TV Recap: The Alienist -From Millionaires’ Mile to Mulberry Street

The Alienist
“Many Sainted Men” (Episode 107)
March 5, 2018

Fallout from “the Slap.” Another dead boy prostitute. J.P. Morgan’s palatial estate. A confrontation. Several confrontations.  And, a kiss.

Tonight’s episode of The Alienist is not one to be missed.

Read on for our deep dive recap and review … after the jump (spoilers beware)!!

Tonight’s episode opens with tensions running high Team Alienist HQ – John and Laszlo fighting over what Stevie or may not have seen of the attacker and how that relates to the sketch artist drawing of the attacker.

Photo by Kata Vermes

Later in the morning, the Team (plus Roosevelt) assemble at the morgue to examine the newest victim Ernst “Rosie” Loehmann.  The slight differences in the killer’s normal pattern suggests he was interrupted. Roosevelt adds that the the scalping and method of injuries reminds him of his time out West as a rancher.  Roosevelt looks closer at the body and  says it is very similar to what he had seen done to white men after Indian raids …

This information is a clue for Kreizler who tasks the Isaacsons and Sara to go through their mental hospital correspondences again – but this time, looking for people who may have served or worked or lived in the Western territories. He then takes a moment alone with the body … which he stabs with a scalpel.

“I’m sorry”

Title Sequence.

Oh, Laszlo, you’ve got some fucking issues but I still like you, man.

Photo by Kata Vermes

On the street, the mob is still gathered outside the police station and they’re trying hard to lynch Laszlo and his team. Luckily, or rather, “luckily,” Paul Kelly is there with his carriage to give them a ride.

O’Rourke’s Bar.  Captain Connor and Byrnes are meeting to talk about the newest murder. Connor let’s slip that Van Bergen couldn’t have been the killer because the timing wasn’t right – Van Bergen was already … already what, Connor?  Dead.  Byrnes is NOT pleased.

“Let me tell you how this city is run, ya stupid Mick. We serve the rich, and in return, the raise us above the primordial filth.  And God help us if we don’t keep our end of the bargain.”

As Byrnes goes on, Connor looks like he might he absolutely shit himself and it’s wonderful. Byrnes doesn’t want to hear that Connor “took care of it.”

In the carriage, Laszlo directs Kelly to drop them uptown at the Natural History Museum.  It doesn’t take long for Kelly to get to his point — he wants the boys to tell Roosevelt to reopen his Brothels or else, there “will be hell to pay.” As a bit of advice and warning, Kelly tells Laszlo and Moore that they are fighting a monster that stretches from “Millionaires’ Mile all the way down to Mulberry Street and if you’re not careful, it’ll devour you long before you find your child killer.”

Team Alienist HQ.  Quick cut to Sara and the Isaacsons getting down to re-reviewing the mental hospital correspondences.

Natural History Museum.  Dr. Franz is leading John and Laszlo to his associate’s office, his knowledge being more in depth on the plains Tribes. He admonishes Kreizler to be careful to not falsely implicate the natives’ rituals in the murders – there is enough bias against them already.

Team Alienist HQ. Lucius discovers a letter on point but hesitates to reading it aloud, again with the gentle lady present, censorship. Sara tells him to knock his shit off and ready the fucking letter already (I may be paraphrasing).  He proceeds to read a letter describing massive slaughter in Custer’s Last stand while we cut back uptown to the Museum …

Dr. Clark Wissler (Ed Birch) is detailing the Sioux rituals surrounding the mutilation and castration of one’s enemies.  The belief is that the fallen warrior enters the spirit world in the same form as they died so, by castrating an enemy, you could deprive him of enjoying the pleasures of copulation in the spirit world.   If you take their eyes, the spirit can’t find their way and are forced to return to our world as “lost and forlorn ghosts.” Wissler continues that no self respecting Plains Indian would ever mutilate or castrate a child because to do so would be saying you found the child a threat. it would be cowardly.  At Moore’s prompting he confirms that no one who understood Plains Indian culture would do this BUT, Laszlo surmises that maybe it’s someone who has seen the ritual without having the knowledge and context of the culture.

“Then I would say they would apply to them, their own meaning.”

On their way out, recalling the “dirty red injun” part of the Killer’s letter, Laszlo and John confirm their agreement that they’re dealing with a child who saw these rituals as a child — Van Bergen was never their man.  Despite the blunder at the Slide, Kreizler believes they’re getting closer.  Commercials.

The Hospital.  Kreizler shows up to check on Cyrus and runs full force into his niece, Joanna Crawford (Brittany Marie Batchelder).  Apparently it was Laszlo who paid for her schooling but she is all, “bitch I’m gonna pay you back because you keep my uncle in the stables like a slave and don’t talk to me about your ‘friendship’, jerk.”

Laszlo, dude – everyone is calling you on your shit today. Joanna leaves him standing their, chewing on her sick burn! Cut to Laszlo trying to get his crippled arm to plunk out some chords on his piano. It doesn’t go great.

Team Alienist HQ. Rudolf Bunzl! Sara hits on another patient, one matching the description they have in mind and one who also did time at a hospital in NY.

Kreizler House. Cyrus comes home (into Mary’s now vacated room).  With Joanna’s words in his ear, Laszlo gives a clunky apology to Cyrus and Stevie for maybe, perhaps, DEFINITELY taking their and abusing their loyalty and trust.  Cyrus tells him he doesn’t need to apologize which … really just proves Joanna’s point I think.

The Ice Cream Shop of Death and Inappropriate Conversations with Boy Prostitutes.  John orders an egg cream and sets to working on a new version of Stevie’s witness sketch. It’s not long before a well dressed man comes up behind him and chloroforms his ass to sleep. And drags him out of the ship. Right in front of the Soda Jerk. Who doesn’t even break stride on his glass cleaning. That Ice Cream Shop is Fucked.Up.  Commercials.

John comes to in a wagon with Laszlo standing over him.  He tells him he was chloroformed but the identity of his attacker remains a mystery.  So does however Kreizler got into the wagon.  Anyway, not long before we pull up to the palatial estate of J. P. Morgan.  In his great room of an office, the duo finds Morgan, Bishop Potter and Byrnes (Connor, who opened the wagon door for them, stayed outside).

“Well Laszlo, it seems we find ourselves in the presence of a great many sainted men.”

(Episode title – Drink)!

Photo by Kata Vermes

Potter wastes not time before telling Laszlo that they want him and his team to cease and desist with the murder investigation.  That it’s a matter for the police to handle. Kreizler helpfully points out that the police have been unable (or unwilling) to solve the murders, some of which happened during Byrnes’ tenure. Soooooo. Byrnes and Laszlo scuffle back and forth about who the more righteous is when Morgan finally speaks.

Photo by Kata Vermes

Morgan tells the assembled that he can’t understand a world where a man kills without reason and he doesn’t like that. Kreizler takes the opportunity to draw a comparison between themselves, that he hopes to be a pioneer of the human mind the way J.P. was a pioneer in turning finance into a science.  He’s got Morgan’s attention and J.P. dismisses the Bishop and Byrnes.

Alone, Morgan drops some knowledge on John and Laszlo.

“I believe there are two reasons a man does what he does. The good reason and the real reason.”

So why are we here, John asks?  NY is poised to become the economic powerhouse of the 20th Century but the unrest among the working class has him concerned and troubled, more so than the murders themselves.  Publicly, Morgan tells them that he can’t offer any public support BUT behind the scenes, he’d be willing to give them assistance … he wants this matter settled. And quick.  Laszlo turns him down, cold. On their way out, John asks if Kreizler is crazy to turn down Morgan’s offer of assistance – Laszlo tells him he is unwilling to find out the price of accepting help from a man such as J.P. Morgan.

Blackwell’s Island.**  Sara arrives at the dreary mental hospital and speaks with the administrator, Mr. Chitters (Ian Hughes), about Rudolf Bunzl and the circumstances of his transfer from . Seems Rudolf was released 6 years ago and the records are currently lost … conveniently.  As she is leaving, she asks why St. Elizabeth’s (which is Washington, D.C.) would have received patients from the Western territories at all?  Chitters confides to her that the actual name is “The Government Hospital for the Insane,” it’s called “St. Elizabeth’s” out of “courtesy for its patients.” The patients being soldiers and sailors suffering from mental illness, including soldiers from out West. Commercials.

Kreizler House. When we return, Mute Mary is helping Laszlo out of his shoes while he talks about the state of their living situation.  Joanna really FUCKED him up with guilt, earlier. Except, his new found clarity has him tell Mute Mary perhaps their co-dependent relationship should end and she should strike out on her own.  Because Laszlo is an idiot can read actual human emotion. She gives him Mute “Fuck You” Face and storms off.

At Moore’s House, Sara tells John about her trip to Blackwell’s and St. Elizabeth’s and Bunzl. She tells Moore to tell Kreizler and then balks strongly at going to see Laszlo herself.  He senses something is up but she refuses to go into details.

“He was right about one thing. Given certain circumstances, we’re all capable of violence.”

Moore, being thick, finally realizes that Laszlo hurt Sara and they hug.

Kreizler Institute.  In the middle of the night, Laszlo finds Ezra spinning a knife … cause that kid is a 19th Century Firestarter, for sure. Moore comes in and Laszlo sends Ezra to bed.  “What did you do to her,” John asks without preamble. Kreizler plays dumb but John isn’t letting it go. He does mention that he came here mainly to tell Laszlo about St. Elizabeth’s find but he REALLY wants to know what happened between Kreizler and Sara.  Laszlo skirts the issue by saying she felt entitled to bring up personal things, things that Laszlo has no desire to speak to John about.

John reminds Laszlo that he was the one that introduced the two of them and Laszlo is all, “yeah, yeah, you’re in the friend zone with Sara, homie, and you’ll never be anything more than the Mayor of Friend Town.” (again, this may be a paraphrase of his quote).  Moore warns Kreizler that if he isn’t careful, he’s going to find himself all alone. John = continues to be the Captain of the Obvious! Commercials.

We return to the final act with Moore getting drunk in an underground boxing club (think where Tom Cruise fights in Far & Away).  Moore spots a not inconspicuous Connor eye fucking him from across the room so of course he follows. Cause Moore is dumb.  Outside, Connor easily knocks him to the ground and then holds him at gun point while he calls him a fairy and a sodomite.  At least Connor is predictable.  Connor warns John that him and “that Alienist” are in way over their head. When John replies that Connor doesn’t scare him, he gets pistol whipped for his trouble.

Kreizler House.  Mute Mary is serving Laszlo dinner and giving him the silent treatment, more so than usual.  Laszlo invites her for dinner. Her face lights up and she fetches her meal and drink.  This is clearly ALL Mute Mary has ever wanted.  He awkwardly makes small talk about the aria playing but she signs she knows the song.  So he takes her hand. She takes his. Then she stands and presses his face into her chest.  Its tender and sexual. He stands. They kiss.

The episode ends.

WHATTTTTTTT?!?! We were just getting to the good part!

Thoughts. Another excellent episode in the limited series run (which, as of this long delayed writing, has now been picked up for a Season 2), one that moves the pieces along as we start to position our players for the final end game of the season.  The Chasm growing between John and Sara on one side and Laszlo on the other began to greatly widen tonight – despite whatever she may feel in return for him, the idea of Kreizler harming Sara is a step too far for Moore to deal with.

After being called out by Cyrus’ niece, Laszlo began trying to make legitimate steps to outreach and apologize and appreciate his underlings … all the while distancing himself from his professional peers. His emotional arrested development is fascinating to watch – for the preeminent alienist of his time, the idea that Laszlo cannot make easy human connections is really intriguing and make these episodes sing with a sharp under current. You watch the hour go by with a lump in your throat waiting for the moment when it will all explode.

We have a few more hours left in the season and so let’s go to seeing how this all plays out!!

** Blackwell Island is known today as Roosevelt Island and it sits in the East River between Queen and Manhattan.  My personal experience of driving through Roosevelt Island in the mid-90’s (I was newly minted driver and I went exploring) is that it felt like a movie set with random patients wandering the Island with medical staff. It was SUPER creepy.  From the New York Historical Society, “[l]ocated in the East River, Blackwell’s Island was renamed Welfare Island in 1921 and Roosevelt Island in 1973. In the past, the city build a number of institutions on the island, including a prison, an insane asylum and hospitals. Some hospitals remain, but the island began to be developed for residential use in 1968, and now has a population of about 12,000.”

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