“The Alienist: Angel of Darkness” 2×3 & 2×4 Review: ‘Labyrinth’ & ‘Gilded Cage’

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Laszlo and Sara in ‘Gilded Cage’ (Image: Screengrab)

The two latest episodes of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Gilded Cage’, did what I had been waiting for. It revealed the killer to us. Now, let’s see how our protagonists will stop the murderer.

As I have mentioned before, one of the things I enjoyed about The Alienist was how it told the viewers about the villain before the good guys. I had been waiting for the same thing to happen in The Alienist season 2. That’s why I was quite happy we finally found out about who kidnapped the Linares baby. Of course, there could be more than one person involved in the kidnapping. But, at least, we have someone for our heroes to track down instead of the narrative dragging the reveal until the finale (as most mystery series do).

‘Labyrinth’ focused a lot on Sara. It opened with Sara allowing Laszlo to put her under hypnosis. I liked how considerate Sara was being toward Senora Linares. How could Sara suggest her client undergo something unless it was completely safe? During the session, we saw Sara’s memories featuring a red balloon (yes, my mind instantly went to IT) and bloody hands. I’m not really sure what these memories were supposed to showcase. Did Sara blame herself for her father’s death? Did she have a sibling that died when she was very young? I don’t know.  

On Sara’s recommendation, Laszlo finally put Senora Linares under hypnosis. Due to her being an artist, her hypnotic journey opened with a famous painting. When she was urged to revisit her outing to the local park with her baby girl, she fainted. That’s when John suggested asking Senora Linares to paint her memories instead of trying to describe them through speech. 

In my opinion, the writers did a good job of handling the entire situation. With the help of an art teacher named Cecilia Beaux (yes, I checked, she was an actual person), Senora Linares was able to draw her little visit to the park. The recollection of what Senora Linares experienced that day, through hypnosis, didn’t exit the realm of possibility. Our detectives didn’t magically find the answer after looking at the painting. They just got to know about the area in the park to search in. They still had a lot to uncover.

‘Labyrinth’ also showed Sara visiting the Lying-In Hospital to talk to Dr. Markoe. It’s clear that the women there weren’t being treated well. There’s also the implication that Markoe has been sexually assaulting some of them. I really enjoyed the back-and-forth between Markoe and Sara. Yes, Markoe is the only one helping poor women; women that society doesn’t want anything to do with. But his intentions aren’t the purest and that’s what prevents the audience from fully sympathizing with him.

While Sara didn’t get any answers from Markoe, she was able to create a beneficial relationship with one of the ward nurses named Libby (Rosy McEwen). The two bonded over what happened to their fathers. Libby’s father took his own life, too. After Sara told Libby about the latest kidnapped baby, Libby stole Martha Napp’s file from the Lying-In Hospital and gave it to Sara.

I do have to share that, in my opinion, the way McEwen played Libby reminded me of Nicole Kidman. McEwen’s acting in ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Gilded Cage’ was impressive. I look forward to seeing more of her.

As far as relationships are concerned, ‘Labyrinth’ involved John’s bachelor party. While he’s okay with marrying Violet, it’s clear he’s still got feelings for Sara. I’m not a fan of romantic entanglements. I’m not looking forward to seeing John and Sara’s relationship grow more complicated.

Episode 4 of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness revealed the villain. The main thing happening in the ‘Gilded Cage’ was John’s engagement party. Kudos to the costume and set designing teams for offering such a visual treat. It all looked amazing.

Laszlo and Sara attended the party with the intention to confront Markoe. I liked how John tried to persuade Sara not to cause a scene because that would embarrass Violet. I don’t know about you, but I sided with John during that particular interaction. Sara using the party to confront Markoe without thinking about how John would feel was a bit selfish.

Sara and John also shared an incredibly well-acted conversation after Sara tried to tell John she wasn’t happy with how he was being treated by Violet. Apparently, Violet and her godfather weren’t above making fun of John in public. Sara wanted John to be with someone who respected him but, of course, that someone just couldn’t be her. And then John decided to call Sara out on being a hypocrite because she was all about judging other rich people without acknowledging her privilege as a rich young woman. He even compared her to a yazoo tributary. I loved every second of it.

Privileged people being blind to their privilege was also showcased through the way Cyrus’ daughter had to attend the engagement party. As a young Black woman, Cyrus’ daughter Joanna had to move around with her face and hands covered as to not stand out in the crowd. I hope she gets a nice narrative arc this season.  

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John and a masked Joanna working together in ‘Gilded Cage’ (Image: Screengrab)

As for our villain, we got to find her through Bitsy. Going undercover at the Lying-In Hospital, Bitsy tried to collect details by talking to the ward nurses. She focused on a young woman named Colleen. We found out that Colleen was brought to the hospital as a patient when she was pregnant. Of course, her baby was stillborn like every other child delivered at the hospital. She’s also being sexually assaulted by Markoe.

At first, the writers tried to make viewers think that Colleen was the kidnapper. Even Bitsy thought so. However, the true villain ended up being Libby!

Again, the way McEwen acted in the role was everything. I really enjoyed the scene where Libby talked about what she wanted while sitting on the Matron’s sofa. I’m looking forward to seeing Libby grow crazier. I’m also interested in hearing how the writers will explain Libby’s motivations.  

Speaking of the Matron, Libby killed her. She even proceeded to draw eyes on the Matron’s eyelids by using the Matron’s own blood. So good!

Some more thoughts and questions:

  • The scene where Laszlo had Martha’s baby be buried with her was sad.
  • Do you think John will break off his engagement with Violet?
  • The women tearing through a large cake to find a ring during the engagement party was so weird. It just went to show that even though rich people might think they’re above the rest, they really aren’t.
  • So Karen (an accomplished alienist herself) is going to be Laszlo’s girlfriend? Good for him, I guess.
  • I was glad to see Bitsy didn’t die after her confrontation with Libby.
  • Byrnes clearly didn’t like being treated as a nobody. I wonder what he’ll do about it.
  • Seeing Helen continue to be obsessed with her abuser was unfortunate.

What did you think of ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Gilded Cage’? Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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