Tagged 1900

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 5: “They Capture the Heat”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 5: “They Capture the Heat”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Steven Katz

* For a review of the previous episode, “Where’s the Dignity?” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Start Calling Me Dad” – click here
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“They Capture the Heat” starts with Bunky Collier (Danny Hoch) bringing a man of his into a shady old doctor. He’d rather not go over to The Knickerbocker Hospital, as it might put him in debt to Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb). I’m sure he’d love to keep an edge on Barrow, as much and as long as possible. Meanwhile, Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) receives a phone call and only mutters: “Whoever the hell this isgo to hell.”
Other medical work is taking place, but in the basement while Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland). The man in front of him has a brutal hernia, extending from the groin down right into his scrotum. Rough stuff. Edwards is also scolded by the patient for using such big words, not treating him “like a man“. Afterwards, they come to better terms after the man is clothed, they talk of heritage seeing as how the man is Cuban. Edwards levels with him and further talks surgery, an obvious treatment for the hernia. He wants to use metallic wire on the operation because other uses have proved to fail later on. Love to watch the medical advancements happening almost on the fly with these doctors.


At The Knick, Bunky’s brother-in-law – the shot man – comes in for treatment. Thack is a little confused, wondering how Barrow is related to Collier. In a little twist of fate, Algernon appears right as Thackery needs someone to scrub in on the surgery. There’s a tenuous bond between the two doctors going in, though, I can slowly see John warming to Edwards; first there was the co-authored paper, now he’s there to assist Thack on this tricky gangster surgery. Herman’s still trying to worm money out of Bunky for the assistance, too. Bunky is not too happy about the “black bastard” working on his brother-in-law. Watching Drs. Edwards and Thackery in surgery together is something else. They have a good back and forth together, working alongside one another like old colleagues, no bickering simply doing what they were trained to do. All works out in the end, and nobody gets shot, as Thack figures out exactly what to do.


Dr. Thackery: “Funny thing about Darwinhe wanted to be a doctor, but couldnt stand the blood.”


Inspector Speight (David Fierro) and Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) are still trying to get to the bottom of the typhoid outbreak, searching through upper class homes, questioning the homeowners and their help.
Back at the hospital, Edwards and Thackery relax after the tense surgery. As does Barrow who takes a nice drink from his flask, without offering any to Algernon and passing it in front of him over to John. More of the subtle yet screaming racism hanging over The Knick as a series.
In this episode we’re privy to a presentation by Edison’s people – the new x-ray machine. Another incredible look at the innovation in modern medicine, circa 1900. Thackery talks with Cornelia, Herman and another of the money-men, none of which are hugely thrilled about spending thousands of dollars on the machine. Nobody is concerned with the future, only John. Everyone there is more concerned with money, donations, and so on; profit, profit, profit.
Cut to Herman, out in the whorehouse and making more possible deals. Hilarious to see him sit there sweating while Thackery and the others were previously talking money. He’s always stuck at the epicenter of the money woes. But just as often he finds himself in the right place to make a quick buck, as evidenced by the scene where he’s visiting his prostitute mistress.


Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) and Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) are out on the town together. They’re also doing business, of another sort entirely. And not all just to make a profit. Part of their deal is based on wanting to help young women; at least Harriet’s, anyways. Cleary would do almost any last thing for a buck.
Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and his wife Eleanor (Maya Kazan) are having troubles of their own. Their little baby is presenting signs of meningitis, so off they rush to The Knick, fast as possible.
At a nice dinner, Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines) discusses his willingness to follow the future, along with Thackery. He wants to buy the x-ray machine at $3,000, hoping to “discuss it over cigars“. Amazing scene here, as we see how far Barrow is from being in the upper class. He’s constantly berated, out the side of mouths, for going to a less than premium restaurant; once by August, again by a man August knows. The class division is clear, and perhaps this is why Herman is always scrambling to make money, any way he can. He wants in on the upper class, even watching closely as August tastes wine like a true connoisseur.


Dr. Edwards is going headlong into the surgery with his silver wire, hoping to help cure the herniated man of his painful nuisance. Turns out Algernon used his own pocket watch to get the wire. Probably his only choice, as black people might not have been able to access silver readily in those days, evidenced by one of the nurses asking where someone like himself could’ve gotten his hands on the goods. Watching them operate undercover like that is impressive, yet always sad and tragic.
Barrow brings new business over to Bunky Collier – a policeman. One willing to traffic in prostitutes. Herman plans on whittling away some debt through this new arrangement. Greasy little weasel of a man.
Things get intense when Cornelia fetches Algernon: his mother isn’t well, complaining of terrible back pain. When he arrives, Dr. Thackery is already there to help. He pops what’s likely a cyst, using a leather belt to do so, then all is right as rain. Edwards doesn’t seem thrilled about it all – another thing to be held over his head. But maybe this might bring he and Algernon together.


Sister Harriet brings a woman to The Knick suffering from placenta previa. Young Dr. Chickering is ready for surgery. As is Thack, who shoots up cocaine before getting scrubbed. Bertie is worried – the last time previa came in, it was when Dr. Christiansen killed himself afterwards. Except in the operating theatre the gruesomeness of the scene to follow is evident in short cuts; Thack looking into oblivion, blood all over his hands, all over the floor. And still, there’s nothing the doctors could do. Another pregnant woman dead.
Then there’s Gallinger’s little baby being treated for meningitis. So much terror for children in those days. It’s likely the infection came from Everett, after having the previous patient with all those rat bites. Hopefully, the child will pull through. If not there’s no telling what sort of pain and anguish this might cause Everett and his wife.
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The final scene shows Dr. Thackery examining a bike belonging to Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson). “You chose blue to match your eyes,” John says looking at the bike. He likes her free nature, riding on the bike like some angel along the streets. There’s quite obviously a budding relationship between these two, beginning with John trying to ride the bike. Plus, we get more of that excellent history worked in, seeing the first rambler bicycles in circulation, people getting used to them. Even more, it’s a metaphor concerning Thackery’s own adjustment to the modern world. He’s willing to do anything, try anything, as long as it will propel him and the world into the future. Off he goes riding the bicycle down the block, singing a song to himself called “Sidewalks of New York”.
A perfect ending to this chapter.

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Next up is “Start Calling Me Dad”. Stay tuned for another review with me.

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 4: “Where’s the Dignity?”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 4: “Where’s the Dignity?”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Busy Flea” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “They Capture the Heat” – click here
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The Knick‘s fourth episode starts with Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) playing darts, betting, drinking. He ends up making a bullseye and the place roars. Then from the corner, Tom has a little lookout boy signal him to the door. What I love about this opening, as is the case at many points through each episode, is the music from Cliff Martinez. I mean, does it ever give this period piece series an extra edge, or what? Insanely catchy, intriguing, weird.
Here, the score leads into a scene where Cleary brings a bag of rats from the lookout boy down to a tiny ring, lined on every side by drunk, loud men. Inside the ring, the rats are dumped out and a man in the middle tries his best to stomp them. One of those basement gambling rings that’ll host any sort of event.

 


At the hospital, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) presents ashes to a widow. It turns out the pig he cut up at the end of the last episode was for the ashes, as the body clearly went to making money.
In the operating theatre, Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) scrubs in for surgery. Even while Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) says there’s no need. All the while, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) fumes at being told what to do by Edwards, who orates the surgery for everyone present. At the ready is Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano), as well. But at one point Algernon refuses to tell Everett “whats next“. Worse, Everett says he has no time for “nigger games“. Finally, in steps Edwards to do the rest of the procedure and doesn’t miss a beat. He helps harden and clot the aneurysm with an electrical current, which prompts Gallinger to punch Edwards in the face; a dirty, cheap shot.

 


Inspector Speight (David Fierro) and Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) head over to see Mrs. Hemming (Emily Bergl) concerning the typhoid outbreak. We see how frank and upfront Speight is, after refusing a handshake from the lady due to not knowing her “hygiene habits“. He further asks tough questions to the lady, wondering if there were any women “on the side” for her husband
We see Thack reciting lines for a crowd, an obvious flashback to a time before Abby (Jennifer Ferrin) lost her nose, and when Dr. Christiansen (Matt Frewer) was still alive. A Christmastime party at the hospital. Happy, carefree. Cut back to 1900, Abby sits ghastly in a chair with the skin on her arm grafted to her face, elbow bent back up over her head. Things have certainly changed. Tragic. And it seems their sad reunion does nothing to help John’s state of mind. As the two talk, Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) listens on. She hears everything at the hospital, but just listens. Taking it all in.
Herman has a new hush-hush agreement with Cleary, taking the ambulance for obviously nefarious purposes. Afterwards, Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) comes to ask Cleary to give up his fooling around. Only Tom isn’t fooling around. He tells her what he knows – the abortions, all the girls. Now they’ve got an arrangement since he’s strong arming the nun. I don’t like what he’s doing, though, I don’t exactly feel he’s on the level. It isn’t Christ keeping him on the moral side of anything: he’s in it for money.
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Algernon meets his father Jesse (Leon Addison Brown) outside of the hospital. He is a proud man to have his own son, a strong African-American man a doctor at The Knick. They have a chat about the history of the building, the neighbourhood, bits about Captain August (Grainger Hines) and that crowd. When Dr. Thackery strolls out, Algernon makes a great quip about how good John is: “But I might be better,” he says to his father with a smirk across his face.
We get more of Bertie now, which I love. He’s a good character and Angarano plays him incredibly well. His father, Bertram Sr (Reg Rogers), seems out of the loop in his son’s life. He doesn’t approve of the circus that is The Knick. It’s interesting to watch their relationship play out, especially into Season 2. Great actors with a nice chemistry, as well.
Furthermore, we’re privy to Algernon and his family in a scene together in a scene. I’m excited to see more of his story; another solid part of why The Knick is well written, having Algernon tackle all the racism in 1900 being an educated black man in a fiery New York City. Even better, Algernon goes on to meet Hobart Showalter (Gary Simpson), future father-in-law of Cornelia. Hobart is a real greasy guy, a capitalist whose beady eyes are those of an absolute predator. But Algie gives him a nice saucy retort after listening about the “docile” natives of Ecuador. Nice scene to include here, which pits Algernon against the upper class racism of the early 20th century.

 


Down in Chinatown, Lucy finds Dr. Thackery laying in a haze of opium. Naked Chinese woman by his side. Naturally, she’s shocked and makes her way out quickly. Their relationship is headed somewhere. No doubt to a tragic end for one of them. Or both.
And so Cornelia is marrying Hobart’s son Phillip (Tom Lipinski). Everyone’s mingling at the party uptown. A few strange looks pass between Algernon and Cornelia, after talk – from Phillip – about them moving away. Is there more to the relationship between these two? Sure, they’re old friends; the Edwards’ have worked for the Robertsons years upon years. Only there’s something else there.
Algernon talks with a vacuum salesman about how one of his units might work with blood. So they tinker with it a little, and the doctor quickly buys it up. Should be fun to watch what he’s up to with this gadget. I assume perhaps a better way to pump blood during surgery.
At The Knick, Bertie Jr shows his father around while doing rounds with patients. An injured, sick man comes in with rat bites. He’s the one who stomped rats at the beginning of the episode; after he slipped, they got him a bunch. Algernon gets pushed out of the way mostly, called a shoeshine boy essentially, then Everett wrestles his way in next to Chickering. They’ll soon have to accept him. Particularly now that Algernon stands tall in Gallinger’s face, ready for a punch instead of getting suckered. I just want to see Everett get the smile wiped right off his face.

 


Cleary comes across a young woman covered in blood, laying in bed. He takes her in the ambulance, eventually ending up in Thackery’s hands. At his side are Bertie and Sister Harriet, watching on is a distraught Cleary and an interested Dr. Bertie Chickering Sr. The blood is leaking everywhere. The young girl didn’t want to be pregnant and massacred herself. At a time like this, we truly see that someone like Harriet is needed. But it should’ve been legal, instead of her having to do it backdoor secretive. So many young lives lost, so much horror. This scene is real gruesome, in a brief moment. We see John reach inside the woman, then Bertie; the first shot is raw, almost surreal. Lots of blood. A little later, Bertie’s father is not exactly impressed because he came from a worse place than The Knickerbocker, all so that his son didn’t have to go through the same. Except Bertie likes the way Dr. Thackery operates, the experiments he tries, and the methods which he attempts. He is like no other, certainly. Alas, family problems plague Bertram Junior.
Speaking of problems – Herman’s in a jam. Down in the morgue, he has a slight confrontation with Cleary who knows what he’s doing. Barrow talks about “the going price for a fresh body“. Cleary just isn’t having any of his nonsense. We find out he was a gravedigger. Doesn’t surprise me in the least. He must have done whatever he could after coming over from Ireland. He and Sister Harriet go see the girl who died earlier get buried. Along with a bunch of other bodies in a semi-mass grave. Harriet says a prayer before they head off.

 


The end of this episode sees Lucy riding off on her bike, as Dr. Thackery heads out – once again – to Chinatown. We’ll see what other interesting things progress in this shady relationship in the next episode titled “They Capture the Heat”, as well as where all the other tenuous, wild friction between characters heads. Stay tuned.

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 2: “Mr. Paris Shoes”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 2: “Mr. Paris Shoes”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the first episode, “Method and Madness” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Busy Flea” – click here
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The beginning of this second episode gives a glimpse into the living of Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland), a doctor yet relegated to the virtual slums of New York City. We see the clash of culture between a black man like Algernon, and the other African-Americans living there with him. This episode’s title comes from this conversation, as Algernon has to explain he got his fancy shoes over in Paris; not impressing the man much. Just this one brief scene gives us so much insight into the low life an upper class man like Edwards must live, all because of the colour of his skin.
Meanwhile, Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) is butting heads with the patriarchal world in which she exists. Her father, Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines), insists she keep up with it because, as he puts it: “If you were a man youd be running this damn city by now.” Seeing the stories of Cornelia and Algernon juxtaposed against one another, the contrast between African-Americans and women, re: status, is very present from the start. Excellent writing.


Over at The Knickerbocker Hospital, the new electrical system isn’t exactly running totally properly. This does nothing to quell the distaste in Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), but I’m sure cocaine will do the trick. Then there’s Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) still trying to get every last bit of funds out of Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) and the hospital. He’s an Irish man, no doubt having come over from the Old Country, so it couldn’t be too easy in 1900 for people immigrating to New York for them to make cash. We watch him try and negotiate for a corpse, which ends in him lifting a ring off the body; to cover costs, you know.
The death of Dr. Christiansen (Matt Frewer) still weighs heavily on Thack. He remembers moments in time with the now deceased doctor. Christiansen wanted to study the dead, in order to help the living, with diseases such as tuberculosis, syphilis, and so on. Little inklings of how Thackery got to The Knick come out, after he reveals having done work with Captain Robertson “in Nicaragua“. Interesting – we’ll see the rest of this come out in Season 2, giving us more backstory to the addicted doctor. John talks with Christiansen’s wife, Catherine (Melissa Errico), whose pain and suffering is also running rampant. She worries about John, that it all may take its toll on him, but he replies: “I have ways of getting through.”


More surgery now, with Thackery leading, as well as Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) at the ready. Steven Soderbergh offers us a look into the modernity of hospitals now, with the electrical system starting to kick up a fuss. During a routine cauterization, a fire starts. Then a nurse gets electrocuted to death. This truly drives Thackery mad. He and Cornelia go to see Barrow who accuses the contractor of wrongdoing. Herman looks slightly nervous about it all, wanting to speak with the contractor himself instead of rushing right to the courts. I believe we’re about to see more on Barrow, who he is, and exactly where the money from The Knick is going.
Furthermore, we also see how The Knick isn’t providing much comfort for Dr. Edwards; no more than his nasty little apartment where he lives among the lower classes. Cornelia is fairly unimpressed with it all, though, Algernon takes it in stride while trying to keep his anger below the surface. “I expect these things,” Edwards tells her: “Youre upset because you dont.”
Electricity still on the fritz, Gallinger brings Chickering, Edwards and Thackery in to see some new patients, one whose illness happens to be syphilis. The lights finally go out, and Thack gives Barrow a mouthful. Simultaneously, Edwards tries to put his ideas in the ring for Thack, but nobody is too eager to listen to him.


Finally, we see Herman meeting with the man who supposedly did the electrical work, Clarence Mulkeen (Andy Murray). Turns out, as I guessed, Barrow embezzled money meant to go towards the renovations, which prompted the bad work. Now he’s got to try and climb back up the hill. Will this put Herman in a bad way?
Plenty racism at The Knick sees Dr. Edwards being both monitored by Bertie, as well as scoffed at by a young patient’s mother; all because he’s black. Regardless, Dr. Chickering isn’t prejudiced, not that I can tell. He is simply doing the job assigned to him. Even more than that, Dr. Edwards notices a black woman trying to get medical attention, but The Knick won’t accept black patients. This is highly distressing to Edwards, naturally. Prompting him to start figuring out a way to accept African-Americans for service, albeit without anyone else knowing. I suppose his basement office isn’t so bad now, providing an inconspicuous place for him to begin seeing patients. Tricky, tricky, Algernon! I dig it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
In the operating theatre, Thackery is dealing with an aneurysm. No electricity for now, so at least they won’t find themselves electrocuted. Also, we start to see more and more how Bertie is interested in Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson). Thack might be, too, as Everett so eagerly points out. Unfortunately, another patient is lost. The morbidity of modern medicine in 1900 is always alive and well on The Knick.


Returning to his office, Herman finds a couple thugs waiting for him – on behalf of Bunky Collier (Danny Hoch), there’s Jimmy (Happy Anderson) to start putting the hurt on Barrow. They’re not impressed about the debt: “You’re never too busy for Bunky,” Happy advises. They threaten his life if Herman doesn’t go see Collier. Looks like Herman is really in a bad way. Plus, he has Thackery on his back needing human cadavers for experiments, not the pigs they’ve got sitting down in the lab.
Dr. Thackery meets with Nurse Lucy in his office. He talks about his “circus town” and how it’s “no place for a girl”. Mostly he tries to apologize for the state in which she found him during the first episode. But she seems pretty keen on not rocking the boat, at least in the fact she understands the need of his secrecy, agreeing to keep his wild state between the two of them.
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Dr. Thackery: “There is a life we live within the walls of this hospital and one we live outside of it, and these two lives need not intersect, do you understand?”
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Tom Cleary helps Drs. Chickering and Gallinger break into another hospital. They search for information while Cleary riffs hilariously about a man with elephantiasis. Afterwards, Cleary is out drinking like a king. At the same time, Edwards is down in the basement of The Knick treating the woman who’d been refused previously.
The most interesting moment comes when we switch back to Cleary. He spies Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour), out of her habit, dressed almost solemnly. She heads to an apartment where a frightened, bleary eyed young redhead woman is requiring her services. Seems Harriet isn’t only married to Christ, she happens to help girls like this one with unwanted pregnancies. In a time such as 1900, this is certainly a shocking story. While I agree with Harriet’s ethics Tom now has a bit of dirt on the renegade sister.
Meeting with Bunky Collier down in a room with the same thugs who’d come to find him, Herman is “in the hole nine grand” and sweating around the collar. In fact, he’s sweating all over. Bunky is not a man to be fucked with. He even slams Barrow against the desk, putting a small pair of pliers in Herman’s mouth and roots out a tooth. Nasty chap, this Bunky.


Well, wellMr. Paris Shoes,” says the man who asked Algernon earlier about his nice shoes. They have a slight confrontation, which at first seems to be going the way of the other guy. Until Algernon absolutely pummels the man into unconsciousness on the floor of their apartment building. Incredible to see Edwards display such brute force. Then, before going inside for the night, he puts a few supplies on the man’s chest; stuff to help fix him up later.


Cut to John in the opium den once more. He’s having a shave, both eyes bloodshot and weary. Ping Wu (Perry Yung) gets his money, then Dr. Thackery heads out with his medical bag in tow. The guy all but lives there. Strolling out, he’s headed to work I imagine.
We’ll see him again next episode, “The Busy Flea”. Stay tuned for another of my recaps/reviews.

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 1: “Method and Madness”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 1: “Method and Madness”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the next episode, “Mr. Paris Shoes” – click here
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The first shot of the premiere opens with a faded view of white shoes, no socks underneath. A prostitute wakes Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen). They’re in an opium den. Outside at the carriage, John asks to go the long way over to his place of employment: The Knickerbocker Hospital in New York City. In the back of the ride we see who John is – to come down off the opium high, he injects cocaine in between the webbing of his toes. No wonder he didn’t have any socks on; easy access.
What’s most interesting about the opening of The Knick‘s first episode is the style. Not only do we get rich, gorgeous looking cinematography immediately, the score from Cliff Martinez readily pounds you. The electronic sounds mixed with the period piece story and the cinematography absolutely engages you from the first scene onward.
At the hospital, Dr. Thackery sets about his work. He’s an innovator in his own right, but works under Dr. J.M. Christiansen (Matt Frewer), the leading surgeon. In comes a pregnant woman, and BAM – Steven Soderbergh, Jack Amiel and Michael Begler take us quickly back to 1900, only a little over 100 years ago, when even pregnancy was a possible death sentence, for both mother and child. On the operating table, Drs. Christiansen and Thackery attempt to do a C-section, along with Drs. Everett Gallinger and Bertie Chickering (Eric Johnson & Michael Angarano) helping at their sides. But things go from bad to worse, to terrifying. Soderbergh and his team show us exactly what it was like for surgeons in the early 20th century, going by the seat of their pants, not always successful in their efforts. The blood is very present, the practical makeup effects are at times gruesome, raw. An excellent way to start off a new series.


Most surprising, though, is later after the failed surgery when Dr. Christiansen decides he can’t take the failure any longer, he can’t be a part of medicine, nor the world either. I wasn’t expecting such an intensely morbid opening, yet here we are – in the thick of it. And really, it’s such an effective way to introduce the characters. Now, this obviously fragile man in Thackery is left with his mentor of sorts gone, the burden resting on him. Even further, at the outset (I’ve seen all the episodes of both seasons at this point) I expected Christiansen to play a large part in the first season at least. Amazing how the story lured me in quickly, then switched so brutally and fast. This whole opening ten-plus minutes was the grasp I needed. Every second, every frame hooked me.
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Dr. Christiansen: “It seems we are still lacking
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An amazingly clear Thackery delivers a eulogy for Christiansen. It reveals his hope for the future, for the future of himself and of medicine.
Afterwards, we’re introduced to Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) and Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance), as well as Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb). Cornelia’s father owns the hospital, but she doesn’t get the deserved respect as a woman when he sends her to deal with the board. Barrow is a money man of sorts, running around worrying about funds for the building; worried over the “$30,000” deficit they’re tallying up. Little bit later there’s also Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) who drives the ambulance, and wouldn’t do too bad in a scrap either.
Things get shaken when apparently Cornelia’s father has ideas about who ought to be Deputy Chief of Surgery at The Knickerbocker. While Thack thinks Gallinger should have the position, Robertson rule says Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) is going to take it. We’ll see how Dr. Thackery sits with all of it. If he does.
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The history in this series is already super interesting. Cleary basically has to fight people to get paid, so he can be the ambulance who takes the fares back to the hospital. Wild to imagine a sort of capitalistic struggle on the streets of New York between ambulance drivers.
Furthermore, there are lots more good makeup effects. We see Thackery, Chickering and Gallinger go see a patient whose wounds are still healing, stitches coming together, and so on. The early days of modern medicine are on display, from the method of the ambulances, the way the hospital works, to the procedures and surgeries themselves.
So much of the period comes through in each scene. When a Health Inspector named Speight (David Fierro) heads into an apartment building, the look of the place is pure 1900. Even the air itself hangs in front of you, foggy, dim, the lights barely giving any of the rooms the light they need. It’s impressive work on the technical side, as well as the tight writing and solid acting.
Finally, Dr. Edwards arrives at The Knickerbocker. He meets with Dr. Thackery, who is busy putting together improvements for surgical instruments. Algernon and John don’t exactly get along. Not that I suspect John is racist, I just really don’t see him as a man wanting to take on the responsibility of innovating in racial relations. Edwards leaves, unimpressed, as Cornelia wonders what to do next.
Inspector Speight meets with Barrow. They talk of infectious disease; tuberculosis, in particular. The two make a deal, ensuring any further patients with the disease end up at The Knick. We get a good bit about tuberculosis here, as well as a dip into early doctor-patient relationships and patient rights. Cornelia has to give a woman terrible news, made even more terrible by the fact it has to be translated by her little daughter. Emotional scene, but also gives us more of that history I’m digging. Also, I can already tell Cornelia has a good heart and hopes to do good throughout the city, as best she can anyways.
We get confirmation of my theory – Thackery confirms he doesn’t want to “lead the charge in mixing the races“. He sees it as too progressive, a “social experiment” he won’t have in his life. So, maybe he has a little racism kicking around. Or lots.
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Dr. John Thackery: “You can only run away and join the circus if the circus wants you, and I dont want you in my circus.”
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Thackery reminisces of being introduced to injection by Christiansen. Then, he was bright eyed and bushy tailed. Cut back to his bloodshot eyes, his weakened state. It’ll be interesting to watch the progression of Thackery over the course of Season 1.
Meanwhile, Drs. Gallinger and Chickering examine their earlier patient, as Dr. Edwards is brought in and introduced. Bertie doesn’t have much issue with it, though, it appears Everett is slighted. Even more than that, Everett won’t have any of Edwards butting in on his patient. Lots of tension already starting, only bound to ramp up as time goes on.
Interesting scene sees Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) sent off to find Dr. Thackery. He’s at home, blunted to the bone and higher than any bird in the sky. She finds him in a terrible state, shivering, sweating in bed. Turns out he’s in withdrawal and needs an injection. This brings Nurse Lucy into the fold of his addiction, his dirty little secret. He was “trying to spend the night without it“, but obviously failed. This scene shows us the other side to John – there’s his brilliance and his determination as a surgeon, then there’s John the addict who rolls around in bed, sweaty and full of collapsed veins except for the one in his dick. There’s an intensity to this scene, which becomes quite personal, quite intimate, in a nasty way.
Flying back to The Knick, there’s Dr. Thackery in the operating theatre. They have to work on the aforementioned patient. He has bowel problems, specifically septicemia. Thack decides to inject a cocaine solution into the man’s spine. More intense moments, of a different kind, as the doctor goes about hi work. Very quiet, subtle bits here watching Thackery slowly inject the solution into this man’s spinal column. Great, great cinematography and wonderful writing, both bringing out the interesting days of early 20th century surgery. Fractured FX really give the goods here on the makeup effects, showing us the brutality of young modern surgical work in 1900. Even as a horror film buff, these scenes are some trying stuff. Definitely not for the faint of heart.


The finale of “Method and Madness” sees Dr. Thackery back in a carriage, full circle to the opening moments. He’s headed into Chinatown, Mott Street, apparently. At the same time, light is turned on at The Knick, the electricity up and running; all after Dr. Edwards was successfully welcomed into the fold, or well, unwelcomed.


Great episode. Looking forward to watching all these over for the second time since the original episode run. The next episode is “Mr. Paris Shoes”, which is another spectacular chapter in this first season. Stay tuned.