to say the sixth episode of its first season brought it. And I’m hooked. On a Freeform show. Yeah, I’m as surprised as you guys.
This week picks up precisely where we left off last week–Holden having just destroyed the odd machine that presumably can transport a conscious person (as opposed to, you know, one in a decade plus long coma) to the mysterious Realm. Willa, concerned about her suddenly absent grandfather Arthur, seemed to be relying on Holden and his special abilities to make the leap to the Realm and hunt Arthur down. However, when Holden gets a clear flashback of Willa dying via falling off an ice cliff (never fun) in the Realm, he makes the decision that neither of them will be returning there again. “You know as much as I do we don’t belong there,” he tells her, and doesn’t seem flattered when he realizes she was in fact using him to help her grandfather (though she swears what she and he felt for one another was always real). “It’s complicated,” she finishes, and Holden tells her to let him know when she’s uncomplicated. For the record, this is definitely a line I would have thought was clever if I said it when I was a teenager, so kudos to the writers if that’s what they were going for.
Willa, on her own now, is still reeling from the revelation that Arthur was in fact working with Frost–a man we know to be heading up a tax exempt religious organization called Hollow Sky, and who for most of the series thus far have presumed were the antagonists. Well, guess what, gang? We finally get some big revelations about Arthur, Willa, and Frost! That’s right, it’s FLASHBACK time. No character in particular is flashing back, it’s just for the audience’s benefit, but I’ll TAKE IT.
In a series of flashbacks, we see the young(er) Arthur, and finally the face of Dr. Isaac Frost. They are at the bedside of a woman they refer to as Celeste. She’s had multiple seizures and appears to be in a coma (sounding familiar?). Frost is in love with her, and is not content to sit around and wait on a miracle. He wants to use the machine. Arthur insists it’s too unstable. He won’t risk Celeste’s life. But guess who will? Later, alone with Celeste, Frost attempts to use the unready machine on her–what this will do specifically, we’re unsure. But we don’t get to find out because Arthur leaps in, attacking him. An Old Man Fight ensues! But only ever so briefly because they soon realize: Celeste has opened her eyes. She’s awake!
Of course like most happy moments in this show it is only momentary. Celeste tells Frost that when she was unconscious she saw the most beautiful light. It went on forever like an ocean, and over that ocean was a bridge. “You were right, Isaac,” she manages. And then of course her blood pressure drops and she dies, despite attempts to save her. Celeste, we barely knew ye.
Outside of Flashback World, there’s plenty else going on. For instance, Luke, Holden’s younger brother, is finally expelled from school when he is fingered for selling pills to students, after one is put in the emergency room. His dad takes this rather lightly, actually, saying that Luke will just get a job and reimburse him for the tuition. Meanwhile they’ll both lie to Mom (never a good idea in my experience) and say Luke is just moving home to be closer to Holden while still going to school. Dad gets some more screen time later when Jeff, older brother of Holden’s late best friend Kevin, approaches him at the bar and tells him the people who killed his brother are after Holden. He shows Dad the picture of Yellow Jacket he’s been carrying around, and tells him about Hollow Sky. He asks him for his help, but Dad refuses and leaves. I hope Dad joins the fight to be honest. I was expecting the parents on this show to be fringe characters who never quite know what is actually going on with their weirdo teenage son–but gosh darn it they’ll love him anyway! Involving Dad will kind of turn that trope on its head. Interested to see where this goes, if anywhere.
But the A storyline this involved new character Charlie, hired by Tess Schumacher at Hollow Sky to arrange a meeting between Holden and Frost. Charlie seeks Holden out this episode, who happens to be in the middle of taking his drivers test when she sees him–the written part. She whispers answers to him, then pulls a fire alarm to force him to walk and talk with her. They hit it off after she explains that she was in a coma for four years, and experience the Realm the same as he did. She shows him her powers, he shows her his, and yadda yadda yadda, Charlie’s looking at childhood photos of Holden with his mother. The episode is largely spent getting these two characters to connect, and the audience invested in that connection. In the end Charlie admits she was sent by Hollow Sky but now is silencing their calls. She just wants to be with someone who has had the same experiences she has. After Holden passes his drivers test and gets his own truck, he and Charlie drive off to Colorado to see some telescope he wanted to see before he went into his coma twelve years ago. She silences another call from Tess as they drive off.
But what about Willa?! For those of you rooting for she and Holden, this is probably a heartbreaking episode. Holden FINALLY remembers the love they shared for years in the Realm, and all of a sudden Charlie-come-lately comes waltzing into the picture to steal the spotlight. To top it off, Willa, on the hunt to find out the truth about her grandfather and Frost’s relationship, finds some unsettling info. Speaking to an old test subject of Arthur’s, the man tells her “you look just like your mother, Celeste.” YUP. Celeste was Arthur’s daughter and the love of Frost’s life. Frost is Willa’s father! In a flashback, we see Arthur telling Frost, devastated from the death of Celeste, that his daughter needs her father. Frost tells him, “I’m sorry but I can’t.”
All in all, the episode brought solid performances from almost every major character and some interesting turns. It answers questions in satisfyingly surprising ways. And sets up the back half of the first season for some even bigger revelations. “Celeste” gets the much deserved first “A” grade from me.
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
Beyond airs Mondays at 9PM on Freeform
Paul just awoke from a twelve-year coma to discover he possesses the mystical ability to watch an insane amount of TV and write incredible reviews for all.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulgulyas
Keep up with all of Paul’s reviews here.
Paul Gulyas | Contributor