This was what you would call a transition episode, a slow-paced but necessary evil.
All the players were brought together on The Alienist Season 1 Episode 2, and Kreizler laid out his game plan for the pursuit of the sadistic killer who has been killing and mutilating young boys.
A subtle act of Sara pasting a newspaper clipping into a scrapbook revealed that Kreizler managed to clear the corrupt police's "suspect," the dying prostitute Henry Wolff.
So Captain Connor and some of his thugs with badges roughed up Mr. Santorelli at his tenement and intimidated those who lived there, then suggested to Sara that that line of inquiry wouldn't yield any further results.
In other words, no sense wasting any more time on the death on one of "those people," especially a degenerate.
But Kreizler doesn't accept such a cruel fate for any child, whatever his sexual orientation might be. Also, he felt that the killer would feel compelled to strike again soon. We saw that likelihood briefly hinted at, as well.
We did get to learn more about the central characters in this episode.
It's evident that Kreizler is a genius in his field and a man ahead of his time, and he has decided to surround himself with such people (and John. But more on him later.)
He is concerned, first and foremost, with children, the most helpless of society. That was showcased when he explained to a mother that it was natural for her daughter to be sexually curious as she neared puberty. He also upbraided a priest who wanted to demonize the girl for her "lust."
Kreizler blames himself for the murders of Benjamin and Sofia Zweig, and I could see where others could believe he sees a connection to the Santorelli murder where none exists. The Zweigs came from an upscale family, whereas Giorgio was part of an indigent immigrant clan.
That made Sara's discovery of two other poor boys who were similarly mutilated very important; it confirmed that someone was stalking young boys. My opinion remains, though, that any connection to the Zweigs is tenuous.
It's fascinating to see how genteel (and gentile) New York was offended by Kreizler and what would have been considered his "new-age" profession. See how the mayor reacted when introduced to him. The idea that mental illness wasn't a result of class or upbringing or possession was anathema to these people.
It doesn't help that Kreizler sugarcoats nothing and that he is incredibly, albeit unintentionally, condescending, and pays no attention to social mores.
Even though he felt a sense of urgency about the killings, he shouldn't have accosted Roosevelt, who was surrounded by important people whose support he needed, at the opera. Also, he shouldn't assume that right makes might in any situation.
Fortunately, Kreizler has a savvy ally in Sara. A member of the upper class herself, she can navigate both those circles and the cesspool that is the NYPD. She has learned to largely save her acid tongue for those who know her personally.
Like Kreizler, she's ahead of her times. Although she's only a secretary at the NYPD, she has higher goals, as Kreizler himself perceived. As a result, she's the perfect liaison between the secret investigation and Roosevelt. And by working with Kreizler, she can hone new skills.
Will she and John end up together? I think they doth protest too much. But there are sparks with her and Kreizler, although he seems wed to his work. There also seems to be a spark between him and his mute servant Mary, his former patient.
What to make of John? He seems to hate his job, as shown when he got criticized by the society matron for his portrait of her daughter. He likes his liquor and his whores in his ample off-time.
But he also has a sense of justice. When Kreizler unkindly tried to dismiss him, he stalked off to investigate Giorgio's brothel, putting himself in grave danger.
Finally, there's the Isaacson brothers, the team's ying and yang. There's gregarious Marcus and introverted Lucius.
What they have in common is a fascination with forensic science. Fingermarks? It's funny to see something that has been commonplace for so long was once futuristic. While I don't put much stock in Kreizler's measuring craniums, the Isaacsons have science I can get behind.
It will be interesting to see how forensics will fit into this investigation.
Finally, this show has such a grim sense of place. You have to feel for the boys in the brothel being taken advantage of by their bosses and the city's elite.
So what are Connor and his henchmen hiding, and for whom? It seems like the killer must be a client of the brothel, maybe the man with the silver smile that Giorgio referenced.
Still, it's good to see that the downtrodden of society have a champion in Kreizler and his investigators.
To catch up on early developments, watch The Alienist online.
For those who haven't read the novel, who is the killer? What do you think of Kreizler? Who is covering up these crimes? Comment below.
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.