Sara Howard, Laszlo Kriezler, and John Schuyler Moore discover the childhood trauma that mentally scared Libby Hatch enough to turn her into a serial killer.
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season 2 Episode 7 ” Last Exit to Brooklyn” and Episode 8 “Better Angels” is directed by David Caffrey. Sara’s team, with the help of the brutish Retired Chief of Police Thomas F Brynes, finally brings Libby to justice. Sadly, Detective Sergeant Marcus Issacson is shot to death by Miss. Hatch. John Schuyler Moore decides to marry Violet Hayward after learning she is pregnant partly because Sara Howard has no desire to be a mother. Sara will not be forced by social conventions to marry and have children, especially after living with a mother who had no desire to have her. She will not allow another child to suffer. At the end of the finale, Laszlo decides to move to Vienna to be with Karen Stratton, a fellow Alienist.
Libby’s mother should never have had a daughter. Libby a.k.a. Elspeth Hunter’s family came from money but lost everything, including their mansion when her father committed suicide. Sara, Laszlo, and John learn that Libby’s mother was never loving toward her daughter. Mrs. Hunter was incapable of properly loving a child, so when Libby got pregnant as a teenager, she gave her daughter’s baby girl away to an orphanage. But first, the mother had to prove that Libby wasn’t mentally competent enough to look after the baby, so she cut herself.
Mrs. Hunter falsely claims to the police that her daughter attacked her. Libby gets locked up in an insane asylum, and her baby is taken away. Libby was abandoned by her mother and, felt like she lost the one being that truly loved her. She mourned her biological daughter Clara leaving as if she had died. In the 19th century, society told women that they had to have children to be whole, which led to a lot of traumatized children like Elspeth, who were never adequately nurtured. Libby most likely would not have become a serial killer if she had proper love and compassion from the one who was supposed to protect her.
“Last Exit to Brooklyn” and “Better Angels” feature Sara Howard wrestling with her demons. Sara feels a continued connection with Libby since their lives are so similar: Both come from money and have mothers who could not nurture them. Both their fathers were the only ones who showed genuine affection for them. The fathers committed suicide, leaving their daughters with emotionally distant mothers. Sara uses her understanding of Libby’s psyche to determine where the baby boy Vanderbilt has been hidden.
Sara shows compassion toward Libby. She covers the murderer with a blanket to warm her up. The private detective quietly listens when Libby tells her about how her mother’s lie ruined her life. Sara asks if Mrs. Hunter was one of those women who should not have children. Libby nods. Sara shares how her mother also did not love her. Libby comforts Sara by telling her that her father loved her. By comforting the private detective, Libby is assuring herself that her father also loved her. Sara nods but then confesses to Libby that as a child, she also wandered that if her father loved her, then why did he leave. She knows that the serial killer must feel the same way about her own father’s suicide. Libby feels unloved. Sara and the murder both share that they last time they felt happy was before their fathers died. Clara’s birth made Libby feel joyful again. The murder uses surrogate babies to feel the love that was stolen from her by her father’s suicide, the removal for baby, and her mother’s abandonment. She is unable to feel a deep emotional connection with another person because of the multiple layers of trauma.
Sara uses that emotional connection with Libby one last time to bring the end to the whole tragedy to a end. The private detective finds Libby holding Clara hostage in her childhood mansion. Libby has already started to break down because her biological daughter won’t show her any affection. After all, they have no real bond. When Sara and Laszlo busts into the home, Libby threatens to commit murder-suicide.
Sara pleads for Libby to stop hurting Clara. The broken women can’t understand this comment because she is stuck in the mind of a child. The trauma of Libby’s daughter being stolen based on a lie has left her mentally stunted at teenagerhood. She thinks that loving her daughter gives her permission to “keep” Clara no matter what. Laszlo and Sara breakthrough when they tell her that Clara can have a real future. Libby lets her daughter go. She confesses that she has only felt the love or joy from innocent babies, but those feelings never lasted. Libby keeps on chasing positive emotions, which leads to her kidnapping and killing babies. Sara relates because even though she is not a serial killer, she struggles with fulling expressing or feeling her emotions. She visits Libby in prison one last time. Sara recognizing that if not for a couple of lucky breaks, she could have been like Libby.
The feminist ending of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Two is perfect with Sara at her private detective agency. Bitsy notifies Sara about several significant new cases, including a bank robbery that the NYPD wants help with when a new hire named Kitty walks in. Sara instructs Kitty about how right now the newspapers will not be celebrating women detectives. She reflects on all the innovations that at one time were unimaginable, but in the future women investigators, will be normal. She reminds everybody that men might attack them just for being women, but they must focus on their jobs as detectives. Their clothes or genders has nothing to do with how they fulfill their duties. The women will not always be perfect at solving crimes, but they will always do their best. Sara Howard smiles throughout the speech, happy to be doing the type of cases she wants without needing male validation.