Friends Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl), and John Schuyler Moore (Luke Evans) take on two new cases. The disappearance of baby Ana Linares the daughter of the Spanish Consular, and the kidnapping of Martha Napp’s baby girl. These cases happened in 1897 when hostilities between Spain and the United States were high.
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Two Episode One “Ex Ore Infantium” and Episode Two “Something Wicked” directed by David Caffrey are a couple of years after the team’s first ” sequence killer” case. Sara Howard quit her job as a secretary at the NYPD and now runs her all-female detective agency, where she mostly works for dowagers who worry their servants are stealing from them. The New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore now writes for the crime beat and is engaged to Miss. Violet Hayward, who’s the illegitimate daughter of William Randolph Hearst. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler still runs rehabilitation school for mentally troubled boys. He is trying to help Martha Napp. She was executed for the death of her baby even though a body was never found. Napp’s sick daughter was taken from her crib at a hospital. Before the execution in the electorate chair, Dr. Kreizler promises Martha that he will discover what happened to her baby girl.
” Ex Ore Infantium” and ” Something Wicked” inhabits the 19th century fully. Fantastic period dramas don’t just have realistic costumes, but the dialogue and the cadence of the performer’s voice take you back in time. All the characters from private detective Sara Howard to psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler don’t merely use old fashioned vocabulary but also have a way of speaking that captures the late 1800’s. Many sub-par historical television shows stop their audiences from buying in because they don’t take the time to create a realistic, immersive world. The Alienist cast and crew do that from their acting style to the detailed costumes of the lower and upper-level class characters, and the dark world of these three serial killer hunters. Everything on screen is cast in shadow since the team led by private detective Sara Howard goes into the dark recesses of the human brain to hunt the baby killer.
Sara Howard is the feminist hero that we all need right now. As a professional woman who owns her own business, during a time when husbands still essentially owned their wives, and most men discount women’s emotions or thoughts, Sara is the perfect person to take on Isabella Linares’ case. She is brought into the case by the famous Suffragette leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Even though Elizabeth Cady Stanton believes that women are equal to men, she still only sees Sara as a way to get to a brilliant man Dr. Kreizler who can help her friend Isabella Linares. Sara has to point out that what they broadly need is a detective who understands how to investigate crime, not just a master of criminal psychology. Unlike a man, Sara won’t just brush off Isabella because she’s emotional after her daughter was kidnapped. Isabella hires Sara for the case.
In the first two episodes of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler fights against Dr. Markoe and uses all of his unusual talents to help prove that Martha Napp is innocent. Dr. Markoe locks women up against their will who become pregnant after adultery or behave outside the social norms. He is the one testified that Martha Napp had a psychotic break, then killed her baby. Kreizler blames Markoe for Martha’s execution and thinks he is a quack.
The end of “Ex Ore Infantium” shows the NYPD detectives brother team Marcus Isaacson (Douglas Smith) and Lucius Isaacson (Matthew Shear) finding a dead baby girl in a toy shop dressed like a baby doll. The brothers are like modern-day pathologists. John and Sara come to investigate to see if the death is connected to the kidnapping of the Linares baby, especially since the kidnapper left a bloody baby doll in her crib.
The dead baby has eyes drawn on her closed eyelids like the bloody doll. Sara doesn’t think the baby is Ana Linares but knows the cases are connected. The Isaacsons tell John and Sara that the cause of death was poisoning. Dr. Kreizler identifies the baby girl as Martha Knapp’s daughter. The three investigators realize that the markings remind them of Posthumous Portraiture, where parents draw eyes on their dead children’s eyelids, so they look awake in photographs. Demonstrating that the killer has some faux care for the victims. He or she objectifies the babies before harming by making them into dolls in their mind.
In “Something Wicked”, the police and the establishment want to dirty the name of the Spanish, which means that Isabella’s behavior has to be above reproach. Sara and Laszlo fight over asking Isabella if they can hypnotize her to discover more about the kidnapping since she has blocked all memories of the event. Sara doesn’t think asking a foreign dignities wife to try such an untested method is a good idea, especially since having a woman investigator is already pushing things. Laszlo goes against her wishes offending Isabella. Their disagreements are forgotten when they get a call informing them that the police are arresting Isabella. Thankfully Sara persuades them to let her go because Isabella has immunity as a foreign dignitary. Isabella’s name will not be all over the press.
John Schuyler Moore convinces his editor to let him write a story about the two cases if he can find proof that they are connected. The editor feels that since the babies are from different social circles, their connection is dubious. He warns John that his future father-in-law Hearst will not like him looking into the case. Hearst gathers data like the Linares’ not reporting the kidnapping to the police planning to write articles that feed into the American public’s xenophobia toward the Spanish creating “fake news”.
Next week we will continue to follow the three forward-thinking investigators fighting against sexism, xenophobia, and the underrepresented like children.