January 15, 2023
Vienna Blood airs Sundays at 9:00 pm and is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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Max and Oskar both have admirers. Therese, the woman who asked Oskar to intercede with the negligent landlord of the slum she and the recently murdered Mathilde live in, has come to the police station with cake for Oskar. The building has been cleaned up and improved, thanks to Oskar. When Max learns about the cake, he declares that Therese is in love with Oskar.
Max’s admirer is less benign: the killer of Mathilde and Adele. He leaves a package for Max at Max’s home and office containing a pinned butterfly: a reference to an analogy Max used to describe the psychosis of the killer in a newspaper interview.
Another newspaper has its eye on Max. Clara’s first piece as a journalist, on the Vogl fashion house, won’t be printed, due to the scandal of the murder of Adele while working there. Clara begs her editor to let her use her connection to Max to write about the murder instead, since audiences would rather read about that. But Max refuses to give Clara any scoops.
He hosts a dinner for his family at his new home, which they compliment—despite disliking the modern sparseness of its décor. While the meal is served, the killer calls Max on the phone. The killer explains that he has read Max’s book and that he thinks Max will enjoy examining his mind before promising that another “work of art” is coming soon. “I paint in death,” he says.
Indeed, another death is quickly reported. Kristina Vogl, the fashion designer, screams in the middle of the night, telling her husband that she saw someone through the skylight of the fashion house. When he checks the house, he finds the skylight open but no one there. The maid, Selma, is dead in bed.
The mode of death is the same as Mathilde and Adele, a needle inserted through the back of the neck to the brain. Selma also had just had sex, like the others, but there is bruising on her head, unlike the other two.
The assistant Valentin thinks he saw the killer. He went to the kitchen in the middle of the night and saw what he assumed was a mannequin—but retrospectively thinks was Selma’s masked murderer. Katrina does occasionally hallucinate from taking too much laudanum, but Valentin’s testimony corroborates hers.
While Max and Oskar don’t have any new leads on the killer, the coroner’s assistant does. She discovered a silver ring on both Mathilde and Adele. Both girls were poor, so the rings are secondhand, as is evident from the remnants of a scraped-away inscription.
Oskar and Max visit a secondhand jewelry seller at an outdoor market, who claims ignorance of the girls’ deaths. He explains that he gets the rings from a man who works at a funeral parlor. He doesn’t know the supplier’s name.
Oskar and Max visit the funeral parlor and quickly decide that the killer must be the worker who paints the bodies, given his insistence to Max that death is a work of art. But that employee, Sprenger, is gone—he left early, dressed up as if for a date.
Oskar goes back to the jewelry seller and demands that he tell them what young woman Sprenger has lately been talking to near the jewelry stand—it’s where he picked up his victims. The salesman directs them to a tavern where she works.
That leads them to her apartment, where they barge in and interrupt her as she has sex with Sprenger, who is about to murder her. He hurls a lamp at a curtain, starting a fire, and flees. Max follows as Oskar extinguishes the blaze, but he loses him.
Having just missed capturing Sprenger, Max and Oskar set a trap. Max sends away his housekeeper on an errand and dismisses the police officer who has been guarding his door ever since the killer first contacted him. Sprenger appears and lays down on Max’s analyst couch, and Max begins to question him.
Sprenger wants to be understood, and to be included in Max’s next book. His obsession with death as beauty began when he was a teenager and a girl he loved suddenly died. When he met Mathilde, his first victim, she looked so similar to that lost beloved that his psychosis was triggered. But he insists that he has had only two victims, Mathilde and Adele. He’s upset that a copycat has killed Selma and besmirched his “artwork.”
When Max condemns his killings, Sprenger pulls a knife on Max, who frantically shouts for Oskar to save him. The policeman opens the door and shoots Sprenger through the head when he lunges at Max. Oskar explains that he waited so long because he knew Max was fascinated by Sprenger—he was giving him more time to analyze him.
The pair revisit Selma’s room and find evidence of a burnt photograph. This leads Oskar to recall that he knows Ludo Rainmayr, Kristina’s photographer, from years ago, when he was arrested for pornography. Ludo admits that he took a nude photo of Selma, but that it was an old photo of someone else that might be relevant to her death. He and Selma got drunk together one night and he showed her a pornographic photo of a younger Kristina.
Max decides to bring Clara into the investigation, and asks her about masks in fashion. He and Oskar go to the Vogls and tell them that the killer is no more, then ask Kristina about the photo. Ludo gave it to Selma, and she used it to blackmail Kristina for more money. But it was never enough, and Selma threatened to leak the photo to the press.
Kristina had had a difficult earlier life before becoming successful, and hated the photo. She had hired Ludo to buy his silence about it. But she couldn’t stop Selma, so she killed her and burned the photo.
Kristina told the police she saw a masked intruder when Adele died, then donned her own antique black mask—which Valentin saw her in—and killed Selma in the same manner as Sprenger, using semen from her husband to make it appear that Selma had also just had sex.
Clara gets her first story published—and it garners her a front page. She hopes it is the beginning of a partnership with Max.
Oskar visits Therese to return her cake box. She invites him in for supper and introduces him to her daughter, asking him to read to the girl while she finishes cooking the meal.