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'The Alienist: Angel of Darkness' Episode 1 Review: Sequel opener promises suspense and a compelling story

'Ore Infantium' takes its time to set the context, but once done, it ups the narrative pace by a few notches while also adding in dollops of key historical moments at the time period
(Kata Vermes/TNT)
(Kata Vermes/TNT)

Spoilers for 'The Alienist: Angel of Darkness' Episode 1 'Ore Infantium'

Set in a gritty yet bustling 1897 New York, 'Ore Infantium' takes its time to set the context, but once done, it ups the narrative pace by a few notches while also adding in dollops of key historical moments at the time period. There's not much time wasted on character introductions, essentially there's no need to. All that matters is bringing in the three main protagonists and 'The Alienist: Angel of Darkness' does that in the form of a kidnapped infant case.

Not before the trio fail to stop an unfair execution. Martha Napp (Hebe Beardsall) is accused of murdering her own child and is sentenced to death despite Dr Lazlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl) fighting for her in court. The episode opens with Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning) and John Moore (Luke Evans) rushing to the Sing Sing prison where Martha is about to be executed by one of the most torturous methods — Death by electric chair.

Needless to say, Martha dies and Kreizler slips into a state of lament and guilt. Moore and Howard feel the impact as well even as the latter, who is now an established detective with her own agency, is approached by a case. A Spanish dignitary, Señora Linares's (Bruna Cusí) child has been kidnapped and the threat comes in the form of a doll with some gruesome painting of blood from the eyes replaced in place of the baby.

The next hint comes when a dead baby is placed in a display rack in a toy store with its mouth burnt off and congealed blood smeared all over. When they hear of the news, Moore and Howard rush while also enlisting the services of Kreizler. It is revealed the dead baby was indeed Martha's child, but Linares's child is still missing. Howard strongly feels there is a connection and that marks the start of the mystery.

The plotline has some classic 1897 references made — Theodore Roosevelt, the busy New York Times Office, the ill-treatment of women where physical abuse is a commonality and most importantly, the American-Spanish political unrest that eventually led to a war in 1898. One of the reasons the case lands on Howard's hands is primarily due to the fact the Spaniard family wouldn't want issues with the American police. These pivotal moments are seamlessly woven in 'Ore Infantium'. There has been a progression in terms of character development as well.

Evans' Moore is ever gentle, yet firm journalist who's now engaged to Violet Hayward (Emily Barber), while Brühl as Kreizler is still the brooding alienist struggling with the weight of his failure in the Napp case. Fanning as Howard is an absolute powerhouse and pretty much someone who can defend herself in a room filled with chauvinistic men. With TNT dishing out double episodes, the season opener serves as the perfect platform that promises a riveting story over the course of the series.

'The Alienist: Angel of Darkness' airs on Sundays at 9 pm ET on TNT.