‘The Alienist’ Season 2 Episode 6 Recap: “Memento Mori”

The Alienist Season 2 Episode 6
Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans in ‘The Alienist’ season 2 episode 6 (Photograph by Kata Vermes / TNT)

The aftermath of Sara’s decision to sleep with John is the focus of the opening moments of TNT’s The Alienist season two episode six. Sara (Dakota Fanning) is getting dressed at John’s place when John (Luke Evans) calls her into the room. He admits words fail him and all he wants is to be worthy of her. She reminds him he’s engaged to be married and it’s not that simple. He says it could be.

Libby (Rosy McEwen) walks around Hudson Street while trying to clean her wound. When a man tries to tell her the water she’s using is for the horses, she yells at him, “I lost my baby! She was stolen from me!”

Laszlo (Daniel Brühl) and the boy Paulie (Lucas Bond) watch a magic trick involving The Great Houdini. He’s dangling from a rope upside down while escaping from a straitjacket. We then see Paulie back at the institute reading a book that has to do with ropes and knots. He places a rope around his neck.

Violet (Emily Barber) visits William (Matt Letscher), distraught over John and Sara’s relationship. William assures her it’s her John is in love with; it’s her that he’s marrying. She asks if he sees how John gazes at Sara? How he leaps out of his chair when she enters a room? She calls William “Papa” because – as we’ve learned in a previous episode – he’s her godfather, yet as she’s complaining about John and Sara she brings up, “Will she be as my mother is to you?” He promises he won’t let her suffer and she counters with, “As your wife has.” He takes that opportunity to show her their new article on Sara Howard.

Back at John’s house, Sara admits she has been thinking about where Libby might be keeping the babies. She points out there weren’t any bottles found, there wasn’t anywhere set up for the babies to sleep, and no diapers were found at the abandoned house where they discovered Libby and Baby Anna. They’re interrupted when Bitsy (Melanie Field) shows up with The Journal article on Sara. Speaking to John, Bitsy says, “I don’t think Miss Sara will be too pleased with this.”

Sara can tell something’s wrong and asks Bitsy what’s going on. After showing her the article, John tries to apologize for it and Sara points out he’s making this too personal. She feels Thomas Byrnes had a hand in it. Bitsy believes whatever he’s trying to do didn’t work. They’ve had calls all morning at the agency. Sara warns they aren’t done with Libby; she slipped through their fingers which means she’ll do this again.

Goo Goo (Frederick Schmidt) tends to Libby’s wounds and suggests they go out and do something fun. She doesn’t want to. He then suggests they go steal another baby – a better baby. He thinks that will improve her spirits.

Laszlo shows up at the institute and finds Paulie hanging from a rope in his office. He calls for help and a man cuts Paulie down while Laszlo holds onto his legs. It must have just taken place because Paulie wakes up and gasps for air.

The police show up and Laszlo informs them their presence isn’t needed. He explains it was an accident but a police officer says, “A boy hangs himself in your care. Now, that’s negligence.”

John and Sara return to the house where the rescue of Baby Anna took place, but the police refuse to let them in. Marcus (Douglas Smith) exits the house and informs them they checked the whole house and there’s no sign of her there. Sara asks if there’s anything to suggest she kept the babies there. All Marcus says is he will report to them later.

John suggests perhaps there’s more there than meets the eye. After all, the building is owned by Goo Goo Knox. They go into the boarded-up building attached to the crime scene and Sara spots a crib that’s caged in. John finds photos hanging on the wall of babies who have had their portraits taken after death – memento mori. They discover a camera set up as if she were ready to take another photo of Baby Anna. It seems they found the kidnapped baby just in time.

Sara discovers a baby brush that belongs to Anna. John points out that means the night Libby stole the baby was most likely not the first time she’d been in the house. John wants to bring in Marcus and Lucius to further investigate.

Laszlo is at the hospital with Paulie and while he sleeps, Laszlo speaks to him about how he got caught up in this case. After leaving his hospital room, Karen (Laura Pulver) tries to comfort Laszlo.

The Isaacson brothers arrive and take photographs of the scene as John admits, “Everything about this is disturbing.” Sara spots a memory box and when she opens it, Marcus looks over its contents. He points out items from the babies, both before and after death.

Sara feels Laszlo needs to see these items, but they can’t get ahold of him. Sara spots a brush and asks John if he recognizes it. He says it is some sort of family crest but admits he doesn’t recognize the crest.

Libby’s ironing Goo Goo’s shirt when she decides that just for fun, she’s going to take the iron to her arm. Goo Goo has her sit down and Libby begins to cry, “She’s gone.” He promises to make everything better.

Back at the institute, Dr. Markoe (Michael McElhatton) is there to deliver the blow that Laszlo’s institute is under investigation and his license is suspended for the time being. He’ll have his chance to appeal, but it’s summer and the board is away.

Laszlo finally meets with Sara and confesses what’s happening to him. She’s outraged and offers to help. She feels he shouldn’t shoulder this alone. He admits he hasn’t been shouldering this alone and tells her about Karen Stratton.

John apologizes to Violet for not being around, admitting it’s been a strange day. He appears as though he’s about to confess what happened between him and Sara, but Violet gushes that she can’t wait to marry him.

Libby is dressed as though she belongs in high society while pushing around what we can assume is a baby carriage with just a doll in it. Libby spots a woman at the park with a fancy baby carriage and she begins to follow her. The woman pushing the fancy carriage stops to help a crying child who seems to have fallen, leaving her baby unattended. Libby stops near the carriage and then walks off. When the woman returns to her baby carriage she looks inside and begins to scream.

John and Sara are at the NYT trying to figure out whose family crest is on the brush. John finds the crest on an invitation – it’s the Vanderbilts.

Some of the dusters head into the Oyster Saloon to confront Joanna. One claims she brought Sara around there to snoop and she messed with Goo Goo’s girl. The man hits her and she falls to the ground. Cyrus shows up and demands they all get the hell out of there.

As John, Sara, and Bitsy go through a list of Vanderbilts, a very fancy carriage arrives outside Sara’s building. Sara’s assistant hands her a note which she immediately passes to John. “We’re too late,” says Sara.

Cornelius Vanderbilt, grandfather of the latest missing baby, brought in a team to help that, unfortunately, includes William Hearst and Thomas Byrnes. He wants to keep everything hush-hush, revealing his son is currently somewhere in the Mediterranean. He asks what they know about Sara Howard and William and Thomas stress they don’t want her, claiming she’s a “renegade” and “a man in a corset.”

Cornelius wants to find out for himself and informs them Sara is on her way there now.

Thomas and William desperately try to think of ways to convince him he doesn’t want Sara on this case, stating, “You wouldn’t let your daughter on those streets.” Just then Sara walks in and says, “Funny, I just came from those streets.”

Cornelius informs her his grandchild has been kidnapped but to his shock she reveals she’s already aware of that. When he questions how she knew, she describes Libby’s secret room. She pulls out items she found including the brush with his family crest.

After showing him the items, Sara agrees to take on his case. However, she has stipulations. One, Dr. Laszlo Kreizler was suspended from practicing as an alienist after an unfortunate accident at his institute. She says Laszlo is most crucial to her team and will not only need him for her team but will need him to be reinstated by the medical board. Her second stipulation has to do with the ex-Chief Byrnes. Sara says she’s the lead detective on this case and doesn’t work for Mr. Byrnes; he works for her. Of course, this makes Thomas mad.

Cornelius agrees to Sara’s terms.

The Alienist Season 2 Episode 6
Daniel Bruhl in ‘The Alienist’ season 2 episode 6 (Photograph by Kata Vermes / TNT)

Laszlo returns to Sara’s building, still blaming himself for what happened to Paulie. Sara requests his help to find the Vanderbilt baby, revealing she’ll make sure Mr. Vanderbilt keeps his word about getting him reinstated.

As they begin to go over who Libby Hatch is, Sara thinks back to the day she and Libby had lunch. Laszlo believes something Libby said to her might have been the truth. Sara remembers Libby telling her that her father died by hanging himself from a bridge. John believes that because it was such a public act there are most likely records of it. He’s heading over to search the New York Times archives and invites Sara to join him.

After John leaves, Sara admits to Laszlo that the night she followed Libby she spotted her with Goo Goo. She was feeding him from her breast. Laszlo finds this most curious.

Thomas rants to William about having to work for Sara. It’s wounded his ego, but William reminds him Vanderbilt is at the head of society. This is something they have to do to look good.

Sara and John go through old newspapers when she spots an article about a man hanging himself on the Brooklyn Bridge. John begins to read it out loud, saying, “He is survived by his wife, Malory Hunter, and daughter, Elizabeth Hunter.” Sara has an ah-ha moment and says, “E.H. – the same initials from the doll buyer at Siegel-Cooper.”

John wonders where she might go and Sara says somewhere outside the New York jurisdictions…somewhere someone would hide her.

Goo Goo packs while Libby is doting on the baby. Goo Goo jokes that he hopes he and the baby don’t come to blows. He won’t lose to the likes of him. This angers Libby and she slaps him across the face, demanding he show some respect. As Goo Goo continues to pack, he asks where they’re going. She claims she knows a spot.

Sara and Laszlo meet with Cornelius to explain Libby returns time and again to the same spots. Sara notes they’ve taken all those spots from her. John adds that Libby hails from Brooklyn and that’s their next place to look.

As the episode comes to an end, we see Goo Goo and Libby sleeping on a roof. Libby decides she wants to show the baby the view of the bridge and stands dangerously close to the edge as she begins to tell the baby about the gruesome way her father died.