The Alienist opens when a series of haunting murders of boy prostitutes grips New York City. Newly appointed police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Geraghty) calls upon criminal psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl) and newspaper illustrator John Moore (LukeEvans) to conduct the investigation in secret. They are joined by Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), a headstrong secretary determined to become the city’s first female police detective. Using the emerging disciplines of psychology and forensics, this band of social outsiders set out to apprehend one of New York City’s first serial killers. The limited series also stars Douglas Smith, Matthew Shear, Matt Lintz, Robert Ray Wisdom and Q’orianka Kilcher.
This new limited series will strike a chord with a wider audience than one might think. Based on the Anthony Award-winning international bestseller by Caleb Carr, The Alienist possesses underpinnings of feminism, glorious period set and dress, and a chemistry between cast members that is electric. These characters are fully fleshed out and Bruhl, Evans, and Fanning do not disappoint. Daniel Bruhl‘s Holmes-esque portrayal of Dr. Kreizler is striking. Seeing Evans as almost a number two in masculinity is a true testament to his abilities. Fanning walks a beautiful line between the inherent misogyny of the times and fearlessness.
The forensics are graphic, be forewarned. The show airs at 9 pm and would be incredibly inappropriate for a younger audience but is sheer perfection for psychological thriller/horror fans. The introduction to forensic psychology and science is both a joy and disturbing to behold. Not even halfway through the premiere and I was fully invested in the story. The Alienist is great television.