TNT’s The Alienist
Angel of Darkness: “Memento Mori”
Directed by David Caffrey
Written by Alyson Feltes
* For a recap & review of “Belly of the Beast,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” click here.
Things with John and Sara are awkward. He’s engaged, to a very prominent woman. “It‘s not that simple,” Sara tells him. John thinks it’s possible for it to be simple. Yet while they’re indulging in their personal lives, and yes, thankfully the Linares child is safe, none of it changes the fact that Libby’s out there on the run. And the killer’s breaking down more by the moment, bathing herself in a horse’s trough, rambling about her stolen baby. Not good for anybody.
The Great Houdini has come to New York. An audience watches him as he’s suspended well above the crowd and locked into a set of handcuffs inside a straight jacket. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler is there with young Paulie, watching the famous magician wriggle his way out of the trap. This makes Paulie only that much more interested in magic and illusion, so he practises at home with lessons from a book, learning not just to tie knots but how to undo them, too.
Across town, Violet’s concerned about her relationship with John and his relationship with Sara, looking for advice from Hearst, who promises to make things right. Hearst tells her about “unflattering publicity” Ms. Howard is getting because of an “unusual lifestyle.” When Sara gets a look at the papers she’s furious. Not only is the whole thing misogynistic, Hearst’s paper makes it look like she’s the reason why Libby remains uncaptured. Ironically, potential jobs are starting to pour in at the agency because people realise she found the Linares baby. This still doesn’t satisfy Sara. She wants to find Libby, to end all this horror.
Libby’s patched up by Goo Goo. He suggests they grab her another baby, one she was eyeing. He thinks a new baby will make her feel better. YIKES! Twice the yikes when Laszlo discovers Paulie hanging from the ceiling after attempting one of those Houdini escapes. Thankfully the boy’s okay, still breathing. This brings the crooked coppers down on Dr. Kreizler’s place, suspicious about a boy hanging himself, knowing nothing of the real situation. Certainly not helpful to have them up in his business. Dr. Markoe and Thomas Byrnes have him shut down fast, suspending his license until further review.
At the burned building on Hudson Street, owned by Mr. Knox, John and Sara take a look inside. They go deeper into the burned, wrecked place until they come to the room where Libby kept the children in the crib-like cage. There are pictures on the wall of “earlier victims” along with Martha Knapp’s baby. The Linares baby was all prepared to have her picture taken, too. If it wasn’t for Sara then the worst surely would’ve happened.
In hospital, Paulie lies asleep while Dr. Kreizler blames himself for not paying enough attention to the boy. Laszlo sees himself as a father figure to Paulie. He talks with Professor Karen Stratton about the child, again taking on blame. She sees Laszlo punishing himself instead of seeing the good he’s done. And she also knows he pays too much attention to others while ignoring himself and his own needs.
The Isaacson brothers look over the scene at Libby’s little dungeon. They find mementos from previous child killings. There’s also a fancy brush with “a family crest” emblazoned on its back. John and Sara eventually figure out it belongs to the Vanderbilt family. One thing I know is that this woman is deeply damaged, and something truly horrible made her this way. Goo Goo takes care of her as best he can, but she needs far more help than he can offer, especially with his strange breastfeeding fetish.
Not long until a Vanderbilt baby’s kidnapped, either. All too unsettling.
At the saloon, Joanna has to deal with some of Goo Goo’s lads threatening her for making trouble for Libby. Ding Dong gets handsy before Cyrus shows up and pulls out his club, ushering the gangsters out. In the halls of power, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s calling in favours to search for his grandson. He’s hired “every damn Pinkerton” in NYC. He’s also brought Byrnes and Hearst to see him. Cornelius inquires about Ms. Howard, hearing that she’s a “man in a corset” from Hearst. However, he’s already invited Sara to see him anyway, alerting her and her people to the inevitable kidnapping they’d expected.
She arrives and explains what was found in the secret room Libby kept, providing stolen Vanderbilt items as proof of Libby’s intent to steal another child. Cornelius wants Sara on the case. She has caveats— she wants Laszlo’s bullshit clued up, as well as that she wants Byrnes reporting to her rather than the other way around. Despite patriarchy and 19th-century misogyny, ole Vanderbilt’s hiring Ms. Howard, caveats and all.
Sara goes over everything she and Libby said to one another. Kreizler’s determined that something the young woman said was truth, despite all the other lies. Sara mentions the moment about her father. She thinks this was a moment of truth between the two. Something pushed her to be openly honest. And that’s when Libby spoke of her own father’s suicide, supposedly having hanged himself on a bridge. Could that provide a clue to Libby’s identity? John’s off to scour the NY Times archive, hoping there’d be a report about such a public incident. After that, Sara mentions to Laszlo about seeing Goo Goo nurse from Libby’s breasts in that alley. That little detail provokes more conversation between Professor Stratton and Dr. Kreizler about fetishes. Stratton tries to school him a bit on what a fetish is, really.
Doesn’t take much digging at the Times archive before John and Sara find clues.
Things aren’t what you’d call fairy tale between Goo Goo and Libby. He’s not thrilled about sharing a pair of milk-filled breasts with a baby, which is both hilarious and totally upsetting. While they’re hiding out, Sara and her crew are filling Vanderbilt in about the situation, what they think Libby’s going to do next. Kreizler provides psychology as the background for their reasoning, and Cornelius seems satisfied. They’d better hurry up. Because Libby hasn’t stopped unravelling. She’s down next to the bridge where he father hanged himself, showing her stolen child where it happened.
Libby gives me the CREEPS! This season has been great and there are new aspects to the characters the further we go along. Although Season 2 may not be AS strong as Season 1, it’s still spectacular to me. I’d love another season, personally. We’ll see how things get clued up in the next couple episodes, how much more tragedy will be endured.