TV Review: The Alienist: “Requiem”

For a miniseries called The Alienist, the second-to-last episode took some chances by making its titular character not the main focus, and instead devoted more time to its supporting cast. It’s a rather bold move, especially since Daniel Brühl has been the show’s best character since the beginning. Both Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans have been intriguing to watch, too, although the latter’s stumbling into trouble has become an unnecessary gag. At the same time, though, neither of them has the same intensity as Brühl, nor do their characters have the same amount of intellect. It’s been interesting watching the three try to solve the case while also butting heads over the way to approach the investigation. But, in the case of “Requiem,” we only get two out of the three main characters to investigate the case. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Requiem” begins with the funeral for Mary. Lazlo is clearly distraught and trying to put together his thoughts, while those around him give him their deepest condolences. To Lazlo, Mary had become more than just a servant; she became the only person who clearly understood him and was there for him during his most vulnerable moments in life. He was the same way for her, too. Lazlo blames himself for Mary’s death, and even though John tries to convince him that her death was not his fault, he still feels he is the one to blame.

Lazlo sits out of the murder investigation this episode, and the scenes we do get with him mostly consist of him wallowing in self-pity. He doesn’t answer the door, he drinks, he goes through Mary things, and he stabs himself in his dead arm with some broken glass while looking at a picture of his father. It almost seems like there should be more episodes devoted to Lazlo’s grief and him wrestling with his demons, but there’s no way The Alienist can cover all of that and try to solve the murder in next week’s finale.

Meanwhile, the Isaacson brothers interrogate one of the henchmen with Captain Connor, and he falsifies the story to make it seem like Mary was going for him for no reason. After he insults both Cyrus and Stevie, saying that he is the one whose story they should believe, Marcus tries to attack him, but Lucius restrains him. Sara overhears the whole conversation and is rather disgusted by the henchman.

Roosevelt enters the bar as Byrnes is telling a joke to the crowd, and calls out the former chief, saying that he might have some responsibility for Mary’s death. Byrnes retaliates and says Roosevelt’s current leadership is to blame, not what Byrnes had done during his time. This battle of words between the two shows that both Levine and Geraghty have been great assets to the series, and I’m curious to see what is going to happen to Byrnes come the finale.

Sara and John discuss the future of the case, and despite John’s continued efforts, Lazlo won’t be involved in the investigation at this point in time. Sara suggests they should continue on without him, which leads to both characters debating how much further they can get without Lazlo’s help. Sara thinks they can figure out more with the clues they have, while John is uncertain since Lazlo was the brains of the investigation. But Sara suggests that with the name they have, John Beecham, there’s a good chance they can find him. Their new office, along with the Isaacson brothers, is an old saloon that has a bunch of noise distractions from a rusty fan to Marcus banging a pool ball against the table constantly. I can see why John needed to break away for a brief period.

The team searches through the census records to find that their suspect had worked for the department at one point, and they are given an address to check out. The creepy old house they explore ends up having a bunch of cats and a landlady who says John hasn’t been there for years since he lost his job working charity, and she hasn’t rented it out to anyone since. There’s also a murdered cat under a floor board, but that’s all they find.

After some more investigation, the team finds out that Beecham has an apartment. It’s a ratty, rundown place, but it has all the clues necessary to confirm he is the man they seek. A human heart and a jar full of eyeballs are just a few of the things they find. Even by TNT standards, these scenes are pretty gruesome.

Also of note, Stevie and Cyrus are both still shaken by Mary’s death, and they feel that Connor should pay for what he did. Cyrus plots revenge by going to Brooklyn to pay a visit to Connor. With a knife in his hand, and Connor distracted by using the toilet, Cyrus comes really close to getting vengeance, only to go back into hiding after one of Connor’s kids comes out to also use the bathroom. Since Sara and the others are distracted with solving the case, it will be interesting to see what Cyrus does to Connor, if anything.

The episode ends with another dead boy and one more possibly meeting his fate. The credits begin when the killer opens the door where the boy is hiding. The final episode of the miniseries is next week, and, with it only being one hour like the other episodes, I’m starting to doubt if all the loose ends will be tied up. Yes, it could happen, but it’s feeling like the writers are rushing through everything to get the final parts of the book adapted, and they aren’t fully developing what has already been presented to us.

Throughout all the episodes, The Alienist has been a bold move for TNT, and one that shows the network going in different directions. It is still filled with masterful production sets and terrific acting, but it also feels like there needs to be more than just a limited series. Depending on how the ratings for these final episodes go, maybe that could happen, and maybe it won’t. As for right now, we will wait and see what next week’s finale has in store.

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David Wangberg

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