The Alienist: first episode recap


 The Alienist, if you do not know, is a new limited series on TNT. The series is based on a book by Caleb Carr. I remember nearly 6 months ago when I first saw the teaser for this show and being so excited. So excited. It was dark and gritty and disturbing looking and holy crow the cast; Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning? I was totally in. And then I couldn’t find anything else. No air date. No nothing. So I was not at all patient about waiting when it finally got an air date.  All this to say, I was positively vibrating with excitement over this show.

Let me tell you, the first episode that aired last night DID NOT DISAPPOINT.  Dark, yes. Gritty, yes. But also, visceral and haunting and just…beautiful. The art direction is enough to keep me in my seat for the entire series run. No lie. But then the acting…sigh. Daniel Bruhl is amazing in everything I’ve seen him in, but I swear this role was written for him.  I will admit, I’m not 100% sold on Luke Evans in this yet. I like him as an actor, but something about his performance seems detached. Time will tell if this was meant to come across or if it is a bad acting job.  And then there is Dakota Fanning. I’ve watched her grow up on screen, and in this she has fully come into her own as a talented actress who is picking interesting roles. I love her character Sarah. She takes no crap and is a strong woman surrounded by men who think she is little more than a decoration.

As to the story, I really do not want to give spoilers, so I will say the criminal case that the story is set around will cause many to be squeamish, but I found it fascinating. The death that is the impetus for Doctor Chrysler becoming fully embroiled in the investigation is not a pretty death. It is however, a spectacular one. And it is only the beginning.

The story is set in New York City, 1896. It has Theodore Roosevelt as the Commissioner of Police. It has so much truth of the time period wrapped up in the fiction, that it sucks you in, whether you know anything about the time period or not. And that is it’s own special something.  I particularly was fascinated by the way they depicted the cops banging their nightsticks on poles to spread messages, it was an aspect of early police work that I had not given much thought to.

Overall, I was so floored by this show. I had expected it to be good. I had not expected to be dragged in to this world so completely. I cannot wait for the next episode and am pretty dang sad there will only be 10 total episodes.

Stay tuned for my weekly recaps throughout the entire limited series run of The Alienist!


  • the featured image is the tv show poster from IMDB

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