TNT’s The Alienist
Angel of Darkness: “Gilded Cage”
Directed by Clare Kilner
Written by Alyson Feltes
* For a recap & review of “Labyrinth,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Belly of the Beast,” click here.
Dr. Laszlo Kreizler goes to see a woman, Mrs. Cullen, who takes memento mori photos. She’s suffered her own loss. She tells Laszlo about a couple images where the eyes are drawn onto the negative by hand, rather than simply making the child look like they’re asleep. She’s only done two of those in her long career, and says the women she did them for both killed themselves. She calls the grief of losing a child “a grief without end.”
At the same time, Sara Howard’s enlisted her colleague Bitsy Sussman to go undercover at the Lying-In Hospital, to hopefully dig up more dirt about Dr. Markoe, the Matron, or anyone else involved in these heinour affairs. Back at the office, Sara’s received a card from Ogden Gildersleeve, and a visit from Nurse Libby Hatch looking for the file she sneaked out of the hospital. She tells Libby that Colleen Ledwidge (Liadan Dunlea) was the last person to check on Martha Knapp the night of the incident. Libby says Colleen was on duty for rounds that evening, though she says no more, other than some people are “unhappily blamed for the sins of others.”
At the hospital, Bitsy gets a load of Colleen firsthand ranting about bourgeois men and their busy dicks. This ward girl may not be a killer but she is definitely not right. She was once a patient on the ward, apparently. A new suspect. Then there’s the Matron, Marie. She’s onto Libby, noticing the young nurse was looking into Martha’s file. Back at the office, Dr. Kreizler and his team look over their evidence concerning the Knapp baby, but Signor Linares is growing weary while his child’s still out there, hopefully still alive. Sara tries to put him at ease, letting him know Bitsy’s undercover at Lying-In. We can only hope Bitsy isn’t in any physical danger. Because that hospital is like a boiler room of madness about to run over. Later, Bitsy meets secretly with Sara. She says there are no babies at the hospital. The mothers are all told they’ve had a stillbirth. Bitsy also heard about Richard Osgood (Ryan Ellsworth), an upper class gentleman with a penchant for impregnating women. Another of “his girls,” Helen Sumner (Elena Delia), just got brought to the ward recently.
“Remember you will die”
The New York Journal’s busy pumping out xenophobic lies about the Spanish. At the Times, John Moore’s brought Joanna Crawford in to see his boss. Of course the editor-in-chief of the NY Times is surprised that Moore’s brought a Black woman. John’s going to research the articles while Joanna will put them into flowery writing, a brilliant team. Joanna’s no slouch, even in a post-Antebellum society that doesn’t quite want to be genuinely progressive just yet. She’s written about “suffragism and emancipation” as her senior thesis in school. Qualified as anybody else. Nice to see John’s using that bourgeois status for good. Sara’s going to use that status, too. Although her use might just prove awkward for Mr. Moore.
And so a big ball is underway, thrown by William Randolph Hearst for his (god)daughter Violet Hayward and John. While everybody’s partying John is upstairs arguing with Hearst and Osgood about the Linares family and how the Journal’s focused on pushing support against the Spanish “for the war in Cuba.” For those concerned with history, the events in Angel of Darkness occur just prior to the Spanish-American War. Byrnes shows up to see Hearst, but quickly gets treated like yesterday’s trash. He’s a real nasty prick, just as much as Hearst.
In the midst of the party, Joanna’s wearing a disguise and picking up bits of gossip. Sara’s playing the appropriate high class woman and planning on confronting Dr. Markoe, which doesn’t exactly sit well with John, concerned about his fiancee being embarrassed at her own party. Hearst starts to give a toast that begins more as a roast of John prior to him unveiling a German-designed luxury motorcar, a gift. The whole thing’s very uncomfortable. And Sara sees that, appealing to John that she thinks he’s “being bought.” When Dr. Kreizler gets his chance he talks to Osgood about his “harem” at the hospital. Osgood threatens to have Laszlo deported as a “foreign undesirable” for his questions. It doesn’t stop the doc from pushing about Colleen particularly.
Following John and Sara’s argument, he wanders upstairs where Violet’s waiting half in the nude. The fiancee’s probably feeling threatened by Ms. Howard’s presence in her man’s life. Downstairs some of the women are playing party games. Dr. Kreizler doesn’t like the “wanton extravagance” of the entire party. He thinks of Marie Antoinette, just when Karen Stratton (Lara Pulver)— Violet’s former professor— starts schooling him about the famously misquoted “Let them eat cake” which Marie never really said, and a few other things. Laszlo’s near speechless, a first for him. He’s kind of starstruck because Karen’s a well-known intellectual.
The whole party gets interrupted when Helen turns up in a dress, begging for someone to listen about her baby. Helen says she was fixed so she can’t have any more children. Sara tries her best to help the woman, yet Dr. Markoe whisks Helen away without much effort or fuss. She puts a cigarette out in Osgood’s drink before leaving.
Things feel stagnant for Dr. Kreizler. He sees only a “miasma of corruption” created by Dr. Markoe, an environment created in which a killer could do what they want without detection. He doesn’t think the doctor’s the one behind the killings, though Markoe is clearly a piece of shit. Isabelle’s brought in again. She says there was a suspicious woman at the hospital always watching. She’s been blinded by trauma, and she actually saw the face of the woman who took her child. She looks back at the painting, trying to figure out where the woman was that day. They’re able to get pictures from the photographer who was present and Isabelle sees the woman among them.
At the hospital, Bitsy’s slowly getting closer to Colleen. She isn’t too subtle, but soon Colleen starts to talk about losing her child. Bitsy outright asks whether Colleen knows anything about Martha’s baby. Things get scary after Colleen turn violent, attacking Bitsy. She chases the undercover ward girl until Bitsy’s forced to lock herself away. She’s locked herself in the drug closet with Libby— the woman Isabelle saw the day her child was taken. Oh, god. Poor Bitsy gets a needle in the neck as Colleen watches on from outside helplessly. She’s able to muster enough strength to unlock the door, letting Libby free. It may be too late for Bitsy unless the Isaacsons can help. They’re able to save Bitsy from the brink of death.
And now Libby’s in the wind. Matron Marie’s at home when she gets barged in on by Libby. The young girl rants about “sanctuary.” She starts choking Marie, pulling out a blade. She stabs Marie several times in the throat and watches the woman bleed out. Libby uses some of the pooling blood to draw eyes on Marie’s dead eyes. Afterwards, she lies with the bloody corpse contently.
A twisted episode with a reveal that I, personally, did not expect. Love red herrings.
The Alienist consistently delivers on gruesome Gothic chills, as well as solid police procedural content. No telling where things are headed next.