TNT’s The Alienist
Angel of Darkness: “Something Wicked”
Directed by David Caffrey
Written by Stuart Carolan
* For a recap & review of the premiere, “Ex Ore Infantium,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Labyrinth,” click here.
A couple butchers are busy butchering human meat.
Who’s the poor person on the chopping block? Who’s doing the chopping?
John Moore can’t get any real traction at the New York Times from his boss Bernie Peterson (Demetri Goritsas). without fighting. He wants to investigate things with Sara Howard. They’re sure a “serial killer of children” is on the loose. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler is going with Ms. Howard to the Spanish consulate— Senora Isabella Linares is a Spanish governor, not just a regular citizen. They want to be able to speak with the servants at the Linares home, to see if they can uncover anything useful about the night of the kidnapping. Sara’s attempting to keep Laszlo from going too deep right off the bat.
They talk to the staff. Sara and Laszlo aren’t entirely on the same page, and she further has to deal with the occasional sexism from the male servants. Not everything the doctor wants to ask is Howard Detective Agency-approved. Elsewhere, Dr. Markoe is preaching misogynistic and classist nonsense in his public lecture on motherhood with not a woman in attendance. He gets interrupted by Dr. Kreizler trying to call him out in front of everybody. Laszlo yells with some help from Moore about the dead child turning up after Martha’s execution. Later, Markoe and Thomas Byrnes talk in private about shutting Kreizler and “his pack” up.
The Isaacson brothers have found a few things in their examination of the dead child. The baby was likely asphyxiated— the poison only subdued the child, then the killer smothered it. John and Sara theorise about why the killer would use the Siegel-Cooper store to use as a place to stage the corpse. They know the department store is far from the “poor, huddled masses” of working class America. They meet with Sterling Hessler (Oliver Maltman) who runs the place, hoping he might offer some assistance. Hessler looks through his books to see who bought one of the ruby red dolls like was found in the crib, getting a potential address on Hudson Street.
While Lucius is working he gets a visit from Byrnes. The old man’s trying to divide and conquer, pressing Lucius for info. After that he goes straight to Hearst— his daughter is Violet, they go by different last names— about the missing Linares child. They want to keep this quiet, for business purposes. Nobody wants to lose money over missing and dead kids, right? Well, if you’re a piece of shit, that is, like Byrnes and Hearst. Two slimy bastards. Speaking of slimy, a man’s dropping off his wife to Dr. Markoe. He’s assured of “no scandal” when it comes to the baby. And out there, somewhere, is the Linares baby, screaming from a cage-like crib. So much creepiness going on around here.
At dinner, Hearst and an old man whine via racism about the Spanish. Moore has to excuse himself to work, though not without ribbing from Hearst, who’s trying to get his future son-in-law to go over to the Journal rather than the Times. He gets out of there and hops in a carriage with Sara as they venture over to Hudson Street on a maybe dangerous little mission for clues. It’s a rough part of the city in 1897, likely now a gentrified part of Manhattan. The detective and the writer soon find they’re in trouble with a gang of men following them. They hide in time to escape any violence, only barely. After that they turn up in a saloon where Joanna Crawford (Brittany Marie Batchelder) and Cyrus Montrose (Robert Wisdom) work. They talk to Cyrus about things, asking of any nasty characters, of which there are plenty. They also mention St. Ignatius boardinghouse on Hudson Street. They’re told of a man called Goo Goo Knox, a dangerous man, who owns the boardinghouse. It may prove difficult to find him, let alone talk with him.
At the consulate, Dr. Kreizler gets to chat with Isabella. They talk of art. He mentions Goya‘s work. They quickly get talking to the matter at hand, though a difficult thing to discuss. She can’t remember anything about the night of the kidnapping. So the doctor wants to use hypnosis in order to unlock “memories hidden beneath your conscious mind.” Isabella refuses and she’s quite angry about it, really. She feels he’ a trickster, and would much rather talk to Ms. Howard.
By the docks, a chopped up body is found in a net. Surely from the butcher shop earlier. The Isaacsons are examining the corpse and Byrnes is present, sowing seeds of racism in the other coppers. He wants to get the headlines pumping with xenophobia towards the Spanish. That’ll definitely ensure no sympathy for Isabella and her husband seeking a missing child while NYC is hopped up on racist rhetoric in Hearst’s paper. Especially when Byrnes frames it as the family not talking to the authorities, as if they’re hiding something. Rotten business— rotten white business. The real word is that Goo Goo Knox had problems with a couple fellas who wound up in the Hudson River.
When Moore goes down to snoop around he gets confronted by Knox (Frederick Schmidt) himself— one of the butchers from the opening scene— and his man Ding Dong (Peter Coonan). John’s saved by Sara and her pistol before Knox can cut his throat. They question Knox about the boardinghouse, where “pimps and whores” used to work. Not much to go on from there. At least John’s not dead.
Sara is unhappy with Laszlo after he went behind her back and talked to Isabella, especially about the hypnosis. The doctor, like always, is too nonchalant. He’s also a bit too presumptuous with his male entitlement. Sara wants to be listened to, she doesn’t want him to just do his thing without consulting her, from the investigation to the soup he continues to order for her (terrapin soup is turtle soup). After arguing, they get to talking more. The doc mentions someone who works for the Linares family that wasn’t questioned. Before they can get there, coppers are pulling Isabella into custody under suspicion. Sara informs him of “diplomatic immunity” and tells Captain Doyle to let the woman free. Doyle chooses to comply. Then Sara and Laszlo try to get the remaining servant to speak with them, yet Isabella refuses, taking blame on herself because of an accident a while back when she let the baby fall off the bed. This took Isabella and her servant to a hospital her husband wouldn’t know. Might that be where Dr. Markoe works? The cruel doctor and his awful sidekick are busy delivering a baby, among other things. What kind of horrors are they committing, and WHY?
This season is off to a horrific start. Splendid stuff.
The mystery’s great, and the terror is, too. In Season 2 we’re seeing full-on that Dr. Markoe’s clearly involved in heinous things, whereas Season 1 left us up until the end before everything was fully revealed. Obviously there are MANY things that’ll come to light as we go, it’s just interesting that we’re seeing so much because that means there’s a lot more to uncover.