“In the 19th Century, persons thought to be suffered from mental illness were thought to be alienated from their own true natures. Experts who studied them were therefore known as alienists.” This is the opening quote on each of the 10 episodes in this incredible series.
Created by Stuart Carolan, The Alienist originally premiered on TNT and later became available on Netflix. Based on the novel of the same name by Caleb Carr, the series is a psychological thriller set in late 19th-century New York City.
Starring Daniel Brühl, Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans, it started as a limited series but was so popular that Netflix renewed it for another seasonal special.
But what is The Alienist all about and if you missed it the first time, should you go back and watch it?
What Is The Alienist About?
Contrary to what the title suggests, this show has nothing to do with aliens. Instead it is set in New York city in 1896 and involves the murder of a very young boy.
And this is no ordinary murder. It is brutal beyond belief and a little stomach churning. John Moore (Luke Evans) is an illustrator who has been sent to the murder scene by his friend Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl, Rush, Entebbe).
The aim is to capture the image of the boy. Kreizler is an alienist, or in today's terms, a psychologist. He believes that the boy is just one of many being killed by the same person.
However, as a doctor he has no jurisdiction over the crime and the police are less than receptive to outside interference.
Knowing they have very few people to rely on, Commissioner Roosevelt sends two detectives to help investigate the crime, Marcus and Lucius Isaacson.
The last person to join the group is Sarah Howard, played by Dakota Fanning. She is the first female to ever be hired by the NYPD.
It is now up to the five of them to find the killer before any more murders take place. It is an uphill battle for a number of reasons. The first is that it must be done in secret to prevent the old guard in the NYPD from kicking off.
The second is that the boys being murdered are all child prostitutes who nobody really cares about. The third is that the primary suspect is from an incredibly wealthy family who will stop at nothing to protect their son. With their backs to the wall, can they stop an invisible murderer?
The Alienist Official Trailer
Is The Alienist Worth Watching?
The Alienist is an impeccably executed series. Every single character and actor playing them is sublime. Daniel Brühl as Laszlo Kreizler is inspired. He also starred in Rush as Niki Lauda as well as Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds.
The setting, the attention to detail replicating 1896 is top notch. Every episode is well thought out and leaves you hanging for more. If you give it a go then expect to binge watch. The tension keeps building as the story unfolds and the ‘next episode' button becomes just too much to resist.
The series has received praise for its production design, capturing the time period with meticulous attention to detail. The performances of the cast, including Daniel Brühl as Dr. Kreizler, Luke Evans as John Moore, and Dakota Fanning as Sara Howard, have also been widely acclaimed.
Overall, The Alienist offers a gripping and suspenseful narrative with compelling characters and a dark, atmospheric setting. It explores the psychological motivations behind criminal behaviour while shedding light on the challenges faced by those seeking justice in a rapidly changing world.
And the good news is that a second season, based on the sequel to the original novel called The Angel of Darkness, is now also available on Netflix.
How Many Episodes Of The Alienist Are There?
There are two seasons and 18 episodes of The Alienist in total. The first season ran with ten episodes while the second season only had eight.
The Angel of Darkness is the second season of The Alienist with each season based on one of Caleb Carr's books.
The show has now completely wrapped up and there will not be a third season.
Where Was The Alienist Filmed?
The Alienist was primarily filmed in Budapest, Hungary. The city provided a suitable backdrop for recreating the late 19th-century New York City setting and took advantage of Budapest's diverse architecture, which bears similarities to the architecture of old New York.
The city's historic streets, buildings, and landmarks were transformed to reflect the Gilded Age atmosphere depicted in the series.
In addition to Budapest, some scenes of The Alienist were also filmed in Prague, Czech Republic. The decision to film in Budapest and other European locations was influenced by cost considerations, as it was cheaper than recreating historical settings on location in the US.
The Cast Of The Alienist
Daniel Brühl as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler. He is a criminal psychologist, commonly referred to as an “alienist,” who is determined to solve the gruesome murders and understand the mind of the killer.
Luke Evans as John Moore. An illustrator for a New York newspaper who becomes a crucial member of the investigative team.
Dakota Fanning as Sara Howard. A headstrong and ambitious woman who works as a secretary in the New York Police Department.
Douglas Smith as Marcus Isaacson. A detective who brings a scientific approach to the investigation and assists in analysing evidence and crime scenes.
Matthew Shear as Lucius Isaacson. Marcus' brother who also uses scientific methods and forensic techniques to aid in the pursuit of the killer.
Brian Geraghty as Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt is the Police Commissioner of New York City during the late 19th century.
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