The Max Psychological Thriller Series Based On Best-Selling Novel Keeps You Glued To The TV

By Nikola Pajtic | Published

If you are looking for a historical drama that dives into a psychological thriller murder story, then The Alienist is a must-watch. It is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Caleb Carr, set against the dark underbelly of Gilded Age New York City you can now stream it on Max. 

The Alienist On Max

The show centers on Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a brilliant but eccentric criminal psychologist (then known as an “alienist”) who studies the minds of the mentally ill. He assembles an unlikely team to solve a series of gruesome murders of homeless boys.

Daniel Brühl, whom you might know as Nikki Lauda in the biopic Rush, and as Helmut Zemo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe shines as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, the enigmatic heart of The Alienist.

Brilliant and undeniably eccentric, with an unconventional approach, seeing patterns and connections that elude others, Kreizler is fascinated by the darkest corners of the human mind.

Understanding The Criminal Mind

His desire to understand the motivation behind the criminal mind, borders obsession, pushing the boundaries of both science and society, but that is what makes him a great detective. 

John Moore, played by Luke Evans, who is known for his roles in Clash of the Titans and the Fast & Furious franchise, is a touch of humanity to The Alienist’s dark world.

His sensitivity and romantic idealism are somewhat misplaced in the gritty underbelly of 1890s New York, but Moore’s past demons allow him to integrate into the city’s shadows.

The Alienist Cast And Story

The Alienist

His talent as an illustrator is seen in his crime scene sketches that capture not just the details but the emotional weight of the crimes.

Moreover, the constant throw and frow between him and Sara Howard keeps viewers glued to the screen in anticipation of the eluding kiss that would surely add light to the dark atmospheric setting of 1890s New York. 

Dakota Fanning known as Rachel Ferrier in the film War of the Worlds, brings fire to the role of Sara Howard. A woman far ahead of her time, she starts the show as a secretary for the NYPD Commissioner.

However, what we see in the second season of The Alienist, Sara has moved up. Sara doesn’t shy away from the gruesome realities and the man’s world as she fights for women’s rights, she will be crucial in resolving mysteries in both seasons. 

Groundbreaking Science Of The Era

The Alienist

Supporting characters include none other than Theodore Roosevelt who at the time was the NYPD Commissioner, played by Brian Geraghty, then Lucius and Marcus Isaacson, twins who are NYPD detective sergeants, portrayed by Matthew Shear and Douglas Smith respectively. 

The Alienist dives into two groundbreaking sciences of the era, psychology and forensics. This adds something new to the crime thriller genre which has been overpopulated in recent years. The team behind Dr. Kreizler uses new methods like fingerprinting and basic crime scene sketches to gather evidence. 

Answers Hidden In The Dark

The Alienist

The mystery itself throws clues the viewers’ way, but the answer lies hidden in the dark corners of New York City. Corruption, poverty, sexuality, and religion, all play a role in deepening the darkness of the story. 

Beyond the gripping story, The Alienist boasts rich dialogue that breathes life into the late 19th-century setting. Moreover, the costumes are crafted in such a way as to mimic the era, transporting the viewers to a time of extravagance and disparity.

Stream The Alienist

The Alienist

While some reviews mention a slow pace, there is a reason behind it. The slow burn is mainly there because The Alienist carefully recreates the limitations of the 1890s technology. The first season’s success spawned the second season, Angel of Darkness. This one will take you on a similar journey from events in The Alienist’s first season a year later.

The production began in 2015 with a team led by writer John Sayles and director Jakob Verbruggen, who replaced Cary Fukunaga. The entire production team was dedicated to capturing the essence of Caleb Carr’s novel, and Carr himself served as a consulting producer.

The Alienist premiered on TNT in 2018 and is now available to stream on Max. So dive into the dark corners of Gilded Age New York and see if you can solve the mystery alongside Dr. Kreizler’s team.