[Warning: Spoilers for “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori”]
If you’ve read me for a while (thank you!), you know two things — I lean way, way in on the characters I adore and I loathe love geometry arcs. So, I’m torn about where we are and where we inevitably go from here this season with only two episodes of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness left.
As I said in my preview, whether John and Sara love each other was never in doubt. It just gets muddled and complicated when they have to navigate the messy world around them.
While the shippers may embrace that they answered the “will they/won’t they” question, he’s still very much engaged to someone else (although we’re missing how that happened within a year of his proposal to Sara). And she’s not confirming that she’s now willing to be Mrs. John Moore after all. Add to that the fact that we don’t know, regardless of how much John has pined for her and is completely besotted with her, whether he’d forfeit his fervent wish for a family if she agreed to be a wife but not a mother.
I also firmly believe that Sara wouldn’t betray another woman. That’s not to say that whatever was long brewing there with John, she wouldn’t have slept with him — I think she would have at some point, but not until he’d extricated himself from the engagement to Violet. Or, flip the argument and maybe it was easier because he had someone else — an out? I don’t know.
It’s further complicated by the scene between Violet and Hearst. She makes it clear that his relationship with her mother has had a negative effect on her parents and herself, and she confesses that to John, telling him that belonging to him as Mrs. John Schuyler Moore, she will finally belong. No pressure.
Either way, I can’t be wholly happy/sympathetic about this development. And then I get a few steps ahead and worry about the heartbreak, and perhaps even worse, the loss of their friendship that’s been rooted in genuine respect and affection, even when they exasperate each other. Plus the dynamic with the larger group. What was at first medium complicated is now really complicated. I thought way too much about this in the days after I watched the screener. That’s what happens when you get invested in fully-formed characters written and portrayed so beautifully.
All that said, I am in love with the way director Clare Kilner shot the love scene, with fluid intercutting of them slowly undressing each other, taking their time. The tenderness beforehand, during, and after was so well done.
The scene begins quietly, after the baby is found and John has had a few tense moments where he realized how quickly he could lose her. Once they’re safe, and the baby is home, they go back to his house. John admits his grief about what he said at his party, and he recognizes it was a pointed attempt to hurt her because she’d rejected his proposal.
She tells him she understands and dismisses as bygones. He’s says he quarreled with her rather than say what he wanted to say, but life’s too short to leave things unspoken. Then he goes to fix the guest room for her, back to pals, no pretense or ulterior motives. But Sara surprises him and takes the lead, touching his face, showing him that what they need to say to each other requires no words at all.
In the episode that follows it, Sara, too, has the same concerns I do — not regret, per se, but an awareness that the path isn’t straightforward. She’s pragmatic about the ramifications if John chucks his fortunes to the winds on her behalf.
He confesses that line that would have carried so much more weight if it hadn’t been all over the trailers, telling her all he ever wanted was to be worthy of her. The weight of that lands on her, but she reminds him he’s engaged to someone else, that it’s not the simple, and he tells her it could be. Then she’s back to discussing the case, which breaks his heart a bit. Sidebar: I appreciate immensely that John has retained his sobriety despite the emotional turmoil.
Only two episodes left for them to sort it all out. It’s been a lovely surprise to have their romance carry as much weight as the mystery this season. Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans are so, so good in these roles.
I’m okay if this was it for John and Sara as far as the romance goes, because it was done with great love and affection. More than anything, I want their friendship to survive even if a relationship is not to be.
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness airs two episodes back-to-back Sundays at 9 pm ET on TNT Drama. Season 1 and Season 2 so far are now streaming on TNT Drama, and these episodes will be posted tomorrow. Click here for my previews.
Images courtesy of TNT.
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