- The Gilded Age Season 1 (HBO Max): This is an American drama television series set during the boom years of the 1880s in New York City created by British writer Julian Fellows, who is the man behind Downton Abbey about the clash between characters old and new money.
- Our Flag Means Death Season 1 (HBO Max): A 1717 period comedic drama loosely based on the real-life of “Gentleman Pirate” Captain Stede Bonnet and his dysfunctional crew.
- Suspicion Season 1 (Apple TV+): A British and American thriller co-production about five ordinary British citizens whose lives are destroyed after London police identify them as kidnapping American media mogul’s son Leonardo Newman.
- Severance Season 1 (Apple TV +): An American science fiction psychological thriller directed by Ben Stiller about Mark Scout and his pod in Lumon Industries who went through the “severance” medical procedure that separates work memories and “leisure time” memories.
- After Party Season 1 (Apple TV+): An American murder mystery comedy about Detective Danner trying to figure out who killed pop star Xavier during his high school reunion afterparty.
Watchmen delivered another stylistic masterpiece Sunday night. “The Extraordinary Being” shows the various parallels between Angela Abar (Regina King) and Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr). The episode also takes a highly creative approach in its depiction of whitewashing and Black erasure.
The majority of Episode 6 of Watchmen, directed by Stephen Williams, takes place in Angela Abar, a.k.a. Sister Night’s head as she experiences the effects of overdosing on nostalgia pills meant for her grandfather Will Reeves.
The first couple of scenes effectively establish the whitewashed version of the history of “The Minutemen.” The episode begins inside an airing of The Minutemen (a TV Show set in the 1940’s that is within the show) depicting Hooded Justice (Cheyenne Jackson) being interrogated by the FBI. Two FBI agents berate the superhero for being a gay and threaten him with exposure. Hooded Justice is forced to take off his hood, revealing a White man who then beats up the homophobic FBI agents; though we soon learn that this sanitized version The Minutemen only tells half the story.
Before I jump into Angela Abar’s barrage of memories of young Will Reeves (Jovan Adepo)’s vital memories, I want to discuss the brilliant stylistic choices of director Stephen Williams and the show’s creator Damon Lindelof. When Abar dives through the memories of her grandfather, the majority of the images are in black and white, except memories that are particularly powerful which are in color. For example, when Will cuddles with June (Danielle Deadwyler) on their bed, telling the story of when they met and a floating door opens above them, the scene is in black and white. The memory of Will as a child-rescuing baby June (Will Reeves’ wife) after the Tulsa riots in a field is in color. A fully colored wide shot shows the young Black boy picking up the baby as he comforts her.
Another way Stephen Williams depicted the memories was by sometimes having Angela take the place of her younger grandfather, the cop turned hooded vigilante. For example, when Will Reeves gets a badge, Angela Abar takes his place standing in line wearing the brand new uniform. Sometimes when young Will patrols the city his mother plays the piano on the street though nobody seems to notice her suggesting she’s haunting him in the memory. Another example of the fluidity of Abar’s memory state can be seen when Will opens an office door then walks into the middle of the city square.
Now we are going to jump into the meaty aspect of ” The Extraordinary Being” starting with the revelation that Will Reeves is Hooded Justice. We find out that his wife June thought Will needed to work through his anger and becoming a hood hero seemed a good way to do it. Especially after Will Reeves almost gets lynched by the Klu Klux Klan cops after telling his boss that he spotted one of them letting a criminal go. He was able to escape, but came home still wearing a noose around his neck. The hooded hero always wears a noose around his neck. In the opening of the show, FBI agents in The Minutemen insinuate that Hooded Justice wears a noose around his neck for sexual reasons, but the real reason is for revenge against those cops that tried to kill him. Hooded Justice wears the noose to remind himself to never be weak enough to let those things happen to him again.
Sister Night and Hooded Justice both apply paint around their eyes, the first of many parallels between them. Adar paints her face darker than she already is to blend into the hood she wears so her identity as a detective remains hidden. But Reeves applies white paint so people think he’s White because June thinks the White world is not ready for a Black hero. Will questions whether he should do this since he was inspired to became a cop after watching a silent film as a child in which a hooded Black Marshall becomes a hero after revealing his race to a White rural town when he arrested a crooked sheriff. June reminds Will that the theatre where he watched the Black hero film was burnt down by racist White men during the Tulsa riots. Will agrees to wear a hood with white paint around his eyes so everybody will think he is White. Ironically, Will Reeves is the first to whitewash himself.
Another parallel between the two masked heroes is that both are investigating corrupt Klu Klux Klan cops trying to erase Black existence. Angela Adar fights against the Seventh Calvary. While Will Reeves investigates “The Cyclops” made of Klu Klux Klan leaders who hypnotize Black citizens to kill each other. Though The Seventh Calvary is a lot more visible than “The Cyclops” who was ignored by the police and press. Which brings me to the insidious racist undertones of the whitewashing of Hood Justice done first to himself then by the Minutemen.
The one thing that The Minutemen television series got right is that Hooded Justice had a same-sex relationship with Captain Metropolis, a.k.a. Nelson Gardner. Nelson Gardener first came to see Will because he thought he was Hooded Justice’s police informant, and he wanted Will to invite Hooded Justice to be a new member of the justice fighting team The Minutemen. This presumption should have been the first clue that Gardener was prejudiced since clearly he didn’t think a Black man could be a superhero. But Will agreed to join the Minutemen because he was tickled that Gardner was inspired to become a hero by his alter ego Hooded Justice.
Later, Will has sex with Nelson in a hotel room. Gardner calls Will beautiful but says he can never let the world know that Hooded Justice is Black. Even the other Minutemen don’t know his race and would not be okay with a Black hero on their team. Gardner promises that the Minutemen will help Hooded Justice take down the KKK criminal organization “The Cyclops”, though in the press conference announcing Hooded Justice’s induction into the Minutemen, Captain Metropolis won’t let him speak about it. Even worse, Captain Metropolis unveils a racist poster of himself aggressively gripping a Black man in front of a bank. Later on, when Will is on duty as a police officer, he finds a shot up Black movie theatre and calls Nelson Gardner for help. After speaking to an injured Black woman, he learns that she was hypnotized by The Cyclops to attack her own people. Over the phone, Captain Metropolis tells Hooded Justice that the Minutemen don’t solve those “types” of crimes and refuses to help.
Reeves received no help from either the police who just blamed the “untamed” nature of Black people and his own racist team The Minutemen. Angry and betrayed he tracks down the racist cops and community leaders. He kills all of them, and then burns down The Cyclops’ lair violently ending their KKK crime spree.
The episode nails down the danger of whitewashing oneself when Will Reeves sees his son whitening himself. The little boy wants to mimic his father. Reeves get rough with his son when he attempts to wash the paint off the boy’s face. Upset by his brutality, June takes the boy and leaves him. She returns to Tulsa with her son, and tells Will to never look for them. She now knows he will never stop being angry at what happened to his family during the Tulsa riots.
The last bit of memory that Abar sees is present day Will murdering her friend Chief of Tulsa police Judd Crawford. A very old Will uses the same technology that The Cyclops used to hypnotize Black citizens to persuade the police chief to hang himself. Will accuses Judd of being part of the Seventh Calvary because he has a KKK robe hidden away. Judd denies being part of the Seventh Calvary, but does admit that the robe belonged to his grandfather. He keeps the robe because it’s part of his family history, but he claims to be different from his grandfather. Will doesn’t listen. Instead, he hypnotizes Judd to hang himself. The noose has deep meaning to Will because he was almost lynched by men like Crawford’s grandfather.
The final moments of “The Extraordinary Being” left me with many questions. After living through the overdose, Angela Abar wakes up in a sweat inside Lady Trieu’s home. My question is, will Angela now take her grandfather’s side knowing they share a similar history? Will she look at the anonymous part of being Detective Sister Night as dangerous now knowing what the uniform erased in her grandfather? Also, will the audience be led to connect more with Agent Laurie Blake since she has a point about the evil nature of hooded heroes? Maybe we will find out in the next episode.
Retired Admiral Picard starts to put his new crew together.
I enjoyed “The End of the Beginning,” where we finally got to meet some of the members of Picard’s renegade crew. Sadly, his Romulan companions Laris and Zhaban will not be joining him, but leading Cybernetic Expert Dr. Agnes Jurati will be a kind of Science officer in his renegade starship. Picard’s ex-first officer and former Starfleet intelligence officer Raffi Musiker will be at least on the first leg of their journey, starting with finding Doctor Bruce Maddox. Captain Cristobal ” Chris” Rio, who is a former Starfleet commander, is flying the ship that Picard is using to save Soji. Rio’s emergency hologram fixes both him, and the ship appears to be along for the ride. I think it’s cool that in this post Nemesis world, there are holograms that deal with all sorts of emergencies, not just medical. I believe the same actor plays both Rio and the EM. Before I further discuss these characters, I want to point out all the Easter eggs I saw.
My favorite Easter egg was when Rio’s excited Irish EH rattles off a bunch of Picard’s accomplishments from TNG and the movies. ” Chief contact of the Q Continuum. Arbiter of the succession for the Klingon Empire. Savior of Earth from the Borg invasion. Captain of the Enterprise D and E. The man even worked beside the great Spock”. My second favorite reference was at the end when Picard says “Engage” like he did hundreds of times on the Enterprise D’s bridge. Another one of my top Easter eggs was the TNG music that played under a scene where the retired Admiral Picard says that Rio is Starfleet through and through. A minor Easter egg is that Musiker lives at Vasquez Rocks, a location where the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Arena” was shot. ” Arena” featured Kirk fighting a Gorn. I am not sure if a person can be an Easter egg, but Hugh of Borg is featured heavily in the third episode.
Hugh was featured in several episodes of Star Trek: Next Generation, becoming the first Borg to become an individual again. In Star Trek: Picard, Hugh is in charge of the decommissioned Borg cube. The ex-Borg drone has come a long way. Hugh’s body still has remnants of the Borg (scars and some leftover implants), but he is a lot more human though I like how he always speaks in unique cadence.
The last reference to another piece of media that I want to talk about is something that is outside the realm of Star Trek. Some of the music in the last two episodes remind me of The Lord of the Rings movies. I see a lot of comparisons in the plot as well. Both Picard and Frodo don’t feel connected to their homes and long for adventures. And these two fiction characters are both going on quests. Picard’s quest is to save his dead friend’s daughter so he can feel connected to Data again.
I had a few issues with ” The End of the Beginning,” the biggest one being the discussion of money. Aliens outside of the Federation, like the Ferengi, still use currency, but the Federation does not. One of the reasons that Doctor Jurati gives to joining Picard on his mission is that she is wealthy, but as far as I know, the Federation does not pay salaries anymore. The Federation makes sure that everybody is taken care of regardless of what their occupation is, so unless after Nemesis everything shifted back to Capitalism, I am puzzled.
My other problem is toward the end of the episode suddenly Lt Narissa Rizzo is aboard the Borg cube, which seems to be a well-fortified starship. There have been zero indications that the other Romulans onboard know about Narek’s plans to extract information from Soji or that he is part of the Zhat Vash, so they should be suspicious of a Starfleet aboard their vessel. Also, how did Rizzo get official clearance to leave her post? Is Commodore Oh so mighty that she can order Lieutenants to go on secret missions without telling anybody?
I have a minor issue with Rio’s starship. I feel that the starship looks like a spaceship you could find in any science fiction television show. I know the ship is not a Starfleet vessel, but I miss the Enterprise D.
I’m going to take this time to talk about all the new members of Jean Luc Picard’s crew. I believe we will be adding to this list as we go in Star Trek: Picard so that I will have a description for every new member in future reviews.
Ex- Commander Raffi Musiker will be the first crew member that I will describe. Musiker was Admiral Picard’s first officer when he was planning his rescue of the Romulans from the Supernova. I think it is super cute that Raffi calls Picard “JL.” This shows a certain level of closeness between the pair though we don’t get to hear Picard call her Number One.
She was kicked out of Starfleet after Picard resigned as a form of protest for the organization, not helping the Romulans and outlawing Synths. Raffi Musiker lost her security clearance, so she was unable to work in intelligence anymore. In this episode, we learn that Raffi Musiker can spot answers in complex mysteries that no when else can see. In other words, she is good at investigations.
After leaving Starfleet, Musiker became an alcoholic and dependent on some alien version of marijuana that she smokes. She moved to Vasquez rocks and lives in a trailer full of these “marijuana” plants. Raffi Musiker hates Picard because he abandoned her. The retired Admiral did not visit her until he needed a ship to help Data’s daughter. But Jean Luc Picard entices her to help him by telling her all about Soji, Dahj, and Maddox, which first gets her to find him a starship and pilot. Then Picard knows that Musiker wants to figure out where Maddox is hiding, so he sends her all files about the doctor. Raffi figures out where Maddox has been hiding in and hitches a ride in Rio’s ship. Hopefully, Raffi Musiker will become a permanent member of the crew.
Captain “Chris” Rio used to be the first officer in Starfleet, but something happened to his whole crew. Starfleet erased any information about his starship, so he left. Rio has closed himself off from emotions and has become a thief. Rios agrees to be Picard’s pilot but refuses to become invested. Picard notices that Rio still lives with the true Starfleet spirit in his heart since he keeps his ship under its regulations. But he knows that Picard is a great heroic ” Captain” like the one he served under before he resigned. And Rio saw the Captain he served under as a first office die a horrible death, so he refuses to believe in another great man.
We had seen Dr. Agnes Jurati for several episodes, so we know that she and Dr. Maddox were working on creating androids like Dahj and Soji for many years before he fled. Jurati begs to go with Picard because she now works in a field where she cannot create anything since Synths were made illegal. Soji is the embodiment of everything that Agnes wants to see invented, so she needs to see the android with her own eyes. We also know that Agnes is brave because she shot a Romulan spy to protect Picard. He is a hero to her. I think Dr. Agnes Jurati will be a vital member of the crew even though I don’t think she ever officially served in Starfleet. Though form the pilot, we know that Jurati went to Starfleet Academy, so she has some training.
I cannot wait to see episode four, which will be a real mystery to me since I only saw up to episode three in the premiere.
Check out my Lovecraft Country Season One reviews! I write about the amazing complex women characters in this brilliant HBO Horror Fantasy television show that wrestles with racism.
My review for the entire Lovecraft Country Season One: https://www.fanbolt.com/110337/lovecraft-country-season-1-review-a-blm-must-see/
Sara Howard, Laszlo Kriezler, and John Schuyler Moore discover the childhood trauma that mentally scared Libby Hatch enough to turn her into a serial killer.
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season 2 Episode 7 ” Last Exit to Brooklyn” and Episode 8 “Better Angels” is directed by David Caffrey. Sara’s team, with the help of the brutish Retired Chief of Police Thomas F Brynes, finally brings Libby to justice. Sadly, Detective Sergeant Marcus Issacson is shot to death by Miss. Hatch. John Schuyler Moore decides to marry Violet Hayward after learning she is pregnant partly because Sara Howard has no desire to be a mother. Sara will not be forced by social conventions to marry and have children, especially after living with a mother who had no desire to have her. She will not allow another child to suffer. At the end of the finale, Laszlo decides to move to Vienna to be with Karen Stratton, a fellow Alienist.
Libby’s mother should never have had a daughter. Libby a.k.a. Elspeth Hunter’s family came from money but lost everything, including their mansion when her father committed suicide. Sara, Laszlo, and John learn that Libby’s mother was never loving toward her daughter. Mrs. Hunter was incapable of properly loving a child, so when Libby got pregnant as a teenager, she gave her daughter’s baby girl away to an orphanage. But first, the mother had to prove that Libby wasn’t mentally competent enough to look after the baby, so she cut herself.
Mrs. Hunter falsely claims to the police that her daughter attacked her. Libby gets locked up in an insane asylum, and her baby is taken away. Libby was abandoned by her mother and, felt like she lost the one being that truly loved her. She mourned her biological daughter Clara leaving as if she had died. In the 19th century, society told women that they had to have children to be whole, which led to a lot of traumatized children like Elspeth, who were never adequately nurtured. Libby most likely would not have become a serial killer if she had proper love and compassion from the one who was supposed to protect her.
“Last Exit to Brooklyn” and “Better Angels” feature Sara Howard wrestling with her demons. Sara feels a continued connection with Libby since their lives are so similar: Both come from money and have mothers who could not nurture them. Both their fathers were the only ones who showed genuine affection for them. The fathers committed suicide, leaving their daughters with emotionally distant mothers. Sara uses her understanding of Libby’s psyche to determine where the baby boy Vanderbilt has been hidden.
Sara shows compassion toward Libby. She covers the murderer with a blanket to warm her up. The private detective quietly listens when Libby tells her about how her mother’s lie ruined her life. Sara asks if Mrs. Hunter was one of those women who should not have children. Libby nods. Sara shares how her mother also did not love her. Libby comforts Sara by telling her that her father loved her. By comforting the private detective, Libby is assuring herself that her father also loved her. Sara nods but then confesses to Libby that as a child, she also wandered that if her father loved her, then why did he leave. She knows that the serial killer must feel the same way about her own father’s suicide. Libby feels unloved. Sara and the murder both share that they last time they felt happy was before their fathers died. Clara’s birth made Libby feel joyful again. The murder uses surrogate babies to feel the love that was stolen from her by her father’s suicide, the removal for baby, and her mother’s abandonment. She is unable to feel a deep emotional connection with another person because of the multiple layers of trauma.
Sara uses that emotional connection with Libby one last time to bring the end to the whole tragedy to a end. The private detective finds Libby holding Clara hostage in her childhood mansion. Libby has already started to break down because her biological daughter won’t show her any affection. After all, they have no real bond. When Sara and Laszlo busts into the home, Libby threatens to commit murder-suicide.
Sara pleads for Libby to stop hurting Clara. The broken women can’t understand this comment because she is stuck in the mind of a child. The trauma of Libby’s daughter being stolen based on a lie has left her mentally stunted at teenagerhood. She thinks that loving her daughter gives her permission to “keep” Clara no matter what. Laszlo and Sara breakthrough when they tell her that Clara can have a real future. Libby lets her daughter go. She confesses that she has only felt the love or joy from innocent babies, but those feelings never lasted. Libby keeps on chasing positive emotions, which leads to her kidnapping and killing babies. Sara relates because even though she is not a serial killer, she struggles with fulling expressing or feeling her emotions. She visits Libby in prison one last time. Sara recognizing that if not for a couple of lucky breaks, she could have been like Libby.
The feminist ending of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Two is perfect with Sara at her private detective agency. Bitsy notifies Sara about several significant new cases, including a bank robbery that the NYPD wants help with when a new hire named Kitty walks in. Sara instructs Kitty about how right now the newspapers will not be celebrating women detectives. She reflects on all the innovations that at one time were unimaginable, but in the future women investigators, will be normal. She reminds everybody that men might attack them just for being women, but they must focus on their jobs as detectives. Their clothes or genders has nothing to do with how they fulfill their duties. The women will not always be perfect at solving crimes, but they will always do their best. Sara Howard smiles throughout the speech, happy to be doing the type of cases she wants without needing male validation.
Sara solves one of her cases, but another baby is lost. John, Sara, and Laszlo’s lives get more complicated as they pursue Libby.
Clare Kilner directed The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Two Episode Five “Belly of the Beast.” Episode Six “Memento Mori” is directed by David Caffrey. Libby escapes capture, Sara Howard finds baby Anna Linares. Libby kidnaps the Vanderbilt baby boy in the middle of the park, and Sara is hired to find the child. John Schuyler Moore feels romantically split between his work partner turned lover Sara Howard and his fiancé Violet Hayward who wants more of his attention. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler’s medical license is suspended after he finds one of his charges, Pauly hanging from a noose in his office. Thankfully Laszlo saves the boy’s life, but now the institute is closed. The gangster Goo Goo Knox is dating Libby, so he will do anything to protect her.
One of the more engaging parts of these two episodes is the exploration of Libby’s dangerous psyche because this is the first time we see her revealing her true self on screen. We learn that she has been drinking a small amount of poison each day, then eating charcoal to render her breast milk safe. Libby stops eating charcoal, meaning she is preparing to murder Anna.
As she is drinking her daily dose of poison, Anna starts crying. Libby muses that only cats and babies mewl. She says maybe the baby is a cat. Libby is starting to dehumanize the baby so she can kill her. When the nurse starts breastfeeding, Libby tells the “little cat” that she will never forget her. She remembers all “her babies.” There are close-up shots of photos of dead babies with eyes drawn on their eyelids—trophies of all her victims. Sara and Laszlo muse that Libby murders the babies when they grow older than her dead child, perhaps Anna has outgrown her purpose.
Sara Howard goes on a feminist journey throughout “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori.” First, in “Belly of the Beast,” Libby breaks into the private detective office to seal Sara’s father’s rifle. John cajoles Sara into staying in his apartment for her safety, but she refuses to remain hidden until they find Libby. She is a strong independent woman who doesn’t need anybody’s protection, especially since this is her case. Sara and Libby are in a cat and mouse game.
Sara sneaks down to Goo Goo Knox’s territory, where she finds Libby breastfeeding her gangster boyfriend. Knox drinking her breast milk raises a question for me. If Libby poisons her breast milk, then how is Knox not dead yet?
Sara follows Libby to an apartment where the two fight for the stolen gun. Thankfully, Sara wrestles the gun away from the murder but cannot stop her from running away. She finds baby Anna in a drawer just before John comes running in after hearing Sara went to track Libby in the sketchy part of New York. Sara is the only one of the team who faces Libby straight on.
At the end of “Belly of the Beast,” the team returns Anna to the happy Linares family. Sara and John retire to his apartment. He congratulates his friend on finding the baby girl on her own, but Sara is hard on herself because she did not capture Libby. John has been attracted to Sara’s independence, intelligence, and strength for a long time. John tells Sara that he loves her. After witnessing the love inside the Linares family home, Sara can finally hear John’s affection in a positive light. The couple makes love in the guest room. For a long time, Sara saw marriage as a trap that would force her to conform to societal rules of femininity. She finally understands that John loves her, but still respects her as a detective.
“Memento Mori” starts with Sara shutting down any discussion of their night together because John engaged with Violet. Violet sees her fiancé’s love for Sara and is delighted when her father publishes a scandalous article about the other woman. The article mentions Howard’s brutish “masculine” detective techniques. Hearst calls Sara out of letting Libby escape even though she saved Anna. He hopes that writing about her “unnatural” behavior as a working woman will lead to the socialite’s business failing. The opposite happens, the publicity from the article leads to Sara’s detective agency booming with case requests.
Cornelius Vanderbilt hires Sara to find his kidnapped grandson. Sara, John, and Laszlo track down the apartment where Libby kept Anna and the Knapp’s baby. The apartment is full of cribs and trophies, such as hairbrushes and jewelry chests with the Linares’ family crest and the Vanderbilt family crest. Libby watches wealthy families for a long time before stealing the babies. The team knows that the jewelry chest with the Vanderbilt crest means she is about to kidnap a new baby. Sara and the team try to discover which Vanderbilt owns this particular jewelry chest, but they don’t figure out which one until after the baby boy is kidnapped. Because of success, one of the most powerful men in New York trusts a woman detective to find his baby grandson during a time when women of her social standing are meant to stay quiet.
Sara and Libby have an unspoken connection because both their fathers committed suicide. When the team finds out Libby’s name is an alias, they try to find out who she really is. Sara recollects that Libby’s vulnerability made her feel comfortable enough to share that her father shot himself in the head with a rifle. Then Libby revealed to Sara that her father hung himself from the Brooklyn bridge. They look through newspapers to find an article about a man who hung himself from that particular bridge. They find out her real name is Elspeth Hunter. John and Sara believe that Libby is hiding from the NYPD in Brooklyn, where they now know she is raised.
The episode ends with Libby, the baby boy, and Goo Goo Knox sleeping on a roof facing the Brooklyn bridge. If anybody can bring Libby to justice, it is Sara, who, instead of letting the trauma of her father’s death corrupt her mind, became mentally tougher after the loss.
Sara, Laszlo, and John figure out the murderous kidnapper is most likely a nurse who works at the “lying-in” hospital. “Lying-in” hospital is another way of saying a maternity ward.
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Two Episode Three “The Labyrinth” and Episode Four “Gilded Cage” directed by Clare Kilner follows our three investigators as they search out the clues that lead them to the suspect nurse Libby Hatch (Rosy McEwen). The team believes that the kidnapper is a woman who had a stillbirth baby girl or a miscarriage. At first, she dotes on the surrogates. Eventually, this killer views these babies as “changelings,” then kills them. Sara Howard digs into Dr. Markoe’s “lying-in” hospital catered to needy women. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler uses hypnosis and art on Senora Linares to pull out information about who could have possibly kidnapped baby Anna. John Schuyler Moore focuses on his bachelor and engagement party with his fiancé Violet Hayward.
Both “The Labyrinth” and “Gilded Cage” did a great job peppering the episodes with red herrings, so the ending is surprising. John uses his connection to the heir of one of the hospital’s donors Auggie Gildersleeve to help Sara gain access. Sara is quietly disgusted with what she sees at the lying-in hospital. The women in the maternity ward are treated like children or animals. The grouchy matron doesn’t care about the dignity of her patients and abuses the staff. The misogynistic Dr. Markoe dismisses Sara by stating that many young, uneducated girls often harm their unwanted babies instead of looking further into what happened to Martha Knapp. She automatically suspects the hardened matron and the patriarchal Dr. Markoe of being part of the kidnapping. The matron takes Sara to the room where Martha Knapp slept the night of the crime.
Sara connects with Libby after she witnesses the nurse being rebuked by the matron. Meek Libby seems to care for her patients. She is a woman who’s been beaten down by a system controlled by wealthy men. When the matron leaves the room, Libby reveals that Martha slept somewhere else the day her baby girl was taken. The private detective believes the nurse could be a legitimate source of information, so Sara invites her to lunch.
Libby doesn’t give her much information, but the two connect since both their fathers committed suicide. Sara is an authority in her chosen profession because she came from a wealthy family while Libby was left with little opportunity but to be a punching bag for the matron. After lunch, the young nurse reveals that the matron kept the Linares baby sequestered.
The private detective finds the matron’s apartment with Libby’s help. Sara can’t gain access to the apartment, but the landlady reveals that the older woman has brought home babies in the past. The matron doted on the babies before she had to return them. Her forceful behavior and her desire for children convince both Sara and the audience to suspect her. Sara tells Laszlo that she thinks that the matron might simply be an unpleasant person but still warrants more attention.
“Labyrinth” ends with a creepy peek into what’s happening to baby Anna as the investigation continues. There is an out focus wide shot of a woman picking up a crying Anna from a crib as she hums a lullaby. She sits down in a rocking chair and breastfeeds the baby. This fact makes sense since the Isaacson brothers found breast milk and the poison in the Knapp baby’s stomach. The “sequence killer” the investigators are looking might be a wet nurse or recently pregnant woman.
In “Gilded Cage,” Sara sends one of her assistants Bitsy Sussman to infiltrate the “lay-in” hospital. She instructs Bitsy to spend time with the maternity assistants who were ex-patients and from the more deprived areas of New York. Sussman gains a job as one of the maternity assistants, saying she has looked after many babies. Meanwhile, Libby brings Martha Knapp’s patient folder to Sara. She is risking her job to help the private detective. Libby seems like an ally to Sara standing up to her bullies and the young women thrown away by the men who impregnated them.
Bitsy learns that Dr. Markoe has a particular research wing where he keeps pregnant mistresses of New York’s elite. They give birth, then the doctor sterilizes the women and sends their babies off somewhere. The mistresses are thrown away by these men. Dr. Markoe tells them the babies were stillborn. Dr. Markoe’s donors are wealthy men who take advantage of these poor young women and then leave them unable to have a family of their own. These mistresses are just tools of pleasure to these men.
Sara comes to suspect a maternity assistant with a vicious temper named Collen. Bitsy tries to get closer to Collen, but she clamps up whenever she asks her questions about how she lost her baby. We learn that she used to be a mistress to a New York elite, maybe even Dr. Markoe, but became pregnant. Collen is one of the lucky ones who can still have children after being a maternity patient at the hospital.
There is a sequence with parallel action where the red herring is revealed, and we learn the shocking truth. When Bitsy pushes Collen too far, she attacks her violently. The undercover investigator appears to be in real danger from the killer, so she locks herself in an examination room. Bitsy turns to see Libby is inside the locked room with her. Meanwhile, days after the hypnosis, Senora Isabella Linares remembers that Libby creepily stared at her at the lay-in hospital. She spotted her again at the park before the kidnapping. The diplomat’s wife realizes Libby took her daughter.
Libby poisons Bitsy with a syringe but is scared away by the innocent Collen before she finishes the job. The nurse escapes, but thankfully the investigators rush over right in time to save Bitsy. The episode ends with the murderer stabbing the matron to death. Libby draws eyes on the matron’s eyelids with blood. We now see the anger that has been hiding underneath Libby’s submissive behavior the whole time. She is the baby kidnapper and murder.
Friends Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl), and John Schuyler Moore (Luke Evans) take on two new cases. The disappearance of baby Ana Linares the daughter of the Spanish Consular, and the kidnapping of Martha Napp’s baby girl. These cases happened in 1897 when hostilities between Spain and the United States were high.
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Two Episode One “Ex Ore Infantium” and Episode Two “Something Wicked” directed by David Caffrey is a couple of years after the team’s first ” sequence killer” case. Sara Howard quit her job as a secretary at the NYPD and now runs her all-female detective agency, where she mostly works for dowagers who worry their servants are stealing from them. The New York Times reporter John Schuyler Moore now writes for the crime beat and is engaged to Miss. Violet Hayward, who’s the illegitimate daughter of William Randolph Hearst. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler still runs rehabilitation school for mentally troubled boys. He is trying to help Martha Napp. She was executed for the death of her baby even though a body was never found. Napp’s sick daughter was taken from her crib at a hospital. Before the execution in the electorate chair, Dr. Kreizler promises Martha that he will discover what happened to her baby girl.
” Ex Ore Infantium” and ” Something Wicked” inhabits the 19th century fully. Fantastic period dramas don’t just have realistic costumes, but the dialogue and the cadence of the performer’s voice take you back in time. All the characters from private detective Sara Howard to psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler don’t merely use old fashioned vocabulary but also have a way of speaking that captures the late 1800’s. Many sub-par historical television shows stop their audiences from buying in because they don’t take the time to create a realistic, immersive world. The Alienist cast and crew do that from their acting style to the detailed costumes of the lower and upper-level class characters, and the dark world of these three serial killer hunters. Everything on screen is cast in shadow since the team led by private detective Sara Howard goes into the dark recesses of the human brain to hunt the baby killer.
Sara Howard is the feminist hero that we all need right now. As a professional woman who owns her own business, during a time when husbands still essentially owned their wives, and most men discount women’s emotions or thoughts, Sara is the perfect person to take on Isabella Linares’ case. She is brought into the case by the famous Suffragette leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Even though Elizabeth Cady Stanton believes that women are equal to men, she still only sees Sara as a way to get to a brilliant man Dr. Kreizler who can help her friend Isabella Linares. Sara has to point out that what they broadly need is a detective who understands how to investigate crime, not just a master of criminal psychology. Unlike a man, Sara won’t just brush off Isabella because she’s emotional after her daughter was kidnapped. Isabella hires Sara for the case.
In the first two episodes of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler fights against Dr. Markoe and uses all of his unusual talents to help prove that Martha Napp is innocent. Dr. Markoe locks women up against their will who become pregnant after adultery or behave outside the social norms. He is the one testified that Martha Napp had a psychotic break, then killed her baby. Kreizler blames Markoe for Martha’s execution and thinks he is a quack.
The end of “Ex Ore Infantium” shows the NYPD detectives brother team Marcus Isaacson (Douglas Smith) and Lucius Isaacson (Matthew Shear) finding a dead baby girl in a toy shop dressed like a baby doll. The brothers are like modern-day pathologists. John and Sara come to investigate to see if the death is connected to the kidnapping of the Linares baby, especially since the kidnapper left a bloody baby doll in her crib.
The dead baby has eyes drawn on her closed eyelids like the bloody doll. Sara doesn’t think the baby is Ana Linares but knows the cases are connected. The Isaacsons tell John and Sara that the cause of death was poisoning. Dr. Kreizler identifies the baby girl as Martha Knapp’s daughter. The three investigators realize that the markings remind them of Posthumous Portraiture, where parents draw eyes on their dead children’s eyelids, so they look awake in photographs. Demonstrating that the killer has some faux care for the victims. He or she objectifies the babies before harming by making them into dolls in their mind.
In “Something Wicked,” the police and the establishment want to dirty the name of the Spanish, which means that Isabella’s behavior has to be above reproach. Sara and Laszlo fight over, asking Isabella if they can hypnotize her to discover more about the kidnapping since she has blocked all memories of the event. Sara doesn’t think asking a foreign dignities wife to try such an untested method is a good idea, especially since having a woman investigator is already pushing things. Laszlo goes against her wishes, offending Isabella. Their disagreements are forgotten when they get a call informing them that the police are arresting Isabella. Thankfully Sara persuades them to let her go because Isabella has immunity as a foreign dignitary. Isabella’s name will not be all over the press.
John Schuyler Moore convinces his editor to let him write a story about the two cases if he can find proof that they are connected. The editor feels that since the babies are from different social circles, their connection is dubious. He warns John that his future father-in-law Hearst will not like him looking into the case. Hearst gathers data like the Linares’ not reporting the kidnapping to the police planning to write articles that feed into the American public’s xenophobia toward the Spanish creating “fake news.”
Next week we will continue to follow the three forward-thinking investigators fighting against sexism, xenophobia, and the underrepresented like children.
Betty Broderick faces two trials for the murders of Dan Broderick and Linda Kolkena.
Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story Season Two Episode Eight “Perception is Reality,” directed by Maggie Kiley, documents the two trials that lead to Betty being sentenced for two counts of second-degree murder. The first trial ended with a hung jury because a couple of the jurors thought that she was pushed to the mental breaking point and can’t be legally blamed for her actions. In the second case, the prosecutor was able to show that Betty broke into Broderick’s house with the intent to shoot Dan and Linda. The jurors did not all agree it was first-degree murder, but they decided she deserved the second-degree charge meaning two consecutive 15 years to life sentences.
In the first trial, Betty became too confident that she would get away with killing Linda and Dan. She enjoys testifying in front of the court. The prosecutor Well’s questions backfire when she asks Betty how she lost all her friends because she was always complaining about Dan. The defendant explained how she quit all of her activities because all she could think about anything but the next court date. Betty muses that she doesn’t know if she lost friends or they lost her.
Meanwhile, back in the jail, Betty glows with glee with the amount of fan mail she receives from women from all over the country. Betty has zero remorse for murdering two people; instead, she giggles as she looks through letters from women who can empathize with her divorce struggles. She outright laughs as she shows other inmates a little handkerchief with the phrase ” Free Betty Broderick so She can Kill another Lawyer” stitched on. When the judge declares a mistrial because the jury is deadlocked, Betty is convinced that she won’t ever be found guilty.
“Perception is Reality” does a great job of showing why all these different jurors can’t decide a verdict. The judge asks each juror if they agree that they are hopelessly deadlocked, then there is an edit to them in front of the press explaining why. For example, Juror Number One tells the media that he doesn’t think that Betty went to the house to kill herself like the defense claims, but that she was provoked. There is an edit showing Juror Number Ten saying, “Yes, your honor,” then explaining to the press that he thought that everybody has a breaking point. There is a voice-over of the older man speaking as Betty cries tears of joy, nodding as the jurors agree that they are deadlocked. The sequence ends with Juror Number Ten, stating that he wondered what took her so long to shoot them by the end of the trial.
Betty enjoys all of the love and support from her fans too much. The rest of the episode demonstrates how mentally deranged she is throughout this process. Her lawyer Jack warns Betty not to get too confident, but she doesn’t listen. The defendant focuses on the fact that she is now receiving packages of support from all over the world. Betty thinks the next trial will end with a hung jury; then, they will let her go. She wants Jack to fight for bail, but he points out that the court will never give one to a double murderer. Betty uses Jeffrey Dahmer receiving an impossible one million dollar bail as a reason why they should fight for bail. She jokes that they would set her bail if she had eaten her victims. Betty playfully bites at her lawyer.
Press swarm around Betty for interviews because of all the true crime buzz. In the interviews, she discusses how Dan mistreated her during the end of their marriage, revealing that he was able to walk all of her because of gender disparity. I agree that Dan emotionally abused Betty, but that is not the whole story. Her behavior before and during the murder was destructive. Jack warns her about doing these interviews because he has a bad feeling about the reporters. Betty enjoys the adoration and attention, so she disregards his advice. She arrogantly thinks that the way she tells her story on the stand and in the press will gain sympathy.
When Betty speaks to the People Magazine reporter, she makes a critical mistake. The reporter flatters Betty by talking about how her supporters empathize with her plight because she is a woman “scorned.” She tells Betty that one woman near San Diego said that the shooting was a bit of “prairie justice.” The reporter asks what Betty thinks. Betty giggles into her hand, saying she can’t tell her what she thinks. She should have said no comment. There is no excuse in murdering anybody, especially Linda, who was stuck between two vindictive spouses.
In the first trial, the prosecutor Wells never asks Betty what happened in the bedroom, but she fixes that omission in the second trial. The prosecutor proves that at the very least, Betty intentionally shot Linda and Dan. The defendant states that her hand accidentally tightened around the trigger in the dark bedroom. She couldn’t even see them. Wells points out that she shot Dan and Linda several times with a revolver that required Betty to squeeze the trigger several times and aim since each of her victims were on different sides of the bed.
The finale ends with Betty sitting in prison. There is a voice-over of Betty singing her and Dan’s “song.” She hallucinates Young Dan in the cell with her. There is a sequence with scenes that show versions of past events where Dan or Betty treated each other and their family with more respect. For example, Betty doesn’t leave her kids at Dan’s house. Then Betty stares at Dan and Linda, holding each other. She is stuck in prison for the rest of her life with the couple she murdered in cold blood.
Betty wanted peace, but those twelve jurors made sure she was stuck with her victims for the rest of her life.
Betty murders Dan and Linda after nobody takes her declining mental health seriously.
Dirty: John: The Betty Broderick Story Season Two Episode Seven “The Shillelagh,” directed by Alexandra Cunningham, is about the murder of Linda Kolkena and Dan Broderick. The real or fictional Betty has no real excuse for murdering two people, but the television show documents how there were many warning signs. Instead of helping Betty, both Dan and Linda played with her mind. Betty is not a victim, but she could have been stopped. Her friends only try to contain her. Dan and Linda emotionally or legally destroy Betty.
Betty’s gun purchase should have been the first significant warning sign. Instead, everybody decided Betty was acting overdramatic. Betty shows her sons the handgun. She tells them never to touch the gun or tell anybody about it. Ryan informs Dan that Betty now owns a gun, but he still refuses to buy a home security system, even though Betty has threatened to kill him several times. Dan thinks that Betty is just playing mind games with him.
During his bachelor party, one of Dan’s lawyer friends asks him if he is nervous now that Betty owns a gun. Dan flippantly states that all Betty cares about is money. She would never kill the “golden goose.” Dan doesn’t realize that money is just part of why she is so crazed about the divorce. Betty wants the whole marriage back. She doesn’t know who she is without being Mrs. Broderick. She feels like Dan stole her entire identity. Betty worked hard, building the perfect family. Dan’s arrogance blinds him, and he doesn’t report her to the police. If Betty is willing to keep on leaving offensive voice messages even though it leads to her serving jail time, she is not acting logically.
Linda doesn’t help matters either. The new bride has enough after she steals her wedding guest list. Linda takes her anger out on the sons, attacking them for letting Betty into the house when she dropped them off. Dan stands up for his sons, knowing that they cannot control an adult. She and Dan fight over how they are going to get the guest list back. At the end of her rope, Linda breaks into Betty’s house while she is at her job. Betty now assists at a pre-school. She doesn’t find the guest list but steals Betty’s diary instead. Linda bumps into Betty’s cleaning woman as she leaves home.
When Betty comes back, the cleaning woman tells her that a blonde woman who is not her daughter was in the house. She knows its Linda when she can’t find her diary. Betty becomes more outraged. Back at her home, Linda shows Dan the journal telling him how she broke into Betty’s house. She doesn’t see the problem since Betty has broken into their house so many times. Dan correctly scolds Linda telling her that they don’t stoop to her level. They don’t violate laws by trespassing and stealing his ex-wife’s property. He tells Linda to return the diary.
Linda returns the journal after a judge forces Betty to fork over the guest list. If Betty didn’t, then Dan wouldn’t have to pay spousal support. But breaking back into the home to give back the diary leaves the ex-wife even more paranoid. She hallucinates Linda and Dan mocking her journal entries. “The Shillelagh” evokes Betty’s paranoia with an eerie voice-over of her internal hallucinatory dialogue as she stares obsessively at the diary.
Betty’s friends do their best to stop her from doing anything rash. They make up beeper codes to warn each other if they lose sight of her during Dan’s second wedding ceremony. Karen hangs out with Betty during the ceremony. Even though Betty continues to act up, her friends think that her not ruining Dan’s wedding means she is no longer obsessed.
I think that everybody is fooled by the fact that Betty seems to be making some progress. She is going to therapy. The therapist urges Betty to work toward getting her sons back instead of acting on her impulses. Betty looks for a new home to buy. But Dan’s happiness leads her further into manic depression.
After returning from a relaxing honeymoon in Cabo, Dan refuses to engage in any serious talks about shared custody until Betty stops leaving vile voice messages in contempt of court. Instead of changes her actions, Betty wallows in her pain. She steals keys to Dan and Linda’s house from her eldest daughter. Bringing it one step closer to the murder. If only Kim had remembered the keys or had realized she left them, then maybe there would have been no shooting. Dan could have changed the locks or finally called the police.
Betty finally snaps after Linda and Dan decide to try to conceive. Betty feels she has no real purpose after learning that Dan wants to have a child with somebody else. Betty breaks into tears, frustrated, and resentful that her son has to give up Disneyland to spend time with her. She doesn’t realize that the important thing is that her children love her more than a theme park, plus she can fight to gain more custody.
That night Betty lets her rage at Dan take control. She drives over to their house with the stolen keys. Thankfully the episode doesn’t show the actual murder. The loved ones of the victims don’t need to see the glorification of the killing. Instead, Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story shows Betty telling everybody about the shooting over the phone. “The Shillelagh” ends with Betty sitting in jail. Next week, we will see the theatrics of the trial.