TNT’s The Alienist season two episode five opens with Libby (Rosy McEwen) still in the matron’s apartment. She’s preparing tea and has set up the matron’s body as if she’s sitting at the table ready to partake in refreshments. The matron’s neighbor stops by but Libby lies and claims the woman went out of town.
Libby has baby Anna with her and as she tries to nurse her the baby, she bites her. Angry, Libby yells, “MY BABY DOESN’T BITE!”
Sara (Dakota Fanning) pays a visit to Bitsy (Melanie Field), feeling guilty over what happened to her. Bitsy reveals Libby had black on her teeth when she attacked her.
Thomas Byrnes (Ted Levine) and another police officer show up at the Lying-In Hospital and Lucius (Matthew Shear) is also there when they arrive. Lucius overhears their conversation as they walk into Dr. Markoe’s office. The officer suggests opening up the Napp case but Thomas doesn’t agree, stating, “Absolutely not.” (As a retired chief, it’s surprising he has the authority to say no.)
Dr. Markoe (Michael McElhatton) seems more concerned about his donor’s privacy being at stake. The officer assures him Sara Howard is not a threat to that; she just wants to find the “Spanish baby.” Markoe doesn’t want to risk it. Her little spy knows about the research wing. Thomas, who has shown little to no conscience, tells Markoe he’s there to help but he understands what’s going on. Women deemed unfit mothers are sometimes told their child did not make it during childbirth. He warns that telling them that better be the extent of it. If it’s not, he’ll come after Markoe himself.
As they leave Lucius hears the men saying they want to talk to the matron first. Markoe informs them she hasn’t shown up for work yet.
Lucius and Sara are in a carriage and he informs her the matron missed work. Apparently, she’s never done so before. They decide to go to the matron’s apartment first before anyone else can question her.
After several knocks, Sara opens the unlocked door. Right away Sara notices smeared blood on the floor. She retrieves her gun from her purse when she sees the matron positioned at the table.
The usual gang shows up to the crime scene. The Isaacson brothers are taking photos while Laszlo (Daniel Brühl) inspects the body and analyzes the crime scene. There are bruises on her throat and he believes Libby wanted to watch her die.
Sara begins to inspect the bathroom and imagines all that Libby did that day – from bathing to preparing the tea and staging the matron. She asks Lucius to lift the matron’s head. They discover she has painted eyelids just like the Napp baby and the babies in the postmortem photos. The difference? The matron’s were painted in her own blood.
The team doesn’t find the powdered charcoal but as they discuss it, they realize she’s ingesting it and passing it to the child. Sara says, “Which means we’re running out of time.”
We see Libby ingesting the powder and leaving the baby alone in a caged-in crib as the baby cries.
Back at Sara’s office the team gathers to discuss Libby. Bitsy points out Libby’s attack on her was not planned. She waited until Bitsy seemed like a threat. “It means the different people she presents to the world cannot be contained. It means she’s unraveling,” Laszlo says.
Meanwhile, Libby’s sitting in the park observing people. She has baby Anna with her and is just letting her cry. A lady stops to try to help, but one look from Libby and the lady walks away.
Colleen (Liadan Dunlea) is at the police station where they ask her to look through a book of photographs. Most of the photos are of female criminals, however some are women who fraternize with criminals. Thomas and Marcus (Douglas Smith) are there as Colleen looks through the book. It’s strange a former chief is allowed to be there along with Marcus, but convenient for Sara and the team that Marcus is included.
Colleen scans the photos and spots Libby’s photo – only she has a different name. It appears she doesn’t have a criminal record but likes to hang out with gangsters.
Back at Sara’s office, Laszlo surmises that if Libby is replacing her own child – like they suspect – that means her child is frozen in time. That means any child she takes who grows beyond her own baby’s age has overstayed its welcome. They are definitely running out of time.
John (Luke Evans) asks if he should run a likeness of her in the Times. Sara agrees it should be done. Marcus arrives and confirms Colleen found Libby in the book of mugshots. Sara asks if Libby has a criminal record and Marcus says she didn’t. She’s in the book because she hangs out with gangsters near the Hudson River.
Libby’s taking the powdered charcoal in a glass of water before she breastfeeds baby Anna. As she does so, she says, “I won’t forget you, little cat. I remember all my babies.”
The New York Times is out and Libby spots a drawing of herself along with an article as she strolls down the street in front of Sara’s office building.
John and Sara go to the Oyster Saloon and speak with Cyrus. They show him a photograph of Libby and he recognizes her. Cyrus drops the bomb that Libby is Goo Goo Knox’s woman.
John and Sara return to her office and she quickly realizes someone has been there. Books are overturned, drawers have been opened, and she discovers her father’s gun is missing. They notice eyes have been drawn all over the chalkboard.
John and Sara head over to John’s place and he insists she stay at his house for precautionary reasons. She feels it’s unnecessary to have a chaperone and he explains he won’t be there tonight; he has dinner plans. Sara tells him she needs to go back to Hudson Street because it’s the only address they have on Goo Goo Knox. John insists she stay put until Libby’s detained.
John brings up the harsh things he said to her the night of his engagement party and admits he’s been thinking about why he would say them. He confesses it may take some time and courage before he can say why.
Laszlo’s going through drawings of the matron when he’s interrupted by a boy named Paulie who has a fascination with magic. Laszlo seems impatient, wanting to get back to the crime at hand, but lets Paulie show him his newest magic trick. After Paulie’s done, Laszlo returns to his desk while a disappointed Paulie leaves his office.
Laszlo calls Professor Karen Stratton (Lara Pulver), the intelligent woman he met at John’s engagement party, and admits he is at a standstill with this case and needs a woman’s perspective. He fills her in on the case and shows her drawings of the matron. Karen asks if she’s to be his subject or a sounding board. He says the latter, of course.
Sara’s at John’s house going over other drawings when she gets the bright idea to go back down to the Hudson River. She shows up at the bar and tells Cyrus she needs to find Libby and remembers he said she was involved with Goo Goo Knox and other dusters. He begs her to go home, explaining the only duster there is a skinny man who ironically goes by the name Fat Jack.
While Cyrus can’t really assist her, Joanna (Brittany Marie Batchelder) informs Sara she can help her. Fat Jack leaves the bar and Sara and Joanna follow him to an alley where not only do they spot Goo Goo but Libby as well. They move in closer so they can watch them.
Goo Goo (Frederick Schmidt) asks Libby what’s wrong, assuming having a baby would make her happy. Libby admits something’s different. She doesn’t think the baby believes she’s her mom. Goo Goo says, “Not this again.” Libby shoves him and he reminds her he would do anything for her. He offers to get her a new baby and she says, “I don’t want any baby – I want my baby.” Go Goo replies, “I thought I was your baby.”
They have intercourse behind a building in the alley and she begins to feed him breastmilk.
As Sara and Joanna walk away, Sara tells Joanna she needs her to get a message to John and Laszlo. Joanna doesn’t want to leave Sara there alone but Sara insists she needs to stay. However, Sara knows she’ll need all the help she can get.
John’s at a restaurant playing a game with his fiancée, Violet, and visiting with her godfather, William Hearst (Matt Letscher). Hearst wants to know how John’s pouching stories under his nose and John insists it’s a matter of being at the right place at the right time. Just then Joanna shows up at the restaurant to talk to John in private, informing him what Sara is up to. John instructs her to call Laszlo and the Isaacson brothers for backup.
William sits near Thomas at the table and complains about John and Sara’s relationship. He describes John as following Sara around like a sick puppy. Thomas says, “A scandalous lady detective bent on undermining the sacred bonds of family with untraditional friendships with working women and unavailable men. That’s a story you maybe want to run in The Journal, Mr. Hearst.” William’s eyes light up at the prospect; he’ll most likely run that story.
After seeing Libby enter an abandoned house, Sara decides to go in alone through the basement. As she wanders around the rat-infested house, she retrieves her gun from her purse. John shows up, spots the basement door open, and retraces Sara’s steps.
Sara’s slowing creeping around the house as Laszlo arrives. A neighborhood man pulls a knife on him and asks if he’s lost. Quick-thinking Laszlo says he’s a doctor making a house call.
The man with the knife is now in a carriage with Laszlo when Marcus shows up. He points a gun at who we now know is Fat Jack, demanding he put his weapon down.
Sara’s still creeping around the house when Libby appears behind her with a gun. She orders Sara to put her gun down and as Sara does so, she picks up a handful of soot and throws it in Libby’s face. A fight breaks out between the two women and when Libby tries to shoot, Sara knocks her arm away. As the gun goes off, John yells, “SARA!” Sara now has the gun and points it at Libby, warning she doesn’t want to hurt her.
Libby pushes a bureau door at Sara who shoots it and hits the glass. Libby’s injured but not badly because she’s able to get away. The gunshots cause baby Anna to cry and Sara finds her in a dresser drawer. She cradles the poor child in her arms.
As they ride away in the carriage, Laszlo commends Sara on all that she’s done. She reminds him this was a group effort and Laszlo tells her she’s being modest. The baby is safe because of her.
The Linares family is reunited with their baby. Sara stays and watches them put the baby to sleep, glad to have been able to return the child to her parents.
Sara and John are now back at his house and he brings back up what he said to her at his engagement party. He admits he said those things to hurt her, just as she hurt him. Sara acknowledges that and says she understands. He apologizes. As he makes up a bed for her to sleep in, Sara decides she’s done fighting this attraction and kisses him…amongst other things.
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