The Alienist (S01E06) “Ascension”

Okay, so this episode was awesome, the best one so far. A lot happened, but really it was the character development that was the best part. That and Moore’s grandmother and her armadillo. Because a feisty old lady with a gold-played armadillo will never not be awesome.

The episode revolves around a plot to use Stevie as a decoy to lure the killer out. They’re dressing him as a girl and putting makeup on him (too much blush, he looks like he has scarlet fever) and Roosevelt gives his reluctant approval.

Their first attempt to lay a trap takes place on the Feast of the Ascension. It fails. We really don’t see why, but we do see that Willem Van Bergen has been locked up somewhere by his parents until he can be put on a ship for Buenos Aires. Her doesn’t want to go. I’m not sure why, he has enough money to be comfortable and he could probably indulge his proclivities without even less interference there than in New York. Nevertheless, to Buenos Aires he is expected to go. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t go to Buenos Aires.

After the Feast of the Ascension is over with no sign of the murderer, Kreizler is again questioning himself. Sarah and Moore say they should try again on Pentecost.

Meanwhile, Moore escorts his grandmother to a gala fundraiser for, wait for it, the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. So. Much. Irony. I can’t even. At the fundraiser, Roosevelt is again warned not to go after Willem. Because we want to prevent cruelty to children, unless it will cause social embarrassment. After all, a pedophile in the society pages is seriously awkward. Later, Sarah presents Moore with a newspaper clipping.

For Pentecost, Sarah arranges for Stevie to go inside one of the brothels. How exactly that happens, I have no idea. Anyway, he does, and Moore and Marcus are inside with him, sitting at tables keeping an eye on him. Except, they are the suckiest watchdogs ever. (Distracted from doing your job by telling a boy prostitute dirty limericks? Yeah Marcus, that’ll look really good in your report.) They realize the murderer was just talking to Stevie. And the chase is on!

In another part of the city, there’s another chase going on. Willem has sneaked out, and Connor, who doesn’t have anything else to do, has been keeping tabs on him along with some pals. They chase after him, and he gets trapped on a bridge under construction. He insists that he’s a Van Bergen, and is untouchable. You can see that Connor doesn’t care. He hates Willem for what he is and what he does, he hates him for thinking his family name is a literal and figurative get-out-of-jail-free card, and he hates him for being right about that. He puts a bullet in Willem’s head and the body ends up in the river.

Moore tells Joseph to lock himself in his room and Sarah is left with Stevie in another room. Kreisler, Moore, and the Isaacsons fail to find the murdere, but they do find Cyrus, who has been attacked by the murderer. Why would the murderer attack Cyrus? As a distraction from his real crime. It seems our heroes aren’t the only ones who understand the idea of baiting a trap.
Rosie, clothes bloody, his eyes gouged out, is lying at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. He is quite dead.

As I said, this was an awesome episode. Lots of interpersonal tension, with Moore and Sarah having their flirtiest scene yet. Kreizler and Mary have a weirdly flirty scene over Mary’s bandaged finger. Yeah, a bandaged finger. No, that’s not a euphemism. Sarah and Kreizler have their least flirtiest scene, where she asks him why he lied about his arm. He doesn’t like being subjected to the same kind of grilling he gave her and Moore, which annoys Sarah, and in the end he slaps her. I think it’s safe to say there’s not a happy story behind what happened. It’s also safe to say that Sarah is probably over Kreizler, (if she were ever under him, which is debatable). Connor has maybe the most interesting change. I was quite disappointed in how much of a two dimensional cliche of an Irish cop Connor was, but while he’s no more likeable now than he was before, he showed signs of having some interested shades. He took out Willem, so props to him for that. It will be interesting to see what happens in the final episodes.

Other things:
-The episode opened with the image of a pale horse lying dead in the street. Metaphor? Discuss.
– Joseph says he’s been doing what he does for a while. How old was he when he started? Something tells me I really don’t want to know.
– Why are they called egg creams? Anyone know?
“Sex is but a three letter word, Commissioner.”
“Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.”
“Those who are seen dancing are thought insane by those who cannot hear the music.”