The Alienist 1×5 Review: Hildebrandt’s Starling

The Alienist Episode 5 review Hildebrandts Starling

We’ve reached the middle of The Alienist and ‘Hildebrandt’s Starling’ had some very interesting moments that helped raise the overall tension in the plot. The episode revealed the identity of the killer, though I’m not sure if we should believe the writers so quickly.

I was provided a screener of ‘Hildebrandt’s Starling’ for review. The opinions are my own.

This week’s episode talked a lot about parents playing a role in possibly messing up their children by being too attentive or too distant. We already have a lot of examples in The Alienist talking about the parent-child dynamics.

John Moore’s father was disinterested in his son and his mother was absent which, combined with other traumas in John’s life, led him to have intimacy issues and drinking a lot. Sara’s father focused on helping her feel independent and strong, after her mother’s death, which led to Sara being too professionally driven in a man’s world and ignoring her personal life. We also got a glimpse of Kriezler’s mother not being attentive.

Coming to the killer, after revealing his identity (it’s young Van Burgen), ‘Hildebrandt’s Starling’ let us know about him having a very overbearing mother. Did the overpampering from his mother really make him into a monster? I hope The Alienist delves deeper into this plot point.

We also got an entire scene where John and Kriezler went to visit Jesse Pomeroy (the Boston Boy Fiend). I loved seeing Jesse play with Kriezler’s emotions. Our lead alienist believed in his own theory of parents running children to such an extent he fell right into Jesse’s trap.

‘Hildebrandt’s Starling’ had some fun character interactions that I always look forward to seeing every week. Team Alienist was able to narrow down their list of suspects after inviting a specialist to analyze the killer’s writing from his letter. Everything seemed to be going according to Kriezler way of thinking until Sara proposed the killer possibly having a domineering woman in his life. Sara’s theory made Kriezler lash out, making for a wonderful scene. Sara isn’t afraid to speak her mind and she was right to bring Kriezler down a few notches. Their interaction allowed Kriezler to develop as a character, understanding he should be more open to other ways of thinking while handling the current case.

Sara and John also shared a fun scene. I’m not sure if those two will become a thing as the series progresses, but I’m all for the two being flirty with each other.

Dakota Fanning is knocking it out of the park as Sara Howard. Her character, understandably, puts on a brave face when dealing with people around her, but there’s an inner vulnerability that makes her endearing. Her scene in the restaurant with Kriezler, where she out-machos him while drinking whiskey, was awesome!

While Team Alienist was busy trying to reveal the killer’s identity, Commissioner Roosevelt had his plate full dealing with the corruption in the police department. He was even told by the mayor to stop digging around because the potential killer was well-connected. However, Roosevelt didn’t back down and his determination led to Captain Connor being fired after taking the police force to the wrong address to protect the Van Burgen family. I don’t think Connor will handle being fired well. I wouldn’t be surprised if a war occurs inside the police force.

Some thoughts and questions:

  • I was expecting Roosevelt to give Sara a gun, in secret, after he issued new weapons to the police force. I need to see Sara shoot a gun. The show has already mentioned she knows how to.
  • The scene where the Isaacson brothers tried to explain queer sex to Sara was hilarious.
  • Linking the killings to Holy Days in the Christian calendar was a nice touch. But I want more of an explanation.
  • I still have my doubts about young Van Bergen being the actual murderer. I’m not saying he isn’t capable of killing people, I just don’t see him being the child killer Team Alienist is trying to find.
  • The final scene with Roosevelt knocking on the wrong door was fun but very cliché.

What did you think of The Alienist this week? Did you enjoy ‘Hildebrandt’s Starling’? Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Masters in Psychology and an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.



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