The Alienist. Review and Discussion Space. Episode Two

The Alienist is based on a 1994 book by historian Caleb Carr. It takes place during the Guilded Age of American Society in New York City, and features historical figures from the era. TNT has produced a ten episode miniseries based on the book, starring Daniel Brühl (Inglorious Basterds and Captain America: Civil War) as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds and Man on Fire) as Sara Howard, and Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast and The Hobbit) as John Moore.

Each week, I am going to set this page up as a discussion space, followed by a review once the episode airs, and I have read it.

Title: “A Fruitful Partnership”

Written by: Hossein Amini

Directed by: Jakob Verbruggen

Synopsis: Kreisler visits a morgue to find bodies of mutilated corpses of children. At the Santorellis’ apartment. A priest and Conner beat up the father as a warning.

At Mulberry Street Headquarters, Connor harrasses Sara. John is back illustrating the society page and Sara asks him to accompany her to the Santorellis. They go to the Santorelli’s meager apartment where the father has been beaten. They think John is a doctor, and he plays along They tell of a priest and a cop who ordered their silence. Giorgio’s brother mentions thar Giorgio was “different” but he was not killed “like the other boys.”

The Issacson brothers practice their techniques at a butcher shop. Sara searches for unsolved cases, snaking into Conner’s office, discovering them in his desk. She tells Kreisler and John, who has been searching the papers as well, that the killer has struck before. Kreisler invites them to dinner that night.

John tells Kreisler about Sara’s family, including her father’s suicide. Kreisler and John attend the opera, where Kreisler pressures Roosevelt to let them use the body and use the Issacsons and Sara for their team. JP Morgan and Mayor Strong are also in attendance.

Kreisler treats the team to dinner at the famous Delmonico’s restaurant where the Issacsons fill the team in about the discoveries they found during the autopsy. They have determined the type of knife used, the “Arkansas Toothpick.” They found a fingerprint on a trinket on the body, which was a new unaccepted science at the time. Kreisler proposes they create a profile of the killer, and that they are in danger.

John, drunk and feeling useless decides to walk, Kreisler orders Stevie to follow him. Marcus gets laid. John decides to head to the New Paresis Hall, where Biff tells him that Giorgio was a troublemaker. John’s drink is spiked and he asks a whore about Giorgio. She tells him about a customer with a silver smile, but that she never left her room, and the window is a three story drop. The effects of the drug takes effect….

Historical characters:

  • Charlie Delmonico Crist (1860-1901) A scion of the Delmonico family, known as “Young Charlie,” 1 was the manager and part owner of Delmonico’s restaurant.
  • Charles Ranhofer (mentioned) (1836 – 1899) was the chef at the famous Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York from 1862 to 1896. Ranhofer was the author of The Epicurean in 1894 an encyclopedic cookbook of over 1,000 pages. Ranhofer is credited with inventing or making famous a number of dishes that Delmonico’s was known for, such as Lobster Newberg. 2
  • J.P. Morgan April 17, 1837 – March 31, 1913) was an American financier and banker who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation in the United States of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • William Lafayette Strong (1827 – 1900) was the 90th Mayor of New York City from 1895 to 1897. He was the last mayor of New York City before the Consolidation of the City of Greater New York on January 1, 1898.

Historical Locations

  • The bridge from last week’s episode is the Williamsburg bridge. It was under construction from 1896 to 1903.
  • We also saw Bellevue Hospital. In 1798, the city purchased Belle Vue farm, which had been used to quarantine the sick during a series of yellow fever outbreaks. A pavilion for the insane was erected within hospital grounds in 1879.
  • Police Headquarters was located at this time at 300 Mulberry Street from 1862 to 1909.
  • Metropolitan Opera House was an opera house located at 1411 Broadway in New York City. Opened in 1883 and demolished in 1967, it was the first home of the Metropolitan Opera Company. Delmonico’s restaurant was one of many owned by the family. The one seen in this show is most likely 2 South Williams Street, known as “The Citadel.”
  • Columbia Hall, commonly known as Paresis Hall, was a brothel and gay bar in New York City in the 1890s. Located on the Bowery near Cooper Union, the Hall was managed by James T. Ellison, and took its common nickname from a general term for syphilitic insanity. The building contained both a bar and a beer garden on the ground floor, with two floors of rooms above that were rented out. One was permanently held by the Cercle Hermaphroditos, an early transgender organisation, who stored clothing there due to the illegality of and public hostility to dressing in womens’ clothing.

Changes from the book: Their were two priests. There was a gang on the stoop at the Santorellis that kept a pair of cops from assaulting John and Sara. The dinner lasts a lot longer and .s much more elaborate.

Historical notes: At this time, New York City was only Manhattan and parts of the Bronx. Brooklyn was its own city. The city would consolidate in 1898, creating the Five Boroughs as it is known now.