The Alienist Episode 4 Review: These Bloody Thoughts

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These Bloody Thoughts


This episode had no new murders within it, but certainly had some interesting developments in the case. The writing is still a bit uneven, with them trying to determine what to focus on away from the case when it comes to the social lives of our main characters, but I did genuinely enjoy the insight into what sort of man Dr. Kreisler is from those who have known him for years.

We open with the good doctor visiting a woman who I would classify as a dominatrix. She has her male servants dressed in women’s clothing, and seems to have a sadistic streak towards animals that Dr. Kreisler helped her move past. Interestingly enough, she makes Laszlo uncomfortable; it’s the first time we’ve ever seen him unsettled with a patient, and as he tries to gain her insight into why someone might do what our killer does, she focuses on him briefly, before telling him, “the cripple in [the killer] is looking for the cripple in another.” In other words–our killer is seeking out something specific in each of his victims; something injured.

Unlike what I thought previously, it seems that while the killer did take some of John’s drawings, he didn’t keep the entire journal–as Conner found it, and gives it to Roosevelt. So it’s clear that the corrupt side of the NYPD now knows that our sleuths were at the last crime scene.

Our Isaacson brothers are back at the scene of the last murder and find some strange marks in the bricks leading up to the roof–and a piton in the grass. It seems our killer is a bit of a rock-climbing enthusiast. That certainly would make it easier for him to move from place to place. They also find climbing rope remnants at the scene of the other murder–so now we know how he’s moving about. Not that it helps them get closer to the killer, but at least they know a bit more of the puzzle.

Sara and Dr. Kreisler have an interesting conversation about a woman who committed infanticide, yet still wanders in the park with an empty pram. While Sara asserts she could never kill anyone, Dr. Kreisler makes a valid point that society forms a great deal of the construct around people’s lives, and when people can’t exist within those social norms, they react in often destructive ways–as this woman did. Sara hasn’t conformed to society’s expectations to marry and have children, yet, so perhaps there is something destructive waiting for her as well.

There is one seriously creepy scene of the killer putting on a lot of lotion then long gloves, before asking his young boy prostitute if he wants to go somewhere. I have no idea what the lotion and all means, but honestly–I don’t think I want to know.

We see Dr. Kreisler have a great interaction with one of his young charges who is frustrated; he tells him to kick a ball, and let it symbolize the person he’s angry with. The child chooses his mother, and Dr. Kreisler joins in, kicking the ball with some anger as well–though who is to say what he’s angry over. There are some real cracks in his stoic demeanor in this episode, and I’m interested to see where it leads.

While Sara and Dr. Kreisler are at the park, John comes to visit (the timeline on this seems a bit off), where he finds an upset Mary. Knowing that they both feel ‘jilted,’ he takes her out to a picture show. While I think it’s sweet that John takes Mary out, I really dislike Mary’s jealous streak. I know she’s been the only woman in Dr. Kreisler’s life, but it’s strange to see someone who he has helped raise, and is a servant, get so weirdly possessive. Then again–she did murder her own father, so her mental stability is up for question.

Back at the station, Sara has a conversation with Teddy Roosevelt, and finds out that he and Dr. Kreisler once had a disagreement that resulted in them challenging each other to fisticuffs in front of their entire Harvard class. This meant, at the time, stripping down to their bare chests and the sight of Laszlo’s ‘broken bird wing’ of an arm kept Roosevelt from fighting him. Of course this brought Laszlo the double shame of having his disability seen by everyone, and being treated as less than capable when he thought he could manage the fight well enough. While I don’t know if it will be the case, yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if Laszlo’s arm hasn’t formed a great deal of his outward personality.

This cuts directly to Dr. Kreisler struggling to button his shoes, as he can only use one hand. Despite his desire to be self-sufficient, it’s clear he can’t be entirely. Of course, Mary usually helps him, but she isn’t there; when John and she return, Laszlo is more than a bit annoyed. John accuses him of being jealous, but he denies it–it’s difficult to tell if he is jealous, or if he’s more frustrated that he needs assistance, and the person he trusts to help was taken from him. As John assists Dr. Kreisler with his boots, he presses John about why he goes to whores, and we find out that his fiance left him for another man. John has honestly had it with Laszlo’s flippant attitude toward other people’s feelings in this episode, and we see that the good Doctor is trying; it’s just difficult for him.

On his own, as if to prove that he too can provide valid clues, John goes to a dentist to determine what might cause a silver smile, and finds out that it would be a treatment for syphilis. That requires the use of mercury salts, which cause one’s teeth to turn grey/silver. That information impresses Dr. Kreisler enough to bring John back into the fold, and it seems they are back on good terms with one another.

The biggest twist of the episode is that John, Dr. Keisler, Sara, and the Isaacson brothers are all brought to a strange little playhouse thinking that one of the others invited them there–but it was the killer who did it. Sara has with her a note that was sent to Ms. Santorelli from the killer, who discusses, well, eating her son. It’s clear this is all part of the performance; another ritual in the kill.

We then cut to some young boys, who are propositioned by a dapper man–a dapper man with a silver smile. We’ve seen the face of our killer, now. It will be interesting to see where this goes next.

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