The Alienist (2018) s02e03 – Labyrinth

Okay, whoever oversees “The Alienist” and thought to hire Gina Gionfriddo to write this episode but not the whole series… is it good this person hired a competent writer, or is it bad they knew to hire a competent writer but chose not to the rest of the time. Given the show is all about Dakota Fanning and her late nineteenth century female detective agency—Gionfriddo writes Fanning so well I want a team-up with “Miss Fisher,” time differences be damned—someone should’ve thought to get a writer who can write for Fanning. And Gionfriddo does a fantastic job with it. It does from being peculiarly not as bad as usual to actually not bad to wait a second to oh, wow, it’s actually good. Is “Alienist: Angel of Darkness” going to be good now?

No.

No, it is not. Because even though Gionfriddo writes this great arc for Fanning as she goes to visit Michael McElhatton’s hospital of horrors, where she meets and bonds with nurse Rosy McEwen, everything falls apart once Fanning checks in with Daniel Brühl. There’s a big exposition dump as Fanning recounts everything, which manages to be double negative—not only is it an utter waste of the audience’s time, having Fanning report to Brühl’s got some optics. Or would, if anyone was pretending Brühl’s important to the story. Oh, wait, he gets Bruna Cusí to almost sort of remember something important but not really and it takes up half the episode and they pretend it’s thrilling and dangerous.

Except it’s not.

The good stuff is the McEwen and Fanning bonding stuff and the Fanning detecting stuff. The rest of it is just “Alienist” crap, complete with Matthew Shear’s ostensible C plot turning out to be an absolutely nothing subplot because “Alienist” loves to feint at subplots for the familiar background players. Always has.

And Luke Evans?

He’s in this show still.

It’s unclear why. Even more so than Brühl. Just give Fanning a show. And hire Gionfriddo to run it.

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