TV Review: The Alienist: “Psychopathia Sexualis”

At the end of last week‘s The Alienist, Mary and Lazlo shared a kiss. It was a moment for both of them, when they felt like the whole world didn’t understand them and who they were, only to have them both come together and realize they are what the other needs. This week’s episode begins with both characters looking forward to being together. Mary had an upgrade in her wardrobe and a smile on her face, while Lazlo was smiling as he was on a train to Washington D.C.

But “Psychopathia Sexualis” doesn’t really put all of its focus on the newfound relationship of Lazlo and Mary. As these two are experiencing this love that they never experienced, this episode brings up past relationships for two other characters, filling in some of their back stories as the miniseries is drawing to a close. We find out through a conversation on the train that John was once engaged, and Lazlo questions that, since they are going to Washington, D.C., John should catch up with her. John refuses, as he has more focus on what his future holds and not what he had in his past.

It’s not just John whose previous love life is brought into discussion in this episode. Marcus Isaacson also has an issue in which a previous love interest appears to have a baby. It’s unclear if it is her child, and Marcus seems upset by it, but he claims he is not. Lucius thinks he still has feelings for her.

These discussions of past love seem to just play as expository filler, showing that other characters have failed while two other characters are currently experiencing something that may be new to them. Both of the past lives of Mary and Lazlo don’t have much discussion in any of the previous episodes, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if this was their first.

As a result of last week’s knockout from Connor, John has two black eyes. He refuses to tell Lazlo the truth, saying he just met a friend for a drink. Lazlo questions the validity of his story, which provokes John to say some conversations are best kept private. As they are on the train to D.C., the camera shows that someone is following them, but we’re not entirely sure whom.

It’s almost becoming comical with how many times John has encountered danger and had something terrible happen to him as the result. But it also becomes kind of frustrating with how The Alienist skips past all of the aftermath and him recovering to just get more into the case. I understand the series is limited, but it still feels like there needs to be more shown whenever John has one of these incidents and not just have him be recovered and moving onto the next part of the investigation.

The trip to D.C. is to look up more information about a possible suspect at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, but it turns out that person died and was buried four months ago. John’s research doesn’t come back with what they sought. But the two came across other things that caught their attention. John’s research found a murder in which Indians sought revenge on a minister and his wife in New Paltz. Lazlo’s research came across another person with a facial tick, like their previous suspect, also from New Paltz.

John and Lazlo go talk to Adam Dury to discuss the murder, but also to discuss his brother, Japheth Dury. It’s not something he likes talking about, but the clues he gives seem to be helpful toward John and Lazlo’s investigation.

Sara is back in New York, believing she should have gone to Washington with them. Lazlo still refuses to tell John what exactly happened between the two of them, but I have a feeling John will pry it out of him somehow. John then telephones Sara, telling her to contact the police in New Pault about the case and to also inform the Isaacson brothers about the updates and to head out to North Dakota to gather more information about their new suspect – who was most likely a soldier.

Sara goes to New Paltz without informing Roosevelt or anyone else. She meets the sheriff, who then directs her to the former home of the minister and wife, which only has some pieces remaining. The sheriff believes the story that the records say happened, but Sara thinks otherwise, and the clues she finds seem to be more in her favor, and the sheriff could be hiding something.

With Lazlo and his crew doing all of the work, more and more people are discovering that if he solves the case, it will reflect badly on them. That’s the information J.P. Morgan gives Teddy Roosevelt, and it’s also the information Former Chief Byrnes gives to Connor. But Morgan just wants the details of the investigation withheld from the public, while Connor and Byrnes come up with their own method of dealing with Lazlo.

Connor and his crew break into Lazlo’s house, chloroforming both Cyrus and Stevie. When Mary sees them, she tries to fight back. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, and she falls from the second story to what appears to be her demise.

After several episodes of playing it safe with John’s character and the trouble he experiences, it finally seems like The Alienist was willing to take a risk with possibly killing off one of its well-known characters. This will, indeed, have a greater impact on Lazlo now with how his feelings have shifted, and it will be interesting to see what will happen in the next episode. Despite the issues I have with it feeling somewhat rushed, The Alienist is still an intriguing watch.

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David Wangberg

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