The season 2 finale of The Alienist brings everything to a suitably dramatic close as episode 8 bows out this excellent follow-up to 2018’s crime drama.
With everything at a stand-still, Sara tells Libby to put the knife down. Thankfully it’s just the distraction Sara needs to stop Libby and hold her down. With the threat quelled for now, Sara takes John up to the hospital and gets him patched up.
Before she heads off to interview Libby, John and Sara talk plainly about their affection for one another. She’s scared though, concerned that their love may not stand the test of time.
Burns finds Doyle in the alleyway and struggles to keep his composure in the wake of the murder. As he walks away, Sara prepares to interview Libby. However, Burns gets there first and starts torturing the girl. Removing his jacket, he has his men dunk Libby in a bath of water.
Karen and Laszlo discuss the former’s appointment with Dr Freud. Despite Karen’s persuasion, Laszlo decides again joining her in Vienna. He bids her well for the future and continues to help with the Libby case.
With Libby captured, Goo Goo goes into hiding. He’s unsure what to do with the babe though and starts weighing up his options going forward.
Sara arrives at the station and protests against Burn’s methods of torture. Instead, Laszlo encourages Sara to head in and interview her. He gives the girl words of encouragement and reminds Sara that the pair have a connection. After everything we’ve seen this season, it’s the female compassion and light touch that proves she can get through to her.
After wrapping a coat around Libby’s shoulders, Sara and Libby discuss their families and start to open up to one another. Libby talks about her Mother and how happy she was before her Father died. Clara gave her a sense of purpose and brought back that bright spark she lost back.
Having her babe taken away was enough for her to snap and fall back down that slippery slope again. However, Sara uses this to her advantage. She convinces Libby to spill the details about the Vanderbilt baby by admitting she can see Clara. Only, this obviously isn’t true and Sara immediately feels guilt in the wake of Libby’s screams.
Burns and the rest of the boys head down to the docks with the address given. Once there, they head in and find the Vanderbilt child on the ground. John cradles the baby and encourages the others to take it to the hospital.
As they leave however, Goo Goo and the others watch and stew in anger. This brings them straight up to the police station where a big brawl breaks out. Sara and John watch in shock as they hide out in one of the jail cells.
Libby is freed from her cell and immediately decides to find Clara. This brings them to Mallory’s apartment where Goo Goo makes swift work of Marcus, shooting him in the stomach with a shotgun. He knocks Lucius out too before the pair slip away with Clara in hand. When Lucius awakens, he sees his brother bleeding out and pleads with him not to leave. It’s too late. Marcus is dead.
The rest of the group mourn Marcus’ passing. Once they collect his things, they start to look over the items he’s collected over the course of the investigation. Among them is a sketch of the old Mallory family home.
Realizing Libby may well have returned there, the group gather in force once more and mobilize. Only, they’re reluctant about heading in all gun’s blazing and take a more stealthy approach. Only, this sees Goo Goo blindside them with a gun as they sneak in the back. Thankfully Marcus is there and shoots Goo Goo down in cold blood; retribution for his brother being slaughtered.
With Clara and Libby wrestling together, the latter finally comes around and sees sense as Sara talks to her. Holding her hands up, Libby apologises profusely to them all as she’s finally arrested.
John is given a promotion in the wake of what’s happened and asks Joanna to join his team. She politely declines though, just as Violet arrives at the station. Together, they talk about their relationship. It turns out she’s pregnant and apparently John is her Father. For Sara though? This is a massive hammer blow to their future and it seems her and John are destined to fail.
Laszlo meets Cyrus in the bar and they talk about the Institute and the future direction for them both. “If there’s no struggle, there’s no progress” He says plainly, as Laszlo thinks over what to do going forward.
Laszlo eventually meets Karen one more time and they play a game of chess together. On the back of this, they head outside where Karen kisses him and tells Laszlo she likes the man he is. He finally makes his decision and decides to join Karen in Vienna.
As the episode closes out, Sara visits Libby in prison one more time in a bid to get some closure on this case. Building back up her tough facade again, she introduces Kitty Burns into the detective agency and this all-female cast get to work.
The Episode Review
In terms of how to structure a season finale, The Alienist gets it bang on the money. There’s no big cliffhanger here, no contrived plot to wrap things up unnaturally and more importantly, plenty of closure for our characters.
Having said that though, there’s plenty of scope for a third season too. The ending for some characters certainly suggests that may be the direction going forward.
Is Violet really pregnant? Or is this a ploy to keep John around, sensing that he’s about to leave her for Sara? It’s certainly a big discussion point and leans back into that theme of life and innocence. This has, of course, been personified visually through the constant motif of babies.
The decision to move Sara into the position of main protagonist in this second season rather than Laszlo is also a welcome change. She has the right qualities to lead this show and the balance between vulnerability and confidence is perfectly balanced.
With a satisfying finish for the case and a surprisingly solid second season, The Alienist has definitely been one of the better shows this year.