The Alienist: Season 1 – Episode 8 ‘Psychopathia Sexualis’ REVIEW

The gang get a break in the case, then tragedy strikes.

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With just two episodes left of The Alienist, things are starting to get interesting to say the the least. This week took us away from the darkness of New York City and to the streets of Washington, where the quest to learn about the serial killer continues. The episode’s name “Psychopathia Sexualis” alludes to an episode that had the potential to get dirty and graphic, however, this was not the case at all. After last week’s beautiful moment between Kreizler and Mary, this week tore away any hopes of a future relationship. Why, The Alienist, why? The episode’s end brought forth Mary’s demise but let’s backtrack just a tad bit.

After last week’s encounter with Captain Connor, a bruised-up John Moore heads to Washington with Kreizler to dig through the records of discharged soldiers that spent time in a psychiatric ward. This angle of the investigation comes after the group concluded that the serial killer may have spent time in the Army. Throughout the episode, a mysterious, tall man seems to be on their tail, following their every single move. Who is he? Time will surely tell.

The trip to Washington helps to tie up the many loose ends that exist in this case as Kreizler learns about a former soldier, John Beecham, that had a violent facial tic and spent some time in the psychiatric ward. After some intense digging, Kreizler and Moore connect their research to learn that Beecham is from the same city (New Paltz) that a horrendous family murder took place in. How was the family murdered? You guessed it! In a very similar fashion to the serial killer’s M.O. This provides the team’s biggest lead thus far, so Kreizler, Moore, and Sarah head to New Paltz to learn more about the murders and the family involved. The Isaacson twins are sent to North Dakota to speak with Beecham’s former supervisor in the military.

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Moore and Kreizler visit the Dury family farmhouse to speak with the son whose parents were brutally murdered. The son refers to the killings as an “Injun massacre” which all but confirms that they may very well have their guy, based on the information they have gathered. Beecham’s supervisor shares he was discharged after they found him sitting on a top of a body naked and fully erect as he repeatedly stabbed the dead body. Sarah learns her own share of terrifying information about the Durys who would tell tales of Indian massacres to scare their children.

And this is where things get just a tad bit more interesting. While one Dury son had left him by the time the parents were murdered, the other son, Japheth stuck around New Paltz. He was an experienced mountaineer with a facial tic, who was raped by one of his climbing partners…named John Beecham. This moment connects so many dots simultaneously it’s mind blowing. Not only did Japheth kill his parents and the rapist, but he took on Beecham’s identity and went on to be in the Army, the hospital, and then New York (assuming this is our guy).

The culmination of Sarah and Kreizler and Moore’s investigation takes us down a very thrilling and exciting path that reminds us this case is oh so close to being solved. Remember the mysterious guy that was following Kreizler and Moore? On their way to the train station, Moore and Kreizler have an accident when the horses are frightened by the sound of a gunshot (most likely courtesy of our mystery friend). The episode gives Kreizler and Moore a sweet moment to connect as Kreizler tells Moore he is in love with Mary.

Sadly, the episode takes a depressing turn when Captain Connor and his merry band of men show up at Kreizler’s house looking for him. Poor, sweet Mary tries her best to fight off the attack and despite getting in one nice stab, she falls to her demise when Connor pushes her over the rail. R.I.P. Mary. This is an absolutely heartbreaking blow to the story, especially as Kreizler seemed to be turning a new leaf after his night with Mary. What will Mary’s death do to his state of mind? And will the team learn that Connor and his men are responsible for it? We sure hope so, because Connor needs to go!

This week The Alienist provided just the right amount of suspense, heartbreak, and revelations as it begins to tie up the loose ends of the case. The team has somehow managed to piece together tidbits of information (sans internet, imagine that!) and have found themselves at the cusp of discovering the serial killer behind the murders. We have to commend the perfect balance and pace at which this episode, and the entire series, has taken so far.

The story isn’t rushed, too convoluted, or even boring, and brings the audience into the madness with each passing episode. Evans, Bruhl, and Fanning are the heart of the show and this episode really gives them each a moment to shine. Seeing Sarah venture off on her own to New Paltz to do her own research is particularly inspiring, especially considering she is the first female employee of the NYPD. Fanning’s facial expressions and mannerisms balanced with the delicacy of the time period are so on point and this episode highlights her pride in being the person she is given the era she lives in.

With only two episodes left of this first season, the story is really starting to pick up. Will Japheth be the serial killer they are after? Will there be more murders? Will the identity of the mysterious, tall man be revealed? And what is the deal with the man with the silver smile? There are so many questions and not much time left for their answers. The Alienist is doing a great job of keeping the audience engaged, and with the revelations of this week’s episode, things are about to take a drastic, scary, and frightening turn.

Catch up with our previous reviews of The Alienist here.

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