Tagged Eric Johnson

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 7: “Get the Rope”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 7: “Get the Rope”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “Start Calling Me Dad” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Working Late a Lot” – click here
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The Knick‘s seventh episode keeps on pumping, as the opening scene brings us back in time with Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) and Dr. Christiansen (Matt Frewer) meeting Dr. William Halsted (Michael Cerveris). This is a time before all of the madness which took Thack along his path. Christiansen calls John a “comet in the sky“. We see how uneasy Thackery is before heading into the operating theatre. Then Christiansen shoots up his cocaine, implying Halsted is where he first learned to take the drug in order to keep his energy up. In fact, William Halsted is who Dr. Thackery is modeled after, so watching this scene is very intriguing. The meeting of two men: one fictional, the other his real life counterpart. The surgery goes on in the theatre, as Drs. Christiansen and Thackery attempt to make progress heading towards the 20th century.


Cut back to 1900’s present moments. Thack is woken up from his drugged sleep to find that Ping Wu (Perry Yung) is having medical troubles. In an instant, John has a tracheotomy performed and Wu can breathe once again. He saves the day then has a fresh bowl of opium loaded. Y’know – for victory.
In other news, a young black woman is accosted on the street by a man belonging to Bunk Collier (Danny Hoch). He assumes she is a prostitute, but it appears she is higher class. Out comes her man and things get wild. A fight in the street begins. As you can imagine, people aren’t too pleased about “the nigger“, and not long after a stabbing victim – Phinny Sears – arrives at The Knick – Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) says a “dirty coon” got him. Then there are crowds of people at the hospital doors, pressing inward. With Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) arriving to work, everything is almost riotous.
Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland), Dr. Bertie Chickering Jr (Michael Angarano) and Dr. Thackery are all working on the man, along with the help of Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson). The medical table is crowded after Everett arrives; he isn’t happy about Edwards being there, nor is he thrilled to see the pump Edwards invented working so incredibly well in the hands of John. Outside of the hospital, the stabbing victim’s wife is calling for something to be done. She wants the man who stabbed him strung up. I wouldn’t doubt they’d all take the first African-American who came by to be hung. When Dr. Edwards arrives to check the patient, he is treated just like any other black man at the time. Sad and hideous behaviour.


Sears is in a bad way, and the situation around him, as well as outside, is not improving. He perishes from the wounds with his family and fellow officers at his side. The grieving wife and mother wants all the “fucking darkies” brutalized. A mob is out looking for blood now, attacking people on the streets. Witnessing this, Thackery rushes to the road. He may not have been totally into Edwards being at the hospital first, but now he is seeing the ugly side of racism rear its head. The consequences of allowing lax, subtle racism go without punitive measures. New York City comes alive with people beating black men and women alike. The streets burn with the hate of racist mobs. African-Americans limp down the street and make their way through the back doors of The Knick. All of a sudden inside Everett inadvertently causes some fighting, a man insisting there are “no niggers allowed“. A boy sees where the black patients are heading then goes to alert the crowds and the police outside: “Get the rope,” an officer says which prompts the door at the hospital’s front to be ripped off.
Chaos reigns after the doors are open. White men everywhere with clubs, knives, bottles, looking for the nearest, blackest individual. Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is running around trying to get everyone safe, he even discovers Algernon’s makeshift clinic downstairs. Thack starts to get everyone on the move, intending to take the African-American patients elsewhere for treatment. He didn’t want to lead the charge on equality at his hospital. Although, now it’s out of his hands and he takes the lead running.


Transporting patients literally undercover, Thack and the others start to bring patients to a safer destination. Even Cleary, without horses to haul his ambulance, pulls the thing himself. Algernon hides under a stretcher, as patients are wheeled along under sheets like dead bodies. It is a tense, suspenseful moment. Especially once they’re stopped briefly by a very thick Irish-voiced individual. Nurse Lucy makes a sly remark about leprosy and a man’s testicles falling off, which helps them keep heading down the road. There’s also Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) who commands the crowds away, damning them all to Hell if they touch any of the African-Americans. What a wild and frenetic few scenes together. Funny when Barrow hears about all the prostitutes out on the street uptown, no police around to do anything; he’s worried about his little mistress, that maybe she might be in trouble or simply that someone else is fucking her. Who knows. Either way, there’s too much going on to be worried about Herman.
Arriving at a negro infirmary, Thack, Cornelia and the rest bring their patients to a Dr. Williams (Stephen Tyrone Williams) – an old friend of Dr. Edwards from Harvard. Great little moment, as we get peeks of more racism, and a Dr. Thackery willing to work with anyone now. He is changing, slightly. Maybe this event is something that will spur on his working better with Edwards, seeing exactly what he and his people have to go through every single day of their lives. Over at The Knick, young Bertie is left to do his own surgery from pictures alone, but looks to be doing fine.
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With everything clearing out, Cornelia heads back to the hospital, as do Algernon and Cleary with the ambulance. Thack offers to see Nurse Lucy home safely.
But when Cornelia and Algernon arrive at the basement clinic, their relationship heats up intensely. She is highly impressed by Edwards, his setting up of the makeshift clinic, his resolve in the face of crisis during the riot, everything after. They are a long, emotionally charged kiss in the fading light. They hold one another close and, no doubt, will soon take one another right there.
Thack and Lucy experience their own romance. She invites him into her boarding house, then further into her room. They’re alone. Dark and shadowy. All the tension between them before now comes to a head, culminating between the sheets of Lucy’s bed. Where will this take them? Does Dr. Thackery have a new confidante? Or is this only going to become a source of betrayal re: Bertie?
Will it hurt?” asks Lucy before Thack undresses her. “I can make it painless and perfect,” he replies. In the morning, a crushed vial of cocaine is on the floor, the room a mess. And John nowhere to be found, only a disheveled, tired Lucy. She remembers their previous night’s tryst in bits, pieces, little edits, as we come back to her getting ready in the morning. I suppose it turns out cocaine isn’t only good for taking the edge off surgery. Thack finds a use for it just about anywhere.


The next episode, “Working Late A Lot”, brings us closer and closer to the end of Season 1. Only a couple more left. It’ll be interesting to watch where things progress from here, heading into the second season. Stay with me, fellow fans.

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 6: “Start Calling Me Dad”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 6: “Start Calling Me Dad”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “They Capture the Heat” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Get the Rope” – click here
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This episode begins, again, with a ringing phone. Now, it is at the Chickering household and the call comes for Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano). At a very early hour. Just so happens it’s Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen). But then Dr. Bertram Chickering Sr (Reg Rogers) isn’t too pleased with the early calls. Even less impressed with Thackery and his early morning experiments.
When Bertie gets to the lab, there are naked Asian women sitting with Thack. They’ve been there a couple days straight: “We took a few small breaks,” John says with a saucy, sly grin. He has lots to show Bertie, hoping to improve on the placental problems they’d encountered when Dr. Christiansen was still around. The plan, says Thack, is to put pressure on the wound while performing a Cesarean inside the wound, rather than outside. Watching these innovations on the part of Thackery is amazing, almost like witnessing a piece of history. The excited way in which Clive Owen delivers these lines shows us both Thack’s own happiness to push forward into the future of medicine, as well as his raging cocaine addiction. Furthermore, the way he employs the prostitutes to help with his new experiments is sort of hilarious, especially the way he reels Bertie in to the entire thing. Well written opener to the sixth episode of The Knick‘s Season 1.


In less exciting and sadder news, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and his wife Eleanor (Maya Kazan) are all but watching their child perish from meningitis. She is upset that Everett “brought this into our house” while he is devastated. Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) tries to tell Eleanor there isn’t much to be done, at all. Though, Everett mentions a slim chance bloodletting procedure, and the mother wants anything, everything to be done in order to try saving their child.
Inspector Speight (David Fierro) and Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) are still trying to figure out the typhoid outbreak. He has a fairly well connected map of the disease spreading around New York City, so they’re merely trying to discover the link: ice cream. Or “whats in the ice cream“. Turns out a woman named Mary Mallon (Melissa McMeekin) made all the ice cream which got everyone sick; Typhoid Mary.
Meanwhile, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is trying to acquire an x-ray machine that doesn’t cost $3,000. The salesman of a second hand unit introduces Herman to the machine and takes an x-ray for him. “This should take about an hour,” the man tells him. Incredible how advanced we’ve become since.


Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) and Cornelia sit together for a talk. He seems pensive, perhaps depressed. His life at The Knickerbocker Hospital isn’t what it promised to be at the start. Here, we get insight into the young life of Algie, as an almost additional member of the Robertson clan, having played with Cornelia and her brother Henry as children. We can tell there is more to the relationship between Algernon and Cornelia, so it’ll be interesting to watch more of that come out as the season progresses.
Abby (Jennifer Ferrin) and her syphilis treatment is coming along. The poor thing is strapped constantly into a contraption which keeps her arm over her head, the skin from her inner bicep stitched to her nose. “Its always looks like rain,” Abby tells John, “if you only look at the clouds.” Her spirits are high, though, it’s probably only because of having to deal with her illness so long. She has become accustomed to it, sadly.
Then there’s Thackery dealing with the greasy salesman, Luff (Tom Papa) who hawked a second hand x-ray machine off on Barrow. He comes in with a liniment oil already emblazoned with Dr. Thackery’s face, ready to sell. Essentially, Luff is only concerned with his share of the “booming market” in medicine. He even talks about Dr. Pepper, whose “brain tonic is doing so well they’re serving it at fountains all around the city; as much a beverage as it is a remedy.” John doesn’t have much time for it, shooing Luff out and calling him a “moldy rogue”. Already in 1900, the vultures of capitalism are peeking their heads out and trying to make money from whatever they can in the burgeoning field.


Bertie is taking Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) out on a date. They have a pretzel and walk together, enjoying one another’s company. Smiling, talking. A new relationship is beginning here, but will the small looks between Lucy and Thackery become anything? Will that further cause tension between John and Bertie? Either way, for now Bertie clearly likes being with Lucy, and she seems to, as well.
In an African-American bar, Algernon is having a drink. His eyes are dangerous and his face looks almost vacant. The bartender talks about “the Big Nig“, someone to whom Algernon should not go looking for a fight. He does, though. And afterwards we watch him ice down his side, clearly after having gone for a fight with the man. Glad we didn’t get another scene of Edwards fighting, but that it’s merely alluded to heavily. Nice editing in this particular scene.
More sadness now, as the Gallingers finally lose their child to meningitis. Eleanor is apparently lost in her own mind, not thinking straight. She can’t accept the death of their daughter. Sister Harriet and Everett are both equally concerned. Of course, “the powerful wave of melancholia” is coming, and Harriet suggest perhaps they ought to adopt a baby that was left on the church steps recently. A way to get through things. Everett’s left to consider whether or not they ought to take the child in.
Such a juxtaposition to see Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) waiting outside for Harriet: “Weve got work to do,” he says. She goes from caring for children to abortion so quickly. Not that I have any issue with it, just an interesting parallel.
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Inspector Speight and Cornelia finally track down Typhoid Mary. She is at a new home serving ice cream again. Once the news of her typhoid is let out, everybody at the table eating drops their spoons, afraid they might contract her nastiness. Awesome little scene where Mary tries to run away and then Cornelia tackles her – “Definitely a new century,” Speight laughs remarking he’d “never seen a society girl join a fracas that quick.” This part had me laughing, in the best sort of way. Cornelia is a tough cookie.
At The Knick, another pregnant patient comes in and Thack gets himself ready by shooting up a good dose of cocaine. Bertie is along for the ride, once more. “Are you sure we’re ready?” he asks Thack. But John is all ready, he wants to go and figure things out. He wants to move forward and try getting the procedure right, on the table, in the operating theatre. No more experiments. So they used their new contraption to enter the vaginal canal and attempt to succeed where they’ve only managed to fail until now. Thack cuts into the stomach and forges on. Their new technique helps to slow the bleeding, allowing the successful delivery of the baby. The placental repair is named after all three men who influenced its development: Christiansen-Thackery-Chickering. A new step into the modern world of medicine and childbirth.
Late at night, Thack is working. He hears something downstairs and eventually comes upon the makeshift black emergency room which Algernon has been running. John wants them all out, so the gig is up. So it seems. This could be bad for Edwards, as well as the patients he will no longer get to service. He shows Thackery the extent of the little clinic, what he’s been doing down there with limited resources and under the virtual cover of darkness: “Are you out of your fucking mind?” John asks sternly. Things change slightly when Thack sees the blood pump Edwards made out of a vacuum cleaner: “Thats not the only thing Ive come up with down here,” Algie assures before introducing his solution for the inguinal hernia. John agrees not to say anything for now, as long as the door stays locked and nobody else wanders in. Even better, Algernon’s hernia treatment is heading for the big time and tenuous agreement is struck between the two doctors: “Dr. Edwards,” begins Thackery, “may I officially welcome you to The Knick?”


Cornelia is being readied to marry Phillip Showalter (Tom Lipinski). He believes she’ll be a perfect little housewife instead of continuing on with any business after their marriage. A tense, sort of creepy scene sees Phillip’s father Hobart Showalter (Gary Simpson) confront Cornelia in her room, as she happens to be undressing for the day. The name of the episode comes from these moments. He’s got lots of ideas about what needs to happen after Cornelia is hitched to Phillip. It is an unsettling and nervous scene, but sets the tone for Cornelia’s further relationship with Hobart and the Showalter clan. You could feel something more almost breaking through, and yet the episode finishes her on a strange, awkward note. Very interested to see where it all goes from here.


The next episode is titled “Get the Rope”. Stay tuned with me for another go round.

The Knick – Season 1, Episode 3: “The Busy Flea”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 1, Episode 3: “The Busy Flea”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “Mr. Paris Shoes” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Where’s the Dignity?” – click here
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After an intense and wonderful second episode “Mr. Paris Shoes”, the third episode of Cinemax’s The Knick sees an old, familiar face to Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) come to visit at The Knickerbocker Hospital. It’s a woman named Abigail Alford (Jennifer Ferrin). She’s a friend of John. On her face, she wears a fake nose with her tiny blue glasses. The savagery of syphilis. “No one handles the unexpected like John Thackery,” she says. “Its where I live,” replies John.
They were together once upon a time. Turns out, he’s always been a bit of a wild card. Abby tells him: “I could never get used to what you called normal.” There’s a tender scene where John takes her fake nose off, revealing the missing one from her face where a gaping wound sits. Abby’s husband and John are the only two men she has ever been with, but her husband was less than faithful. Such a sad state of affairs, to see a woman cheated on, but worse – cheated on and then given a terrible disease, one which at this point in 1900 was yet to be properly dealt with (penicillin did those old effects in after 1928). Rotten. Glad to see Thackery is still a friend after all their history, and further, a doctor who’s willing to try and help her with everything he can possibly do.
I love that their relationship is evident, but not through a total barrage of exposition. Just goes to show the writing in this series is quality. Courtesy of Jack Amiel & Michael Begler, a fantastic team alongside Steven Soderbergh and his fascinating filming techniques.


Out with his tooth missing, Herman ends up not getting a corpse for Thackery. We’ll see how that plays out for him. Back at the hospital, Herman’s wife Effie (Molly Price) arrives for a little meeting. They don’t seem to have much of relationship. Clearly, Herman is a crook, he keeps her in fine clothing. However, she appears to be always looking for money. So is Herman doing what he does just to fund her activities, or is it that Herman puts himself out there as a man on the town with all kinds of cash? I think he overextends himself. Not to put all the blame on him, but when Effie asks about earring of hers that went missing it’s clear Herman is pinching any penny, anywhere, just to live a lifestyle that he wants.
In the basement of The Knick, Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) is doing his best to secure everything for his undercover operations. He’s bringing in any of the other black employees at the hospital, regardless of where they happen to work there, from the young men shoveling coal in the furnace, to a laundry woman who finds herself promoted to “surgical nurse“.
Sneaking about the morgue we find Herman take the tag off a body, labeled as a patient of Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson). Is this the body he’ll give over to Thackery? Later on, Herman comes up with the money for Bunky Collier (Danny Hoch). For now he’s off the hook.


Thackery is busy working on pigs. Across town, Herman is being a pig, obviously not interested in being home with his wife, so there he is with a young prostitute being tended to in bed. So, not only is Barrow funding his wife for every possible thing, he’s also promising all sorts of things to this young lady. Wow. I knew he was greasy, but here’s Herman getting greasier than ever. The name of this episode comes from the act the prostitute does for him, as he jacks off. So strange.
But back to the basement of The Knick. A young black man leads a slightly older black gentleman down to the makeshift operation Dr. Edwards has going. There’s even a sort of reception. In the operating theatre, we might call it, Algernon has a patient on his table and dictates his entire surgery to a girl taking notes. The older laundress from earlier is next to the doctor, ready to stitch things up wherever and whenever needed. Dig this so much, to see Dr. Edwards do everything in his power to help his people in a time when nobody else will.
Everett is a troubled man. At home, his wife Eleanor (Maya Kazan) sort of wastes away. He isn’t exactly neglectful, though, I don’t get the feeling he’s a family man other than in appearance. The child cries upstairs, off goes Eleanor.
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Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) sits at home, listening to her father Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines) go on and on. We find out Algernon’s parents work for the Robertsons – his father Jesse (Leon Addison Brown) drives carriage for them, Mrs. Edwards (La Tonya Borsay) serves them dinner and takes care of the house. August seems semi-genuine in his care for Algernon, wanting things to get along well at The Knick. But at the same time, I feel August is mostly a capitalist, so as far as Dr. Edwards is useful to him (re: profit), I’d bet that’s about as far as August is interested. We’ll see how all that goes. Even more, there’s talk of typhoid again. Possibly “the beginning of an epidemic“, as August hopes it’s not.
Thack is busy sawing up pigs when Cornelia visits him. She wants to smooth things out for Algernon, even if the man wants to tend to business himself. She cares, it’s very clear. Although, she wants to talk with Thackery about the possible start of a typhoid outbreak. The doctor suggests getting in touch with Inspector Speight (David Fierro). When he arrives on the scene Speight doesn’t care about “upsetting the apple cart” because, basically, that’s his entire job anyways. There is definitely interest in the case on his part, as well as the fact Cornelia wants to get digging on this whole thing. Interesting pair, these two.


Drs. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) and Gallinger head to see Thackery. It’s very apparent Everett is a racist. Algernon is a co-author on the paper they ransacked another hospital to find, concerning their upcoming surgery. John is pleased, really, but most of all wants to get back to his “preparations” – a.k.a shooting up cocaine. Only there’s more and more trouble finding a vein: “Hello,” he says after locating one: “Welcome back.”
Called to his basement office Algernon receives the hernia patient he advised to rest. But the man didn’t listen, now his hernia is burst and paining bad. The resulting operation is a mess. Algernon can’t quite get a handle on things, using the amateurs around him to do his best. But blood is pumping, thread is running out. Nothing happens the way it ought to, naturally. Unfortunately the patient dies and it’s clear Edwards takes the entire thing to heart. Even sadder, they have to discard the body in the bushes somewhere, to let somebody find him. Brutal.
Dr. Thackery tries his best to do a procedure for Abby. An old one where they used skin from the arm to graft onto the face, keeping the patient’s arm raised and next to the head. John is clearly upset, he wants better for Abby believing that “shell always be alone“. There is still a flame which burns in him for her. In other news, John does all he can for the friends of Cornelia who came in with typhoid; though a raging addict, he obviously has a true heart beneath it all. Somewhere deep inside is a pain that can’t be quelled.


At the end of the episode, Algernon is steaming. He sits at an African-American bar listening to someone next to him talk up a lady, saying he’s been all over the world; mostly America. Edwards starts chirping him, even calls the man “a regular Rudyard Kipling” and picking a fight. Ole Mr. Paris Shoes ends up going fist to fist, in an amazingly filmed sequence. There are a few things I like about this whole bit. Algernon is lashing out, and not because of any other reason than his oppression. Right now, the only thing he can do and is let to be done well is fight. That’s all. Because surgery has all but been yanked from his hands, he’s stuck in the basement. So at a bar, out in the open, Algernon picks a fight and absolutely destroys this other guy. All to prove he is top of his game, in any way he can. He is competitive, only because the white man keeps making him have to be. Anything else and he’d end up dead.

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Excited to see more of this coming up. Next episode is titled “Where’s the Dignity?”. Stay tuned with me.

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.

The Knick – Season 2, Episode 9: “Do You Remember Moon Flower?”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 9: “Do You Remember Moon Flower?”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “Not Well At All” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 finale, “This Is All We Are” – click here
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Rounding out to a close on Season 2, the penultimate chapter “Do You Remember Moon Flower?” begins in 1894, Nicaragua. There, we see Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) a few years younger, walking along a dirt road with a donkey in tow. He comes to a tent where a breakout of small pox is happening, not yellow fever, as Thack supposedly thought: “Im equipped for the wrong disease.” Unpacking his things, Thack discovers Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines) handcuffed to a post. Apparently, he’s had some trouble while navigating South America, all due to his having been responsible, possibly, for the latest outbreak. John is threatened a little, yet doesn’t back down. He wants August let go, or nobody will be treated. An ultimatum. Without the appropriate vaccine, Thack goes to work looking for the appropriate plants, roots and such.
Overall, this is one of my favourite sequences out of the entire second season. Just watching Thackery go to work with all the raw elements is amazing. He does his best to help the people of the village with cobbled together bits of makeshift medicine.

 


Cut back to present Knick timeline – Thack is mixing and doing similar things to the opening scenes, but in his office at the hospital. He concocts some liquid then drinks it, before puking most of it into a bowl.
In other news, the formerly conjoined sisters Zoya and Nika are walking separately, on their own for the first time in their entire lives. Surely an amazing and gorgeous feeling for them. Watching on, Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) and Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) are all smiles, alongside Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) and more staff.
When Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) arrives at work for the day, Dt. Moorhouse (Tom Brangle) is there. He tells him the news: Cotton was poisoned by his own sons. Cotton actually pulled out his own sons teeth, much like Eleanor (Maya Kazan). Before the boys were arrested, they committed suicide. So, did Eleanor lie? What is happening? Regardless, Everett nearly collapses after leaving the detective.
Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) meets with her husband Phillip (Tom Lipinski). He’s off, again, on business. As usual. He wants her to go, too. More of his father’s business, all that. She isn’t interested in going obviously, wanting to hold onto everything in New York, from Algernon to her investigation into Speight’s death and all the involved elements.
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Thack is wasting away in his office. Algernon arrives for a talk, asking how John is doing. To no reply. Edwards offers condolences about Abby, and also gives the good news about the twins; they’re healthy, no more pneumonia, and things are looking up more each day. A family from Missouri is in the city hoping to adopt both girls and give them a new, loving home. A great accomplishment overall for Thackery and The Knickerbocker Hospital. Though, as evidenced by the heroin vials in his wastebasket, John is taking things hard, and Algie knows it. Not like John’s hiding things, anyways.
More condoms are made. Harriet (Cara Seymour) is packaging them, as Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) tries to apologize for the kiss last episode; “A kiss I didnt even get,” he says. He isn’t some pig, though. He has genuine feelings. All the same, Harriet is unimpressed and makes him feel pretty low, which isn’t exactly fair.
Meanwhile, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is giving his $2,000 to the Metropolitan Club treasurer. His entrance fee into the world of high society, one his fishmonger father could’ve never achieved. Up in the smokey lounge, Barrow chats up a man named Corky (Brian Kerwin) and talks of donations.

 


With the twins leaving The Knick, a nurse wakes the sleeping Dr. Thackery. Down on the street, Drs. Chickering and Edwards put the girls into a cab and excuse the absence of John, who is otherwise indisposed. Then from the front door comes Everett, angered at Edwards for bringing him up on charges concerning the sterilization of those boys. Strolling from the hospital, Thack comes to see the girls who are already gone. Instead, he falls to the ground with stomach pains.
Cue a quick surgery. With Dr. Levi Zinberg (Michael Nathanson) working on him, Thackery has his abdomen explored. Algie and Bertie get to have a look inside. There are some necrotic bowel troubles due to the cocaine use. The others want to resection his intestines. Thack wants nothing to do with it, hoping to explore “other options“.

 


Bertie: “My lord…”
Thackery: “You do realize the patient is conscious – dont you, Dr. Chickering?”

 


With Herman’s situation, we’re seeing how laws in the early 20th certainly weren’t in favour of women. Effie is left out in the cold by her husband. Though, she has a record of steel deliveries concerning the new Knick renovations. Mistakenly she was given keys to another box Herman owns at the bank. She’s pulling blackmail on her disgusting little pathetic husband. Effie wants to “live the life I was accustomed to living” and wants everything back the way it was, the best of everything for her and their children. She intends to half everything between herself and Herman, to get all she deserves. Herman tries to emotionally abuse her once more before Effie leaves, but it’s a desperate attempt to gain some footing. If only for a second in time.
Eating a slice of watermelon, Jimmy (Happy Anderson) talks with Herman who is worried about his financials. “This is it for me,” Barrow whisper screams to him. He is watching everything slip between his fingers. Constantly scheming, I’m sure we’re about to watch Herman run down the drain figuratively. He’s up to see Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken), trying to weasel the new contractor out of operations because he obviously isn’t a snake; he is above board and all legal. Try and try and try – Herman won’t stop until he can find a new cow to milk.
Simultaneously, Henry and Cornelia are trying to decide how best to handle their father August. They need to know for sure, to find out more information in order to proceed. Is Henry on her side? Or is he playing Cornelia into the hands of their father?

 


Edwards is presenting his evidence about the “unauthorized vasectomies” performed on supposed idiot children by Dr. Gallinger. Yet Everett stands by his belief in eugenics. He wants to “spare the world” from addicts and degenerates. Algernon wants Everett’s license revoked, though, the latter claims everything was consensual. He even has Dr. Reid (Thomas Kopache) with him, who is the legal guardian of all those boys. “So this quackery is now sanctioned by the state,” Edwards sadly speaks aloud, half to himself. Everett and Reid try to make it seem as if eugenics is modern medicine. Again, I say it: they’re a few decades too early to join up with the Third Reich. The very heart of eugenics denies Algernon his own personhood – the board says it can help mankind, while Edwards knows the sting of vicious racism. And that’s what eugenics is all about, at the core of its being. Tragic, as the board of review sides with Everett. Out in the courtyard, Algernon rolls his sleeves, which Everett believes “proves my entire thesis“. A fight that’s been brewing finally comes, with racist vitriol spewing from Gallinger. He pretends not to be going for a fight, then blindsides Edwards: “Stupid nigger,” he spits before walking away like a piece of shit coward.

 


Everett: “I tamed the god damn beast

 


Spreading the word about safe sex, Cleary pimps out Harriet’s condoms to a bunch of men drinking and smoking together at a table. And over at another table, Harriet is cleaning up, getting all sorts of women to take the condoms. One prostitute takes a condom over to Thackery, wallowing in drink on a dusty couch. But he only waves her away, unimpressed with something that’ll reduce the feeling on his knob, I’m sure. Love Thack. Deviant, though, that one.
Back to A.D. Elkins (Stephen Spinella). Lucy asks about Moon Flower, the mule at their old farm who everyone used to beat. This whole story parallels the story of Lucy – similarly beaten, working all the time. She talks at her paralysed father who can only look on and take it all in. “This world offers too much,” Lucy says. “And contrary to what you think, Im too smart to let myself turn out that way. And if that means sinninto get what I wantwell then, so be it. I wont be shamed by the likes of you or anyone else anymore. What Ive done, what I will do is nowhere near the deceitful life youve obviously led.” Even more, she reveals all her nasty sins, including much of her former life with Thack, which goes into great detail. She continually reels off more sin for her father to digest on his way out of life. Best is when she comes to the story of the toe sucking. Then, A.D. goes out like a light into the darkness of damnation: “Enjoy your trip,” Lucy says quietly on her way out. Vicious. Dig it.

 


Cornelia finds herself at the construction site for the hospital. She looks for her father, who’s surprised by her visit. He talks of all the grand things that will be installed at the new Knick. “This is it,” says August, “this is my legacy“. Beaming, he is soon interrupted by Cornelia’s accusations. Not unjustified accusations. She reveals all her knowledge, at which he balks initially. He denies everything, getting angry with his daughter. Their conversation turns into panic quickly. August notices smoke and down at the bottom of the stairwell, a fire is beginning to rage. He sends his daughter down a ladder through a small space between floors, staying behind until she can send help.
As flames consume the building, Henry and Cornelia watch their father jump from up high, crashing through scaffolding to the ground.
Then, we cut back to August in 1894 being released from his cuffs and leg shackles, Thackery watching on. It’s no wonder John got involved with The Knickerbocker Hospital, after getting August out of such a jam. A great ending to an intense penultimate season finish.

 


Looking forward to watching and reviewing the Season 2 finale, “This Is All We Are”. Been a great season and I hear the last episode has got some teeth. Stay tuned with me for another one, fellow Soderbergh lovers.

The Knick – Season 2, Episode 5: “Whiplash”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode
5: “Whiplash”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “Wonderful Surprises” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “There Are Rules” – click here
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“Whiplash” begins with Abby (Jennifer Ferrin) being walked out of The Knickerbocker Hospital, new and healthy, by Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen). He gives her a pinch of drugs, maybe his cocaine-heroin concoction, to take at the first sign of pain.
Inside, he has a snort of his own before receiving Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) for his regular physical inspection and medical examination. She doesn’t seem to be too happy doing it any longer.
Cut to Thack in the surgical theatre. A man has his brain exposed at the middle of the room with John inserting an electrical probe into various different areas to gauge reactions. He triggers a bunch of physical reactions, as well as emotions including laughter, sadness, and so on. “What about desire?” Thackery asks the theatre. The man in front of them is an addict, strung on morphine. For twenty-four hours he’s been taken off. Now a vial of morphine is produced and he’s shot up with his drug of choice. All the while, Thack rigs the probe to detect the areas stimulated by the drug. With bloodshot eyes John triumphantly finds the portion of the brain lit up by the morphine.


Harriet (Cara Seymour) is busy scrubbing floors in her new, free life. A young girl working with her starts getting her period. Nobody’s explained how to take care of herself. While Harriet doles out her own advice, including “cannabis indica“, a nun happens to overhear. Of course, she disapproves. None of the holy sisters have time for Harriet now after her troubles with the law. All the working girls there are instructed not to talk with Harriet, or else face starvation.
Phillip Showalter (Tom Lipinski) is watching the homemade amateur pornography of Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken); the stuff he took of Nurse Daisy Ryan (Emily Kinney), along with another friend. I always found men watching porn together strange. Yet in its early days, surely, there were perverts sitting around enjoying it together.
In other more normal relationships, Dr. Bertie Chickering Jr. (Michael Angarano) is out in Harlem with Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) having a drink. A fish out of water, Bertie says smiling: “My father will be scandalized.” But now we’re getting an olive branch extended. I thought maybe Bertie would go back to Thackery. Rather, he chose to talk with Edwards about it; Dr. Levi Zinberg (Michael Nathanson) likely won’t help him, so he had to go somewhere. It looks as if Algie will come to the aid of young Bertie.


Then there’s Bertie and his new relationship with the investigative reporter Genevieve (Arielle Goldman). They’re sneaking into places, looking for information together. Thick as thieves already, those two. Amazing how Bertie is quickly influenced by her spirited nature. He’s not usually the lawbreaking type.
At The Knickerbocker, explosion victims are beginning to show up by the load in ambulances. Nurse Elkins is left outside to organize things while Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) rushes back for more. Drs. Thackery, Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and Edwards start their work on trauma victims. One in particular has a nasty piece of metal in his neck. Out it comes with a squirt of blood. Everett is still clashing with Edwards, not even able to take a simple point of advice without shouting; such an outright racist, it boils more and more to the surface now over these past couple episodes with his new white friend influencing his tiny brain. Mayhem and panic descends upon The Knick with Lucy doing her best to keep things flowing, and sleazy Henry taking a break from nude pictures and films to get all the nurses on duty and everything on track.
In between everything, Cleary manages to grease off a guy to whom Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) owes money. Will Tom use this as leverage on Barrow? Turn it into cash for himself? I found it a little interesting addition.
Down in the operating theatre, Thack is innovating, at every turn. He has Nurse Ryan helping him along the way. He manages to locate a bunch of metal shards, or what looks like nails, dug deep into a man’s guts. A savage mess, yet John Thackery prevails. Amazing how even in his haze of drugs Thack is able to keep his wits about him and do such good work. Perhaps it’s the reason he can, fueling him physically, as well as mentally making him believe he can do anything. Still, there’s an amount of knowledge and smarts that go into it.
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Over at Abby’s place after the excitement of the day, Thackery shows up with laudanum for her. He takes a quick bump of his own, or tries to – “Put that away, John,” Abby scolds him. “Not here.”
Dr. Betram Chickering Sr (Reg Rogers) tends to his wife Anne (Linda Emond), giving her what looks like laudanum also to ease her pain. He and his son aren’t exactly on the same page, though, they both obviously care in their own way. Bertie Jr only wants to be that good son, to save his mother.
More father and son – Henry and his father Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines) have lunch together. It’s all about money. “Now is not the time to be timid,” Henry says. He wants to invest in “new technologies” instead of dipping money constantly into old rusted ships. However, August is apprehensive. The earlier explosion happened at the subway, which he brings up. Their meal together ends fairly abrupt.
Leaving Abby, the good doctor Thackery gives her a smooch and apologizes: “Old habit.” A flame still burns?
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After the passing of Dr. Mays, the prostitutes from Ping Wu (Perry Yung) are being examined by Nurse Elkins. We get a bit of proto-feminism on the prostitute’s part, as she explains partly the power of a woman over a man in the situation of paying for sex. Intriguing bit of dialogue, especially with Lucy being a bit of a feminist herself. Back to sleazy Henry, chatting up Lucy now as if she’s a dumb little kid. She grosses him out a little with medical textbook pictures. Then they get borderline flirtatious. Even on Lucy’s part, who brings up his likely extensive knowledge of the female anatomy.
On the grounds of Mount Sinai, we find Bertie still trying to impress Dr. Zinberg. He brings him work done at the hospital on adrenaline. Furthermore, he brings him a study concerning his mother’s condition. But Zinberg isn’t interested, he wants his work done. Bertie needs Algernon; he’ll help.
Finally we see more of Corenlia Showalter (Juliet Rylance). She’s still tracking down more information on Speight. Back at the police station, she gives over a ticket found at Speight’s residence, burned slightly. In a diary found, there’s a reference about bubonic plague.
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Thack has a brain out on the table, examining things with Everett and Algernon. Out of nowhere, Everett suggests sterilization. His love of eugenics starts to come out. John can only sort of laugh. Algernon, no stranger to the “negro inferiority” argument, is disgusted with Everett’s pseudoscience.
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Thackery: “For gods sake, gentlemen. Even this brain is getting bored of this horseshit.”

At dinner in a fancy restaurant, Henry is trying to work his powers on Lucy. They sip fancy drinks from San Francisco. He orders a bunch of fancy things with drinks paired. Then he reels off a bit of a crazy story about the history of the style of cocktail glasses from which they’re drinking. But beneath the facade of righteousness in Lucy, she is a bad girl. Admittedly, she is ‘sinful’. Though, I’m not sure how that matches up to Henry’s obvious perverted nature. I hope for her sake he doesn’t lure her into something bad. If so, there could be trouble going his way from John Thackery.
Herman Barrow is seen greeting his children for once, which seems a rare event. Instead of putting them to bed, he sends them off with a goodnight and what not. Then his wife Effie (Molly Price) comes ownstairs in lingerie, looking to please him after his hard day at work. Yet we know Herman’s sleazy himself, too. He has a little prostitute mistress to whom he goes in the night, now and then. Or who knows how often. He doesn’t stay with his obviously loving wife. He heads off without any love back, leaving his wife to feel rejected in the worst way. A pitiful scene, so sad to see his wife break down afterwards.


In a lecture hall, D.W. Garrison Carr (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) is giving a speech about the African-American experience, about “what a man says“, “man’s laws and words” and many other similar things. Algernon is in attendance with his wife Opal (Zaraah Abrahams). “The story of the negro in America is the story of America,” he tells the crowd; a particularly teary eyed Algernon looks on, as if being hit with a lightning strike.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, Dr. Gallinger is at a dinner where his racist friend Dr. Thurman Drexler (Anthony Rapp) comes for a talk, along with a man named Dr. Samuel Reid (Thomas Kopache) who, as he says, runs “the idiot house” in town. They all begin a talk of eugenics. I can see this is headed in a nefarious direction.
At the Chickering household, Betram Sr, Anne, Bertie, his sister and Genevieve all sit down together. Bertie looks proud to have Genevieve there, especially when his mother fawns over her work that she’s read. A tense moment comes when the Chickerings find out Genevieve is a Polish Jew. At the same time, she makes a hilarious joke about Jesus being Jewish and they all have a crack-up. Amazing moment. Later on, Genevieve bonds further with Anne in private, which is another really excellently written scene including a bit where Anne brings up her disease briefly. Touching bit between these two characters.
Date night is over, and before leaving Lucy gives Henry a big kiss, along with the definition of whiplash. He drives off with a grin on his face. Perhaps not so sleazy after all. At least not with Lucy. Yet.


Barrow is down in Chinatown to see Ping Wu. They have a little chat about fathers a moment, after Herman shows up with a ton of cash for the man. I love how the camera lingers so long on the cash, as Ping counts it and flicks around on a tiny abacus. Just perfectly exemplifies everything about Barrow’s story. We stay right on the money until it’s all counted out, then the camera pans back to show Ping. After things have been paid up, Herman wants to buy out his prostitute lover from Wu: $2,000 is the total price. The next time we see Herman he’s looking at an apartment, trying to find a place where he can stash his mistress.
In more pressing medical situations of the hospital, Thack morphines his earlier brain patient and goes back into the skull. He cuts away at some of the meaty brain, excising a portion which will – hopefully – mean the removal of his desire for morphine: “Gentleman,” Thack exclaims quietly during the procedure, “-the source of addiction.” After the procedure and the patient is in bed, it appears he’s mostly catatonic. Not so easy, is it Thack? If it were, modern medicine would’ve propelled us beyond addiction long ago.


The sinister heart of eugenics comes out with Everett in a backroom, receiving the boys of Dr. Red’s ‘idiot house’ for sterilization. Such a terribly creepy finale that had me reeling.
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Stay tuned. I’ll have another review soon for the following episode, “There Are Rules”. I dig this show so much, my favourite possibly ever. Never can I get enough.

The Knick – Season 2, Episode 2: “You’re No Rose”

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
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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.
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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 cant 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: “Dont get confused by some puritanical notion of womanhood. Virginity is a mans 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: “Youre 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.
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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!