The synopsis of TNT’s latest drama is an interesting premise: turn of the 20th century forensic psychology (or criminology) techniques completed by “alienists.” “Alienists” being criminal psychiatrists.
Focusing on a serial killer of young boys who were forced into lives of prostitution, ‘The Boy on the Bridge’ slaps the viewer in the face with the barbarity of crime. After police find a young boy-in women’s clothing-hacked and desecrated on the new bridge, Dr. Laszlo Kreisler enlists the assistance of his college chum John Moore, an illustrator, to provide him his initial thoughts of the crime scene. Moore-suitably distraught-provides an almost romanticized rendering of the murdered boy. One that Dr. Kreisler immediately calls out.
With local patrolman and detectives on the take from the mob, Dr. Keisler takes his theory of the crime to the top of the police organizational chart: Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt. In doing so, he is placed into contact with Sara Howard, a secretary for the police department…and an awkward familial acquaintance with John Moore.
Roosevelt initially rebuffs Kreisler’s hypotheses. After all, what exactly is a “serial killer” in 1896? After outlining the case of two children (one of whom was obtaining psychiatric treatment) murdered while under his mental health care, Dr. Kreisler, John and Sara begin to paint a horrifying picture. New York has a ghoul on the loose.
“The Alienist’s” pilot shows a drama with a lot of promise. The camaraderie between Kreisler, Moore and Howard is undeniable and the crimes inspire a definite whodunit attitude.
The New York of its 1896 needs more PoC and allow those in the pilot to shine in further episodes. Veteran actor Robert Wisdom (“Prison Break,” “The Wire) plays Dr. Kreisler’s valet, Cyrus Montrose and Q’orianka Kilcher (“The New World,” “Neverland”) plays his housekeeper…who appears to be romantically linked to him. My hope is both of these characters have agency and interesting back stories in the weeks to come.
“The Alienist” airs Mondays at 9PM on TNT and on-demand on TNT.com