The Alienist. Review and Discussion Space. Episode Eight

The Alienist is based on a 1994 book by historian Caleb Carr. It takes place during the Gilded 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.

Title: “Psychomathia Sexualia”

Directed by: David Petrarca

Synopsis: Kreisler and John travel by train to Washington DC. Kreisler visits Veterans Affairs and meets with a patient who remembers a patient with a facial tic. John researches mutilation in Native American culture and finds a massacre that occurred in New Paltz, NY of the Drury family. Kreisler discovers that the soldier was also from New Paltz. His name was John Beecham.

They instruct the Issacsons to head west to meet with Beecham’s commanding officer. Out west, they talk to the officer who tells them about when he saw John Beecham, nude, carving up a striker during the Haymarket Riots in Chicago.

Sara heads to New Paltz to investigate the Drury house. She notices the mountains, and asks about mountain climbing. Sara discovers that the Drurys were massacred and the youngest Drury son, Japeth, was kidnapped by natives or so they story was told. The father was a missionary who had pictures of mutilations from out west. She discovers that Japeth had a tic and was bullied, but that he was an expert climber.

Kreisler and John travel to Newton, Massachusetts to find Beecham’s brother Adam Drury, who tells them about his brother who he believes is dead. He tells how his brother was molested by someone he trusted named George Beecham, which Sara discovers was also murdered and mutilated. He talked about how abusive his mother was to Japeth.

John and Kreisler are attacked and are nearly killed by gunfire, and while they escape through the woods, Kreisler tells John that he loves Mary (although John thought he was in love with Sara).

Connor and McManus visit the doctor’s home. They knock out Stevie and attack Cyrus. Mary comes after Connor with a knife, Connor throws her down from the second floor, killing her.

Historical Locations

  • St. Elizabeths Hospital opened in 1855 as the first federally operated psychiatric hospital in the United States. Housing over 8,000 patients at its peak in the 1950s, the hospital at one point had a fully functioning medical–surgical unit, a school of nursing, and accredited internships and psychiatric residencies. Its campus was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990.

Changes from the book: Sara doesn’t actually go to New Paltz, but finds the information through her social contacts