“Hypnos is the Greek god of sleep…” We open The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Episode 3 (“Labyrinth”) doing just that: opening a labyrinth of the mind of Sara Howard. Kreizler thinks that hypnosis, a relatively new practice in 1897, will help Señora Linares remember the day her baby daughter was taken. Besides a beautiful moment between Sara and Kreizler, we gain knowledge that her father’s “accident” may have involved her finding him. It’s her safe space and her darkness. Sara is a tough nut to crack, but I love that she’s willing to go deeper into her subconscious so she can make Señora Linares more amiable to trying out the hypnosis herself.
We then find our team back at the agency discussing the murder suspects of poor Martha Knapp’s baby. The clothing found on the child is a fine material, and Sara notices it looks to be hand-stitched. Kreizler surmises that the killer could be amongst the affluent but teetering on desperation to become one of the affluent. From watching the first two episodes, my money is on the Matron at the hospital, with someone she trusts within the walls (possibly one of the nursemaids) being her accomplice, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Bitsy runs in with names of many who have given to the Lying-In Hospital, and one that John happens to recognize immediately is Augie Gildersleeve. Sara asks John to introduce her to Gildersleeve, and the scene in which Sara is introduced to Augie was a favorite. She strides right into the “Gentlemen’s” club John belongs to, and when John inquires how she got in, she coyly replies, “I didn’t ask.” However, she does ask Augie for an introduction and an interview with Dr. Markoe at the hospital. Of course, Augie is immediately smitten with her and says he will do as she asks, to which an interesting twinge of jealously is seen very noticeably on our John Moore. Does he still care for Sara in that way? I do believe so.
At the hospital, Sara finds out that there is a Maternal “Research” wing in which the women are glazed over in what appears to be a drugged haze, with their heads shaved—no doubt due to lice—and a large open room of women breastfeeding babies. When she sits down with Dr. Markoe, he paints a picture of being the healer and the helper of “poor, uneducated, preyed upon” women and their babies, who would turn into abused cases if not for him. Let us remember that wealthy people are “running” this hospital. We find out from a nursemaid named Libby that Martha Knapp was kept by herself because of an infection. Libby also tells Sara that Martha was not in her room the night her baby was taken and implies no one knows what happened. I still believe Matron knows everything, and I am sticking to that assumption, although maybe she’s too “guilty” and is a red herring. There’s another nursemaid named Colleen who seems very obstinate about not wanting to see Dr. Markoe on the prodding and goading of Matron. Interesting…
The Issacson brothers are completing the autopsy on Baby Knapp, and they make an interesting finding: besides poison and powdered carbon, they find breast milk—once again leading us back to the hospital, don’t you think? But the suspect could also be a new mother who lost her baby and can still breastfeed.
Sara pursues Libby, the red-haired nursemaid who gave her information, and they have lunch. Libby assures Sara she knows nothing, but there’s something strange about her—she “knows nothing” but knew Martha was not in her room? She also tells Sara that when the Linares baby came into the hospital, the Matron took care of the baby and kept all the other girls away. Matron can’t have children, and occasionally she has been known to bring some of the babies home with her. Strange that she gave up that information if she “knows nothing.” Sara and Libby do have something in common: both their fathers have had an “accident.”—Sara’s with a gun, Libby’s hanging off a bridge.
In an aside, we see ex-Chief Byrnes ask Dr. Markoe if there is anything that connects the Knapp baby with the Linares baby, and Dr. Markoe assures him there isn’t. During this time, Libby steals the Knapp file for Sara. Is it to gain her trust? Or is it to direct Sara in a different direction? We also see Kreizler in his element with a patient, Pauly. It shows Kreizler’s caring, more human side. He uses magic to make Pauly more open to caring, not unlike when he uses hypnosis to get Señora Linares‘s mind to open and remember that day. Under hypnosis, Señora remembers a Degas painting, she remembers the park, she sees something or someone and then faints. What did Señora Linares see?
The team discusses how to further get Señora to remember and uses her love of art and being an artist to bring about the repressed memory of that day. They bring in Sara’s friend, Cecilla Beaux, to use art—possibly the first use of art therapy—to bring out and paint what Señora is seeing. They begin: red umbrellas, the Teahouse in Central Park, someone watching her every move, the soldier who asks for money, no not him. She sees a dark presence. Señora says, “She’s close. I see her! It’s her!” Sara asks Milly to go to J.S. Purvis Photographer and ask for pictures from that day. In the meantime, Libby gives Sara the Knapp file, and it says Colleen was the last person to see Martha.
John’s bachelor party is quite the event and even comes with exotic dancers. Get your mind out of the gutter, these belly dancers put the “E” in exotic. There is a toast to John’s Grandmother—I so hoped we’d get a cameo from Grace Zabriskie—and for the afterparty, John and Kreizler convince Sara to have a nightcap. She is an unofficial gentleman when it comes to them, and it shows how close they all are to each other. Augie is also at the afterparty and gives Sara a letter that allows Bitsy to go undercover. He also invites her to dinner, and to my surprise she accepts.
In a very un-Kreizler-like moment, he toasts John about his friendship, and it is a beautiful, heartfelt toast. The line that got me was that he hoped John’s fiancée Violet will “love you like we do, should she dare.” The episode ends with a woman rocking Baby Linares and then breastfeeding to quiet her. Now I am starting to question things as this woman must be young enough and have recently lost a child to be able to breastfeed, wouldn’t you think?
Episode 4 of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness (“Gilded Cage”) begins with Kreizler speaking to a photographer, Mrs. Calla, about loss. They discuss death photography, memento mori, which translated from Latin means “remember that you must die.” When asked if the photographer performed this type of photography—one where the eyes are painted on the outside of the lids—she said she only had to twice. Most of the photography is of them sleeping. She also said she had lost a child and that “grief is a wound that sometimes never heals.” Is our killer or kidnapper someone who has lost a child and has had their grief overcome them? I am starting to really think so.
Bitsy starts her undercover work at Lying-In Hospital. She finds out that Matron is unforgiving, that Colleen was also one of Richard Osgood’s conquests, and that Helen (his most recent conquest) was also sterilized after “losing” her baby—and it seems that the same thing also happened to Colleen. We also find out that Matron is on to Libby and her handling of the file. She punishes Libby for not handling a situation within the hospital correctly, and she is told to mop. It seems to Bitsy that all the girls were patients first at the hospital. Was the reason they became nursemaids so the hospital could keep its secrets? Was Libby also a patient? And, if so, who sent her there? We also find out the Maternal “Research” wing is all mistresses of rich men, and all of them have had stillborn babies. Sara asks Bitsy to inquire about Colleen’s baby and see if she can locate where the drugs that were used on the Knapp baby are.
So to recap the suspects (well, who I think are the suspects):
One of the wet nurses
Libby (I just think something is just off about her, she seems too innocent)
The night of John and Violet’s engagement party is upon us, and Kreizler and Sara decide to attend together. It is a Marie Antoinette party, and if that doesn’t tell you everything about John’s fiancée right there, I don’t know what does. Remember Violet’s meddling godfather, Hearst? Hearst plays the heavy to get a story out of John about the Linares baby, or he’s going to embellish and lie about one. We come to find out that Hearst and Osgood are close friends. They are also a part of The 400: the elite of New York City in the late 1800s. Byrnes is also one of Hearst’s “go-to” heavies. He brings cigars as a gift for the engagement party only to be treated like a stray dog and not with respect like they did when he was Chief of Police.
Also at the party is Cyrus’s daughter, Joanna, whom John gets a job writing with him at the New York Times. Remember that she was able to go to school and become a journalist because Kreizler supported her and Cyrus. At least this is better than working in the saloon her Dad has now. She’s listening to the gossip, masked, so she will not be seen, as she is a Black woman of color. Joanna is a wonderful addition this season, and I cannot see where they go with her character. She is quite like Sara in that she wants others to see her as she is: strong, capable, and more than just her sex or skin color.
During the party, Hearst roasts John, as does Violet, and the gift they are given is a German motor car. While the celebration continues, Kreizler confronts Osgood and realizes that Osgood was also told that his mistress Helen’s child has died. What’s going on at that hospital? We know the child lived. Where are these babies going?
Kreizler also runs into a mysterious woman, Karen Stratton, who is also an Alienist. Kreizler has heard of her and read all her books. Really? Kreizler is struck by admiration and, dare I say, attempts to flirt with her. Ms. Stratton has also heard of Dr. Kreizler. I’m interested to see where this goes. Sara and John also converse after the speeches. Sara feels Violet humiliated him. This part hurt my heart as we can see that Sara cares, but she still cannot let John in. John cares as well but was already spurned by her. He did ask her to marry him. That is not something you can just forget about.
Back at Lying-In Hospital, Bitsy realizes Markoe is not at all who he says he is. He must take advantage of some of the girls, as when Bitsy mentions Markoe to Colleen, Colleen immediately storms out, and Libby tells Bitsy to apologize.
We flashback to the party, where Helen suddenly appears in a gown that was sent by Osgood to keep him in her good graces—you know, for sending her to a hospital only to “lose” her baby and be sterilized. A gown makes up for all of that, right? Sara tries to protect her, but she is whisked away by Dr. Markoe. To vent her frustration, Sara takes her lit cigarette and puts it out in Osgood’s celebratory champagne.
After the party, Kreizler and Sara are back at the detective agency and receive a visit from Señora Linares. She remembers. Milly rushes in with the photos, Sara sees someone she knows, and she is immediately concerned for Bitsy’s well-being undercover at the hospital. It’s not Colleen we have to worry about…it’s Libby! When going into the medication room, Bitsy finds Libby and they fight. The door is locked, and Colleen is feverishly trying to get in to help. Libby gets the upper hand, and a syringe with poison is injected into Bitsy. Libby escapes and Sara arrives with Lucius, Marcus, and Kreizler just in the knick of time. They give Bitsy a syringe containing an antidote of some sort, and she is alright. But where did Libby run off to?
The Matron. Libby shows up at the Matron’s apartment. Are they working together? We know now that Libby is not the sweet, innocent, mousy nursemaid—see, I told you so. She’s psychotic! She talks to the Matron about her being terrible, true. Enraged about her continuous treatment by her, I thought, “Okay, she’ll maim her a bit.” Nope. Libby straight-up stabbed her to death! To give you a peek into my thought process during this scene, my notes had, “I DID NOT EXPECT THAT!” We end this episode of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness with Libby painting onto the Matron’s open eyes in her own blood.
Well, that was a very full two episodes! Let’s recap. Señora Linares‘s baby is still at large. Sara and John still care for each other. Kreizler meets his match. Libby is not who we thought she was, and my main suspect is now dead. Where shall this wild ride of a show take us next? I have a feeling it’s going to take us to the wrong side of town very soon.