TNT's period piece The Alienist stars Luke Evans, Daniel Brühl, and Dakota Fanning as a group of unlikely colleagues tracking a serial killer through New York City in the 1890s. Their work has been grisly, but the first season is coming to a forgone conclusion soon. The season finale airs March 26 on TNT, but will The Alienist return for Season 2?
The show was initially billed as a miniseries, which makes sense as it's actually based on a book of the same name, written by Caleb Carr in 1994, according to Vulture. But, even though the book has a solid ending the show will likely follow, there is a slight possibility that The Alienist could return for even more centuries-old crime solving. TV Guide noted that Carr wrote a sequel to the book — The Angel of Darkness— which could provide material for a continuation of the series. Though no official plans for a second season have been made public by TNT, Fanning (who plays Sara Howard) told TV Guide that she would be on board with any additional episodes.
"I think there could be a potential to do it again. I think I can safely speak for everyone and say we would love to," Fanning told the outlet. "We had the best time and love our characters so much and love this world. We certainly would be open to it but we are happy to have completed the story of The Alienist."
While Brühl wasn't as direct about wanting to play the titular alienist Dr. Kreizler in another season, he echoed Fanning's statements about how much he loved working on The Alienist in an interview with The Observer. “The quality of TV has become so good, beginning with the writers. The incredible sets that they build, the costume design," he said. "It’s all made by people with incredible passion and ambition. Working on the show, it felt like I was traveling back to 1896… I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it.”
It's been a long time coming for The Alienist, so the fact that it's on TV at all right now is a success all its own — a second season would just be the cherry on top. Deadline reported that Paramount bought rights to the book way back in 1993 and began to plan a film adaptation, but among other issues, production costs became too high for the project to sustain itself and the plan fizzled.
The content was dormant all the way until 2014, the same article says. Paramount, who still owned the rights, signed a deal with Anonymous Content, which is what eventually brought the series' executive producer Rosalie Swedlin to the project, according to Deadline. Despite the former feature-length movie plans that had previously been set into motion, The Alienist as it exists on TNT is its own animal. "We started from a blank page,” Swedlin said at a TCA panel, according to the same Deadline piece. She said that the source material was important to revisit because “part of the richness of the novel is this fantastic investigation of a serial killer when no one believed one existed.”
Reviews thus far for The Alienist have been mixed — The A.V. Club's Genevieve Valentine wrote earlier this week that "the show isn't as engaging as it should be at this point," and The Atlantic's Sophie Gilbert called the series a "slog" to get through. Despite that, another Deadline piece reported that The Alienist's premiere was the most successful launch of a drama on TNT since 2012, suggesting that even if critics aren't altogether on board, there's still some intrigue left among viewers that could carry over into any potential Season 2.