Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 2: “You’re No Rose”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler
* For a review of the previous episode, “Ten Knots” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Best with the Best to Get the Best” – click here
After the premiere’s interesting events, “You’re No Rose” starts out with more excellent Cliff Martinez score. Two men find a body on the shore, a water-laden corpse. When they turn it over, the body is Inspector Jacob Speight (David Fierro).
Meanwhile, Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) talks with Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland), reading a newspaper as they walk the streets together. As they arrive at the hospital, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) is bringing Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) in to see the board. He claims he hasn’t taken cocaine in a long while, and the other drugs – heroin – are completely out of his system. For his part, Thack doesn’t look nearly as bad as he did in the first episode. Although, his eyes still have a dangerous tinge of addict in them. The board wants him monitored while at the hospital, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) insisting any of the drugs he must take out of the medical locker has to be checked. At the same time, Thackery doesn’t want to do surgery much any longer. He wants to do research into “what causes addiction“. Nevertheless, none of the board wants any of it. Thackery believes addiction needs to be cured, it is a disease and ought be treated as such; very modern of Thack. Everyone else believes addiction belongs to the lower class, “present company excluded“, so they say. He doesn’t have many friends left on the board, not anymore. It’s the faith of Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken) which keeps him afloat. For now.
Out on the street, Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) tries to get his ambulance fixed, up and running. Only there’s trouble with the vehicle and things seem to shut down. Cleary is not happy.
Up in his office once more, Thackery in his slick white shoes tries to readjust to the world like before. Only without the use of drugs to keep him on the level. He and Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) reunite, both of them with their eyes shining at the sight of one another. Except John is not the same person he used to be, for better and for worse. Lucy loves him, but he says “we can‘t be together“. An abrupt end to their relationship, though, probably better off for Lucy. She doesn’t see it. But it’s true. He is a mess of a man, clawing back to his professional life, which won’t be easy. There’s no good in their relationship for her, only more possible heartache. Still, sad to see her cast off like that after all she did for Thackery.
Back at the Knickerbocker, there are new charts confusing Thackery, as well as the ass-kissing Gallinger. They’re, of course, modern medical forms we recognize today. Thack does not like them, nor do the other doctors, but Edwards assures them it’s easier to read, makes things quicker for them and allows the orderlies information about the patients. Oh, the modern world! After that, we get more friction between Edwards and Gallinger, as well as the usual stuff from Thack to Edwards. When will Algernon get the rightful respect he deserves?
Cleary is having a tough time with the ambulance, trying to get an advance out of Barrow, who won’t budge of course. And who knows what Barrow has going on concerning the budget. While talking to Cleary, a group of people come into view, women in fact. Ping Wu (Perry Yung) has shown up with his ladies. Ah, yes – the deal he struck with Barrow, for regular medical care. “A philanthropic endeavour,” Herman tells Lucy Elkins. She is being tasked with “discretion” and taking care of the prostitutes. They bring Dr. Mays (Ben Livingston) into the fold after he stumbles upon the women. Seems Mays is quite happy to start helping the women, as he’s used to serving women. Only he’s a bit too eager. Lucy gets the stirrups, but he says nonsense – they’ll rest their legs on his shoulders. He doesn’t even need any swabs: good nose and a smart eye is all he needs. Disgusting. I’m pretty sure ole Mays is looking to get his nasty jollies off.
In other parts of the hospital, Bertie worries to Algernon that all the latter’s good work will see Thackery tear it down. The silent Edwards only washes out of surgery, not a word. I’m looking forward to seeing how Algie takes care of Thack’s sudden presence back at the Knick.
And speaking of Thackery, he’s off in a dingy little room with instruments set up in front of him, a book at his side. He receives Bertie for a chat; Chickering gives him a resignation letter, though. Thackery tries to explain away his drug use as changing who he was, making him do odd things he never would have done, only his young friend thinks the drugs made him bare his “true self“. They talk about Lucy a little and Thack drops some wisdom about the male view of women: “Don‘t get confused by some puritanical notion of womanhood. Virginity is a man‘s idea, meant to shame,” he tells Chickering.
Barrow is out trying to get the best supplies for the hospital, as well as skim money off the top of the construction. What a greasy little man, that Herman. Always scheming and wasting money.
Cleary visits Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) trying to get her some more help. Only Harriet knows more about the law than Cleary, and the lawyer he brought confirms it. Regardless, Attorney Whitting (Jefferson Mays) lays out some options for Harriet, to try and help her as best he can. Bless Cleary’s heart, trying his hardest to do right by Harriet. He is a hard man, but a good one, for sure. We also discover Harriet’s birth name is Rose; all the same, Cleary likes Harriet better, so he tells her. The money Clear was trying to get out of Barrow earlier wasn’t simply for vehicle issues. He needs money for the attorney, so he can start the wheels in motion for Harriet.
In other news, Cornelia Showalter (Juliet Rylance) is looking for more information about the dead officer, Inspector Speight. No one at the station is too concerned, as it seems an accident. Cornelia heads off and calls Algernon; she wants to know if there’s any way to find out the blood alcohol level of a person, particularly after death. She knew Speight didn’t drink, he never took a drop. There is certainly something foul afoot in the city of New York. Only problem: Speight has already been buried, even Algernon can’t take him out of the ground.
There’s more trouble for poor Cleary, who gets information about fixed fights down at the bare knuckle boxing ring. Apparently the fighters he’s in league with are taking dives, but not even at good prices: “You can have the dollar I made tonight,” one of them says to Cleary.
Back to Thack. His wet, sober eyes are dangerous. Not for long. He heads down to replace the drugs with drinking, slamming back a few shots. Before that, his head was stuck on a young girl in flashbacks, under the sheet on his operating table; is this the girl from the Season 2 premiere, the one he couldn’t stop seeing? Either way, Thack is putting the drugs away and letting the drink reign. Certainly not a great idea, but early 20th century wasn’t exactly the day and age of understanding drugs/alcohol are equally as damaging; alcoholism wasn’t a problem, drug addiction was a disgusting behaviour. Out in an alley, Thack bends a drunk prostitute over a barrel and has himself a good time. I suppose drinking and sex take away the dull pain of wanting drugs.
At a nice candlelight dinner, Cornelia and others enjoy interesting company, drink, and good food. Lots of talk about “the new Knick“, and so on. Henry and his father have differing opinions on what the hospital needs. The son believes more donors is necessary, and also looks to the future, but dear ole dad has no time for his opinions really.
Algernon has a drink with his friend Dr. Russell Daniels (Colman Domingo). They complain about their respective situations at their hospitals. Algernon laments how people at the Knick almost expect daily thank yous for the supposed gifts they’ve given him, the opportunities. Then he contrasts a doctor working elsewhere who is treated like a King in France, yet in America he’s just a “nigger on a bike“. Sad, tragic times to see these great African-American doctors suffer under the weight of bigotry and rampant racism. How the times have changed, only not completely.
Lucy Elkins receives a visit from her religious father, A.D. Elkins (Stephen Spinella – who I loved in Ravenous). There’s a clash between science and medicine, just not a rough one. Dad only wants to see his daughter is safe and sound in New York at the infamous Knickerbocker.
Thackery is being monitored, along with the drugs he has to take out of the medical locker; Barrow is in tow making sure everything goes correctly. In the hallway, John meets Lucy and her father, to whom he gives a glowing review of his daughter’s service as nurse at the hospital. Up in one of the rooms, Thackery discovers a unit called a “fever cabinet“, which the nurse tells him was installed at the request of Dr. Edwards awhile back. Of course, the two doctors go head-to-head over the cabinet: “Do you read German?” Edwards asks Thack with a bit of tongue in cheek. Following this little argument, Algernon reveals the trouble with his eye to Thackery. They bond a little over possible surgeries for Algie, Thack showing interest in what’s happening. Perhaps a tenuous bond is forming between these two now with Thackery’s burgeoning sobriety? I hope so. Especially now seeing as how Edwards’ eye and career are all on the line. It’d be nice to see redemption on Thack’s part, as Edwards tells him: “You‘re the only one I can trust. Please, John.” He agrees, but only to do it at night when the hospital is empty, so that nobody figures out what’s going on. A deal is struck.
Cornelia can’t get any traction on Speight and his death, or better put murder. She discovers there is a cover-up happening, after taking a meeting at Tammany Hall. However, she isn’t able to get much further than figuring out something is wrong at the surface level. Well, Cornelia finds her way down to see Cleary for a conversation. Turns out, Cleary used to dig graves once upon a time. Harriet let Cornelia in on this fact, so it seems Cleary is just glad the former nun said anything at all about him. Cut to Cleary digging up Speight, all the while carrying on for a few laughs with the new Ms. Showalter. Great scene, which brings together the lower class to which Cleary belongs, even with his job, and the upper crust of Cornelia and her family; I love how she is very much not the expected ‘lady’ type, she likes to be involved, to get her hands in the dirt and figure out what’s happening instead of standing by idly like so many others.
We also get a glimpse of Lucy’s father preaching, talking about all the different cultures of New York, and the “language of God” before speaking in tongues a bit. Weird, sort of ominous in a way, yet it gives us a look into Lucy’s past, too. Accompanied by tons more perfect Martinez score; the music truly makes The Knick a highly unique series.
At the Knick, poor Thack is still hallucinating the young dead girl. Worse, he sees blood pouring out of the faucets where he’s washing up. All the while, Algernon sits out on the operating table awaiting his friend Thackery for surgery. And then, it begins, first with eye drops before moving into the thick of it. John handles cocaine again, but not for himself; it goes in under Edwards’ eyeball, thankfully. Seeing these two come together under such intense pressure and a very tense situation, it’s sort of magical. But when Thack starts putting the knife near Algie’s eye, he also hears noises nobody else can hear, he shakes slightly. Before he can do anything, Algernon stops the procedure. Thack nicks him a little with the blade, and things come to a stop.
Cue, Thackery out on the town with another drink and flirting with the prostitute he had sex with last time. Drowning away the sorrows: “To your health,” she says lifting a drink. Then, Thack falls into the rabbit hole – the prostitute tells him how the cocaine and heroin take the edge off one another, each of her arms dedicated to one drug. In that moment, will Thack succumb to drug use again, or use this knowledge towards his research?
Come back again soon for a review of the next episode, “The Best with the Best to Get the Best”. Stay tuned, fellow Knick lovers!