The Alienist Angel Of Darkness Season 2 Episode 1 And 2- Ex Ore Infantium And Something Wicked- Review And Recap
The best costume thriller on television is back with a renewed sensibility and even more horrific crimes. The Alienist Angel Of Darkness Season 2 Episodes 1 and 2 brought the period piece to our screens again. Gone are the days of pretending gentility. This is a New York laid bare for what it is. It’s dirty, grimy, and corrupt. Our trio has aged and weathered more than a few storms with the emotional scars to prove it. New York City has grown and changed. Progress both in the form of the burgeoning industrial age and political change is coming fast. Our group, who has always been ahead of their time is positioned to join forces again to catch a baby killer.
As much as things changed, others remain the same. Our core group, including nemesis Mr. Thomas Burns, remain very much the same people we saw in The Alienist Season 1. The events of Season 1 cemented their values and resolve while shaping their futures. As another terrible crime comes to the forefront, we are introduced again to the characters we love.
Laszlo Kreizler(Daniel Brühl) has found himself defending the weak by providing therapy to the poor and oppressed. When we first see him again, he is counseling Martha a young woman whose baby was taken from the Lying-In hospital. She was blamed for the infant’s disappearance and convicted of murder. For her crime, she is to be executed by the newly invented electric chair. Brühl plays this older Kreizler with more gentleness than his Season 1 persona. That’s not to say he operates completely politely, just that he fits into society a little better now and seems more at peace with himself as a whole. Despite his inability to always behave, particularly with Sara, he is a wildly empathetic man who cares passionately for his profession and those he wants to help.
Sara Howard(Dakota Fanning) now runs a thriving detective agency. The majority of her work is with wealthy socialites who insist their maids are stealing their silverware and jewelry, but she is the boss nonetheless. In typical Sara fashion, she is heavily involved in the Women’s Suffrage movement. She continues to forge new ground and assert herself as an independent woman. Fanning, who never fails to deliver, brings gravity to Sara in Season 2. She has matured, and it shows. She knows exactly who she is and what she is capable of this time around. There is less need to prove herself now. Sara still has to fight for respect, but she does so in ways that feel more grounded in intelligence and experience than passion.
John Moore(Luke Evans) still enjoys all the trapping of luxury but does not quite have the means to support himself as he once did. He works at the New York Times, and his fiance is Violet Hayward, whose godfather is William Randall Hearst of the famous publishing company. Violet has a secret of her own as she isn’t the goddaughter but the biological daughter of the media mogul. John continues to be crippled with a desire to fit into the upper-crust society and the need to do right. In Season 1, Moore was a charismatic playboy circling the highest circles. In Season 2, he is a more pathetic character who has lost some of his wealth and status and knows it. He writes for the Times as a way to legitimize his life.
Never one to shy away from politicals and ethics The Alienist Angel of Darkness Season 2 Episode 1 and 2 showed a city on the precipice of change that looks very much like our current world. Yes, we have the creature comforts of electricity, computers, and expanded civil rights, but police and media corruption is still a significant problem. Angel of Darkness seeks to shine a harsh light on all that ails New York past and our country in the future.
Former Police Commissioner isn’t acting in any official capacity anymore, but he still has friends. Byrnes is plugged in everywhere. If police scanners existed, then he would own one and be tied to it 24/7. The man is an opportunist that is always looking for his next buck and next rung on the ladder to ascend. He represents everything that is wrong with the city. Byrnes is a man for hire with zero conscience. He sells his sensational stories like some kind of nightcrawler to Hearst. The police still clearly look to him for direction. Ted Levine(Thomas Byrnes) brilliantly plays the mutable cockroach as he scurries from one situation to the next, deftly controlling all those around him. He may be a bad guy, but he is a savvy one.
The Isaacson brothers are now running a legitimate crime lab for the NYPD. They continue to be brilliant, but Lucius is sensitive to the world around him and easily scared. When Byrnes comes to him and threatens his brother, he agrees to provide information. The two brothers have been polar opposites in personality, and time has not changed that. There is a reason Byrnes went to Mucius and not Marcus, who would not be so easily intimidated. Even scared the Isaacson’s will be loyal to Sara and Kreizler.
The city is in turmoil. Spain is poised for war in Cuba, which makes the Spanish diplomats living in the city vulnerable. When a baby of General Linares is kidnapped, she turns to Sara to find her. She needs it done discreetly by someone who could understand. Sara, Laszlo, and John couldn’t save Martha, but they can still save Senora Linares and her missing baby. When the horrifically painted doll left in the Linares baby’s crib and another dead infant leads them to Siegel Cooper department store, they realize they are after a serial killer.
This baby killer is a monster with access to pain medication. The doll left and the dead infant both have a contrived look about them that leads the group to believe the infants are cared for in some way before being killed. They are given poisons and medicines to calm them incorrectly. When the dose went wrong, the killer tried to save the child and subsequently ended up suffocating them. The infant found at the department store had her eyes painted like those of Memento Mori photography. Memorium photography or Dead Stills are photos taken of the deceased who are posed to look living. Children often had their eyes painted to keep up the allusion.
After finding the specific doll left and tracking down an address, John and Sara find themselves in a rough part of town. The address led them to an abandoned boarding home for the transient. It also led to one of the more entertaining scenes of the episodes. John, who is not much of a fighter, is threatened by Dusters, and Sara comes to his rescue. It is one of the best things about The Alienist. Original novel writer Caleb Carr wrote a woman who is reliable and relevant. Sara must still use her brain to navigate circumstances, but she is still able to throw down with the best of them. Her intelligence and wits make her just as capable as the most physical man. She and Laszlo continue to have conflict because neither one like to relinquish control. Moving forward, Kreizler needs to defer to her more and act less.
William Randall Hearst, who ran The New York Journal, believed in “yellow journalism,” where the paper’s goal was to make money and affect change. The journalism wars of that era were fought on three fronts. Lincoln Steffers, who ran The New York Commercial Advertiser, believed in literary journalism or the story behind the story. Finally, Adolph Ochs, who ran The New York Times, believed in strict impartiality. Hearst featured prominently in The Alienist Angel of Darkness is a flawed man who had at least one affair that has led to an adult child and is not above a little conspiracy to get a leg up over his competitors. His connection to the entitled and Dr. Markoe forge the many stories together.
Rich men of the time often sent their mistresses away if they found themselves pregnant. Dr. Markoe’s Lying-In Hospital is one such place. Dr. Markoe, however vile, will not be the killer. He has abhorrent views of women and immigrants, but I predict he is selling the babies rather than killing them. His matron, however, easily could be the killer. She seems to believe the same filth as her employer and is frightfully rigid. A devoutly pious woman she is more Sister Iris from Netflix’s Cursed than anything else. She is an angel of mercy in her mind. In the hospital as the credits roll she helps Dr. Markoe deliver another child that the poor woman will not keep. He ominously tells the matron to tell the new mother her child died. Dr. Markoe, his hospital, and his matron are not what they seem.
With gangsters, cutting people up, and leaving them for the fish and a baby still in danger, our group has a lot to contend with. Thankfully there are a few familiar allies from Season 1 to offer help. Robert Wisdom’s Cyrus is running a successful, albeit rowdy saloon. He is both a respected voice in the community and has a fount of information. Wisdom is an imposing presence on screen. The gentle giant was a standout in Season 1 and a welcome addition to Season 2.
The driving beat of a plucked chord and the screeching pull on the strings keep the tension high, and the action firmly focused on the horror of this brave new world. The Alienist Season 2 Angel of Darkness Episodes 1 and 2 were everything we have waited for. This dark, period drama packs a scary punch. Check back each week for our reviews.
- Ex Ore Infantium means out of the mouth of babes. Given the awful way the baby was murdered, it is all too fitting.
- Dr. Markoe’s hospital is very similar to Magdalene Laundries that cropped up all over Europe and the Americas. They were by and large terrible places where young mothers and their children were abused and exploited.
- Siegel Cooper department store really existed. It was built in 1895 and was the largest of the ladies’ Mile emporia at over 15.5 acres of floor space. It was the first steel-framed department store in New York City.
- “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” Thomas Jefferson. Ahem!
- Both of the episode titles are famous works of literature. Ex Ore Infantium is by Francis Thompson, and Something Wicked refers to both Shakespeare Macbeth and Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.