A new case bedevils sleuth Sara Howard in ‘The Alienist: Angel of Darkness’

‘The Alienist: Angel of Darkness’ – A child killer plagues Manhattan

Dakota Fanning stars in “The Alienist: Angel of Darkness,” premiering Sunday on TNT.

Turn-of-the-century secretary Sara Howard has a new role and a new case as the murder mystery “The Alienist” returns on TNT.

In the eight-episode arc titled “Angel of Darkness,” which airs two episodes each Sunday beginning July 19, the character played by series star Dakota Fanning has hung out her own shingle and started a detective agency in downtown New York. She again teams with psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl) and New York Times reporter John Moore (Luke Evans) on the case of Ana Linares, the infant daughter of the Spanish consular who was kidnapped from their Manhattan brownstone.

The subsequent investigation leads them down a twisted path toward an elusive killer who leaves a gruesome trail of bodies. And in the middle of it is Sara, driven by her empathy for the victims and a need to prove herself in her first big case.

“(The case) is not only important for her as a detective in terms of her professional life,” Fanning explains, “but it’s important for her personally to show that a woman is capable of being a detective and that a lot of female intuition and female sensibilities are proved to be necessary in this particular case. And you also see … Sara having to prove herself to the world and to her superiors but also kind of having to prove herself to John Moore and to Dr. Kreizler and kind of earn her position within the trio.

Dakota Fanning stars in “The Alienist: Angel of Darkness,” premiering Sunday on TNT.

“And what’s really nice about ‘Angel of Darkness,’ ” she continues, “is that the trio, they’re peers from the start. You know, like John and Dr. Kreizler really see Sara as their equal from the beginning so that was nice to see and I think that’s a change from the first (season).”

And it’s obvious she brings attributes the two men don’t have. In the opening episode, Sara tries to stop the execution by electric chair of a woman wrongly convicted for the murder of her child. Sara can see the woman is innocent and argues vehemently against it. But it’s obvious to her the woman died with the child.

That same empathy comes to the fore when the consular’s daughter is kidnapped and Sara develops a bond with the mother.

“It’s something that I think John and Dr. Kreizler know that they can’t do,” Fanning says. “You know, Sara kind of fulfills that role … . So yeah, that’s something that I love about Sara, even though she’s so driven and determined and I think we see her really push her own boundaries this time but she is ultimately such an empathetic person and doesn’t do the work that she does for her own gain ultimately. Like she really does it out of care for the people that she’s helping.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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