blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Alienist (2018) s02e08 – Better Angels

There are enough ups and downs, twists and turns, decisions and take-backs, once it’s clear who’s going to live, who’s going to die, who’s going to marry, who’s going to not, the rest of the episode—when “Angel of Darkness” tries pretending it’s been a hangout series of Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning and not a pilot for Fanning and her female detective agency… it could just stop already.

There’s some actual good stuff in the episode for Fanning, who gets to do an alter ego with the criminal thing opposite Rosy McEwen, which could be amazing if they only had better writing and directing, ends up not being a waste of time. Fanning’s worth watching through the character development.

There are some very big developments with long-term ramifications for the series (which is currently out of source novels so it maybe doesn’t matter and is just the show being exceptionally cheap in the last half hour ever) and the show executes them effectively enough. It goes through the right pay-off motions and resolves all the outstanding romances satisfactorily enough. I mean, for the show, not for me. There’s no scene where Lara Pulver and Brühl are actually good and not the equivalent of white bread in soured milk. But, script-wise, whatever, it’s fine.

McEwen and Frederick Schmidt have an okay conclusion. Not great. McEwen’s arc for the episode is rather anticlimactic.

And the rehabilitation of Ted Levine is now apparently complete. It seemed head in that direction last episode but here they make it explicit. It seems inevitable after Levine’s first scene has him espousing a rather Marxist take for the character vis-a-vis workers’ rights. “Angel of Darkness”’s attempts to instill 2019 TV values in an 1898 is occasionally annoying but rarely worth an eye roll.

It’s TNT, after all. And, you know, if only Fanning is able to come back for another series….

That’d be just fine.

Or, better yet, she could get a part in a better project.

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