The Alienist (S01E03): “Silver Smile”

Unlike the first two episodes, this episode opens with a scene of almost excessive gentility. Byrnes is telling an upper class couple named Van Bergen, who are sitting at the opposite ends of a very long dining table, that their son Willem might have been involved in a series of murders of boy prostitutes. Awkward! I get the impression that the Van Bergens are less offended by their son’s behavior than they are by the fact that it required them to allow a mere police officer into their home.

Moore wakes from a nightmare to find himself in Kreizler’s home. He was found by Stevie wandering around an alley with no pants on (as one does). He has lipstick in his face. He tells them he spoke to Sally about Giorgio, but doesn’t remember much.
And here is where I say I was not impressed with the show’s handling of what Moore went through. Besides a blink-and-you’d-miss-it comment from Byrnes and the lipstick, there was absolutely no reference made of Moore’s sexual assault. A show that does not hesitate to show all kinds of blood and gore and violence, suddenly seemed to lose its nerve when it came to rape.
Kreisler and the Isaacson brothers are studying the fingerprint, and they decide they need to see if they can find a matching print on Giorgio’s body, but when they go to the morgue, Giorgio’s body is gone. It proves to them what the viewers already know to be true, that there is police corruption at work.

Sarah has gone to a Vassar reunion. It’s about as exciting as it sounds, and yet it manages to be a surprisingly complex scene, with all kinds of interesting undercurrents. Sarah, who would rather be investigating actual murder, gets that incredibly expressive yet totally expressionless look in her eyes. She finds out that she’s the last unattached woman in her class, and tells an old friend about her new romance with a doctor. Well, well, well!

Moore is having tea with his mother and two guests, one of whom is an eligible young lady named Caroline. It doesn’t go very well, especially when he calls her Madeline. But again, he was gang raped just a day or two ago, so I’m guessing his mind isn’t really on romance. Later, he sees a pigeon on a windowsill and it triggers his memory. He remembers what Sally said about Giorgio disappearing from the room, like he just flew away, and that he’d been with a rich regular customer, who had a silver smile. He reports this to Kreizler, who wants to talk to Sally. Later, Kreizler suggests the possibility that he left the room alive, because he trusted the person he was with.

Convinced that understanding why the killer does what he does is the key to solving the case, Kreizler questioned Cyrus, who had killed someone himself. Cyrus confesses that part of him enjoyed the killing. Cyrus them tells Kreizler that he has blood on his shirt. Hmmm…

Stevie comes in and tells Kreizler that there’s been another murder. This time, the body hasn’t been hidden. (Was I the only one who was worried that it would be Sally?) The three investigators head out to see the body, along with the Isaacsons, while Roosevelt holds back the information from the police to give them a chance to study it first. The murderer isn’t far away, he’s watching them this time, and when they have to race to get out before Connor and Byrnes find them, (they are furious that they weren’t told of the murder immediately) they leave behind Moore’s notebook with all his drawings, and the murderer takes it. The suspenseful scene where they just barely manage to escape being caught by the police was one of the best scenes yet.

Kreizler is tough on everyone back at his house, first Mary, then Moore and Sarah, who leave. Moore is aggravated, even more so when Sarah accurately analyses why Kreizler was so harsh with Mary. He tells her that she’s starting to talk like him before making a move that is rebuffed. Again, are we really just pretending he’s back to normal?  Please tell me Moore’s going to have a breakdown in a future episode.

The murderer is looking at the drawings and he seems to really, really like them.  And on that creepy thought, we fade to black.

Other things:
– Hey, that’s Sean Young playing Mrs. Van Bergen!
– Did you notice Kreisler’s arm when he took his shirt off?
– Would anyone in the 1890s actually say ‘we’ve done it’ in reference to having sex?

Quotes:
“Thought you should know now. There’s no later.”
“Every new thinker is at first condemned by those for whom change is far more terrifying than a murder of children.”
“When you’ve been working in this business as long as I have, you know who to trust.”

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