The Alienist-Episode 7: “Many Sainted Men”
Starring: Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning, David Wilmot, Ted Levine, Michael Ironside, Q’orianka Kilcher, Brian Geraghty, Douglas Smith, and Matthew Shear
Written by: John Sayles
Directed by: Paco Cabezas
Review by Justin Patridge
”I applaud your efforts, so, let me tell you, doctor. You are fighting a monster, one that reaches from Millionaire’s Mile all the down to Mulberry Street. And if you aren’t careful, it will DEVOUR you…long before you ever catch your child-killer.”
Lazlo and John catch a shakedown and Sara becomes lead investigator in this week’s episode of The Alienist. Reeling from last week’s failed stakeout and the loss of their main suspect, Team Alienist takes a beat to reassess and reevaluate their investigation. They reveal all manner of new possibilities and even a new, savagely violent suspect. Scripted by prolific screenwriter John Sayles and again directed by the keen, yet softly theatrical camera of Paco Cabezas, “Many Sainted Men” is a busily barrelling episode. One that never loses a sense of its characters nor the ever-evolving mystery and class struggle at the center of the series.
The streets are starting to boil as the hunt for the killer continues. Our investigators use last week’s violent setback as a jumping off point to reassess Lazlo’s profile and to make some real headway toward capturing the perpetrator. The investigation continues to stretch on. The rich and criminal element of the city give slyly foreboding avatars. The returning gangster Paul Kelly (Antonio Magro), the titan of industry J.P. Morgan (Michael FREAKING Ironside), and former crooked police chief Thomas Brynes (Buffalo Bill himself Ted Levine), get more and more nervous. They fear that Team Alienist will upset the city’s fragile ecosystem and keep coins from their coffers the more our trio dig.
This naturally leads to all manner of strong-arming aimed at Lazlo and John. Making great use of the tried and true tropes of stalwart investigators getting stymied and threatened in order to drop the case. Sayles use of these tropes not only strongly support the show’s secondary narrative of class struggles, but also give the episode some of its funniest moments. As Laz and John stand in the great rooms of “many sainted men,” throws sass in their faces, and glean secondary clues as to the identity of their killer just based on the, shall we say, interested parties. “Where’s your uniform, Captain Connor?”, John chides the disgraced police captain after being chloroformed and thrown in the back of a wagon. Just one of the many well-honed barbs Sayles gives our boys.
Sayles script also makes great strides with the characterizations of our core trio. Though most of the action with our boys is based around them interacting with the city’s elite. Sara and the Brothers Isaacson take the ball and run with it. They get back to the gorily detailed legwork of the case and sussing out some of the most substantial clues toward the killer to date. Dakota Fanning again makes a great meal of the script. Still brandishing the steel that has defined Sara from the pilot. She also lets her facade slip ever so slightly. With some achingly sad bits of personal physicality as she experiences firsthand the hellish conditions that were insane asylums of the time.
Even Daniel Bruhl’s Kreizler bounces back to empathetic after last week’s less than stellar outing for his character. Seemingly working overtime to confront Kreizler with his own shittiness and naked manipulation of his friends, Sayles thankfully moves him far away from the stale “aloof genius” and finally makes him a living breathing PERSON. Aware of his mistakes and working to grow, change, and embrace his wounded soul. He finally makes a touching connection with the powerfully emotive Q’orianka Kilcher. She just lights up the screen every time she appears. Thanks to her statuesque figure, Amazonian jawline, and eyes that seem to say everything even as her voice says nothing.
Verdict: Watch It. Though this episode moves pretty quickly through a lot of material and isn’t nearly as showy as the rest of the season, its character work really does the show overall a lot of good. Better still “Many Sainted Men” gives the audience a clear sense of what the show’s endgame is going to look like as Team Alienist get closer and closer to a conclusion. Frankly, I had no idea that was even a possibility.
Until next time, my beautiful street rats, be seeing you.