In “These Bloody Thoughts”, episode 4 of TNT’s THE ALIENIST, we delve deeper into the mind of our killer and our rag tag band of detectives, leaving us both sympathetic and disturbed.
Laszlo Kreizler visits a former patient of his, now a professional dominatrix, who gives him insight into the thin line between pleasure and pain. Through various examples of the desires of her clients and much awkward flirtation aimed at Kreizler, she surmises that the killer is inflicting wounds upon others because he himself has wounds. While the dominatrix’ advances on the doctor are visibly uncomfortable for him (I want to know why this affects him so much), as well as the viewer, she helps him break through a wall that has kept the investigation at somewhat of a stand still. Kreizler leaves and heads to the park to ponder his findings.
Sara Howard stops by the park to give Kreizler John Moore’s sketchbook on instruction of commissioner Roosevelt. After being pestered about her father’s suicide by the doctor last they met, Sara is hesitant to stay, but Kreizler convinces her to have a seat. He points out a girl across the way and tells Sara how she drowned her children and now riddled with grief pushes an empty pram through the park every day. When Sara claims she does not have it in her to kill a child Kreizler explains his theory that a killer may lay dormant in anyone, and that it only takes the right cocktail of circumstances to bring that killer to the surface. He belays his beliefs by pointing out the societal pressures women like the wealthy baby killer and Sara herself face every day. The simple pressure to smile no matter how you feel could build and build until a woman finally snaps. In a tense moment built by a closeup of Dakota Fanning’s face and a soundtrack of children laughing, we can see that for a split second she actually believes him.
Meanwhile, John stops by the doctor’s home to go over some of his findings from a visit to the now defunct whorehouse, only to find that he has gone out to the park with Sara. Acting on behalf of his jealousy John decides to whisk Kreizler’s house maid Mary out for a night on the town. While his reasons were initially childish there is an innocent chemistry between John and Mary that makes me want them to hit it off romantically. Upon their arrival back home Kreizler is furious that she has run off without telling him. John finally has the chance to discuss the case with Kreizler. He shares that he gave his business card to a boy who is squatting in the whorehouse and is on the lookout for the “saint with the silver smile.” John has also sought information from a dentist about silver smiles, learning that teeth could be colored silver after being exposed to mercury salts during the treatment of syphilis.
The Isaacson brothers find a piton left behind at a crime scene and begin to find holes in the walls of all the crime scenes, revealing that the killer is climber and explaining how he is capable of leaving through high windows or making his way to roofs undetected. The killer has also sends a letter to Giorgio’s mother detailing his cannibalism of her son. He boasts of eating the flesh of his victims “roasted with onions and carrots.” It’s a new level of complexity in our killers sickness that makes us tingle with a little bit of anticipation for things to come, and quite a bit queasy at just how twisted this bastard is.
The episode comes to its climax as the team meets at a supper club thinking they were summoned by one another, only to find out the killer has wrangled them all to delight in their disgust at his letter. The water has come to a boil, my friends, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the kettle will be screaming come next week’s episode. Stay tuned!!
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- TV Recap: The Alienist Season 1 Episode 4 “These Bloody Thoughts” - February 16, 2018
- TV Review: The Alienist Season 1 Episode 3 “Silver Smile” - February 5, 2018