‘The Alienist’ Season 2 Episode 8 Recap: “Better Angels” Finale

The Alienist Season 2 Episode 8
Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning, and Daniel Bruhl in ‘The Alienist’ season 2 episode 8 (Photograph by Kata Vermes / TNT)

Episode eight, the second half of TNT’s The Alienist season two finale, starts off right where episode seven ended. Libby (Rosy McEwen) has John (Luke Evans) on his knees while Sara (Dakota Fanning) has a gun pointing at her. Libby instructs Sara to put the gun down or she’ll kill John. Sara’s desperately trying to plead with her as Libby demands to know where her child is.

The standoff continues as Sara insists she’ll tell her if she puts the knife down. Libby screams, “LIES!” Sara pleads with her again to put the knife down. Libby realizes Sara loves John and asks, “Why, because you love him?” Libby begins to cut John’s throat when Sara blurts out, “She’s at the Kreizler Institute.” That distracts Libby enough for John to take her down.

As John has Libby pinned to the floor, Sara asks about the location of the Vanderbilt baby. Libby changes her tune and admits that baby isn’t hers.

The police investigate Sergeant Doyle’s death with Thomas Byrnes (Ted Levine) in attendance. The Isaacson brothers show up to take crime scene photos and Marcus (Douglas Smith) tries to assure Thomas that Doyle died quickly.

Sara remains with John as he gets stitched up. He asks what the plan is and Sara feels she needs to find a way to talk to Libby. She realizes she almost lost John and wonders what they’re going to do about their relationship. He believes they’ll find a way to move forward together. She admits she’s afraid that what he loves about her as a friend he will not love in her as a wife. John lists all the things he loves about her and wonders what she fears. She asks him if he wants a wife, family, and a place to call home. Confused, he replies, “Is that not what you want?” In response she says no, not at this moment in life.

Before Laszlo, Sara, and John can get to the police station to speak to Libby, Byrnes is there and has somehow gotten permission to question her. It seems they think he’ll do a good job due to his knowledge and experience as the former police chief.

Two men bring in a big tub of water and set it down in front of Libby. Byrnes explains that normally he would start by asking questions, but this occasion calls for his second tactic to be used right away. He has two men hold her head underwater.

At home, Laszlo (Daniel Brühl) brings up Vienna to Karen (Lara Pulver) and she confesses she can’t decline an invitation from Dr. Freud. He’s tempted to go with her, but his life remains here.

Marcus comes in to say they’ve checked and all the windows and doors are secure. (Remember, Laszlo’s looking after Libby’s child so he could be a target.) Laszlo asks if he and his brother will stay there while he’s gone. Marcus agrees.

Goo Goo’s man informs Goo Goo (Frederick Schmidt) the cops have Libby. The lackey asks what Goo Goo’s going to do with the baby as they look down on the child laying on the floor. Goo Goo admits he’s unsure but assumes Libby doesn’t want him anymore.

As Byrnes has Libby’s head repeatedly submerged in water, he informs her she will talk. He demands to know where the child is and she whispers, “I’ll tell you where he is.” None of the men can hear her so one leans in closer. She suddenly bites his ear and then begins to laugh and cry.

Thomas walks out and is greeted by Laszlo, Sara, and John. Sara demands he stop this form of torture. While Laszlo and John walk after Thomas, Sara goes to Libby’s cell and stares at her. Thomas admits he can’t break Libby and Laszlo says, “You can’t break someone that is already broken, Mr. Byrnes.”

Thomas suggests Laszlo have a go at her but Laszlo believes Sara should be the one to interview her. Sara points out she isn’t a doctor nor is she qualified. Laszlo thinks otherwise. He feels they shared a bond. Sara agrees and enters Libby’s cell. After Sara says hello, Libby asks, “You’re not frightened of me?” When Sara doesn’t respond, Libby states, “You should be.”

Sara takes a blanket and wraps it around Libby and she appears a bit taken aback by Sara’s kindness. Sara knows the officers hurt her and Libby responds, “Men have always hurt me.”

Sara informs Libby she knows about her mother which leads to Libby opening up about her mother lying. Libby confirms her mother cut herself and blamed it on her. She adds, “She did not want the baby.” Sara admits some women think they should have children even though they really don’t want to and are incapable of loving a child. Libby questions if Sara’s mother was like that. Sara simply shakes her head yes. Libby points out that Sara’s father did love her though. Both Sara and Libby were happy before their fathers committed suicide.

Libby begins to talk about her daughter, Clara, revealing that from the moment she had her she loved her. Tears are streaming down her face as she speaks of her daughter. Sara offers to bring Clara to see her but first she must tell her where the baby is. After Libby whispers in her ear, Sara gets up and walks out. Before Sara gets far, Libby asks when she can see Clara. As Sara stares at Libby, she instructs the officers to lock the door. Libby realizes she’s been tricked and screams, “No!” repeatedly.

Sara tells them the address where the baby’s being kept. She admits to Laszlo she’s feeling guilty for deceiving Libby to get the information on the baby’s whereabouts.

Thomas and the police rush off to Goo Goo’s hide-out. John joins them and as they stand in front of the building, they notice a side door and enter that way. They discover the baby however Goo Goo is gone.

As they gather back outside the building, an officer asks Byrnes what they should do. As Byrnes is answering him, he’s glancing around because he has a feeling they’re being watched. He instructs them to escort the baby to a hospital and to inform the Vanderbilts of the situation. Thomas remains behind, looking around.

Goo Goo and two of his men show up outside the police station and one of the men asks what’s next. Goo Goo replies, “We are going to make these sorry sons of b*tches wish that they were never born.”

The Alienist Season 2 Episode 8
Dakota Fanning, Daniel Brühl, and Luke Evans in ‘The Alienist’ season 2 episode 8 (Photograph by Kata Vermes / TNT)

Inside the police station, Laszlo and Sara are discussing what they can do for Libby when suddenly Goo Goo and a lot more than two of his men storm inside and quickly take over. A guard takes Laszlo and Sara and locks them in a cell, insisting they’ll be safe in there. He hands Laszlo the keys through the bars.

Libby hears all the commotion and spots Goo Goo. She calls out his name and after she’s let out, she tries to look for Sara. Goo Goo insists they need to leave immediately. She tells him, “I need Clara!”

Sara and Laszlo emerge from the cell to find dead bodies on the floor.

Marcus is cleaning his gun while his brother, Lucius (Matthew Shear), looks irritated. He reminds his brother it’s just one night and Lucius insists he’s not complaining. Marcus tells his brother about a dream he had about their mother and wants to know what he thinks that means. Lucius says, “You miss her.”

A short while later, Marcus is checking on Clara when he hears a window breaking. He hurriedly wakes up his brother. Lucius takes the time to put his shoes on and thinks Marcus is in the office with him but it’s actually Libby. He points his gun at her and she asks where her daughter is. “I can’t let you take her,” Lucius replies.

Libby scoffs at that as Goo Goo appears from behind her. Instead of shooting Goo Goo, Lucius allows him to walk toward him and even gives him the opportunity to not only knock the gun out of his hand but knock him out as well. Marcus comes running in and screams, “Hey, what are you doing?!” He also doesn’t shoot when he has a chance and instead takes a shotgun blast to the stomach.

Libby finds Clara and grabs her, telling her, “It’s me – I’m your mama.” Clara tries to hold onto the door frame to stop them, but Goo Goo grabs her by the hair and pulls her away.

Lucius wakes up and discovers his brother’s gravely injured. Lucius needs to get the bleeding to stop but Marcus asks him to stay with him. In a tearjerker moment Lucius begs him, “Please don’t leave me,” as his brother dies in his arms.

Lucius and Marcus’ friends gather for Marcus’ funeral. Lucius admits he couldn’t pull the trigger and feels he’s useless. Sara doesn’t want him saying such things and reminds him he not only loved his brother, but his brother loved him as well.

John and Sara talk and he brings up that she questioned if he wanted a family. He does and, in fact, admits he has dreamt of it often. He realized it’s what he values most in life. Sara asks him what he wants and he simply says, “I want you.”

Later, Sara’s at her office with Laszlo and asks him what he’s thinking about. He explains the situation with Karen and that she is thinking of taking the job in Vienna. Sara says, “And you’re thinking about going with her?” (It’s more of a statement than a question.) She feels he should do what makes him happy and he replies, “You should abide by your own advice.”

Bitsy (Melanie Field) and John come in with crates from Lucius. It’s everything the police have collected over the course of the investigation. Just as she declared in the first episode of season two, Sara says, “Let us begin.”

Sara describes a moment when they were in the jail cell and Libby’s eyes lit up when she spoke about dancing, ballet, and pretty dresses. Bitsy points out, “She aspired to be a lady.” “It was more than aspirations; it was a paradise she once had,” Laszlo says.

John adds, “Lost when her father died.”

Since they believe Libby’s retreating to her childhood when she was happy, she could be going to her childhood home. Now that she has her child all that’s left is to go home. He shows them a drawing he did while at Mallory Hunter’s house. He spotted a painting on the wall which he now believes is her childhood home.

Inside the house, Libby demonstrates ballet moves to Clara and makes her practice them. Outside the house, Sara, John, and Laszlo are soon joined by Byrnes and the police. Byrnes feels if they go in guns ablazing it will cause harm, or worse, death to the child. He believes they should set up a perimeter.

Libby’s still giving ballet instructions when Goo Goo interrupts and says, “Libby, the kid don’t want to dance.” He wonders what this place is and she confirms she used to live there. He begins to laugh, obviously not believing it.

Sara, John, and Laszlo decide to enter the house by breaking the glass in a door. Libby and Goo Goo hear it and when he gets up and grabs his gun, he knocks over his beer, breaking it.

Goo Goo goes to check out the noise while Libby tries to get Clara to come to her. She won’t. Libby cries and gets angry, begging Clara to come to her. Libby asks why she’s so mean and when Clara tries to run away, Libby grabs her by the hair. Clara begins to scream, “Help!”

“I thought I smelled rats,” says Goo Goo, standing behind Sara, Laszlo, and John. As they turn to look at him Lucius is there and shoots Goo Goo several times. They’re shocked and can only glance back and forth between Goo Goo’s body and Lucius.

Their shock wears off when they hear Clara yelling, “Help me!” Sara tells Lucius to go get Byrnes as they continue through the house. After they bust through the door, Libby grabs Clara and Goo Goo’s broken beer bottle and holds it to her throat. “She is mine and I will take her with me where no one is going to hurt her,” warns Libby.

Sara aims a gun at Libby and says, “You are hurting her.”

Laszlo takes this time to assure Libby what happened to her will not happen to Clara; she has her whole life ahead of her. Sara insists that Libby look at Clara. When Libby does, she lets her go. After dropping to the floor, Libby cries, “The only thing that loves you is that little innocent thing and then you think maybe, maybe it will stop the pain.”

The world returns to a sort of normal and John’s reading the paper while at his work. His boss informs him word on the street is Mr. Vanderbilt is singing his praises. He admits he thought with this newfound popularity John would leave The New York Times. John feels there’s still work to be done regarding Dr. Markoe and the Lying-In Hospital. His boss questions if he told Hearst of his new promotion and John confirms he hasn’t.

John excuses himself to speak with Joanna (Brittany Marie Batchelder) as she’s packing up the desk she occupied at The New York Times. He informs her that his new position allows him to pick his own team and he would very much like her to be a part of it. She thanks him and declines, stating she found a paper to work for in Brooklyn. Their conversation is cut short when he’s told he has a visitor.

The visitor turns out to be Violet (Emily Barber). She feels John has been a stranger to her as of late and he wants to explain things. She agrees they do need to talk.

Laszlo is at the Oyster Saloon when Cyrus (Robert Wisdom) offers him a book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Cyrus can sense something is troubling Laszlo and he brings up the Institute. He feels as though he’s been hiding behind its walls. Although it has given him great joy, he admits after all his advice to his patients he struggles with advising himself.

John comes to see Sara at her office and he looks as though he’s going to tell her some heartbreaking news. He confesses Violet is in a delicate position. “I’m the father,” he says to Sara who seems to be trying to keep her emotions in check. Sara admits she’s both happy and sad knowing he’s getting what his heart desires and that is to be a father.

Laszlo and Karen are playing chess when she suggests they play with a wager. If she wins, he is hers to do with as she wishes. She wonders if she can tempt him to come with her to Europe. As Laszlo walks her out, he’s weighing the pros and cons of leaving the Institute when she suddenly kisses him.

With the team breaking up, Laszlo, John, and Sara have a farewell dinner and Sara toasts to “our friendship.” John spots Violet and it’s his cue to leave. He says goodbye to both Laszlo and Sara.

Later, Sara returns to the place where this season began – the room with the electric chair. She’s remembering her time with Libby. She then goes to see Libby and they just stare at each other. Sara finally walks away.

Days later, Sara’s back at her office which seems quite a bit busier these days. Sara introduces the newest member of the team, Kitty Byrnes, to her team. Sara delivers a speech about there not being many detectives who look like them, but she hopes that will soon change.

The episode – and the season – ends with Sara saying, “It is eight o’clock. Let us begin.”