This week my recap is not going to be the standard play-by-play recap that I have done for the first two episodes. I was drawn into this week’s episode because of an underlying theme that I see coming out of The Alienist. Who do we become because of the trauma in our lives? The decisions we make every day have a direct correlation on how we were involved or something that was a part of our past. Whether that memory have positive or negative connotations, they make us who were are and how we react to things. More importantly, why we make those decisions in the first place.
The former police chief visits a well-to-do family and discusses their son’s habit of frequenting brothels, especially the one that the “boy” was working at. I take this as a warning to the family to keep their son in check. The parents have no reaction other than the chief is interrupting their nice lunch. Is this because they believe this to be frivolous? If the care they take here with this news is also how they’ve treated their son growing up, there is a particularly good reason he may be frequenting these houses of ill repute. Is this also a red herring to make us believe that he may be the killer?
Our poor Mr. John Moore was saved by Stevie, who found him wandering the streets. The team questions his whereabouts and what he was doing. Moore does not recall the rest of his encounter, just bits and pieces. He retires to his home where we meet his grandmother. Peaks fans prepared to be excited, John Moore’s grandmother is played by none other than Grace Zabriskie. She questions him, but is not cruel, just stern and well meaning, like all grandmothers. In this exchange we find out some very interesting tidbits about our John Moore. He does not speak to his father, much. His brother was killed in a drowning. Are these some of the parts of his past traumas that causes not to face things head on?
Kriezler shows many colors of past traumas in this episode — seen in his questioning manner when it comes to Sarah Howard, and how he needles her with accusatory tones, only to be returned with said tones from her, which he does not answer. Kriezler also questions his house servant, Cyrus. We find out that Cyrus had murdered a man. You see the anguish and terror as Cyrus tells Kriezler he can remember every moment of killing the man; it never leaves him. Cyrus says, “God created life, but he also created murder. And if you try to figure out why it’s going to drive you crazy.” He also tells Kriezler that there was some pleasure as well. He was defending a woman by killing him, which he sees this pleasure derived from. Does this help Kriezler see a motive for what I will now call the “Man with the Silver Smile”? Is Cyrus warning Kriezler that the more he tries to align his thinking with the MWTSS, the more it will destroy him? There is also a strange exchange between him and Mary, his house maid. Kriezler has a stain (what looks like blood) on his shirt sleeve. He has trouble…is he only using one arm? Interesting. She takes his shirt and then they are interrupted by Stevie. Not unlike the first episode, he has news.
There was another murder. This one is the poor sweet boy who had trusted the Man with the Silver Smile in the last episode. We see our Victorian CSI team, with the help of Commissioner Roosevelt, gather evidence from the scene. This brings up many memories for our Miss Howard. Her father had committed suicide. Sarah mentions to Moore when he checks on her that she’s witnessed death before, but never like this. Is this the trauma that has made Sarah the independent ‘Old Maid’, as she calls herself in this episode? Does it make her question her motives for wanting to be involved in these investigations or working for the police department as well? She does help Kriezler come up with some constants when it comes to our MWTSS. Heights. Water. He is not hiding anymore; he wants these boys to be found. He has evolved (as Kriezler states) as a killer. He is also listening to everything our team is coming up with before the crooked cavalry shows up and tries to take over the investigation. Unfortunately, Moore leaves his sketchbook behind when they have to leave the premise rather quickly on said arrival of Connor and his crew.
When our trio — Kriezler, Moore, and Sarah — arrive at the good doctor’s abode, Mary is there waiting for them with a prepared breakfast. Kriezler is cruel and yells at Mary that he did not ask her to come. Mary leaves, and then Moore and Sarah are the ones who get interrogated. Kriezler’s constant question — “Why does the killer do what he does?” — starts to get under John’s skin. Kriezler then fires back to Moore, “Why do you prefer the pleasure of strangers?” Has he ever asked himself that? Is this the outcome of his past traumas? A broken engagement, a missing father, a dead brother? He has to be honest with himself to be able to truly get inside of the killer’s head and see his motive. Kriezler also asks Sarah how she deals with her father’s suicide. He then screams that when they are prepared to look inside themselves, they’ll be ready to help him solve these murders.
Sarah & Moore’s traumas are what has lead them to working with Kriezler, but also why they choose to make the decisions they do and how they choose to see themselves. We see Sarah’s reflection in a mirror and we see a child. Is this how she sees herself? Not getting over her father’s death, just staying how she was at that age? Moore’s problem with alcohol may be because he is “drowning” his sorrows and his thoughts about his brother, or his father. We still need to know more about his fiance’, but I do feel this is something we will delve into further in the run.
The last scene is the MWTSS with Moore’s sketchbook, hands all over the sketch of Giorgio (Gloria) almost as he is missing him. He is sophisticated enough to where he makes the victim trust him. They are not afraid, as seen earlier in the episode with the boy and also Sally (the boy that Moore questioned) tells him that Giorgio never left his room so he would have had to go willingly with the MWTSS. These all point to this person gets these boys to believe that he loves them and to trust him. Is his past trauma that he was just like these boys but betrayed by someone he loved and trusted?
Your past can come back to haunt you or make you a stronger version of who you are. I believe we will see what the past and these traumas have done to have effected to our team. I believe we may also see how that effects the decisions of our Man with the Silver Smile. As in Twin Peaks, “The past dictates the future.” That saying definitely held true this week.
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I love reading your summaries of the show. I always learn so much that I didn’t think about or catch (what was I doing). Thank you for this! You are awesome ?!!!