The Alienist Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Hildebrandt's Starling

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So has the killer of boy prostitutes been identified, or not?

Roosevelt thinks so, but Kreizler isn't so certain on The Alienist Season 1 Episode 5.

Since there's still half a season to go, I'm going to say not yet.

On the Move - The Alienist Season 1 Episode 5

Most clues point to spoiled rich boy Willem Van Bergen.

That's the family who ex-Commissioner Byrnes visited on The Alienist Season 1 Episode 4, so apparently, he's known of Willem's predilections for some time.

Rather than take Brynes' good-faith suggestion to get Willem out of town, Mrs. Van Bergen complained to the mayor instead. He in turned bitched to Roosevelt, inadvertently clueing him in that there was a suspect.

Sara got the plum assignment of tracking down potential suspects through NYPD files, and once again, Willem's name surfaced. I think of.

Brynes and company had redacted the name of the suspect, but the Episcopal bishop had been a character witness for the suspect. It was a treat to see Kreizler, a lapsed Catholic, drip acid all over the bishop, who fortunately spilled the name of the famous family involved.

It's good that the church would only cover for a pedophile to a certain degree.

Running Interference - The Alienist Season 1 Episode 5

As requested, Kreizler turned over Willem's name to Roosevelt but cautioned him that Willem wasn't the killer.

I can accept Kreizler's logic that the boys at the church where Willem got in trouble weren't the kind of immigrant boys to whom the killer is attracted. But then again, the killer is a whack-job, so psychological logic needn't apply.

A few years after this, Roosevelt would adopt the slogan "Speak softly and carry a big stick. You will go far." So it's not surprising that he defied the mayor and led a group of police officers to arrest Willem. Roosevelt had his moral compass that wouldn't fail to get him in trouble in the cesspool that was New York City politics.

Of course, Captain Connor did everything he could to trip up Roosevelt. I loved the look on his smug face when Roosevelt took his gun and badge. But I know that's not going to last, as he's Byrnes' man within the NYPD.

After another failed interview with a serial killer, Kreizler may be somewhat humbled. Talking to Moore on the train, he seemed less a know-it-all than usual.

Undecided - The Alienist Season 1 Episode 5

It seemed that Sara had the best take, psychologically, on the killer, that he was somebody who had been tormented by a woman for whom he cared.

Based on the late scene with Mrs. Van Bergen being overly affectionate with Willem, that holds up if he proves to be the killer. He sure looks to be the killer, the way he's seducing boy prostitutes.

But Kreizler wouldn't consider Sara's theory that a woman might be the one that victimized the killer. I'm thinking he has some mommy issues with which he refuses to deal.

It seems hypocritical that Kreizler insists that Moore and Sara deal with their psychological issues while it appears that he hasn't truly dealt with all of his.

A well-constructed portion of the episode was a tale of two dinners.

One was the utterly painful dinner when Marcus brought Flora home to meet his mother. Mrs. Isaacson didn't approve of the American Jewess for her son, and she made that clear as she sat silently glaring throughout the meal.

Belly of the Beast - The Alienist Season 1 Episode 5

Then there was Kreizler's solo dinner out. It was little wonder that, after viewing all the happy couples around him, he practically begged Sara to join him, when she ostensibly dropped by to relay Roosevelt's request to ID the killer.

Kreizler obviously wanted to gloss over his earlier violent outburst, but she wasn't ready to do that. So she spent her brief time there snidely slicing at his behavior, making him squirm.

Sara is the series' best-developed character. Her father raised her like a boy, giving her the toughness she needs to survive in a man's world. You can see her emotions just below the surface, regularly seeping out in sarcastic bursts. She's less a delicate flower than either Kreizler or Moore.

That being said, Sara finds herself drawn to both men, for different reasons. Kreizler provides her sharp mind with the intellectual stimulation she craves when he isn't pissing her off. Moore is more physically attractive to her -- when he isn't pissing her off. 

The conversation when they stormed out on Kreizler perfectly encapsulated their relationship. Sara insulted John, yet he only picked up on the word "handsome." Then he turned around and made her wait while he got his shoes shined. Finally, he proposed to her, more serious than not.

Kreizler's team would have solved this case by now if they could stand to be in the same room for an extended period.

To decide if Willem is the killer, watch The Alienist online.

Is Willem the killer as it seems? Why is Byrnes protecting him? How long before Kreizler's involvement becomes public knowledge? Comment below.

Hildebrandt's Starling Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (20 Votes)

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Alienist Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Doctor, we're not talking about the gilded upbringing of a handsome but indolent member of the leisure class.

Sara [to Kreizler, about Moore]

I do hope this letter has been written in jest. Or is it a training exercise?

Mr. McLeod [to Kreizler's team]