|“||I am an alienist. I look to help those with an illness of the mind. I must construct an image of the killer. And, thereby, capture him.||”|
|— Dr. Kreizler in "Define Alienist" teaser|
Official Description Edit
"DR. LASZLO KREIZLER is known as an Alienist – one who studies mental pathologies and the deviant behaviors of those who are alienated from themselves and society. In addition to providing expert testimony in court that determines whether a person goes to prison, a mental hospital, or back on the streets, he operates the Kreizler Institute, providing a haven for “damaged” children. His alienist profession, along with his obsessive intensity and controversial views, makes him a social pariah in some circles. Kreizler is passionate and tireless in his efforts to seek out the depraved killer whose vicious, barbaric and ritualistic deeds have terrorized the children of the city's immigrant poor. In doing so, he hopes to also unravel the mysteries of the human psyche and answer the question: what motivates someone to become a serial killer?" 
Character Overview Edit
Dr. Laszlo Kreizler is a handsome man of medium height with brown hair, a thick beard that highlights the facial features and piercing dark brown eyes. He suffered a fracture in his right arm as a child that made it less strong and developed than the opposite limb, preventing him from easily performing routine functions. This often causes a sense of frustration and discomfort in Laszlo.
Dr. Laszlo Kreizler is one of the luminaries of his time, ostracised by his medical colleagues and distinguished members of society for his avant-garde ideas and his unorthodox methods in the treatment of the afflictions of the mind, body, and spirit. His shrewdness and profound knowledge of the human psyche often place him in conditions of open conflict with those around him, since Kreizler seems to enjoy putting people in front of their demons. The alienist also lacks some social skills required for his social class, namely a hypocritical semblance of morals and ethics. On the other hand, Kreizler is endowed with a great spirit of observation and is free from prejudice against the outcasts and those oppressed by society. He is also very persuasive and does not hesitate to manipulate people to achieve his goals. Perfectly aware of his disability, he is strongly motivated to show his worth, rejecting any form of commiseration or pity for his condition.
The following contains plot details – read at your own risk.
In 1866, Mr. and Mrs. Kreizler emigrated from Germany to New York City, and moved to a mansion on the 5th Avenue. Their presence in high society immediately became famous, and their parties were much talked about in the newspapers. During a soiree hosted by the Kreizlers, "the evening was highlighted by young Master Kreizler, who dazzled all with his interpretation of Mozart's ‘Concerto for Piano No. 20 in D minor’" according to some newspaper clippings found by Miss Sara Howard. As she explained to John Moore, such a concert can only be played with two hands. 
However, behind closed doors, the Kreizlers lived differently from the façade of the loving family displayed in public. According to Laszlo, his father had two sides; one loving and the other brutal and the two often coexist. When he was nine years old, Mr. Kreizler was putting him to bed, playing a "game of tug of war." Despite they were laughing and playing, at some point Mr. Kreizler pulled Laszlo's arm behind his back, fracturing the bones so severely that the arm never fully recovered. Later, Laszlo often asked himself if his father was drunk or if he said something that offended his father to trigger such violence.
In order to conceal the horrors of his childhood, Laszlo began lying about it, saying he was afflicted with a congenital defect and that his arm never fully formed as it should have. 
Undertaken university studies, Laszlo became a remarkable Harvard student, where he was mentored by Professor Cavanaugh. On his first day on campus, Laszlo went to Professor Cavanaugh and asked to take his class. Laszlo was still unsure about his own future and it was thanks' to Cavanaugh's class "Introduction to Ornithology" that he undertook a path that he didn't even know he would take. In order to stimulate his dormant interests, Professor Cavanaugh put Laszlo in a room and gave him a preserved specimen to study, known as Hildebrandt's starling. Laszlo looked the bird over, after a short time, returned and gave his teacher a few sentences describing it. Unsatisfied with it, Professor Cavanaugh told him to look at the bird again. After Laszlo did as instructed, he returned with a 4-page essay. But again, the teacher sent him away. After three more days of looking at that Starling, the poor thing was beginning to molt and Laszlo realized he was finally starting to see "his bird," namely his interest in pathological anatomy. 
While he was a student, he also became a great friend of both John Moore and Theodore Roosevelt. One time Roosevelt managed to throw Laszlo on his heels, and the German young man challenged Theodore to a duel in the gymnasium in front of all their classmates. Roosevelt chose fists and they both stripped to their waists. As soon as they saw Laszlo's injured arm looking like a broken wing held tight, the whole room fell silent and Theodore refused to fight since everyone in that room was bothered by his disadvantage, making Laszlo even angrier. This accident helped to consolidate their friendship, as Roosevelt did not pity him. 
In 1874, Laszlo interviewed Jesse Pomeroy following his arrest, and the alienist came to the conclusion that Pomeroy had killed some kids because he was jealous of their physical appearance; Pomeroy was, in fact, disfigured in the face. Nevertheless, Jesse Pomeroy was found guilty and sentenced to prison. 
Still following cases of brutal murders, Dr. Kreizler testified at Cyrus Montrose's trial, guilty of killing a rapist. After the man was cleared, Kreizler took him to work for him as a valet.  Dr. Kreizler personally also took under his wing both Mary Palmer, guilty of having set her own father on fire, and Stevie Taggert, a pickpocket. 
New York City, March 3rd, 1896.  Dr. Kreizler was interested in a recent murder case of a boy prostitute and sent his friend John Schuyler Moore to the crime scene to sketch the body. Dissatisfied with the sketch, Dr. Kreizler and Moore went to Bellevue Hospital to interrogate Henry Wolff, the man arrested for the murder of Giorgio Santorelli. However, Laszlo soon realized that Wolff was not the man that they were looking for, but only sick with syphilis and that he had killed his lover in a fit of jealousy.
Dr. Kreizler and Moore then went to the police department for an impromptu meeting with Commissioner Roosevelt. The alienist believed that there was a connection with the death of Santorelli and that of Benjamin and Sofia Zweig, killed three years earlier.
At the Kreizler Institute, the alienist took the young Ezra Mills, a child with pyromaniac inclinations, into his care. Having ascertained with Moore's help that there was not much to work on in the murder case, Dr. Kreizler obtained permission to dig up the bodies of the Zweig twins by unleashing the fury of Mrs. Zweig, who blamed the man for the death of her children.
Dr. Kreizler also obtained from Roosevelt the help of two promising Detective Sergeants, the brothers Marcus and Lucius Isaacson to do a post-mortem on the bones. Dr. Kreizler and Moore, meanwhile, pursued to no avail a shady man who left behind a severed human tongue, probably Giorgio's. 
A Fruitful Partnership
Dr. Kreizler visited a mortician to find out if there were other similar cases of murder, but the mortician dismissed it and added that Giorgio Santorelli had what he deserved.
At the Kreizler Institute, Laszlo reprimanded Mr. Rajk and his priest for harassment against Mr. Rajk's daughter, Berthe who had been caught masturbating.
John Moore and Miss Sara Howard, Rooseveltʼs secretary, meanwhile, had discovered the cover-up of two other recent murders — Aaron Morton and an unidentified African-American boy. Dr. Kreizler invited both of them to dinner at Delmonico's with the Isaacson brothers to discuss their investigation. Before dinner, Laszlo and John went to the Metropolitan Opera House where the alienist told Roosevelt that he intended to conduct a parallel investigation.
At Delmonico's, team members updated each other on their recent discoveries. The Isaacson brothers had been able to identify the type of dagger used, an Arkansas toothpick, and also found a bloody footprint on the pocket watch found in Benjamin Zweig's coffin. Through fingerprinting, they would have been able to trace the culprit.
Dr. Kreizler and the Isaacson brothers studied the photographs of the fingerprint while Miss Sara Howard expressed her disappointment for John Moore, who had spent a “rough night” at the Paresis Hall where he had gone to investigate Giorgio Santorelli on his own.
Thanks to John's information obtained from Sally, one of the Paresis Hall's prostitutes, the two friends discovered that the man described by Sally gained the trust of his victims before killing them. And that, most likely, was suffering from syphilis because of the “silver smile” caused by mercury salts.
In the evening, Dr. Kreizler could not figure out how to understand the criminal mind and was dissuaded by the manservant Cyrus from the pursuit of such research, since it would have destroyed him slowly and the man did not want his benefactor to suffer unnecessarily.
Later, housekeeper Mary offered to wash Laszlo's shirt stained with ink and the two were about to share a romantic moment when Stevie announced that there had been another murder at the former immigration station.
With the help of Theodore Roosevelt who delayed the release of the news, Dr. Kreizler and his team were able to quickly examine the scene, where Miss Howard noticed how the series of murders had common patterns — heights, water currents, terrible and violent mutilation and removal of organs.
Dr. Kreizler visited Mrs. Williams, a former sadism-prone patient. The alienist hoped to be able to use the woman's knowledge to understand and anticipate the actions of the Killer. The woman was pleased to help the doctor, explaining how the man who enjoys defiling women is usually dominated in his daily life, while the man who is being beaten is probably bully. She then made Kreizler uncomfortable when she affirmed that with all his intelligence, he was most likely to fall for someone for whom that intelligence means nothing. Kreizler replied that the murderer was attracted by his opposite but Mrs. Williams offered a different point of view in her mind. Kreizler revealed their accounts of men's vulnerabilities, in which he recognized his own weakness. Therefore, if the murderer enjoyed inflicting wounds, there's a good chance he had wounds of his own. Kreizler promptly left the room when Mrs. Williams started to touch his right arm, whispering in his ear that “the cripple in him is looking for the cripple in another.”
At the park, Dr. Kreizler went into one of his trances where he rearranged his thoughts. Here he met Sara Howard who returned Johnʼs sketchbook found by Captain Connor on the latest crime scene. The two talked about the nature of the crime and what drives a person to kill. Using as an example a woman pushing a stroller on the opposite side of the park, Dr. Kreizler revealed that she had drowned her children and was now walking around with an empty stroller. The alienist and Miss Howard agreed that the expectations of women in society were profoundly wrong but Kreizler also asserted that anyone is capable of committing heinous actions if given the circumstances.
At the Kreizler Institute, Laszlo let Ezra Mills vent by kicking a ball when he discovered that the child was angry with his mother for leaving him at the institute. Later, Dr. Kreizler questioned Charles Blythe to find out the reason that led the young man to kill dogs and accuse some neighbors of Chinese origin.
At home, Laszlo was very disappointed to find out that Mary spent the afternoon with John Moore and was barely able to hide his jealousy by arguing with John. That evening, the team met at a cabaret believing that they had been invited by each other, only to discover that they had been invited there by none other than the murderer. Sara Howard, meanwhile, had received a visit from Mrs. Santorelli who had received a poisonous letter handwritten by the murderer.
Through a Glass, Darkly
At the headquarters, the team uses the help of a graphologist to study the letter written by the mysterious killer. Dr. Kreizler and Sara argue fiercely about their differences of opinion about the killer's potential background — Miss Howard believes the presence of an authoritarian female figure is plausible, while Dr. Kreizler dismisses any possibility of this.
Later, Dr. Kreizler visits his old mentor and university professor, Professor Cavanaugh for guidance. The professor reminds Laszlo of his passion and determination when he was a student and advises him to continue his research.
Laszlo then asks John to accompany him to Charlestown State Prison where Jesse Pomeroy is currently imprisoned. Once face to face with Pomeroy, Laszlo is forced to review his perspective of understanding the criminal mind when the inmate makes a mockery of his intelligence and tries to stab him in the eye with a makeshift knife. The intervention of Moore and an orderly save Laszlo from the assault, but leave him mentally shaken.
At Delmonico's, Laszlo was having dinner when Sara handed him some documents useful for their investigation. Laszlo invites the woman to have dinner with him, but she refuses and orders a liqueur.
Thanks to the documents, Laszlo followed the trail that seemed to incriminate Willem Van Bergen, a young offspring of high society with a fondness for young boys. The alienist visited the Catholic Archdiocese where he questioned Bishop Potter about it. In church, Laszlo had an epiphany when he reconnected the dates of the murders to those of the Christian holy days he saw on a calendar. After dissuading Roosevelt from further investigating Van Bergen because he did not correspond to the killer profile, Laszlo informed John of his latest discovery.
During the days prior to the Feast of Ascension, Dr. Kreizler led his associates into an elaborate plan to take the culprit of the murders by straining him into the Tenderloin. By dressing up Stevie as a prostitute, in fact, the team thought of succeeding in entice the Killer.
However the first attempt failed and the alienist struck down with perhaps too much ease in the face of the initial defeat. Meanwhile, he grew closer to Mary and the two shared a romantic though awkward moment when Dr. Kreizler kissed the cut on Mary's finger.
Laszlo was put under pressure by Roosevelt to find the culprit because otherwise the public and the press will want their heads.
A second, more studied attempt took place at The Slide, a brothel. While Moore and Marcus were inside the brothel and kept an eye on Stevie, Cyrus and Lucius were on the roof of the opposite building to supervise the area. Laszlo and Sara waited in the carriage, where they had a discussion about Laszlo's past. Sara, in fact, had discovered that Laszlo lied about his impairment and now Sara was forced to question the whole profile of the killer since Laszlo was biased in his research. The discussion took a bad turn, and the alienist slapped Sara. Before the woman could retort, however, John warned them of a flaw in their plan. The killer had managed to create a diversion by knocking out both Marcus and Cyrus. While Stevie was safe, locked in one of the rooms, however, the killer kidnapped another of the boy prostitutes, Rosie. 
At the morgue, Lucius led a post-mortem on Rosie's corpse, found early in the day at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. The corpse showed a considerable greater amount of violence than those suffered by the previous victims. The entire team was present in the room. Marcus was in shock because he had befriended Rosie during the posting whilst Moore and Sara couldn't believe they had come very close to catching the culprit. Roosevelt claimed to have seen similar injuries when he was in the army in North Dakota. When the others left the room, Laszlo apologized to the corpse before plunging a scalpel into Rosie's lifeless chest.
Outside the Police Department, Dr. Kreizler and Moore were confused by the crowd protesting in the streets due to yet another murder, demanding justice. The two men were approached by McManus, one of the henchmen in the payroll of Paul Kelly. The latter warned the alienist that he was making very powerful enemies with his investigations and advised him to be careful because he was chasing a monster much bigger than he believed, ready to devour them at any given chance.
With a new lead, the team decided to research past crimes committed in similar circumstances. Laszlo and John went to a Natural Science Museum to learn more about Native Americans and their traditions since the crimes bear resemblance with some indigenous tribal warfare practices.
On their way back, John and Laszlo were kidnapped by former Captain Connor and Sergeant Doyle and led by J.P. Morgan's mansion. The magnate hosted a secret meeting where Former Chief Police Thomas Byrnes and Bishop Potter were also present. The two men ordered Laszlo to stop the investigation but J.P. Morgan was fascinated by Laszlo's theories even if not by his ways. Laszlo replied that he was very disappointed by both the police and the church if they had more at heart the reputation of the wealthy families than the lives of children and the searching for the culprit, whoever he was.
After sending Potter and Byrnes away, J. P. Morgan claimed that he did not approve of the reputation of New York City and its police officers being stained with doubts and criticism. However, he agreed with Kreizler that something had to be done. When he offered to help Laszlo, however, the latter refused as he did not want to be indebted to J.P. Morgan.
At the Kreizler Institute, Ezra could not sleep and Laszlo caught him playing with a knife. After scolding him, he let him fed a monkey in a cage. Shortly after, Laszlo had a brief squabble with John, who found out about Laszlo slapping Sara several day before.
At dinner, Laszlo and Mary shared a kiss as well as a meal. 
The recent findings led the group to split up into separate investigations. Laszlo and John headed to Washington, DC where they learned of a former Corporal John Beecham who could match the criminal profile they drafted. While Sara headed to New Paltz, Beecham's home town and the two Isaacson brothers met with Captain Miller, a former comrade from Beecham's past, Laszlo and John visited Adam Dury, Beecham's brother in Newton, Massachusetts.
Here they learned of a gruesome story about the past of John Beecham, born Japheth Dury. He was raised by abusive parents and raped by a friend, George Beecham when he was a teenager. Laszlo and John were convinced that they had found the man they were looking for but, on the way back, they suffered an attack and their carriage ended up in a ditch. Although both were injured in the crash, they did not report any serious damage and even had the opportunity to leave their differences behind when Laszlo revealed to John that he was in love with Mary and not Sara, as a jealous John had erroneously assumed.
A Bleak Descent into Darkness
While Dr. Kreizler was in Washington, DC and later in Newton, Massachusetts, his home was intruded by former Captain Connor, Sergeant Doyle and The Swede. They were willing to use brute force against Kreizler to stop him from investigating. Not finding the alienist at home, they attacked his servants and killed Mary.
At the funeral, all Laszlo's associates and friends gave him the most sincere condolences but nothing could stop his deep pain. The alienist abandoned the investigation and shut himself up in the house, where he had painful hallucinations of the love that had been torn away from him by violence.
Deeply shaken by mourning and angry with himself for not being able to protect Mary or having solved the case, Laszlo stabbed himself in the impaired arm with a broken glass, in an ineffective attempt to feel something. 
Following the umpteenth murder and the kidnapping of Joseph, John Mooreʼs friend and spy in the Tenderloin, they forced Laszlo to resume the investigation. A step away from finding John Beecham, the team had managed to locate his lairs and previous quarters, giving the alienist a way to study Beecham's criminal psyche much more deeply.
Laszlo and Sara set their differences aside and both confessed secrets they had never revealed to anyone. Laszlo had been abused by his father in childhood and beatings were the reason for his impaired arm. Sara confessed to helping her father commit suicide.
After getting rid of Thomas Byrnes and his henchmen with a diversion at the Metropolitan Opera House, and sending the police officers to the wrong address, Laszlo and John headed to the “Castle in the Sky”, the place where Beecham was intent on sacrificing his last victim, Joseph. Laszlo tried in vain to reason with Beecham, trying to empathize with him past experiences and traumas but every attempt was canceled by Connor who, having followed them, shot Beecham and was about to kill Laszlo and John too if Sara hadn not follow them as well, shooting Connor in cold blood.
After making sure that John and Joseph were fine, Laszlo followed a mortally wounded Beecham to the roof where he had escaped but it was too late. The murderer died, bringing to the grave the real motive that had led him to commit such heinous crimes.
Later, Laszlo and the Isaacson brothers performed an autopsy on the corpse but found nothing abnormal in Beecham's brain that could explain such deviant behavior. Laszlo stated that for months they had hunted down a monster but found only another victim.
Despite everything, the team decided to celebrate the resolution of the investigation to Delmonico's and Laszlo gave John the engagement ring he had intended to give Mary, so that John could propose Sara to marry him.
In the days that followed, Laszlo welcomed Joseph to the Kreizler Institute, where the boy would get all the psychological help he needed to recover from the trauma.
Finally, Laszlo visited his father at the hospice, forgiving him for what he had done in the past and turning the page so as not to allow resentment to dictate his own life.
Memorable Quotes Edit
- Dr. Keizler: “I work as a specialist in deviant behavior – an alienist. My profession makes me a bit of a social pariah. My aim is to unravel the traumatic mysteries of the human psyche and answer what makes a man into a murderer.”
- — Kreizler's voiceover, Promotional teaser 
- Dr. Kreizler: “As an alienist, I treat mental and emotional disorders in my patients, and I try to alleviate their condition. I do not presume to cure them.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “I'm certain cold-blooded killers walk among us.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “His acts are so wretched, so evil that only if I become him; If I cut the child's throat myself; If I run my knife through the helpless body and pluck innocent eyes from a horrified face... Only then will I come to truly understand what I am. Only then will I recognize that what drives me is not an absence of emotions at all. Rather, a torrent of feeling. The kind that gives meaning and purpose to my own blackened soul.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “I must see life as he sees it. Feel pain as he feels it. Take the same path he takes. Yes, I must follow this wherever it goes. Even if it leads me to the darkest pit of Hell.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “I, too, learned Scripture when I was young. But instead of answers, I found only questions. Why does God allow us to feel both pleasure and pain? Why has he given a young girl like Berthe impulses and desires she cannot begin to fathom or control? Is this the God of whom we speak?”
- Dr. Kreizler: “This is a sanctuary for the young. I will not tolerate its trespass, neither by man nor by God.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “We may not know his name or where he lives, but he exists in plain sight.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “Our task is to gather those hints and indications to construct an image of the man [...] but most importantly, his appetites. Look at who his victims are, where he commits his crimes, and what exactly he does to them until a pattern begins to emerge.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “Each and every one of the choices he makes will reveal a hidden aspect of his alienated mind. And there's one more thing. We know the killer's conscious thoughts are fixed on violence. If we get too close, that violence might well spill over onto us."
- Dr. Kreizler: “Certainly, a beggar is motivated to steal a piece of bread because he's hungry. But why does our killer do what he does?”
- Dr. Kreizler: “I recognized my own weakness, and it gave me pleasure.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “You say you cannot see the world from the perspective of a child killer because you could never kill a child. I believe we all possess the raw material required to commit horrible acts. We just need the right or wrong combination of events to make the raw material combustible.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “Chasing clues will mean he's always a step ahead of us. We must see what's behind the clues.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “He's watching us.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “I wonder how long he would have stayed hidden. Somewhere inside, I believe he wanted society to know he's its tormented offspring, a living reminder of all the crimes we commit behind closed doors.”
- Dr. Kreizler: “We set out to find a monster, but all we found was a wounded child.”
- In an interview posted on the official Twitter account, Daniel Brühl gave an insight of his character:
"The character I'm playing is Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, who is a psychologist. They were called 'Alienists' back in the day. His approach is very new. He is clever enough to surround himself with people who have similar abilities and progressive minds in other fields which help him in finding the murderer." 
- The original, and slightly different draft for Dr.Laszlo Kreizler's description read as follow:
"Known as an alienist – one who studies mental pathologies – Dr. Kriezler works as a specialist in deviant behavior. His profession, along with his careless intensity, makes him a social pariah in some circles, despite his striking good looks and a sophisticated sensibility. Kreizler is passionate about his work and tireless in his efforts to seek out the depraved killer whose vicious, barbaric and ritualistic deeds have terrorized the city's poorest residents. In doing so, he hopes to also unravel the traumatic mysteries of the human psyche, especially his own, and answer the question behind what makes a man into a murderer." 
- When asked if there was any real-life figure who inspired Dr. Kreizler, Caleb Carr said:
"Not directly. There were people in many countries who were doing the kind of work that he would spin his theories off of, either in emulative or combative terms, such as William James (again, obviously) but also Josef Breuer, Emil Kraepelin, and others, and there were people who would have been colleagues of his – people like Adolf Meyer and Hugo Münsterberg. But models in terms of personality? No. He came from a place deep in my own psyche and represented both an amalgam of many characters I admired – historically, in fiction, in movies – and a projection of character traits I both hoped I occasionally embodied and also thought I saw in other people and characters I admired." 
- In Caleb Carr's novel, it is revealed that the Kreizler family fled persecution following the failed German Revolution of 1848–49 and came to America.
Episode Appearance Edit