This episode had me feeling many things. It was not quite paced like the prior episode, but I did feel angst, disgust, and, again, some anxiousness. The Alienist has continually moved in a forward motion, not stopping to take a breather. This week we did receive one, as did many of the characters, only to what I believe will be their ultimate undoing since the set up this week made me question many dynamics. Does Kreizler even feel remorse for striking Sara? Does he feel that he went too far with the investigation, as he put Stevie and Cyrus in danger? The more I watch this show, the more I feel that I am starting to question every one’s motives, even in my own day to day life.
We start with Moore trying to create a sketch of the killer whom Stevie saw. Poor Stevie has been traumatized. Good thing he’s Kriezler’s ward! Kriezler may have to help him deal with some feelings from this stakeout. There is very much a, for lack of a better phrase, pissing match going on here between Moore and Kreizler. Each thinking they know how to approach and help Stevie to remember what the man looked like. Soon the two ‘friends’ are called to the police morgue to look at the most recent victim. We are told by Marcus it was Rosie, the one that taught Stevie to batt his eyelashes at all the gentlemen. This body presented differently than the others. The killer only cut one eye out, he’s taken his heart out and he is scalped on one side. Roosevelt brings up the fact that he has not seen a death like this since he was out west. Interesting thought. He hasn’t scalped any of the boys until now. Kriezler asks for a moment alone with the murdered child. He strokes his hair quite unsettlingly and then strangely takes a scalpel and traces some of the body before jamming it into his ribs and down through. He whispers , “I’m sorry”, in what sounded to me like his (Daniel’s) native German. I have tried to think about what he could be thinking in this scene. What I have come up with is that he is truly trying to get into the mind of the killer, and honestly cannot do so, so he apologizes. If I had to give this episode a theme it would be, ‘The art of the apology.’
We suddenly see Connor sitting with ex-Chief Byrnes in their meeting place, the local pub. Burns had been paying Connor to keep an eye out for Van Bergen, to make sure he got on that steamer. Connor then explains there has been a little accident, and that he took care of it. Ted Levine’s (Byrnes) speech to Connor showcases the brilliant acting in this show. He explains to the stupid ‘mick’ that, “We serve the rich and in turn they keep us above the primordial filth. We do their bidding, and if we don’t do it they get someone else for twice as much and bury us like you have to that kid.”
As our team goes to leave, a riot is on-going in front of the police station. There is some muscle that helps Moore and Kriezler over to a carriage. Waiting for them in that carriage is Paul Kelly, brothel owner extraordinaire and connected gentleman, if you will. Kelly wants to have a word with Kriezler and Moore to put in a word with Roosevelt about shutting down the brothels. Kreizler bravely says it was their idea to shut down the brothels. Kelly issues an ominous warning with quite a few meanings for our favorite crime fighting crew, “You are fighting a monster. If you’re not careful, it will devour you long before you find your child killer.”
Once again, Sara and the Issacson brothers are told to comb through the sanitarium and mental hospital paperwork looking for clues which could lead them to someone with attachments to the West. Kriezler and Moore visit the Natural History Museum to talk the experts on Native American studies. In a brief comical moment, there is a discussion of ghosts copulating. Dear sweet John Moore. You make me smile!
Newly armed with the information about the way Rosie was killed, our team is thinking the killer could be Native American, a thought which the curator quickly debunks. A Native American would never kill or mutilate a child in the manner in which our killer has. Kriezler applies this to the killer implying maybe the murderer has witnessed these things before. Kriezler remembers that in the letter to Giorgio Santerelli’s mother that the killer refers to,” better than a dirty red Injun.” Kriezler believes that he may have witnessed these mutilations first hand.
In the scene I like to call, ‘Krielzer’s Wake Up Call’, he goes to the hospital to visit Cyrus. Cyrus’s niece is sitting with him and we come to understand that Kriezler has paid for her to go to college. She tells him she is working for a publication and will pay him back the money he had lent her. Cyrus’s niece then goes on to school our Dr. about his privilege and good fortune, and that if he truly cared or considered Cyrus’s feelings at all, he would have released him long ago. This leaves Kriezler dumbfounded, for he felt he was helping Cyrus, but was he?
Kriezler returns home and sits at his piano. He tries desperately, even pounding his ‘crippled’ hand again the keys of the piano, to play something. Sara’s words must still be echoing in his head, quite like his slap is still felt within hers. Cyrus returns home and he sets him up, no longer in the stables but in Mary’s room for the time being while he recovers. This is where Cyrus and Stevie get Kriezler’s apology. They both tell him it is not necessary, but we do see Cyrus smile and accept Kriezler’s apology. We also see a sense of relief on Kriezler’s face as well.
Moore arrives at the Candy Kitchen that he met Joseph at, sits down to continue sketching, orders an egg cream, and ends up getting knocked out with chloroform. Who has drugged our poor and seemingly often ‘damsel in distress’ this time? Well as he awakens, Kriezler is with him and when the carriage stops, Connor opens its doors. Is this the rich family’s bidding we have been hearing about? The gentlemen are suddenly lead up a grand staircase to the office of JP Morgan.
In JP’s office is sitting Bishop Potter from an early episode and Ex Police Chief Byrnes. Bishop Potter, a man of God, wants them to stop looking for the murderer. We wonder why people have lost faith, when you have a man such of this as head of the church. Burns also says that he only wants to drag the poor Van Bergen’s down with their son being their only suspect. Kriezler responds that he no longer believes him to be the killer. After Byrnes and Bishop Potter are told to leave Morgan with Kreizler and Moore, Morgan explains to them that he collects art because he likes to know that there is beauty in the world, even though it can be a horrible place. He also mentions that there are only two reasons a man does what he does, the good reason and the real reason. He offers financial assistance to them, but Kriezler turns them down. JP Morgan may be offering help and it maybe for good reason, but it is not the real reason. In an aside, Connor asks Byrnes why he is not still up there, and I give Byrnes the line of the night, “That fat son of a bitch is going to let that Alienist continue!”
Sara goes to the mental hospital to try to find more out about a particular item of evidence she and the Issacsons found. When speaking to the Administrator, he tells her the patient in question was released six years ago. There are no records left for Rudolph Bonzel. Remember this name, ladies and gentlemen. I do not believe this name to be a red herring. I believe this is the name of our killer. The Administrator goes on to tell Sara that St. Elizabeth’s is not really what people think it to be. St. Elizabeth’s is also known as the Government hospital for the criminally insane. Due to the patients being soldiers and sailors coming home from war, they decided to shroud the name as a courtesy to them.
Sara tells Moore what she has found and that she is planning on going to Washington to find out more about this Rudolph Bonzel. When Moore suggests going to tell Kriezler, she tells Moore he can go tell him and uses Kriezler’s own words against him, “Given certain circumstances, we’re all capable of violence.”. Moore suspects something has happened and sets out for Kreizler’s immediately.
Moore happens upon Kriezler in a happier moment with one of his students, Ezra. When confronting him about what happened between he and Sara, Kriezler turns it back onto Moore, saying his intentions to Sara will never be returned and she’s just too nice to say so. I would go as far to say this is a jealous moment, but Moore fires right back with a warning that Kreizler should be careful he does not end up a lonely old man.
Moore, feeling sorry for himself, goes drinking. Who does he have to be sober for now? He sees Connor from across the room and follows him. He should have just stayed and got drunk, because Connor was prepared for him and beats him. He warns him that he and Kriezler are in over their heads. Was Connor there to watch Moore all along? Who was he sent by? JP Morgan and Chief Byrnes?
In the final scene this week, we see that Kriezler may not in fact end up a lonely old man since he invites Mary to have dinner with him, listen to Verdi’s Aida, and does not do much in the way of eating. In a tender moment between Kriezler and Mary, a very simple and meaningful kiss, I feel contented but also worrisome. Moore’s line still echoing in my ears, I feel that this coupling will not last for long.
Questions to ponder this week: Who is Rudolph Bonzel? What will our team find out in Washington? Will poor Moore ever not be the punching bag for his involvement? Will Kreizler’s apology tour continue when he sees Sara? Is Kreizler only showing Mary affection because he knows he will not have the opportunity with Sara any longer? Three more episodes to hunt down and find the killer.
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