“The Alienist: Angel of Darkness” 2×5 & 2×6 Review: ‘Belly of the Beast’ & ‘Memento Mori’

Memento Mori The Alienist Season 2 review
Sara in ‘Memento Mori’ (Image: Screengrab)

With only two more episodes left, ‘Belly of the Beast’ and ‘Memento Mori’ featured a cat-and-mouse chase as John, Sara, and Laszlo tried to capture the kidnapper before another baby was murdered.

We know that Libby’s the kidnapper as well as the murderer. However, she continued to be quite difficult to apprehend. ‘Belly of the Beast’ focused a lot on Sara and why she’s good at her job. I liked the sequence where she was able to piece together how Libby spent her day in the matron’s apartment. Now, I do think always deciding to pursue dangerous people alone is a problem that Sara has. But, then again, that’s just how she is. So, I guess I have to deal with it. Sara doesn’t like waiting for the backup to arrive, even to her detriment.

I did like seeing Sara teaming up with Joanna for a bit. I’m not sure how much screentime Joanna will have in the final two episodes. However, if this series does return for a third outing, I would like to see more of Joanna. The narrative can explore a lot through Joanna, especially the racism and sexism young Black women faced during that era.

We have seen a bit of that this season. In the previous episode, Joanna had to wear a mask to move around during John’s engagement party. In ‘Belly of the Beast,’ the white folk were not happy seeing Joanna walk straight into the dining area to tell John that Sara needed help.

The narrative has made it clear that one of the major reasons Sara, John, and Laszlo are able to snoop around without consequences is because they are privileged. Joanna’s not granted the same access. So, it’s understandable she can’t be in the thick of it with the main trio. However, I still think the writers can give Joanna more to do.

As for Laszlo, he’s clearly hitting it off with Karen. While I did enjoy the interactions between them, the scene between Laszlo and Karen felt separated from the main story. I would like to see Laszlo introduce Karen to Sara and John so everything’s more connected.

John’s still trying to make sense of his feelings for Sara. Now, I’m not against ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ tropes. However, I’m not interested in said trope when a person, in the pairing, is already in a relationship with someone else. I wasn’t a fan of John cheating on Violet.

Talking about relationships, it’s revealed that Libby is Goo Goo Knox’s girlfriend. Both of them are killers. So, I guess they deserve each other?

The good news is that ‘Belly of the Beast’ ended with Sara returning the kidnapped baby to the Linares family. But, it’s obvious that Libby will kidnap another child. She just can’t help it.

I liked the explanation about how Libby’s only affectionate toward a baby for a temporary period. I’m looking forward to learning more about Libby’s past and what made her act in such a manner.

C0ming to episode 6, ‘Memento Mori,’ it opened with John and Sara trying to have a serious talk after hooking up. Again, I wasn’t a fan of how the entire situation played out. I don’t like cheating, even if a character isn’t in love with their fiancee. Having listened to what Violet said about growing up as a child who wasn’t accepted by her own family, I hope John’s able to handle his relationship with Violet. She deserves better.

After reuniting the baby with the Linares family, Sara’s turned into a kind of a celebrity around town. Many people wanted her to take on their case. However, she’s still stuck on Libby and with good reason. Not only was Libby still roaming around, the police hadn’t found the place she kept the kidnapped children in.

I liked how the writers didn’t drag out that particular thread. ‘Memento Mori’ showed Sara and John finding Libby’s nursery as well as her next target. Turns out, she liked to steal things from the rich families she was interested in kidnapping a child from.

Compared to ‘Belly of the Beast,’ a lot happened in ‘Memento Mori.’ Libby kidnapped another child and Sara got contacted by the impacted Vanderbilt family to find their baby boy. I don’t know about you, but I loved the scene where Sara presented her demands. She wanted Laszlo pardoned (I’ll get to that in just a bit) as well as have Byrnes work for her. Here’s to hoping Sara’s able to keep Byrnes in check because you know he isn’t happy about working for a “man in a corset” (as he and Mr. Hearst put it when addressing Sara).

As for Laszlo, he found himself in a lot of trouble (which led to Sara asking the Vanderbilt family to allow him to continue his work). The moment I saw Paulie practicing magic tricks with a piece of rope, I knew it was going to end badly. And it sure did.

Paulie hung himself. Thankfully, Laszlo and Stevie were able to help the boy in time. I understood why Laszlo would blame himself for the accident, but I think he was being too harsh on himself. The incident gave Dr. Markoe, Byrnes, and Doyle the perfect opportunity to suspend Laszlo’s license as an alienist as well as threaten to his facility shutdown.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Laszlo will be able to save his facility. Can the Vanderbilt family really help him out if he aided Sara in rescuing the kidnapped baby? We will find out when the 2-episode finale airs next week.

‘Memento Mori’ also hearkened back to the moment Sara and Libby shared during lunch. I was waiting for that particular thread to reappear. I’m surprised Sara didn’t decide to followup on it earlier. Libby clearly felt she had a connection with Sara because their fathers killed themselves. The death of her father is likely the only truth Libby’s ever told. Again, if I were in Sara’s shoes, I would have looked into it sooner. 

The death of Libby’s father led Sara and John to an old newspaper article about a man hanging himself from the bridge and leaving behind a wife and a daughter. That’s when we found out that Libby’s real name was Elspeth Hunter and she’s from Brooklyn. I do think Joanna should have been part of that scene or the one where Sara and John were trying to identify a family crest. I want the writers to give her more to do.

Our leads are slowly gaining on Libby and I can’t wait to see her be taken down.

Did you watch ‘Belly of the Beast’ and ‘Memento Mori’? What do you think will happen in the finale?

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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