TNT’s The Alienist
Episode 3: “Silver Smile”
Directed by Jakob Verbruggen
Written by Gina Gionfriddo
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “A Fruitful Partnership” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “These Bloody Thoughts” – click here
Thomas Byrnes (Ted Levine) goes to visit a well to do family, the Van Bergens, telling them about the “street merchant” who was killed, that their son Willam’s been said to frequent the place where the boy worked. He later goes to see Paul Kelly (Antonio Magro) and Captain Connor (David Wilmot) to make sure everything’s fine on their end. They make reference to John Moore (Luke Evans), what happened to him over at the brothel owned by Biff Ellison (Falk Hentschel), and it sounds nasty.
Speaking of, the artist wakes up in a rough state. His face is bruised, he’s disoriented, he has no pants on. Doctor Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl), Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), and the brothers Isaacson, Marcus (Douglas Smith) and Lucius (Matthew Shear), are all trying to further their investigation. Doesn’t help the artist is less than forthcoming about what happened the night prior.
Meanwhile, Teddy Roosevelt (Brian Geraghty) is continually fighting for the respect of his men in the New York Police Department. It’s not always easy, though he extends a hand to Cpt. Connor in effort to reach out to the good ole boys in the ranks.
The finger marks recently found, a “partial print,” are all the ragtag investigative team have to work on. So, Dr. Kreizler asks the Isaacson brothers to check on the body at the morgue again. Between finger marks and the type of knife, perhaps there’s more to learn. And they’d better hurry, because out there, amongst the crowds is someone blending in, watching, waiting; somebody monstrous.
Marcus and Lucius go to see the body. But Giorgio’s corpse is gone, taken. Sara suggests to the doc it’s “evidence of corruption” on behalf of the cops. She’s also going to suggest to Roosevelt he must trust the alienist above his own employees, though the Commissioner is already alienated himself from his men. More than ever the group are on their own hunting this murderer of young boys.
Never is class separation so obvious. While the poor are living in fear, the upper class play parlour games where someone acts as murderer; both funny and sick. Sara’s a part of that elite class, yet she is so obviously not like the rest of them. She relates much more to the men – Kreizler, Moore, the Isaacsons – than any of her boring socialite acquaintances. She’s just better at pretending than most.
Out of nowhere, Moore remembers a few things from his wild night. Such as that Giorgio supposedly flew away without opening his door, and he also had a regular client with a “silver smile.” This sends Dr. Kreizler and Moore to find the boy, Sally (Jamie Kaye), on the street, so the doc can ask him more questions. The crossdressing boy tells them a bit about working on the street, in the brothel, the clients. Kreizler begins wondering if Giorgio went along to his death because he was with someone whom he trusted.
Something we get a brief glimpse of is Kreizler’s studies. This is just post-Jack the Ripper, so the study of serial killers is just technically commencing, at least in the formal way we understand it now. The doctor would’ve been at the forefront, so along with psychology it was a burgeoning field and people didn’t initially respect or understand it. He has pictures of Mary Jane Kelly, believed the final Ripper victim. One of his employees is Cyrus Montrose (Robert Ray Wisdom), who once killed a man; the doctor prods him for personal information about how it felt, et cetera, all to gain perspective.
Soon enough Kreizler gets word there’s another murder. He, Ms. Howard, and Moore go to the scene, at the museum. An eyeless, dead boy dressed as a girl is found atop the roof. Word also goes out to Cpt. Connor, a little late, and he’s worried; he’s meant to be keeping a lid on these things, it’s bad for business, y’know. The coppers don’t trust Roosevelt, either. That’s why they’re still carting Byrnes around with them. Kreizler and the Isaacsons are hard at work examining the body, racing to get their work completed before everybody else shows up and they’re given the heave. Simultaneously, Ms. Howard’s putting together pieces of the puzzle herself – the killer has an affinity for heights, possibly water, as well. She and the doc likewise realise the killer is evolving.
“I‘ve seen death before, but never like that.”
The renegade investigators flee before Commissioner Roosevelt has to take the heat for them being around. That’s when Cpt. Connor and Byrnes show up, on top of that a crowd of people wanting to know what’s happening. However, a notebook’s been dropped at the scene. Will the killer pick it up? Hmm.
Kreizler has a bit of an unusual spat with maid Mary Palmer (Q’orianka Kilcher), treating her a little harshly. When Sara questions this, asking Moore, she finds out that Mary burned her father alive. That means the doc likes to sort of save people who’ve committed murder, both the woman and Cyrus having killed before. Perhaps he gets too involved in the life of murderers, all in the pursuit of trying to understand, in turn with hopes to somehow preemptively stop those who will become killers eventually. Clearly, though, Kreizler is intense, and that may have already caused bad things in his life. Hopefully it won’t cause too many more. But we’ll see.
Great episode. This series really builds steam, so I’m happy that it’s a 10-part series. To be honest, I could watch this for a couple seasons were they interested in stretching it out more. Lots of things to explore. Although I imagine that it’ll get covered in this 10-episode run.
“These Bloody Thoughts” is next week.