‘The Alienist’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap: “Ex Ore Infantium”

The Alienist: Angel of Darkness
Daniel Brühl, Dakota Fanning, and Luke Evans in ‘The Alienist: Angel of Darkness’ (Photo Courtesy of TNT)

Season two of TNT’s critically-acclaimed psychological thriller The Alienist kicked off with back-to-back episodes on July 19, 2020. The Alienist: Angel of Darkness features the same three main characters from season one: The Alienist himself, Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl); John Moore (Luke Evans), now a New York Times reporter; and Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning) who’s opened her own detective agency after working for Roosevelt and becoming the first woman employed by the NYPD. Season one focused on finding a serial killer who targeted younger male prostitutes in 1896. Season two centers on the hunt for a kidnapped infant, a search that leads the trio down a dangerous path as they search for another killer.

Season two begins in New York in 1897. A woman awakens in what appears to be a hospital to find her baby is missing. She begins to check other cribs, desperately searching for her baby. When a nurse comes in to check to see what’s going on, the woman is frantically screaming, “Where is my baby!”

As nurses grab ahold of her, she spots Dr. Markoe (Michael McElhatton) and asks him where her baby is. She warns him she knows what’s going on and threatens to call the police. The nurses immediately sedate her.

Laszlo’s at the prison visiting the woman whose baby went missing. She’s been charged with murdering her own child, although there isn’t any proof or a body. She wonders what people are calling her and Laszlo assures her it’s the world that’s monstrous, not her.

Sara Howard races through the streets in a horse and carriage, hustling to her office where a client demands to know how her case is going. However, Sara’s not interested in her missing silverware when there’s a woman about to be put to death.

Sara and her team gather banners they’ve made in support of the woman who’s being put to death.

John Moore gets on the phone with Teddy Roosevelt to ask for his help in any way since a woman’s life is at stake. He hangs up and returns to his fiancée at a restaurant. John explains he has to leave and she brings up wanting him to work for her godfather at The Journal so he would have better hours. Right now, he’s a journalist working for the New York Times.

Sara shows up at the restaurant to meet John and they head off to Sing Sing prison. They arrive to find protesters demanding the release of Martha Napp. Former Chief Thomas Byrnes (Ted Levine) is there giving his statement on the new electric chair, dubbing it a more humane way to put someone to death.

While the former chief was let into the prison with ease, when Sara tries to enter with her badge from the NYPD the guard notices it’s out of date and attempts to prevent her from going in. John points out they just let a former chief in without any issues but he’s denying Sara entry. Sara stands firm and claims she’s under orders from Teddy Roosevelt. They believe her and let her in.

Martha (Hebe Beardsall) admits she doesn’t mind dying but she does mind dying and not knowing what happened to her baby girl. She makes Laszlo promise he’ll find her missing infant. He promises her that.

As she’s being led to her death, women protesters are being beaten outside. Martha hands Dr. Kreizler her baby’s blanket in hopes that will somehow help him find her.

Martha’s placed in the electric chair and asked if she has any last words. Sara yells out, “Stop!” and calls this an outrage and an abomination. Thomas isn’t surprised one bit by her outburst. Laszlo tries to stop Sara, saying they’ve lost the battle. However, Sara isn’t finished. “I ask you all as you sit here silently spectating, where is the body of the murdered child? Where? Shame on you! Shame on you all!”

After her speech we see the woman being put to death by electrocution.

Laszlo and John ride back to the Kreizler Institute and Laszlo tells John his man will take him back to his work. John gets out and tries to talk to him, but Laszlo doesn’t want his pity. John wonders what kind of friend he would be if he left him alone like this. Laszlo admits Martha put her faith in him, and John vows he’ll write about her and let all of New York know the injustice that was done to her. Laszlo believes whoever stole her baby killed her. They might as well have pulled the lever themselves.

Sara is in her office late at night when she sees a silhouette pass by. Grabbing a gun she goes to inspect who it is and discovers it’s Laszlo. Lowering her gun, she admits she could have killed him. Ignoring her comment, he confesses he can’t seem to get the smell of burning flesh out of his nostrils. It’s no longer a physical sensation but in his memory of what happened today.

She offers him a drink and he asks how her new adventures as a detective are going. She says it seems her clients are rich old women who think their servants are stealing from them. He begins to psychoanalyze her just based on what she has surrounded herself within her office. She reminds him it’s late and doesn’t need him to do that right now. They move on and agree what happened today was monstrous. He reveals he promised Martha he would find her missing child. Sara confirms her agency is at his full disposal. He wants to go over all his notes he took while speaking to Martha first.

Thomas Byrnes shows up at the New York Journal to see William Randolph Hearst (Matt Letscher). Byrnes brought with him a rather unusual “present” – Martha’s hair. William looks disgusted and wonders why he brought her hair. Byrnes figures the newspaper can give it away. William passes on that.

Thomas leaves when William calls in his assistant. He wants one of the writers to write something about Spanish spies coming to their shores and bringing their war with them.

Spanish Ambassador-General Narciso Linares (Diego Martin) says goodbye to his wife (Bruna Cusí) and infant daughter. He has to attend to his duties but before leaving he tells his wife he doesn’t want her leaving the house while he’s gone. She assures him everything will be fine.

Not listening, Senora Linares takes the baby on a walk to the park. Someone’s watching her as she sits down at a table. She’s offered a drink and it appears she’s been drugged as things around her grow fuzzy. She decides to leave and hurries home. After putting the baby to bed she takes a bath. She falls asleep and is suddenly awakened. She goes to check on her baby to discover her child is gone and a doll has taken the baby’s place in the crib.

Sara’s lying awake when she gets a call in the middle of the night. She heads over to a house to find a sobbing woman. Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Alice Krige) confesses she didn’t know who else to call besides Sara, given the political sensitivities. She knows the police won’t help “the enemy” find their missing baby.

Elizabeth admits they were hoping Sara could call her friend Dr. Laszlo Kreizler. Sara seems somewhat offended, assuring Elizabeth if she needs the help of an alienist she’ll call upon him. However, Sara believes what Senora Linares needs is a detective because there’s always a trail.

Sara inspects the crib and asks if the sheet was there when Elizabeth arrived. Elizabeth admits she put it there because of the doll and then shows Sara the doll. Sara believes this is staged, curated almost like a work of art.

Laszlo’s at a restaurant when he begins to have flashbacks of Martha’s trial. As he gets up to leave John spots him and calls him over. Before John can say anything else, Laszlo begins to tell him he’s been reading Martha’s physician’s book. He diagnosed Martha as post-term psychosis. John tries to cut him off, but Laszlo keeps talking. John stands up and says, “May I present my fiancée, Miss Violet Hayward.” Violet (Emily Barber) calls him the famous doctor but somehow Laszlo manages to offend her and sees himself out.

Sara walks around the yard and determines the kidnapper got in through the basement and where they exited the house leads to the alleyway.

Laszlo stands outside the hospital and bangs on the door. The matron frantically tells Dr. Markoe that Dr. Kreizler is outside. He tells her not to worry and to inform Laszlo the doctor is indisposed.

Sara meets with her team for a status report. They confirm they went to hospitals and the morgue and found nothing. She asks one of them to send a message to John asking if there have been any developments in the Martha Napp story. She seems to think there’s a connection between the two missing babies.

A mom and her young daughter visit a store and the child wanders off to look at the toys. She spots what she believes to be a doll. As we see the girl looking at the dolls, we also see Sara inspecting the one that was left at the Linares house. After the girl picks up the doll, a black substance begins oozing out of it. The girl screams and throws it to the ground.

John goes over his Martha Napp article with the editor who doesn’t know if he wants to run it because it’ll make a lot of important people angry. John says he’s angry as well because “the blood of innocence was spilled.” As he walks with his boss a woman from the paper chases them down. They received a call that a baby’s body was found in a store. John’s boss instructs him to go down there but tread lightly.

Brothers Marcus Isaacson (Douglas Smith) and Lucius Isaacson (Matthew Shear) are in the department store examining the baby.

John and Sara arrive at the store and she reveals she fears this is another missing child. John’s surprised to hear the word “another.” Sara opens up about working for the Spanish Ambassador and about his missing child, explaining the baby went missing last night.

The brothers step outside and spot John and Sara. They confirm the baby is a girl and she died recently. Sara asks to see the baby and the brothers are hesitant because the police wouldn’t be okay with that. Sara begs, assuring the brothers they’ll be quick.

Someone has drawn eyes over the baby’s eyelids, replicating the way a doll would look. Sara confirms the baby is not the missing Spanish baby. The black substance is actually blood and the brothers believe it’s mixed with a toxic causality, meaning poison. Sara admits she thinks it’s a good idea for Laszlo to look at the body. The brothers say he can’t do that at the store, but they’ll send a message to have him meet them at their lab.

Laszlo shows up at the lab and asks if they’ve identified the baby. Marcus says they haven’t and wonders how they can. Laszlo says Martha told him her baby had an identifying mark on her shoulder. The baby is indeed Martha Napp’s.

Laszlo, Sara, and John go over the photographs acquired from the brothers that were taken at the department store and at the morgue. Sara feels like this is diabolical. As they go over psychoanalyzing what the killer could be like, we see the newly kidnapped baby in a crib crying.

Episode one ends with Laszlo saying, “Well, whoever they are they will kill again.” Sara replies, “We must begin.”