In the end, a crude and terrible baptismal resurrection lurked within the killer’s psyche…
And so, we come to the end of an exceptionally brutal and well written limited series in “The Alienist.” St times, imperfect and harried, the finale provided a sense of upbeat optism. A direct link to the attitude of a metropolis and a young country on the verge of a new century.
Although Daniel Brühl’s Dr. Laszlo Kreizler was the protagonist of this ambitious series, it turned out his peer John Moore was as much a needed part of this crew as anyone else. Kreizler equalled the head, John equalled the heart and Sarah proved to be the best parts of the both of them.
The finding of the killer’s latest victim spurs John to action in finding his young friend Joseph. His guilt is palpable when he explains to Sarah that he offered money but not a respite-essentially, he passed the buck. Sarah has always been the more pragmatic of the two and her reassurance to John shows that through and through.
This gives John the push he apparently needed to confess his feelings to her. John’s love and care and admiration for Sarah aren’t passionately ardent but I didn’t doubt them. Sarah’s reaction to his statement-the softest of kisses given to him-appeared to show her own care for him as well.
The biggest surprise was the reconciliation of Sarah and Laszlo. After her harsh words about his true self and his cruel and physically punishing reaction to that, I didn’t think there was hope for civility between them. Sarah reaching out to Kreizler in his time of need and explaining how her clinically depressed father died with her assistance was, in reflection, the most emotionally vulnerable conversation she could’ve had with him. He, in return, sharing how his brutish father took away the mobility of his arm by breaking it, also provided the clearest example of closeness to a friend. It was a necessary part of their healing and I was pleased to see them work through their issues.
The final climactic scene proved to be some of the most tense television ever witnessed. Lazslo’s misdirect of Sarah, the detective-sergeant twins and Commissioner Roosevelt almost backfired when he and a weaponless John encountered psychopath John Beecham under the catacombs of the city’s Croton Aqueduct. With Kreizler knocked unconscious and John Moore beaten to submission who swoops in to save the day? Disgraced and malevolent cop, the former captain Connor. Shooting Beecham in the gut, he turns his attention to Kreizler and Moore, a final act of heinous comeuppance. And who swoops in to save them? The first woman to work for the New York City Police Department, Sarah Howard.
With Connor’s meaty paws wrapped around her neck, a gunshot ricochets and he slumps. A final boss act from a boss lady.
Lazslo’s fears about not understanding the mind of a multiple murderer come to fruition with the autopsy of Beecham’s brain. An apparently healthy, functioning brain…and Kreizler could only reflect on it as, “…it prov(ing) we don’t know anything. God works between the lines.”
And with a stroll between Sarah and John, him stealing her cab and her smiling and whistling for another, “The Alienist” comes to an end. This challenging, macabre thriller has proven that limited series can attract top tier talent and provide quality television. Let’s hope we get another soon.
You can stream the entire season of The Alienist on-demand and TNT.com