TV Recap: The Alienist – The Better Angels of Our Nature …

The Alienist
“Psychopathia Sexualis” (Episode 108)
March 12, 2018

One of the most important episodes in Season 1 of The Alienist, “Psychopathia Sexualis” does an excellent job setting the stage for the final showdowns amongst all our characters. Pieces are falling into place rapidly now and, the final scene of tonight’s episode has far reaching consequences for the remainder of Kreizler’s arc this season.

Make sure you are all caught up on our recap of last week’s episode here!

Caught up? Good. Now on to our deep dive recap & review of tonight’s all new, The Alienist … after the jump (spoilers)!!!!

We open tonight’s episode at the Kreizler House where Stevie and Cyrus wordlessly watch an abnormally chipper Mute Mary go about her day …

“What has gotten into her?”

Funny you should ask, Cyrus.  We cut to a smiling Kreizler on a train.  I am pretty sure he is what got into her (see what I did there — wordplay). Laszlo and John are southbound to Washington, D.C., to try and get Bunzl’s medical records from St. Elizabeth’s.  Moore notes that Kreizler is particularly distracted today and Laszlo covers that he is simply trying to avoid asking John about the face beatdown he clearly experienced (Thanks, Connor). Changing topics, Kreizler tries to trigger Moore with talk of them going to visit John’s former fiance, Julia Pratt.  “I’m hungry. Let’s eat.” Food is the ultimate topic change, Moore!

On the way to the dining car, the two debate Pierre Paul Broca’s theory that different functions are housed in specific areas of the brain, including speech (Laszlo was researching Broca’s work on aphasia because of Mute Mary’s condition) and love.  Moore, of course, takes the romantic notion that “love” resides in the heart.

“Nonsense. The heart is simply a muscle. Love isn’t a mystery anymore than cholera.”

Ass the duo pass through the train’s hall, a mysterious man pokes his head of out his cabin to stare at them.  Dun Dun Dunnnnn.

Title Sequence.

Roosevelt’s Office. As Teddy is lamenting being held responsible for the murders, Sara updates him that his Indian recollections from last week’s episode have put them on an important clue. Roosevelt senses there is something wrong with Sara, on a deeper level, but she demurs and tells him Kreizler may need his help gaining entrance into “certain Federal institutions.”

Washington, D.C.  Kreizler and Moore are at a shindig, chatting up Teddy’s friend, Hobart Weaver (Corey Johnson), who also happens to be the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  He’s a rather ribald man but agrees to give them access to the records they’re seeking.

The Alienist Ep 108 Photo by Kata Vermes

The next morning, Kreizler is at St. Elizabeth’s, looking for Bunzl’s records. He meets a fan in the well dressed Dr. Ignatius Blunt (Jo Stone-Fewings). Blunt recalls Bunzl easily but tells Laszlo that he didn’t have any sort of facial deformity. HOWEVER, Blunt DOES remember another man … with the most “horrific tic.” Their conversation, however, is interrupted by Dr. Dillman (Christopher Naylor) who scolds “Iggy” for talking discussing patients out of turn.  Seems that Blunt is actually a patient here at St. Elizabeth’s (he was a doctor though, an Army surgeon who went crazy at Gettysburg). He may be a loon, but in the end, I’d say Iggy was most helpful.

Alone, Dillman informs Laszlo that Bunzl died four months ago but, armed with Iggy’s info, Kreizler presses Dillman about the man with the horrific facial tic. Dillman balks at giving such help but Kreizler insists that he has all afternoon to go through the 10,000 records. Laszlo is not easily set aside, especially when armed with Roosevelt’s shield of protection.

Bureau of Indian Affairs. Moore is looking through photos of Indian mutilations while Weaver stands over his shoulder, narrating what he is seeing.  Weaver is an old hand at such death and is more concerned about lunch. Moore opts to stay and look through the rest of the massacre pictures.

Back up in NY, we get a quick shot of Lucius accidentally finding out that Esther has a baby?!? Does Marcus, know?

Washington, D.C. Moore and Kreizler meet up to compare notes, John particularly down about striking out on the BIA research. Laszlo is a bit more upbeat with the find of the new possible patient connection though, the man in question never served in the military further West than Chicago.  Moore replies that he found a murder that fit their crime but took place in Upstate NY, not out West. Moore says the local police constabulary in New Paltz, NY, concluded it was a murder caused by marauding Indians. Laszlo’s ears perk up — their new man who had the horrific facial tic, Corporal John Beecham, was from New Paltz!! Connections and Clues!! Huzzah!!

Back at the hotel, Laszlo tells John to catch Sara up on their new lead and for her to use her clout to learn everything she can about the New Paltz murders.  Laszlo pointedly ignores John’s request (again) for him say what happened between Kreizler and Sara.

We cut to John catching Sara up. A man named Beecham maybe murdered a minister and his wife some 16 years ago. The murder was blamed on Indians.  A son survived, Adam Dury, and Kreizler and Moore plan to speak to him (Dury lives near Boston now).  Sara throws a fit when she learns that Kreizler is keeping her on the bench for this one but Moore convinces her to work with the authorities in New Paltz on the old murders.  Last instruction – send the Isaacsons West to meet up with Beecham’s former commander.  John tells her to be careful and rings off. Commercials.

We come back from break with the Isaacsons on a train West. Marcus is hoping to see buffalo and Indians.  Also, he wants Lucius to know he doesn’t care about Esther or her baby.  Lucius drops some knowledge that Marcus is DEFINITELY in love with Esther.

On a train Northbound to Newton, Massachusetts, Kreizler brings up Julia to John. Again.  What’s your deal, Kreizler?  Laszlo asks John his real question – what’s it feel like to first be in love with someone?

“You try to bring every conversation back to love.”

On a boat, presumably headed to new Paltz, Sara smokes and looks wistful while ignoring the plaintive stare of an older woman who doesn’t approve of anything about Sara.  Back on the Westbound train, the Isaacsons are now sitting knees to knees with two Native Americans.  It’s awkward if for no other reason than the knee to knee proximity.

New Paltz.  As Sara gets off the Ferry, a woman named Eliza (Cassi Thomson) is there to meet her.  Mrs. Kirkpatrick from the boarding house sent her to fetch Sara.  Since it’ll be dark soon, they’ll head to the Dury house in the morning.  Eliza is shocked to know that a woman works for the NYPD.

“I’m the first.”

#GirlPower!! Before they take off, Sara asks about the mountains in the distance. Those, my friends, are the Shawangunk Mountains. Or, “The Gunks” as the locals call them. And yes, people climb them.**

Newton, Massachusetts.  Kreizler tells More that they’ll visit Adam Dury in the morning and it would be best if they didn’t mention the Dury name at all — he doesn’t want to tip their hand that they’re here.

Fort Yates, North Dakota.  Lucius scolds Marcus for taking a picture of Sitting Bull’s gravesite – calling him a ghoulish tourist. Their bickering is interrupted by a man that will take them to their meeting. At the meeting with Captain Miller (Eric Johnson), Miller says it was a surgeon that declared Beecham unfit and sent him packing. From his POV, Miller says that Beecham was a good, disciplined soldier … at first. But, when they were called in to squash the Haymarket Riots, Miller came upon Beecham in an alley. Beecham was sitting across a young man, stabbing him over and over again. OH! And he was completely naked, covered in blood, and fully … er, erect.  Commercials.

We return from break in NYC, where Connor is having a domestic squabble while trying to be cool in front of Byrnes.  Alone, Connor tells Byrnes that he followed Moore and Kreizler for the 2 days in D.C., while they went from building to building inquiring about Indians. Brynes tells Connor that no matter what, this Alienist cannot be allowed to solve these murders — undoing 30 years of police work is his concern. Connor says that he’ll let the “Swede” know of Byrnes’ concern.

The Alienist Ep 108 Photo by Kata Vermes

New Paltz.  On their drive out to the Dury house, Sara presses Eliza on her knowledge of the Dury family and the murder. Eliza clearly has her own theories on the murders but doesn’t reveal anything.  Sara meets Sheriff Early (Sean Bridgers) and makes it clear she’s not just some “gal from the City” but Miss Howard from the NYPD. Early doesn’t seem too pleased to be dealing with a woman or with someone from Teddy Roosevelt’s office (he’s not popular apparently) but he shows here the Dury house in any case. Sara asks what the crime scene looked like and Early says they were “butchered. Like hogs.” The memory clearly disturbs him.  The house is gutted to its few stone foundations.

The Alienist Ep 108 Photo by Kata Vermes

Newton, Massachusetts.  Laszlo and John arrive at the Dury Farm and begin to snoop around.  They call out for Mr. Dury but there is no response. That is until Mr. Dury cocks and aims a shotgun at the two from a loft in the barn.  Kreizler makes clear they just want to talk – they know Adam had already left home by the time his parents were killed.

“Home. That’s a poor description of it.”

The Alienist Ep 108 Photo by Kata Vermes

New Paltz.  The Sheriff fills in some Dury backstory. Reverend Dury didn’t last long as a missionary on the Plains. When he returned home, he had a lot of photographs of Indian massacres and showed them all around town, including to the town children.  Early isn’t surprised that Indians came this way and kidnapped the Dury son, Japeth, and killed the Reverend and his wife. Apparently, the Dury parents weren’t well liked and Early agrees that they got what they deserved.  Interesting. Sara questions Early about whether he really believes the “Marauding Injuns” story and Early gets defensive – that’s the official story and I’m sticking to it.

After Early walks off, Eliza whispers to Sara to not believe a word of that bollocks. Don’t worry, I don’t think Sara did. Not for a second.

Dury Farm.  Adam tells John and Laszlo that he won’t speak ill of the dead … “even if they deserved it.” Seems to be the popular opinion.  Kreizler asks Adam about his younger brother, Japeth. “What do you want to know about him?”

New Paltz.  Eliza is giving some more backstory that Early left out.  She mentions to Sara that Japeth’s “face was always twitching; like he was in terrible pain.” Eliza also says that no one wanted the Dury House — it’s full of ghosts. In a box hidden amongst the ruins of the Dury House, Sara finds a cigar box. Inside? Bones. Lots of bones.

Dury Farm.  Adam tells Moore and Kreizler that their mom was oppressive;y mean to Japeth. Her abuse included, among other things, telling Japeth that he wasn’t her son — man-eating savages left Japeth on their door step.

“She said that he was the bastard child of the Red Injun.”

Adam goes on that Japeth only ever found peace when he was climbing in The Gunks – that was when his facial tic would calm down.

We learn from Eliza and Adam, in an overlapping narrative, that Japeth would hike with an older, neighbor boy.  But that the older boy betrayed Japeth’s trust. “Mr. Dury, what do you think happened to your brother?”  Adam continues that Japeth came home one night, bleeding from his privates. Not too long later, Eliza says, the neighbor boy was killed – thrown off a 1,000 foot cliff in the mountains, his eyes missing.  The boy’s name? Adam says he’ll never forget it. “Beecham. George Beecham.” Dun Dun Dunnnnn. Commercials.

Back in NY, J.P. Morgan meets with Roosevelt.  He tells Teddy that he and Byrnes shouldn’t butt heads.  Also, it would be scary to the public if an alienist caught the murderer before the police.

“Faith is a terrible thing to take away from a man, Theodore. It’s like taking away his future.”
“You can’t stop the future.”

I like when Teddy stands up for himself.

The Alienist Ep 108 Photo by Kata Vermes

Newton, Massachusetts.  As John and Laszlo discuss the Japeth discovery, John admitting he almost feels sorry for the man, shots begin to ring out.  The mysterious man from the train kills their stagecoach driver and then sends the horses into a panic.  Moore and Kreizler are thrown over a bridge as their carriage careens out of control.  Moore comes to before Laszlo – Laszlo is pretty hurt in the leg. He tells John to deliver a message for him, should Laszlo not make it out of here alive. Moore rejects such talk and the duo make their way into the woods to escape.

Sometime later on, John asks Laszlo what the message was and to whom it was going? “Oh, it’s nothing,” Laszlo says. John calls him a fool and says he knows Laszlo’s in love. John, of course, thinks Laszlo is talking about Sara.  and when John reveals that he thinks this is about Sara, Kreizler chuckles.

“I’m not speaking of Sara.”
“Who then?”

Kreizler admits he has had difficulty admitting his feelings given the highly inappropriateness of it all.  John is all about telling Laszlo he deserves to be happy … now that he knows it’s not Sara they’re talking about.  This guy. Unreal. Commercials

As we enter the final act, Mute Mary is still on Cloud 9 as she preps and primps Cyrus in her bed.  She doesn’t want her own room back. Aww, Love!! A door opens and closes downstairs and Mute Mary checks herself in the mirror before heading to see her love.

Except. It’s not Laszlo who has come home.  It’s Connor and Doyle. In the barn, we see the Swede (I think it’s the Swede) chloroform Stevie).  Connor demands Mute Mary tell him where Kreizler is. When she doesn’t answer (duh), he begins to search for himself. Mute Mary runs into the kitchen and runs into Doyle.  Cyrus bear hugs him from behind, yelling at Mute Mary to run. She grabs a knife and instead of running out of the house, she runs upstairs.  She tries to ambush Connor taking some swipes at him with the big knife but he dodges them easily, They struggle and just when we think she has the upper hand (she drives the knife into his shoulder), he flings her over the now broken balcony, crashing her through the chandelier on the way to her death on the floor below. In the kitchen, Cyrus is chloroformed by the Swede just as Doyle is about to blink out.

The silence in the house, other than the creaking of the chandelier rocking back and forth, is suffocating. Doyle looks at Connor and Connor, winded and wounded, looks on Mute Mary’s broken body with fear in his eyes.

The final shot is of Mute Mary’s face, her lifeless eyes staring off into the distance. RIP Mute Mary; your death was beyond cruel, taken from this world  just as you found the love you always wanted.

Thoughts.  The Alienist is a very faithful retelling of Caleb Carr’s novel and I dreaded this episode’s end, knowing where we were in the book.  The cruelty of Mute Mary’s death, just as Laszlo and her had finally connected, was unbearably sad in the novel and, due to the strength of fine acting all around, was even more devastating on screen.

The world is spinning out of control in this episode — a huge leap forward in the case while Laszlo’s personal life comes crashing down … and he doesn’t even know it yet. It’s an exhausting sprint from here on out through the final two episodes, please join me as we experience it, together!

**The Gunks are indeed what us locals call them and they are beautiful.  I live about a 30 minute drive from the hiking paths.