I'm a couple days behind on this, but I was able to catch up with the first episode of "The Alienist."
Let's start with what this show is about. Based on the name, you may be expecting some sort of a sci fi adventure, but the opening card to the first episode puts that to rest. We start with a couple sentences explaining that during the 19th century, people with mental illness were considered to be "alienated" from themselves. Therefore the people who studied the mentally ill were called "alienists".
The show starts with a beautiful shot of snowy New York, with a police office walking down a quiet street. Obviously the quiet only lasts so long as he finds the remains of a murder victim. We quickly learn that the victim is a young boy who dressed as a girl and worked in what is implied to be a "house of ill repute" as they say.
We are quickly introduced to our title character, Dr. Laszlo Kreitzer, the alienist. He calls for his friend John Moore, an illustrator for the newspaper, to go to the scene to capture what it looks like. After a bit if trickery, he is able to draw the gruesome scene.
What follows is an interesting crime drama, with Dr. Kreitzer quickly eliminating the "obvious" suspect (a man with advanced syphilis who had murdered another man that same evening), and inquiring into the case so he can try to find the true killer.
Although this episode does have its slow moments, as any first episode does while it hops around trying to introduce your core characters, it does give us glimpses into what should be some of the intriguing parts of this show.
Looking at this from a modern standpoint, it's almost comical to look at things like the police assuming a man is guilty because he had done a similar crime. Looking at it from the 21st century, we've been exposed to enough (both in the media and entertainment) to know that it doesn't really add up. We also see the police captain and former chief basically preening in front of the reporters at the steps of the police station. While we certainly have press conferences now, these guys are basically sitting there trying to get a quote in the paper.
One thing I'm excited to see is the relationship between the police department and Dr. Kreitzer. They all give him dirty looks as he walks in, which tells me there is some sort of history there. I can't wait to find out if it's his relationship with the new chief (who he went to school with), or something else. I'm banking on it being something else.
Overall, this show is intriguing and has me hooked. The sets and costumes are beautiful and pull me into this world of the late 19th century. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens the rest of this season!