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Ruminations of the Season Finale of THE ALIENIST

I knew this was going to be one where I couldn’t pass judgment on the whole until its completion. I knew I wouldn’t be able to say for certain whether or not the series was a success or a failure until I’d seen its final episode. So now that I’ve watched the finale, did the show sink or did it swim? A little bit of both, actually.

I have always maintained that movies or television series based on novels should not be judged in comparison to the books that inspired them. Movies and books are separate artforms, and things patently different can never be “equal.” One can never be “superior” to the other. I’m going to try to divorce myself, then, from my memories of the novel, and not dwell on the ways in which the narrative of the show diverged from the novel’s plot. Suffice it to say, the storyline presented in the novel is superior. However, as a culmination and fulfillment of the storyline presented in the TV series, self-contained, the finale satisfies.

The series as a whole suffered from deficiencies in the writing, directing, and especially the editing. Impeccable acting, along with gorgeous and lush sets and costuming, went a long way towards making up for these shortcomings. In many ways, it feels like the creators have only now, with the season finale, gotten the recipe right. Kreizler, in the finale, acts the way he should have been acting all along; he is a criminal profiler, a good century before a term would be invented for such a person. In the present day, he would be working for the FBI in their BSU unit, hunting serial killers. In the finale he has the cool assurance he should have possessed from the start, I think. He is now, for want of a better term, ready. The same is true, to lesser degrees of Sara Howard and John Moore. Actors Daniel Bruhl, Dakota Fanning, and Luke Evans, respectively, were always ready.

We know there’s a second book. The ending leaves the door wide open for a second season. I hope we get it, and that it keeps up the momentum they finally attained with this episode.

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (,, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase here:


TheCheezman • March 28, 2018

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