The Alienist Episode 3 Review: Silver Smile

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Silver Smile

 

The show is continuing to get more complicated–in both good and less positive ways. While I’m still truly engaged and invested in the story, this episode hinted at one of my least favorite tropes: the dreaded love triangle. I’ve never read the novels, but I don’t believe it exists within their narrative.

That being said, let’s get into the episode. We open on the Chief of Police visiting the aristocratic Van Bergen family, whose son, Willem, apparently has certain…predilections for young boys. The implication is that he might be the killer, but I’m not quite sure if we can believe that so early on–though I’m quite sure Willem has done something horrible.

John seems relatively unharmed from the incident in the brothel, save a bruised ego (as he was found sans trousers wandering about at night). He seems more upset over the implication that he might have enjoyed being  with a man rather than the actual assault. Honestly, I’m not quite sure what to think of this; sexual assault on a man is a rare storyline, and regardless if anything happened, he still was assaulted. Given how the show has treated more marginalized people with a kind eye, you would think they would want to delve into this plot–but I digress.

Teddy Roosevelt plays a more active role in this episode; he’s well aware that the NYPD is corrupt, and is attempting to elevate good police as much as he can, while keeping an eye on the bad (such as Cooper); however, people like Cooper and the mobsters have an eye on him, as well, so I think there is some trouble in store for our young future-president. Especially since he gives Dr. Kriesler extra time with the newest murder victim. Because of course, there is another victim (we are dealing with a serial killer, after all).

There are a few more vignettes in this episode of what I would assume are the killer, enjoying a communal pool with young men. There definitely is a sense of menace in these scenes, and again I have to give credit to the sound design and choice of music–it gives a sense of foreboding.

I am continuing to enjoy Sara’s character a great deal; this episode showed us a more vulnerable side to her, as she tries to deal with the very real horror of what this killer is inflicting on young men. Still, she does everything she can to help, and discovers that George Santorelli’s body is missing from the NYPD morgue–I would assume it was Cooper, again getting rid of evidence.

We learn more about John’s particular hang ups a bit more this episode, as well–his brother drowned in a boating ‘accident’ and apparently his father is deeply disappointed in him. That, along with a broken engagement, has led him to drink. In other words–our boy is a mess. And as much as I enjoy Dr. Kriesler, his inability to extend any kindness towards John (when he extends a great deal to others), seems a bit strange. I’m sure there is a story there, or perhaps it’s his version of ‘tough love’, but it seems unnecessarily cruel.

As I had hoped, Dr. Kriesler is a bit nervous that this killer is taking his inspiration from Jack the Ripper (whose last attributed murder occurred in 1888); while I don’t think the two are related, with only ten years between the Ripper murders and the rumors that had surrounded Jack fleeing to America, those deaths should be well remembered.

This seemed to be the episode of character developments and secrets, as we find out that both Mary, Dr. Kreisler’s servant, and his driver, have both murdered people, and he’s taken them in. Mary is mute, and uses sign language to communicate–and there seems to be some tension between her and Dr. Kreisler. Romantic, I suppose? I’m not quite sure; we had this ‘moment’ immediately after we get to see that the doctor has an atrophied right arm, so I was frankly more focused on that.

The next body is found in the old immigration station that is being turned into the New York Aquarium; the body is on the roof, and as the men get to work, Sara realizes that all of the bodies have been found near water and up high–so clearly the killer is fond of both. Which the killer hopefully appreciates, as we see him listening in.

As the cops show up and our intrepid team flees, John drops his journal, which is unluckily (or luckily?) picked up by the killer–who…seems to be enjoying it. At least the cops didn’t find it?

After all of this, Dr. Kreisler seems frustrated with the lack of progress, berating both John and Sara for being unwilling to delve into their personal traumas for him, in case it might help solve the case; it’s hypocritical, as Laszlo isn’t doing the same. It’s clear everyone has their issues on the show, but Dr. Kreisler’s have yet to be explored.

Ah, and as for that love triangle. It seems Sara has some feelings for Dr. Kriesler–which may have been a bit stifled by his tired outburst at the end, a clear defense mechanism. When she and John commiserate over how ‘cold’ Kreisler can be at times, John decides it’s the appropriate time to kiss her cheek? Sara doesn’t seem interested, and if this doesn’t go much farther, I’m fine. But nothing will make me lose interest more than this devolving into some trite ‘who loves who’ drama.

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