TNT’s The Alienist
Angel of Darkness: “Labyrinth”
Directed by Clare Kilner
Written by Gina Gionfriddo
* For a recap & review of “Something Wicked,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Gilded Cage,” click here.
Dr. Laszlo Kreizler is taking Sara Howard through the “purely physical phenomenon” of hypnosis, as a way to quell her reservations about the procedure. The doc’s hoping he can get Senora Linares to undergo the same thing, in order to potentially figure out some clues from the night of her baby’s kidnapping. Sara gradually falls under the hypnotic spell, seeing herself as a twelve-year-old girl holding a red balloon on a string while she runs through the backyard of her childhood home. She sees her younger self with hands covered in blood, then she lets go of the balloon. Sara wants to stop, feeling overwhelmed. Yet now she can clearly see merit in Kreizler’s little experiment.
The gang get together to discuss possible motives for such grisly killings of infants. Bitsy interrupts with some info. She realises that Dr. Markoe and the hospital have to throw parties for their big donors, considering it’s a charity. One of the hosts of these parties is a Gildersleeve— helps to have John Moore around, who knows the bourgeois of NYC, such as Gildersleeve heir, Ogden a.k.a Oggie (Paul Reid). Might just give Moore and his associates a way inside. When John goes fencing with Oggie they’re surprised by a woman making her way into those hallowed patriarchal halls: Ms. Howard. Sara’s come to ask a favour of Mr. Gildersleeve, pulling him away from their sport.
Dr. Markoe’s heinous operation continues at the Lying-In Hospital.
That’s exactly where Sara’s headed, too. She gets in for a meeting with Markoe himself. It’s antagonistic from the start, given he remembers her from the execution. Markoe acts like he truly cares about destitute women, however, he gets no leniency from Ms. Howard. She tells him about the drugs used to poison the baby, which would’ve come from a hospital such as the one he’s running. He calls himself and his nurses “imperfect servants of the state” when Sara inquires about reports from the night Martha supposedly committed her crime. Convenient, indeed. Sara gets a glimpse of the horrific conditions while there, from general dirtiness to the complacency of the nurses. She also talks to a young nurse called Libby who knew Martha, asking if this was the patient’s room— apparently it was originally, but not on the night of the incident. Hmm.
Marcus and Lucius Isaacson are working on examining the dead baby’s stomach. At the same time, Laszlo watches the tiny coffin get lowered into a grave next to mother. A sad sight. Back at the office, Marcus and Lucius find breast milk along with the poison and powdered carbon found in the child’s stomach.
Oh, my. That’s not just creepy, it points to a truly haunting motive.
Sara convinces Nurse Libby to go for lunch at a nice restaurant with her. Libby’s a bit out of her element, yet Sara’s not at all pretentious like her societal standing might suggest, definitely less so than someone like Moore who’s much deeper entangled in high society than her. We also hear more about Sara’s father, who had “an accident with a gun.” Similarly, Libby’s father also had an accident, except his was with “a rope over a bridge.” Class doesn’t always dictate mental health. Before they part, Sara asks Libby about when Senora Linares’s child came to the hospital. The nurse expresses a little doubt about the Matron Marie’s (Heather Goldenhersh) intentions, and this sets Sara off with more clues to investigate. Ms. Howard talks to an old woman who lives in the building with the Matron. The lady says Marie could never have children of her own. Shit. Red herring? Her dancing in that dress is certainly NOT a good sign.
At the Lying-In Hospital, Libby’s sneaking around looking at files when she hears Dr. Markoe bitching to Thomas Byrnes about Sara coming around. Byrnes starts asking if there’s anything that could connect him to “the Spanish Baby.” Naturally, the doc says there’s nothing, though his answer seems desperate. Thankfully their argument takes them away from the file room where Libby’s hiding.
Laszlo finally gets to put Senora Isabelle Linares under hypnosis. Her husband, the Ambassador-General, isn’t thrilled with the whole thing, so Sara assures him she’s been put under herself. So the doc forges on, and soon Isabelle’s recalling memories, such as a painting in the Metropolitan Museum, as well as being in the park that day. But the Senora starts to break down, and the hypnosis concludes. Meanwhile, Lucius confesses to his brother he’s “done something horrible.” He tells Marcus about when Byrnes came pressuring him for info, that he told the former chief about the Linares case. He apologises, but that doesn’t fix things.
Sara, Laszlo, and John decide it might help to have Isabelle paint what she’s seeing under hypnosis, which has a precedent in the history of psychological studies, such as the work of Pierre Janet. They already know the Senora has taken classes with artist Cecilia Beaux (Carolina Main). Despite any reluctance on Sara or Cecilia’s part, the experiment is set to happen. Dr. Kreizler once again puts the Senora under hypnosis, this time with an easel, a brush, and paint at her disposal. And as he leads her through hypnotic memories of that day, Isabelle starts to paint on the canvas using the colours she’s seeing in her vision. “Somebody‘s watching me,” she tells the doctor. One solid clue? There was a photographer present in the park that day.
Ms. Howard gets the file from Libby while John’s bachelor party is well underway. Laszlo’s more than uncomfortable with a half-naked woman dancing on him, and even John doesn’t quite seem at home at his own party. Moore wants to throw in the towel for the night. Quite possible he wants to throw in the towel on the whole marriage, from his melancholy attitude. Is it because he really wants to be with someone else?
Probably just a coincidence that he and Laszlo head off in the early morning to pick up Sara for a late celebration. She’s only convinced to go when she hears Oggie will be there, probably intent on using his high society connections to her/their purposes. The gang all get together at the saloon where Cyrus Montrose and Joanna Crawford tend bar. Sara gets working on Oggie while the Isaacsons get hammered, and Moore tells Cyrus he’ll reach out to the New York Times to see if he can get Joanna work. After that, Dr. Kreizler makes a toast to the soon-to-be married John, in spite of drunkenness.
And out there, the Linares baby cries as the terrifying kidnapper breastfeeds the child.
“Virtuous men alone possess friends”
A genuinely chilling episode.
Will another child have to die before Kreizler and Co. track the killer down?