Only three episodes in and The Alienist continues to be alluring, mysterious, and ridiculously captivating. This week is no exception as Moore, Kreizler, and Howard continue to investigate the string of murders plaguing New York City. We last left Moore in a sketchy situation at Paresis Hall. In an attempt to learn more about Giorgio, Moore decides to visit the infamous brothel but in turn is given a drug-infused cocktail that causes him to pass out.
The Alienist excels at constantly infusing terror and horror into each and every scene – Moore’s nightmare before awakening being one. We witness his nightmare of a Walking Dead-esque Sally with her eyes gouged out back in Giorgio’s room. In a state of panic, Moore wakes up only to realize he is in Kreizler’s office. Unfortunately, he cannot recall the events from the night before which include Sally’s description of the potential killer. How exactly did Moore make it back to Kreizler and Sarah? After Kreizler had Stevie follow Moore, he found him in an alleyway near the Tenderloin – and luckily brings him back to safety.
Up until this point, the series alludes to a potential Sarah/Moore attraction, however, as this episode indicates, Sarah’s heart lies with Kreizler. While Moore heads to his parents, Sarah informs Kreizler she must take her leave for her Vassar reunion – although she would much rather stay back. Fast forward to her reunion, she catches up with her old roommate who talks about her recent engagement and inquires about Sarah’s love life. Sarah’s reply to this is, “There is someone (a doctor) but it’s just begun.”
The stand-out elements about this series are the constant historical tie-ins – including forensic advancements. The Isaacson twins are at the forefront of this in The Alienist and head to the morgue to study Giorgio’s corpse for fingerprints that may have been left behind by the killer. However, upon reaching the morgue, they learn that Giorgio’s body is not there.
It was intriguing to learn more about Moore this week as the episode introduces his mother – who is gung-ho on finding him a suitable lady to marry. Her hilarious attempts to set him up go awry when Moore completely checks out of the conversation and forgets the girl’s name. This episode also highlights Moore’s tumultuous relationship with his disapproving father and explains a lot about his confused, lost character.
As the episode progresses, Moore begins to recollect tidbits of his night at Paresis Hall – namely information Sally has shared about the man with the “silver smile”. He also recalls that Sally said Giorgio never left the room the night of the murder but somehow vanished anyway. This alludes to the idea that a hidden panel exists in the room that allowed for Giorgio to leave. Furthermore, after Kreizler and Moore pay a visit to Sally, they deduce that Giorgio may have been led out of the room by someone he deeply trusted and the murder took place on the bridge, rather than the room itself.
As the investigation gets murkier and darker, Kreizler seems to be immersing himself completely into it. His main focus is on understanding the killer and what provokes his actions. He visits his valet, Cyrus Montross, who murdered a man after seeing him abuse a woman. Kreizler hopes to learn what taking another’s life feels like – which, according to Cyrus, is “a feeling of pleasure.” This scene seems to set something off in Kreizler, and brings out some of Bruhl’s best work in the series thus far. Upon returning home Kreizler has a moment with his housemaid, Mary, which is interrupted when Stevie comes with the news of another murder.
The episode gets pretty intense from this moment on as the trio and twins go to the scene of the crime – an old immigration station. The mood of this scene was so intense and frightening as they look for where the body is. A light bulb flash brings their attention up to the roof of the station where the body lies in the same condition as the others – young boy prostitute with the eyes gouged out. Sarah quickly begins to make the connection that the killer has an affinity for heights (based on where the bodies have been found). According to Kreizler, he is now leaving the bodies exposed out in the open and is evolving.
Upon learning of the murder, Captain Connor is livid that he had not been informed earlier and rushes to the scene. As the Captain and his team arrive, Kreizler and the rest flee the scene before they are caught examining the body. The plot twist comes when the episode reveals the killer is still on the roof. In a rush, Moore drops his sketchbook, which the killer picks up (and creepily admires at the end of the episode).
The next morning the trio congregate back at Kreizler’s place, who seems to be losing it. He wants Moore and Sarah to expose and face all their secrets if they intend on solving these murders. This pushes him to ask Sarah about her father’s suicide and Moore about his affinity towards bonding with strangers. In tears, Sarah and Moore leave Kreizler’s office as he has a complete breakdown out of sheer frustration. While Sarah tries to justify Kreizler’s actions, Moore feels complete anger towards his blunt behavior. Moore also reveals that Mary (the housemaid) was a student of Kreizler’s who burned her own father alive – yikes. Moore attempts to “have a moment” with Sarah when he kisses her on the cheek. Sorry bud, her heart belongs to someone else.
This episode of The Alienist is extremely pivotal in regards to character development. While the murder investigation continues to be the center of the series, this episode takes some time to dig deeper into each character’s history. This helps the audience connect with the narrative as the series progresses. The dark, frightening tone of this episode highlights some pivotal moments – the murder and the flashbacks of the killer with Giorgio. The series continues to pull in the viewers with the mystery of the gruesome murders while displaying some of Evans, Bruhl, and Fanning’s best work ever. We can’t wait to see how the story progresses! We see you, The Alienist – and we are all in.