blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Alienist (2018) s02e05 – Belly of the Beast

Did I say nice things last time about Lara Pulver, who plays the object of Daniel Brühl’s affection. I need to take them back. She and Brühl go on an Absinthe date and it’s a very underwhelming scene.

We’ve just recovered from the cliffhanger postscript and the whole city is looking for Rosy McEwen. Everyone’s busy and distracted enough—both the character and the writers, it turns out—they let Dakota Fanning gets away with not really calling the cops to a crime scene. Instead Douglas Smith (who looks so underwhelmed to be here) and Matthew Shear stand-in for the cops, which doesn’t seem likely.

The writers distraction has to do with keeping Ted Levine away from Fanning even though they ought to be on a collusion course. Levine has a pretty nice moment—for him on this show—opposite Michael McElhatton as the show closes down one of its plot lines. I was wondering how they were going to serialize the story and apparently we’re getting the first four episodes doing one thing, the second four episodes doing something else. With some crossover. But with McEwen established as the main villain now… well, time to concentrate on the “Angel of Darkness.”

So it’d be nicer if McEwen were better. Or if the narrative weren’t weird about her. She and boyfriend Frederick Schmidt’s sex life gets a very unnecessary emphasis, while trying to gross out the audience. And Fanning and Brittany Marie Batchelder. Black woman Batchelder gets some more to do, including having Matt Letscher and daughter Emily Barber—Barber is ostensible man of action Luke Evans’s fiancée—be racist at her just to show off how awful rich people were in 1898 or whatever, but nothing after that message is delivered.

The conclusion is thriller stuff for Fanning and Evans, adequately directed by Clare Kilner, and while the episode’s fair for this series… if I’d noticed Gina Gionfriddo co-writing when I watched it… I might’ve gotten hopeful. I’m glad I didn’t see her name so I didn’t have to be disappointed.

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