This The Alienist review contains spoilers.
The Alienist Episode 7
Last week’s stellar outing ended in a whirlwind of action that saw Kreizler lose his temper and lay his hands on Sara, the killer escape our team’s grasp yet again, and Cyrus injured in the process. Tensions obviously boiled over, and they continue to simmer this week as our core trio grow more strained and distant. Perhaps the dark psychological places that Kreizler asked John and Sara to go to didn’t need to be coaxed out of them; maybe the realities of the case and the pressure mounting from both Roosevelt, the mob, and New York’s elite would bring the worst out of them naturally.
Kreizler in particular seems to be losing his grip. The fact that he struck Sara is abhorrent, and he continues to belittle and push away his friend, John Moore. He even seems to try his hand at mutilation. After bickering with John about his sketch of the killer, the ragtag team begin inspecting the latest victim. Only missing one eye this time, but also missing a heart and the top of his head, the boy features wounds reminiscent of victims of Native Americans found out West, correctly pointed out by a solemn Roosevelt. Kreizler quickly asks that prisons and asylum records be swept once again searching for anyone that spent time in the Western U.S. before asking to be left alone with the body. Scalpel in hand, Kreizler eerily runs a blade up and down the corpse’s skin before inserting it into the abdomen. Kreizler’s eyes suggest that he’s waiting for the same rush that he assumes his killer must feel, but the moment never comes, and Kreizler apologies in his native German.
After narrowly avoiding a mob of angry protestors, with some specifically irked by Kreizler himself, John and Kreizler are offered a ride to the Museum of Natural history by gangster Paul Kelly. He quietly threatens the pair that they better quit messing with his brothel’s business or else. After an informative visit at the museum rules out the prospect of the suspect being a Native American, Kreizler and John are forcibly summoned for another shakedown, though this time by Connor, Burns, Bishop Potter, and J.P. Morgan. They reveal that they are more concerned with the civil unrest caused by the murders than the murders themselves, but Kreizler refuses to end his investigation and even shoots down Morgan’s seemingly generous offer to provide financial backing. Kreizler is too smart to become indebted to man as powerful as Morgan.
However, Kreizler isn’t smart enough to notice the exploitative nature of his relationship with those under his employ. Earlier, when Kreizler goes to visit a recovering Cyrus, Cyrus’ niece reminds him that their friendship is far from even and that Kreizler takes advantage of Cyrus’ situation and loyalty. It’s a great scene that asks liberal-minded folks to examine the nature of their relationships with those that are less privileged. Later, Kreizler apologizes and Cyrus tells him no apology is needed, but Kreizler struggles mightily to even come to the words “I apologize,” highlighting his own stubbornness.
The encounter with Cyrus’ niece also causes Kreizler to think about his relationship with Mary. In a misguided effort to show his respect toward Mary, Kreizler tells her that she’s capable of living by herself and it may be time for her to leave Kreizler’s estate. Mary of course takes this the wrong way, which Kreizler should have known given the intimate, yet messy nature of their relationship. At the end of the episode, Kreizler corrects course, asking Mary to share a dinner with him, which eventually ends with them sharing a kiss.
Elsewhere, things are less than romantic. In her pursuit of a new suspect, Sara visits the sanitarium. Formerly a patient, Sara has a visibly tough time inside of the asylum’s walls, especially when confronted with the cries of a young blonde girl that resembles her. Still, Sara puts back on her game face and learns that the hospital that housed her main suspect, St. Elizabeth’s, is actually a government hospital, meaning the killer could have spent time as a soldier. This means that post-traumatic stress disorder could be another weighty topic that The Alienist looks to weave within its thematically potent plot.
Sara relays this information to John, and when John suggests that Sara share the news with Kreizler herself, she bristles. Without stating it explicitly, Sara alerts John to the fact that Kreizler hit her and, shocked and angered, John comforts her. In a composed rage, John confronts Kreizler about this fact, but Kreizler shrugs off his actions and takes a cheap shot at John’s feelings for Sara, saying that Sara thinks of him as a handsome indolent and nothing more.
The barb stings John so badly that he immediately seeks comfort in alcohol in the seedy part of town. There he spots Connor and tries to drunkenly pursue him, but Connor easily knocks John to the ground and pulls a gun on him. With liquid courage coursing through his bloodstream, John lets it be known that he’s unafraid of Connor, and Connor quickly knocks John out, which is almost becoming a running gag on this show.
Though the clues are mounting up, our three principle leads don’t seem to be able to work together, with both John and Sara having major issues with Kreizler’s increasingly erratic behavior. Though he may allow himself to be tender with Mary, Kreizler is condescending, callous, and casually cruel to his partners in a way that’s alienated the Alienist. We’re in the final stretch of episodes, can our team keep things together long enough to finger their culprit?