With only one episode left, The Alienist pulled a risky move by shoving their titular character to the side for the duration of its penultimate episode. But surprisingly enough, the episode works perfectly without him. For the whole series, we’ve seen Brühl carry the show on his shoulders as the Sherlock Holmes-esque Dr. Laszlo Kreizler. He seemed to have all the answers while the side characters acted as his cheerleaders. Thankfully, this time we got to see Moore and Sarah at their best, coming close to breaking the case without Kreizler’s feedback. It was a refreshing take and gave these characters plenty of time to show their stuff.
The episode opens at Mary’s funeral, where John is reading a somber poem, and Kreizler looks as dead as the body he’s about to bury. He has a plethora of people coming up and giving their condolences and telling him this is not his fault. Kreizler doesn’t seem to agree with their sentiments and blames himself for Mary’s demise. For the rest of the episode, Kreizler steps to the side as he mourns Mary and faces his grief head-on (which involves screaming at mirrors and shattering glass in his hands).
But despite the tragedy that’s occurred, Sarah still wants to press on with the investigation. With a name and a facial tic to look out for, they’re so close to solving this case and nailing John Beecham once and for all. There are just some blanks left to fill in, such as why John Beecham adopted his rapist’s surname and not his full name. The search takes them to the census office, where another piece of the puzzle falls into place: Beecham’s name is all over the city’s records because he used to work as an enumerator. After snagging Beecham’s old address, the group hops on over to a boarding house where the landlady says Beecham hasn’t lived there in six months and she’s trying to rent his room out. Coincidentally, her cat Jib also happened to go missing around that time. After searching his room, the gang comes up with nothing except-wait for it-Jib’s dismembered body (didn’t see that one coming, huh?).
Meanwhile, Connor continues to be the vilest person in the show with his offensive threats. This time, he targets Sarah by pushing her against the door and threatening rape if she doesn’t stop the investigation. I swear, if Connor doesn’t die a horrible death (perhaps starting with castration), then I will feel horribly betrayed. Cyrus decides to fulfill the task everyone wants and get revenge for Mary’s death. He follows Connor to his dingy apartment and waits for him to take a leak in the outhouse. Unfortunately, Cyrus is interrupted when Connor’s son follows his father outside.
It is the eve of the feast of Saint Barnabas, and the killer is expected to strike once more. Moore is desperate to help little Joseph, the boy prostitute he befriended, stay away from harm. He gives him money to find a shelter to stay in. But Joseph doesn’t react quickly enough. After trailing back to the public baths, he comes across the killer dismembering his friend bit by bit. He runs and hides in the closet, but the episode ends with the killer finding his hiding place. Is this Joseph’s untimely demise? It probably is, we just needed a cliffhanger for the sake of suspense.