The Alienist Season 2 Angel Of Darkness Episode 7 And 8- Review And Recap- Will There Be A Season 3?
A gripping The Alienist Season 2 Angel of Darkness Episode 7 and 8 close doors while leaving hope for a Season 3 or Sara spin-off.
Those hoping for a John and Sara commitment were devastated by The Alienist Season 2 Angel of Darkness Episode 7 and 8. The emotionally charged season finale was everything we deserved from the long-awaited The Alienist Season 2 while not giving us what we wanted. We had to say goodbye to fan favorites, let go of romantic dreams, and got introduced to the most terrifying and tragic of villains. If that wasn’t enough, Ted Levine’s Thomas Byrnes went on a redemptive arch few could see coming. As much as there were firm conclusions to stories, there is still room to hope for a Season 3, or Sara spin-off featuring her detective agency.
The season finale consisting of the final two episodes were as well-paced as any this season while also serving as a poignant reminder that The Alienist was never about Kreizler. It was always about the trio of friends, emphasis on friends. The group cares about each other in a way that transcends romantic love or lust. As much as those of us costume commandos would love to see Sara and John together, things ended as they should, and the show felt more authentic and truthful for it.
Author Caleb Carr whose source material, books one and two of The Alienist novels, has served as chief writer for all eighteen episodes of the series. His singular vision allowed the plot to develop beyond the covers of the books. He kept the general feel and the focus on our characters but shifted the story to appeal to a television audience over an eight-episode season. Coupled with some genuinely innovative direction, particularly by Clare Kilner, who directed last week’s love scene between Sara and John, and fantastic performances by Rosy McEwen and Season 2 exceeded expectations.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of The Alienist Season 2 finale was Thomas Byrnes’ character development. He was the man we all loved to hate last season and looked ready to continue carrying that banner in the early episodes of Season 2. Ted Levine is a talented actor whose contributions, although fun to watch, always felt a little wasted. Slowly over the last few episodes, Byrnes showed a level of depth few thought he was capable. It is his words that ring the truest. He tells the Issacsons that he is bothered by Doyle’s loss because they work for the rich who don’t value them. No one would care if their child was kidnapped.
He is right that there will always be a dichotomy between those who are privileged and those who are not. Byrnes thought his status in the police department afforded him respect from the wealthy. It is why he has had conflict with Hearst in the past but keeps coming back. He had become a wiser version of himself by the time the episodes ended, though. Instead of always coarsely forging ahead, he now uses all the tools at his disposal, understanding there are a time and a place for all tactics. By the end, he respects Sara, protects the trio’s back when they enter Libby’s childhood home, and even encourages his daughter to work for Sara. Respect is earned not taken. He has earned and given that respect to her. The man has come a long way and had the most compelling change.
Libby bookends the other captivating plot beats of The Alienist Season 2. Rosy McEwen brought madness and sorrow to the troubled girl that created a character that wasn’t just the crazy woman trope. She was as sympathetic as she was frightening clear to the end. This poor girl started as a wealthy socialite loved by her father with many advantages and after his death was mistreated and shipped off to a psychiatric facility by a selfish absentee mother.
She may have come from means, but that didn’t make her immune to abuse or mental illness. Her mother went so far as to lie about an attack and inflict a horrific facial scar on herself to get rid of Libby and her illegitimate daughter rather than have to deal with them. This betrayal and the brutal loss of her daughter broke Libby. Kreizler was right to say you can’t break someone whose mind is already broken. Sara relates to Libby because they share a common bond.
Both women felt rejected and abandoned by their parents. For Sara, it drives her to be an independent woman. It also made her incapable of giving John what she thinks he needs. She is terrified he would always regret not having a child with her. She believes she is incapable of loving a child and being a businesswoman. The decision is made for them, and we will never know.
Libby also did not get to make decisions for herself. Her mother saw to that. In a heartbreaking scene, Libby gives up Clara, knowing it is what is best for the child. The naked pain is almost too much to bear, especially knowing how John and Sara feel about each other and Sara’s insecurity about being a wife. Regardless of how many times John denies it, the unconditional love Luke Evans(John) displays as he holds the Vanderbilt baby speaks volumes. He does want children, and Violet is going to have his.
John and Sara can not ever be, no matter how much they want things to be different. Life is like that sometimes. The person we desire isn’t always the one we should be with. Often life challenges us in ways we can never expect. Those challenges are hard but rewarding. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” Cyrus tells Laszlo. It is a quote from Frederick Douglas, the famous American abolitionist, and social reformer.
The episode, which felt final, was all about struggle and progress. Everyone is moving on. Cyrus has found his joy after Season 1, and Joanna is taking a job in Brooklyn at a progressive paper. Lucius Isaacson will have to continue without his brother Marcus who Goo Goo shot and killed. As devastating as his loss was, Lucius needed to grow. He relied on his bolder brother, unquestionably. When he shot Goo Goo saving the trio in the end, he was declaring his bravery and his decision to reclaim his life.
Friends are leaving each other for a time. Laszlo is joining Dr. Stratton in Vienna. John and Violet are marrying and having a child. Additionally, John has accepted a higher position at his newspaper and wants to be an actual journalist instead of just pretending to be one. His family ties and his professional aspirations will be in direct conflict. Hearst has proven to care little for the truth and print stories based on sensationalism. If it bleeds, it leads is his motto. I would be curious to hear the arguments around the dinner table. Violet may very well have seduced John in hopes of becoming pregnant. It will be a steep price he has to pay to have a child.
The Alienist Season 2 Angel of Darkness Episode 7 and 8 ended as the first episode began with Sara and a poor girl preparing for execution. Even Laszlo has changed. He has learned that actions and words combine to give respect. He no longer orders for Sara but waits for her to decide. Dr. Stratton will be good for him. She will force him to examine things outside his comfort zone. The intelligent woman is a perfect match for Kreizler. He may think he is open-minded, but she has introduced him to something he only thought he understood. He is a better man because of her already. By going to study with Dr. Freud in Vienna with her, he will continue to evolve for the better.
In the end, The Alienist is less about the title character than the lone woman of the crime-solving group. It was her story to tell. Sara’s journey is the most significant. Done with spectacular costumes, detailed production design, emotive acting, and expressive music by Bobby Krlic, who also made the eerie music for Midsommar, The Alienist Season 2 Angel of Darkness Episode 7 and 8 was a sad but memorable finale that I hope only opens the door for another chapter. Catch up on all our The Alienist coverage here.
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.