In its latest pair of episodes, The Alienist: Angel of Darkness reveals the identity of the killer, but the revelation comes too late for Sara and co. to prevent further tragedy.
This recap of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness episode 3, “Labyrinth”, and The Alienist: Angel of Darkness episode 4, “Gilded Cage”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous two episodes by clicking these words.
In this week’s double-dose of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, which rather lives up to its title, “Labyrinth” first finds Sara teetering on the brink of hypnosis. Laszlo leads her gently through a flashback in which she holds a red balloon while gamboling through the grounds of her family’s home, an innocent 12-year-old child whose hands are suddenly covered in blood.
And she snaps awake. In this opening, The Alienist: Angel of Darkness episode 3 is a bit fanciful and indulgent, but it becomes painfully literal very quickly, beginning with an analysis of the clothing Martha Napp’s dead baby wore, which was presumably handmade from a fine adult woman’s skirt — the work of a surgeon, perhaps, or a seamstress, as posited by Sara. A woman, likely one who lost a child of her own, best fits the profile of this particular killer. The Lying-In Hospital is intimately tied to the crimes either way and through his society connections, John can introduce Sara to Dr. Markoe, who we see welcoming Helen into the hospital with a sedative, informing her that her child is “with the angels now.”
Naturally, then, Markoe is unsympathetic in “Labyrinth”, but when Sara sees him she lays out the details: The Napp child was poisoned with a substance found only in hospitals much like this one. Of course, he insists there are no records and no reliable witnesses, since most of the staff, for budgetary reasons, are former patients. Sara asks to see Martha’s room as a courtesy, where she meets Nurse Libby, who candidly reveals that this was Martha’s room when she arrived but not on the night her baby disappeared. The Matron runs Lying-In with an iron fist and spends most of this sequence frantically trying to keep Sara from witnessing the obvious abuses that occur there.
Away from that oppressive environment, Sara takes Libby out for lunch to a swanky venue where she’s an obvious fish out of water; “Labyrinth” even indulges in that standard “I’ll have the same” menu gag. But while she apparently doesn’t know much, Libby at least reveals that someone came and asked questions and wrote things down, meaning that, somewhere, there’s a record of Martha’s stay in the hospital. The two women bond over their fathers “having accidents”, and Sara gives Libby her detective agency card, which she’s pleased and surprised by. Outside, Sara confesses that she thinks Ana Linares was taken by the same culprit as the Napp child, and that Ana had been at the hospital. Libby says that the Matron kept the child away from the staff, as she does with all those from rich and powerful families.
Sara’s next destination in The Alienist: Angel of Darkness episode 3 is the Matron’s apartment, but she isn’t there. Her neighbor says she used to bring babies home sometimes; there was one she lavished with attention but had to give back, and she can’t have children of her own, so she’s beginning to fit the profile more and more, meaning she almost certainly isn’t guilty of anything.
Sara takes what she’s learned to Laszlo, who shows a great deal of empathy for and kindness to a young patient of his, Paulie, which makes a nice change from his arrogance and sexism. He puts Isabella under hypnosis; what she sees is unclear but terrifies her nonetheless. John suggests that she paint her memories, since that form of expression comes naturally to her, and Laszlo agrees that there’s merit in the theory. She does so and recalls being watched in Central Park by a presence, a woman. She paints the scene.
Sara goes there. Photographers were snapping that day, which means there will be pictures of it, the backgrounds of which might hold important details. When she returns to her office, Libby is there with the report of Martha Napp and her baby. She needs to return it but will leave it until tomorrow.
Meanwhile, we have John’s bachelor party to attend to, which of course he’s terribly bored by since it seems very much like he’s marrying Violet for money and station rather than genuine affection, especially given his relationship with Sara, but this will be explored more in The Alienist: Angel of Darkness episode 4, so more on that then. In the meantime, we do get to enjoy Laszlo being rather drunk, but he seems to sober up very quickly when the men pick Sara up, go to Cyrus’s bar, and decide to send Bitsy to the Lying-In Hospital undercover.
As The Alienist: Angel of Darkness episode 3 ends, we see a baby screaming and then choking in the arms of a woman, who hums and rocks to and fro. Lovely!
“Gilded Cage” continues matters swiftly. Libby comes to see Sara to retrieve the file, and Sara pushes her on Colleen Ledwidge, the last person to check on Martha and suddenly the episode’s prime suspect, replacing the Matron, who we nonetheless see giving Libby some stick for arriving late and sneakily returning the file. The Isaacsons have found both the poison and the antidote in the baby’s stomach and on its clothes, suggesting perhaps an indecisive killer, but Mr. Linares is still a bit anxious, understandably. Sara lays out the facts. They have identified the poison, it’s only available at the Lying-In hospital, and they’ve got somebody undercover there right now.
Speaking of which, “Gilded Cage” sees Sara clandestinely meet with Bitsy, who reports that the women in the maternity wing all had stillborn babies. Hmm. Sara tasks her with befriending Colleen, who began as a patient knocked up by Richard Osgood, the same man who knocked up Helen, and finding the drugs to determine who is able to take out what, and in what kind of quantities.
Thus, The Alienist: Angel of Darkness episode 4 finds Bitsy rooting around in the Lying-In. She finds the ledger but is interrupted by Colleen, who gently chastises her for being out-of-bounds. Meanwhile, the gang discusses how Colleen fits the killer’s profile, and obviously has the right kind of access — “Gilded Cage” is rather unsubtly building tension here, as we’re to worry about Bitsy being too close to Colleen, a ruse that is maintained all throughout and never gets any less transparent. In the meanwhile, Laszlo wants to look harder at Markoe, who will, of course, be attending the social event of the season: John’s engagement party.
Sara and Laszlo attend the extravagant soiree put on by Hearst in honor of his “goddaughter’s” pending nuptials, and we find him arguing with John and Osgood about the guilt of the Linares family and how it can be linked to the Spanish and the Cubans. These political tensions, introduced in the first two episodes, continue to bubble away here in “Gilded Cage”, but how exactly they’ll come to matter is unclear for now.
John’s engagement party is — by design, at least — insufferable. Hearst gives a speech mocking his job at The New York Times, which Violet herself joins in on, and then presents him with a new German automobile; the classic about-face of the exceedingly wealthy and arrogant. It’s all very patronizing and both John and Sara are visibly uncomfortable, as is Osgood when he is stopped by Laszlo and pressed on Colleen: “A time for reckoning comes to us all,” says Laszlo, as Osgood hurriedly departs.
Sara is honest with John in The Alienist: Angel of Darkness episode 4, explaining that she believes he’s being bought and that Violet is humiliating him, being unkind to him in public. He, of course, brings up how she refused his marriage proposal, which works as a solid counter-argument for why he perhaps doesn’t deserve a woman like her. But she insists he does, one outside the social order, though he suggests that she’s not quite as apart as she likes to think.
Meanwhile in “Gilded Cage”, Bitsy pushes too far by asking Colleen about Markoe. Libby says she pretends to herself it doesn’t happen, and creepily suggests that Bitsy should apologize, and I think we can all see the twist coming at this point, can’t we? Libby finds Helen trying on a nice dress, asking for help fastening it. “He can’t throw me away so easily,” she says.
Back at the party, Laszlo runs into Karen Stratton, a fellow alienist, and he’s instantly smitten. We see little of her here, though, teasing more to come in later episodes. Violet, meanwhile, jealous of John and Sara, seduces her fiance privately while Helen arrives in her new dress and tries to confront Osgood. Markoe does his damndest to get her out of the way, but Sara of course intervenes. Helen says they took her baby and fixed it so she can’t have children anyway — they’re sterilizing the women, it seems, which Sara is obviously appalled by. Markoe offers to take Helen away, and while Sara tries to prevent her from going, she can’t. She can dock out her cigarette in Osgood’s drink, though.
Laszlo believes that Markoe has created and nurtured a great deal of corruption at the Lying-In Hospital, but he also believes that’s the extent of his personal involvement; the real killer is hiding within that corruption. Right on time, Isabella gets back in touch with some of her repressed memories, recalling a woman at the hospital acting very bizarrely. She saw who took her baby — and she saw her face again at Central Park. These revelations are intercut with Bitsy interacting with Colleen, who describes having her own child, though she wasn’t sterilized since she lost so much blood. Bitsy asks her outright what happened to Martha Napp’s baby, as we see Sara arrive at the office with photographs from that day at Central Park. Looking over them, Isabella identifies the woman, and everyone rushes to the hospital as Colleen begins attacking Bitsy for asking too many questions. She pursues her until Bitsy is able to take shelter in a locked room where she encounters Libby, her mouth charcoal-black. She’s the killer! She stabs Bitsy in the neck with a syringe while Colleen watches helplessly through the glass, and then she’s able to flee. By the time Sara, John, Laszlo, and the Isaacsons arrive, she’s barely holding on, but Lucius is able to save her.
At the end of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness episode 4, Libby goes to see the Matron. She’s almost delirious at this point, tearfully ranting that she’s looking for sanctuary. She chokes the Matron and then stabs her three times in the neck, her blood spraying all over Libby’s manic face. As “Gilded Cage” closes, she paints the Matron’s face with her own blood and lays on the floor to cuddle with her.
For more recaps, reviews and original features covering the world of entertainment, why not follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page?