Adam reviews the third episode of new TNT Drama The Alienist starring Daniel Brühl, Dakota Fanning, and Luke Evans. The series begins to distinguish itself in this episode as something special amongst procedural dramas. The series is based on the Best Selling Novel by Caleb Carr.
Deeper down the rabbit hole we go. Episode 3, The Silver Smile finds the show moving deeper into the characters around the murder. Rather than focus on the specific procedural elements, The Alienist goes deeper into character. The show understands that procedural elements are necessary and move the plot forward but they are tinged with character interactions and development that goes well beyond your standard television show of this specific subgenre. By taking us deeper into the minds of our triumphed of Dr. Kreizler (Daniel Brühl), Ms. Howard (Dakota Fanning), and Moore (Luke Evans) The Alienist continues to keep itself faithful in spirit to its source material though not in actual adaptation.
As the investigation continues we find Dr. Kreizler driven almost possessed to push beyond the current forensic and psychological sciences. Kreizler knows his answers lie in those fringe (at the time) sciences. Brühl is at his best when Kreizler is pushing buttons and is oblivious to the hurt he is causing. Kreizler’s confronting of those around him is one of the show’s highlights and source of tension. Others would have played Kreizler softer asking for sympathy. Brühl thankfully is cut from a different cloth as an actor, unafraid the most “unlikable” aspects of the character, delving into them giving us a portrait of a brilliant man with no time for social graces. The Alienist excels at not telling us what a character is thinking but simply showing us through their actions. Some of the best moments of the show are the moments between Brühl and Q’orianka Kilcher as Mary Palmer.
The work that Fanning is doing here is simple, elegant and powerful as Ms. Howard. The show’s subplots with Howard going through society are clichéd but Fanning’s work here is marvelous. Fanning raises these “women versus societal norms” Kreizler at the end of the show is the best moment of the series so far.
What seemed like a huge cliffhanger for Moore is oddly played as no big deal in this episode, though it does find Moore discombobulated for most of the show. Evans takes the most standard and pedestrian of tasks and makes them interesting. Much of the show is seen through Moore’s eyes and he is essentially the opposing viewpoint to Kreizler’s more progressive outlook. What could be a thankless and standard-issue role is different in Evans’ hands. There is a broken sadness that Evans imbues the entire performance with. Moore’s past is littered with disappointment and tragedy and Evans plays it like a man unable to admit as such to himself let alone to the world.
As The Alienist continues its narrative things continue to get darker. Not only for the fate of the victims but those trying to solve these killings. Killings that the corrupt portion of the NYPD does not want Kreizler and his group of progressive mind-hunters to solve. If the show continues on this path we could very well be watching the first great show of 2018.