Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 8: “Not Well At All”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler
The immense talents of Cliff Martinez lead us into this episode. With one of the patients Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) has in his care, an alcoholic, sneaking down to get booze straight from a main line. Only it looks as if it were formaldehyde form which he took a drink. “Well he‘s already half embalmed,” Thack says. “Let‘s get him up on the table and finish the job.”
At home, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and his wife are rekindling their physical love once more. In other news, The Knickerbocker Hospital sees a man coming through the front doors wielding a gun, as Thack and Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) are busy doing work in the office involving all sorts of things injected into a rabbit, including potassium chloride. When the animal dies, Bertie brings him back with a dose of what I can only assume is adrenaline.
Turns out the man with the gun is in fact Mr. Brockhurst (Fred Weller). He’s pissed about the girls being separated. He wants them back together, which naturally can’t be done. From behind Brockhurst comes Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan). He cracks him a good one, accompanied by a chuckle, and then the mood goes back to being light at The Knick once more.
In Chinatown, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) meets with Ping Wu (Perry Yung). More money exchanging hands. It seems Barrow is finally moving ahead with the plan to purchase his mistress, Junia (Rachel Korine). “Would you like a receipt?” Ping asks, tongue firmly in cheek, no doubt. Reeling off a quote, Ping tells Herman it is not from Confucius, but from the Irish bad boy Oscar Wilde.
The mood is also light over at the Gallinger residence, where Eleanor (Maya Kazan) and Everett are in high spirits after their latest sex. A Detective Frank Moorhouse (Tom Brangle) arrives at the house explaining Dr. Cotton is dead, having been poisoned. Retracing steps, this leads Dt. Moorhouse back to Gallinger’s place, as he had dinner there the night before his death – is this what made his stomach upset? Did Eleanor kill Cotton? Perhaps that’s exactly why she invited him over, even with all the fuss Everett made which she knew would’ve been coming. Has the madwoman struck? Yes. Not too long after, we see she put rat poison in his soup. White knight Gallinger tries to handle things. But Eleanor spies the trash can where he threw the poison. I can almost feel it coming, as she brings tea back into the room for the unsuspecting detective. Back in the early 20th century, nobody would’ve ever expected people to die at the house of a respected doctor and his wife, would they?
Eleanor: “I‘m sorry, Everett. I didn‘t think they‘d catch me up so soon.”
More addiction therapy back at The Knickerbocker. Or, the admittance of nothing left to be done. Thack admits his addiction to the last remaining patient on the ward.
Cut to Harriet (Cara Seymour) who is making condoms. Tom is in the other part of the room, shielded, trying on the jimmy hats for good measure. A hilarious bit of dialogue between them, as Tom tries to “maintain” himself. I love how nothing has happened between them, even if it feels like it’s about to every moment. They’re two true friends, side by side in the hard times, both of them being Irish exports and all.
Toughing through another board meeting, Herman listens to the others chatting until he introduces a Mr. Raphael Warren (Ken Barnett), a man dealing with the blueprints and cost estimates for the renovation. Again, Barrow is put back in charge of the dealings. Will this give him more money to siphon off? Surely, if Herman can manage he’ll take what his pockets can hold. Kept back by Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines), he finds out their exclusive club is granting him membership. He finds out $2,000 is required for a donation, plus for membership fees. This stresses Barrow out right away. He accomplishes getting the funds by selling his house off quickly. But what about his children and his wife? Uh oh.
Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) has received a patient who claims Thackery worked on her. In fact, he was paid in heroin. He fixed up her nose, back at the start of the season, using a gold earring. Seems the earring was not gold and is corroding inside her flesh. He plans to make things right, “on the house“. Then from the guts come a pain, racking John completely. Out comes more turpentine. Algernon wants to help, though, the foolishly brave and arrogant John Thackery refuses. Going it alone, as usual.
John is also readying himself to start fixing Abby (Jennifer Ferrin). He further wants her to talk with an addiction patient, similarly to how she talked John down when he called about the twins’ surgery.
On the phone, Effie Barrow (Molly Price) gets a call about a vacuum sweeping machine – the one installed over at the new apartment. Oh, wow. Things are tumbling down on top of ole Herman’s head now.
Romance is alive, among everything else. Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) is being fawned over by Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken). Interrupted after awhile by Corenlia (Juliet Rylance) who is still followed by a man Phillip’s father employs to watch her comings and goings. She tells Henry about the implications against their father, concerning Inspector Speight and his untimely passing. Will Henry use this to overcome his father? Or will he run to his father with the information? I can only hope the first will come to pass, as Henry seems to want to take things over for himself and steer their business into a new, brighter future. It seems Captain August Robertson has been responsible for bubonic plague outbreaks in Chicago and other areas.
Dr. Gallinger is trying to find a suitable place for his wife to stay, a comfortable spot to tuck her away. A Dr. Adolf Warner (Dieter Riesle) assures she will be looked after and given the best possible life, “under the circumstances“. Tragic, and I hate Everett. Yet something had to be done, or else more murders would happen, further bodies would pile, and Everett would sink with the ship, as well. Only later on, Everett starts to move in close with Eleanor’s sister Dorothy. Pretty damn low.
Some of the nurses around The Knick believe Henry Robertson is turning the nursing staff into a rack of centerfolds, believing Lucy won’t have trouble keeping her job. Called off to the telephone, Lucy gets a call about her father A.D. Elkins (Stephen Spinella). Rushing to some dingy place, lit red in a dark basement where surely a house of sin exists, Lucy finds a crazy eyed A.D. looking full of drugs and falling into the deep end head first. We come to find he suffered a paralytic stroke, as Thack explains back in a room at the hospital: “The best I can do is keep him alive.”
At a show in the city, Cleary and Harriet have a good time, eating candies and checking out the different sights including a horror-picture show that makes the image look as if a man swallows the camera whole. Hilarious scene. Tom misreads signals and goes in for a kiss on Harriet. She believes he brought her ought to put the moves on her, but he was only honestly interested and thought she was, too. Harriet storms off and advises Tom to stay clear of her at home.
In a darkened office, Dr. Edwards is poking around quietly. He gets into a desk drawer and produces a large notebook. Within, he sees something we do not and exclaims to himself: “Jesus.”
Cut to the following day. Thack is drinking turpentine for his rotting guts. Algernon slides the notebook he found in the previous scene across the table. They’ve discovered Everett and his “eugenics project“: boys between the ages of 15 and 18 have been sterilized. Too young to consent, the boys in question have obviously been preyed upon. Nothing technically illegal has happened, so says Thackery, and he doesn’t know what can be done on his end. This disappoints Edwards, clearly.
Placing his last remaining addiction patient in a room facing the wall, Dr. Thackery has Abby come in for a conversation. She asks about him, the patient, Mr. Dominczyk (Eugene Poznyak) first. Then she works into the first time he’d ever drank, which he explains happened when he “was a baby“. His mother apparently used whiskey soaked rags to keep him quiet as a boy. Great practice to turn him into a future alcoholic and lifelong addict.
Bad news comes to bear at the Barrow household. Herman comes home to champagne and treats from Effie, who toasts her husband: “To surprises“. Of course, he doesn’t have any idea about it all. Things are getting mucked up for the greasy little man now that Effie’s discovered the apartment on 74th Street. But Herman reveals who the apartment is for, that he will live in it “with another woman“. He rented an apartment for her and the children downtown, planning to run off. He appropriately gets a drink in his face to end the conversation.
Switch to Herman, now happy and lively. He’s in Chinatown to collect Junia. They embrace with a kiss, each of them looking pleased. Out they go, away from the brothel. But will this new life treat Herman the way he wishes it to? I don’t particularly see much happy ending on his path, though, I may be wrong.
The finale of this episode sees Abby take in a bit of laudanum. Then, she’s off to surgery in the theatre with Dr. Thackery, Dr. Chickering, and the assistance of Nurse Elkins. She is sedated, but then her heart rate drops almost completely; no pulse. Rushing about, each of the three attempts to save Abby’s life. John is racing from one spot to the next, hoping not to see the love in his life die. Except she does. She slips off the mortal coil, as Thackery eventually stops his rush, slowing to a stop. What does this mean for John now? A plunge into addiction, further in I should say, is likely coming for him. Although, I’d like to think he’s getting stronger. Unfortunately I know the weakness for drugs runs high in his mind.
Right before the finish, Everett’s sister-in-law Dorothy enters his room. He does’t want her to leave. He wants her right where she is, moving towards his bed, and finally in his arms. Bad, bad Everett. I expected no less.
The next episode is titled “Do You Remember Moon Flower?” – the penultimate Season 2 episode. Stay with me for another review soon, folks.