The Alienist– Episode 4: “These Bloody Thoughts”

Starring: Daniel Bruhl, Dakota Fanning, Luke Evans, Brian Geraghty, Douglas Smith, Matthew Shear, Ted Levine, Josef Altin, and Q’orianka Kilcher
Written by: Gina Gionfriddo and Cary Joji Fukunaga
Directed by: James Hawes

Review by Justin Partridge

The gang does some good ol’ fashioned profiling in this week’s episode of The Alienist. Helmed by Penny Dreadful alum and the director of two of Doctor Who’s perfect episodes (don’t @ me) “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” James Hawes, “These Bloody Thoughts” finally scratches the luridly poetic itch left in the wake of True Detective. Sporting a co-writing credit for the man Fukunaga himself, this fourth episode finally feels like the prestige TV that the ad campaign had been selling us. With all the small detailed evidence, big performances, and lurid period kinks that entails.

Emboldened by last week’s discovery of the latest victim, and neatly tying up the hanging thread of John’s lost sketchbook (John is bad at crime scenes). Dakota Fanning’s Sara takes a creepy constitutional with Bruhl’s thankfully much, much softer Kreizler. This scene really sells the thesis of this week’s episode. Based around the core three taking on the act of profiling. Kreizler gets a nice bit of backstory through his arc as we get to see and hear about his various patients. Including a badass 19th-century dominatrix who makes her clients dress in housemaid cosplay and serve her ACTUAL GUESTS tea. It rules.

This direction really nails the duality of TV crime solvers. Gionfriddo and Fukunaga’s script finally show our leads having lives, and having to parse that life with the idea of the serial killer and how he thinks. Not only does it get our extra hunky cast interacting in different ways (like Douglas Smith’s Marcus and Resident Bad Decision Luke Evans which is really fun), but it further feels like a complete show, building on last week’s pretty substantial installment. Couple that juice with the scripting side and some stylish, height oriented blocking and camera moves by director Hawes, and you get a show that seems to be committed to a look and tone and really making the most out of both.

Verdict: Watch It. A bit of a short one this week, I know. But… to speak more about it would really give away some of its best moments. I WILL say. We get our first real look at a suspect this week. It’s the most terrifying Evelyn Cream from Miracleman cosplay I have ever seen. BUT ASIDE FROM THAT, everybody really gets a lot to do this week. We are now hip deep into the nitty-gritty of the investigation and how many waves it’s making throughout New York society (given a steely avatar in the gorgeous Sean Young). If you have been waiting for the actual crime-solving aspects of profiling and the cost that takes on the profiler. “These Bloody Thoughts” is the episode for you. 

Until next week, you reprobates, be seeing you.

Justin Partridge
A writer, a dandy, a Friend of Tom, and a street walkin' cheetah with a heart fulla napalm. He has loved comics all his life but he hasn't quite got them to love him back just yet. That hasn't stopped him writing about them or about any other media that hoves into his sights. He can usually be reached via the hellscape that is Twitter @J_PartridgeIII or by e-mail at

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