The Alienist – Angel of Darkness: “Last Exit to Brooklyn”

TNT’s The Alienist
Angel of Darkness: “Last Exit to Brooklyn”
Directed by David Caffrey
Written by Tom Smuts & Amy Berg

* For a recap & review of “Memento Mori,” click here.
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Better Angels,” click here.

Thomas Byrnes is down at the saloon talking to Goo Goo Knox’s man Ding Dong, using force when necessary. He’s putting pressure on about the stolen baby. He’s “drawing blood all over the city” while Sara Howard and John Moore are trying to do actual investigatory work. At the Brooklyn Police Department, Sara and John are getting info about Libby Hatch’s father, his suicide. Libby comes from a family “of means.” Sara and John get a look at the files on her father’s death. They find a file about Libby previously being confined in an asylum for the attempted murder of her mother.

In a bourgeois club, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler witnesses some kinky stuff, from men making out to light BDSM. He talks with Professor Karen Stratton before meeting with Alice (Alexandra Grey), who has both “male and female reproductive organs.” Alice’s partner has a breastfeeding fetish. Some of this helps Dr. Kreizler and Stratton theorise about what might drive a woman like Libby, and it may well explain some of Goo Goo’s issues, too. Across the city, Libby’s breastfeeding her latest baby and saving a few drops for Knox. Yuck. Knox goes out to meet Ding Dong at the bar. He’s told about money offered for the baby by Byrnes. He gives Ding Dong a crack in the nose for his trouble. Might come back to bite him later.

Dr. Kreizler meets up with Sara, Moore, and the always prickish Byrnes. They go to see Mallory Hunter (Matilda Ziegler), Libby’s mother. The woman’s been waiting for authorities to turn up, given that she reads the newspapers. Mrs. Hunter hasn’t seen Libby a.k.a Elsabeth for a long, long time. She says her daughter was a good child, until her husband died. Sara and Laszlo ask Mallory about the attempted murder incident, so the woman explains Libby had a child at a young age and she took the baby from her daughter, prompting an attack. But Dr. Kreizler thinks Mrs. Hunter made it up. His stern accusation breaks her down to a confession. Bit sinister, no? Mallory gave that scar to herself to make her story stronger. No wonder Libby’s turned into a psychopathic mother.
So where’s the child now?

When Goo Goo starts talking to Libby about giving the baby back to Vanderbilt for money she gets pissed off. She won’t relinquish her stolen child. Knox wants to get what they can while they’re able, and he pushes Libby around violently before taking the child out of there. This is just going to push her over the edge. What’ll she do next? That night, Byrnes waits along with Ding Dong to meet Knox. When Goo Goo doesn’t turn up with the kid, watching from nearby, Byrnes has his coppers beat Ding Dong. This further forces Byrnes to consort with William Randolph Hearst, drumming up money for a new proposal to get things settled. Meanwhile, Goo Goo’s decided not to give up the baby, bringing it back to an initially violent but later happy Libby.

Laszlo and Sara talk about Libby’s mother. She mentions “a womans purpose” and the obligations of a patriarchal society for women. Sara doesn’t want to follow all those steps. She sees how other women might succumb horribly to those pressures, and what it can do to the psyche. Of course part of that’s exactly what this whole plot is about— if Libby were given proper treatment, and Martha Knapp wasn’t treated like a hysterical woman, the plot would never have kicked off.
Hearst does a nasty job of putting Libby in the paper, as if to force her out of hiding. They’ve put Libby’s child Clara in there with Mallory, calling Libby a madwoman. This is all a matter of “selling more papers than the war” for Hearst, whereas John and Sara rightly see it as a matter of ethics. When Moore confronts Hearst their conversation gets ugly.

Sara and Laszlo go to get Clara out of the newspaper’s clutches, telling Mallory she wasn’t given the full story behind the newspaper article. From across the street Libby and Goo Goo watch so she can have a quick look at her long lost daughter. But someone spots them and they have to run. The pair split up. Eventually, Libby runs into a cop who holds her at gunpoint, ready to pull the trigger on her there in a dirty alley. Yet, as always, she’s able to violently get herself out of there.

That night, Sara gets a horrifying surprise at her office when Libby shows up. Oh, my. Libby has a gun and she wants answers. She wants to know where her daughter’s been taken. Sara keeps asking about the Vanderbilt baby but Libby’s not listening. Right before Libby pulls the trigger John busts in, fighting her for the gun. A couple shots go off as they continue to wrestle. Libby gets the best of John, holding a knife to his throat, and Sara gets the gun, pointing it at Libby. A standoff.

What are they doing to us? A wild ride, this season.

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