TV Recap: The Alienist – Haply I May Remember and Haply May Forget …

The Alienist
“Requiem” (Episode 109)
March 19, 2018

We left off last week’s episode of The Alienist with that devastating loss.  Tonight begins the final two hours of this limited series run and everything is changed.

Before you go any further, make sure you’ve caught up with our recap & review from last week, here! Caught up? Good. Now, on to tonight’s episode of The Alienist … after the jump (spoilers beware)!!

The Alienist Ep 109 Photo by Kata Vermes

And if thou wilt, remember,
and if thou wilt, forget,
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain,
I shall not hear the Nightingale sing on,
as if in pain.

And dreaming through the twilight,
that doth not rise nor set,
haply I may remember,
and haply may forget.
– Christina Georgina Rossetti, “When I am dead, my dearest”

The Alienist Ep 109 Photo by Kata Vermes

We begin tonight’s episode at Mute Mary’s graveside funeral, John in the midst of a poem of farewell. As Mary’s coffin is lowered into the ground, Sara gives Laszlo her condolences. He stares forward. Next is Roosevelt. He gives back to Kreizler advice once he received from him; namely, it’s okay to be sad and there is no shame in grieving.

The Alienist Ep 109 Photo by Kata Vermes

The rain begins.

Moore approaches and Laszlo tells him the investigation is over. He won’t have someone else die because of him. John tries to convince his friend that Mary’s death wasn’t his fault but Laszlo isn’t listening.

“Who then, if not me?”

Laszlo kisses his clenched fist and throws dirt into Mary’s grave.

Cue the Title Sequence.

We come back to the Isaacsons interviewing Doyle on his version of the events inside the Kreizler House. In the span of 30 seconds, he says the words: Sambo, halfwit, and Hebes.  So, yeah, Doyle is a younger but same piece of shit version of Connor. Lucius has to restrain Marcus at the Hebes comment; Doyle just laughs. By the way, his story makes no sense, including that Mary spoke. We will see that most are not interested in the truth of the story, tonight.

O’Rourke’s Bar. Byrnes is holding court with his loyal police officers, drinking and celebrating their good fortunes. Roosevelt crashes the party and flat accuses Byrnes and the shitty police department he created the last 30 years of bearing some responsibility in Mary’s death. Byrnes is cool as a fucking cucumber though.  He tells Teddy that with riots in the Points and a serial killer on the loose, maybe he shouldn’t be here in the bar hurling accusations at Byrnes?!?

Roosevelt is backing down though, he asks Byrnes what kind of leadership and respect he’s taught his men.  Among other things, Byrnes says, is respect for the badge and uniform.

“What they do not respect is weakness.”

Byrnes and Roosevelt are nose to nose at this point. It’s intense. They each back down and Roosevelt takes his leave.

Team Alienist HQ. Moore tells Miss Howard that Laszlo won’t (or can’t) change his mind about the investigation.  Sara replies that they’ll just have to continue on without him. John is all no no no no with a dose of misogyny thrown in but Sara shuts that Shit down. This isn’t about her career, it’s about being able to sleep soundly again.  And knowledge and know how? Well, they’ve got a suspect and a name to go with it.

For the audience not quite paying attention at home, Sara recaps their murder suspect, Japeth Dury, who she (we) suspects killed his parents and a sexually abusive neighbor, George Beecham. In the aftermath, Japeth took the name John Beecham.  And now you’re caught up to.

“All we have to do is find him.”

Cut to an abandoned saloon. As Sara and John enter, we see the Isaacsons are already there.  Welcome to the new Team Alienist HQ, Sara announces.

Kreizler House. Stevie and Cyrus are plotting. Well, Stevie is stewing about Connor still being alive and enjoying live in his palatial Brooklyn Brownstone; Cyrus is plotting.  As Stevie talks, Cyrus is busy sharpening a small blade. As he gets to leave, he tells Stevie that, to kill a man, all you need to do is nick an artery in a leg just so … easy peasy.  Cyrus isn’t fucking around.

New Team Alienist HQ. Sara and the Isaacsons are on the same page that the killer is lower Manhattan based and probably has a profession connected to the rooftop use (charities and churches). Moore is clearly on the verge of a panic attack and between the rattling fan and thumping of a pool ball against a bumper, Moore exits the HQ to have a smoke and catch his breath. Not a prime time player, this one.

Struck with a question, the same one I’ve been asking myself, Moore comes back inside and asks why would the killer only take half of Beecham’s name … why John Beecham and not George? No good answers are offered. Lucius adds an even better question. If John Beecham was released from St. Elizabeth’s in 1890 and the Zweig twins were killed in 1893, where was Beecham those intervening years?!?  Where do you find someone’s address in the 1890s if they don’t have a police record?

Cut to the Isaacsons using their badge to gain after hours access to the Census records for lower Manhattan. Cut again to the entire team combing the large tomes of addresses.

As the team searches, we begin to intercut with a group of boys playing hide and go seek in what looks like a closed brothel or boarding house. We see a boy hiding in a wardrobe and a man approaching. As the faceless man’s hand lands on the door knob to the wardrobe, the police make a racket in the hallways, busting the boys for trespassing. The boy leaves the wardrobe and finds the window in the room opened.

In the HQ, Sara finds proof of life … the name that signed the bottom of each page of the census records is John Beecham (as enumerator).

Commercials.

U.S. Bureau of Census. We return from commercials with the team at the census bureau. Moore concocts a story that Beecham’s “brother” is in some trouble with the law and that they are here on Roosevelt’s behalf – that Roosevelt was hoping perhaps John could give some information on his brother. Mr. Murray (Ronan Vibert), who is the superintendent of this office, says he hired Beecham as an enumerator (the one who does the counting and interviews of people during a census taking) in 1890.

Murray says that Beecham was hard to forget, what with his facial spasm and all.  Murray says he thought Beecham was a rather “decent fellow” but did have to fire him after a Jewish family made an allegation that Beecham was a bit weird with their 12 year old daughter. Murray doesn’t really believe what with the age of the girl and them being Jewish — fanciful minds those people have, is Murray’s basic point.  They ask to see his employment records and the handwriting in his file is a close match to the letters they have from the killer. They also see his address, 23 Bank Street.

23 Bank Street, today.

Kreizler House. Someone, Roosevelt I believe, rings Laszlo’s door but he doesn’t answer.  Instead he mopes himself into Mary’s room.  He finds a ticket stub from when she went to see the Vitascope on April 23 at Brubacher’s Music Hall (with Moore). He looks off in the distance like something is occurring to him.

23 Bank Street.  The team arrives and, when no one answers the door, let themselves into the address given on Beecham’s form.  The Isaacsons head to an upstairs apartment and find nothing but a fuck ton of cats.  Downstairs, an old lady (Flip Webster) startles John and Sara. she’s is the owner of the house and keeper of the cats. Her name is Mrs. Piedmont in the book, the show leaves her unnamed.

The Alienist Ep 109 Photo by Kata Vermes

Mrs. Piedmont remembers John Beecham fondly, though she recalls he was “no friend of the kitties.”  He lived with her for almost 6 years but “left last Christmas, after he lost his job, poor man.” Mrs. Piedmont remembers because it was the same day “Jib” ran away. Jib is a cat. Interestingly, Beecham told Mrs. Piedmont he was a charity worker, not a census taker.

Anyway, Mrs. Piedmont hasn’t had a renter since he left and offers them a look around Beecham’s place. The stench of death hits the team as soon as they enter the room and under a floor board, they find the decaying remains of poor Jib.  Commercials.

When we return, Sara is locking up the New Team Alienist HQ. When she turns around, Connor is there, appeared like a ghost. He offers to walk her home and then chides her about probably not having luck finding a police officer so late at night. She rebuffs his offer and he threatens to rape her. And then, just walks away.

Fucking Connor might be the worst villain on TV.

Down in the tenderloin (you already know I am going to mention Moore, right? Motherfucker loves being deep in the tenderloin), Moore meets up with young Joseph.  The boy asks Moore if he’s got the description of the killer right because one of his friends was approached by a man offering to take him away … but nothing was wrong with the dude’s face.  John does revise his original theory – the killer may not be a killer but rather, a do gooder that one might be inclined to trust; like, a charity worker or medical worker or priest. Joseph says that doesn’t ring a bell from what’s he seen or heard.  As we pull up and away from the Tenderloin, we see a man watching the area from  a rooftop.  Creepy.

Brooklyn.  Connor is giving his old lady the heave ho but he can’t finish … which should surprise no one. Connor is the epitome of a limp dick loser.

Kreizler House. Laszlo is calling for Cyrus but Stevie answers, Cyrus … isn’t around.

Brooklyn.  Connor comes out to the outhouse to relieve his bladder. While he is taking the longest pee ever, Cyrus sneaks up behind him with his thin blade in hand. But, he ducks away at the last minute as one of the Spawns of Connor has come outside to pee too.

You survived this round, Connor.

Kreizler House. A sleepless Laszlo is pacing back in forth in his room, remembering his intimate moments with Mary. As he grasps his bum arm, he lets out a guttural scream, part anger, part wounded animal.  Commercials.

The hunt for John Beecham continues with the Isaacsons tracking down Ellie Leshka (Lily Lesser) at her classroom (she teaches English to Jewish immigrants). Contrary to the version of the story told by Mr. Murray, Ellie says that Beecham was never more than a friend and never tried to do anything to her. Her parents being parents, though, they filed the complaint anyway.

“And all these years later, why do you think a grown man would befriend a 12-year old girl?”
“I think he wanted someone to talk to.”

A less than helpful interview. We move into montage mode as we watch the team fruitlessly searching the streets for a lead on their man. Every day, we’re getting close to June 11th, to the Feast of St. Barnabas, to the next day time the killer will kill. Speaking of, during the montage, we get intercut scenes of the killer working out. His regimen seems to consist of mostly rock climbing-type exercises – grip and upper body strength type of exercises.

Kreizler House.  Laszlo’s descent into madness and despair continues.  Tonight, we see him drinking alone as he mutters to his dead father in German, reliving the abuses of his youth.  In an explosion of anger and frustration, he takes a shard of broken wine glass and stabs himself in his dead arm. Night turns to day. Today is the day of judgment.

The Alienist Ep 109 Photo by Kata Vermes

New Team Alienist HQ. Nearly out of time and out ideas, the team gathers to go over what they know.  Moore begins picking at the thread of parents. A recurring theme between Beecham and the dead boys and even, Ellie Leshka, a hatred for one or both of their parents. This is Beecham’s in to the kids, how they come to trust them … he understands their feelings.  Another common thread among the dead boys? Fathers who gamble.

Cut to the “offices” of Skinny Harper. Known as Mitchell Harper in the book, Skinny (David Langham) is a debt collector of sorts — a loan shark. He collects debts in the neighborhood on behalf of other parties that extend credit.  Being a bit too old himself now, he hires men to knock down doors and collect.  One such man he had hired? John Beecham. But no, he doesn’t know where John lives. But yes, he has an idea of where he can be found.

At a dive bar down in the Mulberry Bend, address of 119 Baxter Street (in the books), Moore and Marcus grease the barkeep (Ben Manning) some money and are able to get an address for Beecham. As they’re leaving, the bartender warns them about Beecham.

“That’s no man to cross.”

The Alienist Ep 109 Photo by Kata Vermes

Commercials.

When we return for the final act, the team is moving en masse to the address down the street from the bar. It’s a cramped tenement, the kind of place where you feel like you may get an airborne disease within minutes of setting foot inside.  The Isaacsons have their guns out as they begin to make their way upstairs.

But hold that thought for a second because we cut over to the public pool/bathhouse we’ve seen a couple of times before.  One of Joseph’s friends is getting out, going to get changed. Joseph sticks his head underwater.

The Tenement. The team is at the door they’re looking for. The Isaacsons pick the lock while Sara tries to control her breathing. Through the door and up another flight of stairs, they reach the “apartment.” Everyone starts to light candles. The mood is creepy as fuck.

The Bathhouse. The police are closing the bathhouse down, “time to go home boys.” Joseph’s friend, Maxie (Dominic Boyle), tells him that he’s leaving to meet someone, “see ya later.”

The Tenement. Sara finds a heavily marked up wall calendar for 1896. She matches dead boys to all of the circled and marked dates. June 11 is marked, as they feared.

“We may be too late.”

The Alienist Ep 109 Photo by Kata Vermes

The Bathhouse. Outside, Joseph realizes that Maxie picked his pockets clean of all his money and heads back to confront his friend. We see Maxie counting Joseph’s money with his feet dangling in the pool.

The Tenement. Spotting the stove in the room, Moore asks Sara to remind him of the line in the letter about Giorgio … “it fed me for a week.” Taking a deep breath (a real nice acting moment from Luke Evans), Moore opens the grate door on the stove … and there is nothing there. Some basic ask but not the contents Moore thought he’d find.

The Bathhouse. Maxie is still waiting in deathly still bath room. We hear a thud in the distance. “Is that you,” he calls.

The Tenement. John and Sara find the cache of Reverend Beecham’s pictures of the Indian massacres.

The Bathhouse. Just as Maxie turns to leave, he hears a noise. As he turns, we see a man rappelling down a line from the bathhouse roof.

The Tenement. The search continues and Beecham’s secrets are finally revealing themselves.In a treasure box, Sara finds a withered heart.  Under Beecham’s bed, Marcus finds a hidey-hole which contains a jar full of eyeballs. A lot of eyeballs. Like, many more eyeballs than the team was aware had been killed. “How many have there been?,” Sara asks.

The Alienist Ep 109 Photo by Kata Vermes

The Bathhouse. Joseph comes upon Maxie (now, presumably, naked) being mutilated by a naked killer. Without revealing himself, he turns and runs and stuffs himself in a changing room. It’s the closing of the changing room that alerts the naked killer to his presence.  The killer gets up and begins to hunt this new prey …

As Joseph continues to breath shakily and pant, he looks under the door of his room and sees the killer drag the dead, naked body of his friend past. His breathing turns to muffled whimpering cries. He tries to cover his own mouth but this killer’s sense are heightened. You can imagine he’s in the middle of his adrenaline rush, he probably feels super human at this point and he clearly hears … something.  Joseph keeps breathing, his eyes darting around, waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The changing room door flies open and the last scene of the episode is Joseph looking up into the camera. Looking up into the eyes of John Beecham.

And scene.

Thoughts.

It is very hard to create believable horror movie-level mood and tension but The Alienist excelled at it all season long.  And this episode, especially the last act, was a textbook example of how to do it perfectly.  In the last 10 minutes of this episode, there is maybe only 5 lines of dialogue in total and you are completely immersed and caught up in the moment. there were several times, even on repeated viewings where I found myself not breathing … less I give myself away.

Any show that can do that is a show we should all be watching.

What  a penultimate episode! With only one hour left, one of Moore’s worst fears have come to fruition with his young ward, Joseph, falling prey to Beecham. And Laszlo? He’s in bad fucking shape. How is Team Alienist going to survive, let alone win in this final battle against the depraved serial killer?!? Check it out with me and let’s see what happens!

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