TV Review: The Alienist: “Many Sainted Men”

Last week, The Alienist ended with the death of another boy prostitute, but unlike the others, this victim had just one missing eye (instead of two), a severed hand, and a scalped head. It’s as if the killer was in the middle of leaving his signature trademark and was interrupted by something. That is also something noted by the crew as they try to find the killer.

As Stevie is still traumatized by the fact that he could have possibly been the killer’s next victim, he tries to recall to John what the person looked like. Lazlo accuses John of illustrating what he wants to illustrate and not the exact description Stevie is giving him. This brings up a feud between the two men, which is then put to rest shortly after it begins – but there is still plenty of tension between them.

It’s not just the crew that is angry over the fact that the killer has struck again, and it was someone with whom they were talking just shortly before it happened. Rosie, who mocked Stevie last week at being “an awful girl,” was the latest victim of the killer’s spree, and her death causes an uproar amongst the general public, leading to mobs of protestors outside of the New York Police Department.

Captain Connor makes his way to his usual stop for a beer and comes across Byrnes, who informs him of the latest killing. Connor is shocked, since – in his mind – he always thought it was the Van Bergen boy who committed all the killings. He informs Byrnes that Willem is dead. Byrnes becomes outraged, saying that Connor was just ordered to keep an eye on him and nothing else. So far, it’s just Byrnes, Connor, and the henchman with Connor last week that are aware of Willem’s death. Once word gets to the family and everyone else, it is safe to assume that there will be even more chaos in the streets. And it’s a good possibility that Connor will not be returning to the NYPD anytime soon.

The brothels are still closed after last week’s failed sting operation, and this doesn’t sit well with Paul Kelly, who owns one of them. Despite the tragedy that has struck, he demands Lazlo and John to have his business reopened or there will be severe consequences.

The Alienist has mainly been a vehicle for its three main stars, all of whom are given plenty to work with. But in this latest episode, a lot of the focus seems to be on Lazlo as he faces the repercussions of many incidents. With Cyrus’ life being put in danger, his niece visits Lazlo and expresses her anger about how he’s conducting an investigation and letting her uncle continue to work with him after all that has happened. He later apologizes to both Stevie and Cyrus, but they don’t see it necessary and are happy to help in any way they can with the investigation.

Of the three, it’s John that appears to be getting kidnapped or having something bad happen to him. When he stops at the dessert shop, he gets chloroformed and taken to J.P. Morgan’s office for a meeting with him, Lazlo, Chief Byrnes, and Bishop Potter. It’s almost like there was no other way he would appear at Morgan’s office.

At this point, word has not gotten out about Willem’s death, other than to Connor and Byrnes. But this discussion is not about that; it’s about Morgan wanting the investigation to be expedited in its wrap-up, so he can get back to his regular work schedule. It’s discussed that Willem is no longer a suspect in the case, and Byrnes and Potter go deliver the message to the Van Bergen parents. It wouldn’t be a shock if the word got around New York about his death shortly after their arrival. With that out of the way, Morgan allows the men to go back to their investigation as they were.

Elsewhere, Sara tries to find more clues about the killer by visiting Blackwell’s Island. Despite being disturbed by the number of patients she comes across, she still makes it through to discover that the suspect was a patient at St. Elizabeth’s, a government-funded hospital. This leads to the possibility that the killer may have been a soldier.

Sara tells John the new information, and he, in turn, plans to tell Lazlo. Sara is still shaken by Lazlo’s actions in the previous episode and tells John of the confrontation that happened between the two of them, which resulted in Lazlo slapping her. She doesn’t go into full detail, but John is aware that something bad happened after Sara immediately runs up to him for a hug. John then takes his anger out on Lazlo, only to be insulted by the alienist and told his rage is just because of his hidden feelings he has about Sara, and that because of how he is as an individual, she will never share the same feelings.

Lazlo’s words lead John back to the alcohol, after he swore it off. His night of drunkenness at a pub leads him to spot Connor on the other side. In a haze, he follows Connor, only to get knocked to the ground. After the two exchange words, Connor knocks John out cold. Again, it’s like the character of John is always finding himself in some kind of trouble.

Last week, after Mary cut herself, Lazlo took notice and attempted to help by applying saliva to the wound. This week, he attempts to suggest that she can live in her own place if she so chooses, given that she gets paid well to do so. Mary is insulted, but then Lazlo clarifies himself. By the end of the episode, he apologizes and offers her to join him for dinner. She accepts his offer, and the two end up sharing a kiss before the credits roll.

Lazlo has practically upset almost every single person he has encountered so far, and it’s starting to finally catch up to him. Despite his wealth and education, he’s starting to realize that the actions he takes and the words he speaks can cause great harm to those he’s known for years. It’s when he is in his home that he feels a connection for Mary, his maid, that he doesn’t for anyone else. Although she’s mute, her presence and understanding is just the kind of thing his cold heart needs.

I’m sure that, as the series draws to a close, Lazlo will have angered more people. But that could also change with how his relationship with Mary has evolved. He may not be as hot-headed in the final episodes of the miniseries, and he may have more empathy toward others that don’t have the same level of expertise and education he does.

As we head into the home stretch, I have to say that The Alienist has been an impressive and daring accomplishment for TNT. It hasn’t quite hit home runs with each episode, but it’s been consistently engaging nonetheless. Since I haven’t read the book, I am constantly curious what will happen next, and I can’t wait to see how it will all resolve.

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David Wangberg

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