Ex Ore Infantium -| Review Score – 4/5
Something Wicked -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Labyrinth-| Review Score – 3.5/5
Gilded Cage -| Review Score – 4/5
Belly of the Beast -| Review Score – 4/5
Memento Mori -| Review Score – 4/5
Last Exit to Brooklyn -| Review Score – 4/5
Better Angels -| Review Score – 4.5/5
When The Alienist dropped back in 2018, it brought with it 10 episodes of well written and nicely paced crime drama. The 1800’s setting was well realized and although perhaps a tad overlong, managed to maintain an eerie atmosphere throughout.
Renewed for a second season, The Alienist returns with renewed vigor, a pacier 8 episodes and a really well written mystery. With returning characters joining new faces this year, The Alienist breathes new life into this series and delivers a really impressive 8 episodes of drama.
We pick up a year after the events of the first season. Sara Howard is now the head of a Private Detective Agency with a strong female-centric band of workers at her disposal. Laszlo is still up to old tricks at the Institute while John Moore works for The New York Times and is currently engaged to Violet Hayward (ironically dressed in violet the first time Laszlo meets her.)
The focal point this time around really sits with Sara Howard. This actually works surprisingly well as the mystery builds up and requires a feminine touch to solve this difficult case at hand. And difficult is really the name of the game here.
At the heart of this drama lies a sinister child-napper who may or may not have ties to the Lying-In Hospital. Assembling the familiar gang, including Lucius and Marcus, Sara leads the charge as they try to track down who the culprit is.
All of this crescendos into a beautifully written climax that sees all loose ends tied up and the case ended with a satisfying amount of closure. The Alienist also demonstrates exactly how to end a show without dangling things on a frustrating cliffhanger (hello Netflix).
Stylistically, the series adopts a lot of the same ideas seen in season 1 with different perspectives coming together to form the core investigation. Sara is the compassionate, driven member of the team who tries to weigh up things with a more human touch. This levels out against Laszlo who uses hard facts, experimental procedures and hypnotism within his arsenal. That’s before even mentioning his blunt mannerisms with the general public.
The middle man here comes in the form of John who spends most of his time teaming up with Sara as she dives deep into the murky corners of the city. This inevitably causes a rift between John and Violet which comes to a head in the final episode. This will they/won’t they romance with Sara actually works really well to stitch the two seasons together. Although there is a resolution to their drama, it only serves to ask more questions in light of a possible third season.
Given how quickly TNT wrapped this one up in the USA (dropping 2 episodes a week across a single month), The Alienist seems designed to be binge-watched. In fact that’s probably the best compliment for this series as the end of every episode keeps you gripped for more. I’d imagine Netflix will be eager to sign off the rights to this one and have this on the platform internationally sooner rather than later.
This second season is not only better than the first, it’s also one of the best crime dramas of the year. It’s well written, consistently engrossing and wraps up all of this absorbing drama with some excellent character work.
The Alienist is easily one of the must-watch series of 2020 and one that surpasses the quality of its first season in the best possible way.