TNT’s The Alienist
Episode 9: “Requiem”
Directed by Jamie Payne
Written by Hossein Amini
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Psychopathia Sexualis” – click here
* For a recap & review of the finale, “Castle in the Sky” – click here
Those closest to Mary Palmer (Q’orianka Kilcher) are present when she is put in the ground. John Moore (Luke Evans) reads a poem called “When I am dead, my dearest” by Christina Rossetti. Everyone gives Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl) their condolences, from Moore to Ms. Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), to his old college pal Teddy Roosevelt (Bria Geraghty), who urges him there is “no shame” in grieving someone he loved. However, now the doctor says he’s finished with the case. He doesn’t want anyone else killed because of his “wretched investigation.” His guilt and worry for those near him is too heavy to continue.
Detective Sergeants Marcus (Douglas Smith) and Lucius (Matthew Shear) Isaacson interrogate the man with Captain Connor (David Wilmot) when Mary was killed. But they get nothing other than a saucy mouth and racial epithets.
Down at the bar, Roosevelt goes to find Thomas F. Byrnes (Ted Levine) – the former Chief’s busy tying one on and telling Macbeth jokes (the titular Shakespearean character was a chicken killer because he committed murder “most fowl“). They get into quite the confrontation. Teddy’s not willing to lay down for the Old New York which Byrnes and his ilk represent. Although there’s still reluctance on his part to charge in too quick head first.
“Weakness is hiding in the past, old man.”
Ms. Howard isn’t ready to leave the investigation, even if Moore’s prepared to give up. She can’t walk away from such horror, as young boys are being killed all across the city. She feels duty to continue, and they no longer require Kreizler; they’ve got the name Beacham, and clues.
The rest of the crew keep investigating. Only another eight days until the Feast of St. Barnabas; the next religious holiday the serial killer will use in his sick modus operandi. They’re looking at every possible scrap of information they’ve collected so far. Suddenly, Moore has an epiphany about Japheth Drury and the taking of John Beacham as a name, and this leads the others to wonder if perhaps it was a way of relinquishing his victimhood. This further leads them to look at census records, where Sara stumbles onto his names in the books as an enumerator. He started work there in 1890, remembered due to his “unfortunate appearance.” Beacham was fired for making unscheduled visits to a twelve-year-old girl; we see plenty of sexism in the boss explaining this event, as well as some antisemitism to double down. Ah, the socially and racially insensitive late 19th century in New York!
Sadly, the team may not be able to prevent another victim. The killer is always hunting.
Note: While Kreizler is lamenting the loss of Mary, he picks up a ticket from when she and Moore went together to see Edison’s Vitascope (we saw this in an earlier episode). What’s impeccable, in terms of production design, is that they really narrowed it down perfectly to the correct date, April 23rd, 1896. The sole, tiny detail they didn’t get correct is that they used Brubacher Hall, when it was actually Koster and Bial’s Music Hall, a vaudeville theatre then located on Broadway and Thirty-Fourth Street.
Out on the city, the investigative team are searching out Beacham from the address in his employment files. They track down an apartment building, where the landlord tells them more of Beacham; he was later employed as a “charity worker.” Upstairs in his old room, they pull up a loose floorboard, from which emanates a nasty smell, and inside are nasty little treats.
Cpt. Connor surprises Ms. Howard later that evening, which rattles her. He makes hideous, sexually violent threats, and then leaves her in the night. The poor woman has to deal with enough misogyny and sexism through the NYPD itself, let alone an ex-captain with a grudge.
As the days wind down towards the Feast of St. Barnabas, the investigators are no closer to finding Beacham. At home, Kreizler wastes away psychologically in a pit of despair and guilt and self-doubt, plus the past and alcohol. He goes so far as to crack off a wine glass, stabbing himself in the arm with the stem. Are the issues with his arm perhaps psychology-related + self-inflicted? Hmm.
The team eventually track down bits of leads, which takes them to a lower class pub in the heart of the city. The bartender warns them Beacham is dangerous. Further the group goes until they come to a shanty of a building, where many live. They make their way up to a floor and into a derelict-looking apartment. Sara spies a calendar with dates, names, religious holidays, all marked. A simple, horrific image. And that isn’t all they find. One particular item is an old, dried heart in a box; a heart-shaped box, at that. Kurt would’ve loved it.
Simultaneously, the killer preys on his latest victim at the pool where the young boys swim free. Even on the right track they’re not able to stop what’s already in the grisly process of happening. Moore’s young friend stumbles onto the murder, too. It’s a shocking, vicious scene. The shot of the boy witnessing another dead, bloody boy being dragged along the floor from under the crack in a door is haunting. Not to mention the killer’s caught him.
Wow, this episode really blew me away. What I love is that Kreizler was out of the way, and so we were able to see more of Sara doing her thing, and even Moore, as well. I love Kreizler as a character, just compelling to see more of Ms. Howard in her element. Not only that, the gruesome finale of the episode was wild.
The big finale – “Castle in the Sky” – is next time. Get ready for something truly intense.