Freud is a dark, interesting crime drama that combines elements of The Alienist, 2016’s The Limehouse Golem and other dark, Gothic procedurals. The result is something that feels unusually familiar, with an opening episode that sets the foundation for what’s to come. The foreground issues surrounding Freud’s cocaine addiction and various character sub-plots are back-dropped by the disappearance of a young girl, which sets the foundations nicely for the season ahead.
We begin episode 1 of Freud with a therapy session for a woman named Lenore as she talks about her daughter Josephine. It’s all very convincing and as she screams to the heavens for her little girl, Freud suddenly whips open the curtains and we see all of this was just an act.
Meanwhile, a police investigator called Alfred Kiss is called to the scene of a gruesome murder, one with clues involving a box and a button on the ground. As he looks set to leave the room, Alfred Kiss and his colleague are startled when the body suddenly awakens.
Across town, Dr Freud is hounded for the rent again by his landlord, before begrudgingly handing over a letter from his lover. In his room, Freud reads the contents of it while taking cocaine. Suddenly, Kiss bursts in holding the bloodied girl and presents her to Freud, clearing his desk and lying her down. He sees there are deep cuts across her pubic area but unfortunately the girl dies on his table.
The two officers leave him with the mess, as Kiss heads over to his superior and informs him about the button he found belonging to an officer in Regiment 5. He’s having none of it though and dismisses the evidence, leaving Kiss to stew.
Freud’s friend Arthur shows up at his house while the body of the young girl is being taken away. Freud remains cagey when he asks questions, until Arthur invites him out to a party. With a heady dose of cocaine flowing through his body, Freud arrives at the Count and Countess’ party, with Dr Von offering up a frosty welcome.
The big attraction here is Fleur, who conducts a seance for the group. Only, things go awry during her visions and she starts convulsing on the ground when she looks at Dr Von, muttering about a little girl called Clara.
The next day, Freud delivers a lecture to a group of academics about his hypnosis and brings Lenore out infront of the sceptical scholars. Only this time the hypnosis works and we see blurred visions of this fictitious account with Lenore’s daughter. Unfortunately, Freud is thrown out the room for ridicule.
Meanwhile, Kiss learns that the dead girl’s lover was one of the officers called Georg. At the same time, Fleur continues to experience visions, this time sleepwalking out the estate in pursuit of the girl she keeps seeing. Her mother however, puts Fleur to sleep after asking too many questions – is she involved in some way?
While Freud grapples with his cocaine addiction, Kiss confronts Georg and looks set to stab him, until the officer in charge stops the commotion and takes Kiss off the case, mentioning how issues from the war should stay there and not spill over to now.
Freud heads back to Fleur’s house where she asks for his help following the visions from the previous night. After some convincing, she agrees to let him hypnotize her. Within that vision, Freud convinces her to follow Clara and she does so, without fear, to the Vienna canal. However, Fleur starts seizuring as she gets there, just as her mother enters the room and stops this vision short of coming to fruition.
Freud heads to the canal later that night but after a fruitless search he turns to leave, just as a blood-curdling scream pierces the air.
Freud gets off to a promising start here with its opening episode, complete with some intriguing characters and a solid foundation for this murder mystery to play out. Who murdered Clara? Why is Fleur experiencing these visions? There’s plenty of questions left hanging over this one and although the different interpretation of Freud’s character may not sit well with everyone, his inner demons and cocaine addiction should be enough to make for a fascinating protagonist going forward.
With each episode clocking in at around an hour or so, there’s plenty more of this to chew through but quite what the rest of the season has in store for us, remains to be seen.