Tagged Michael Angarano

Down the Social Rabbit Hole with The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment. 2015. Directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez. Screenplay by Tim Talbott.
Starring Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano, Moises Arias, Nicholas Braun, Gaius Charles, Keir Gilchrist, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Mann, Ezra Miller, Logan Miller, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, James Wolk, Nelsan Ellis, and Olivia Thirlby. Coup d’Etat Films/Sandbar Pictures/Abandon Pictures.
Rated 14A. 122 minutes.
Biography/Drama/History

★★★★★
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There’ve been two other films based on the real Stanford Prison Experiment conducted by Philip Zimbardo, at least that I know of – the German film Das Experiment and the semi-remake of that starring Adrian Brody and Forest Whitaker, The Experiment. Many will tell you the former is the best. Certainly none will say the latter. But I’ll go ahead and give you my opinion: The Stanford Prison Experiment is the best of the trio. It is the most raw, real, honest version compared with true events. It showcases best the real results of the experiment Zimbardo setup. Here, we see the worst of the human condition, what people are capable of given power and the ability to judge as they see fit.
As opposed to the other two films, Kyle Patrick Alvarez doesn’t try to add anything extra to the story. Or better put, screenwriter Tim Talbott sticks mostly to the practical facts of the original experiment. Instead of getting too flowery, attempting to intensify themes, Talbott’s script brings out the moral dilemmas inherent in Zimbardo’s supposed experiment. We are thrown directly in the hot seat, both with the people behind the glass and the inmates on the other side. This film focuses best on the human aspect of what really happened, rather than ratcheting up the violence, the threat of rape, or any number of things. Not saying every last bit of this is completely factual. More that it attempts to stick with reality. And things get very raw. For someone who traffics in a lot of horror, many disturbing pieces of cinema, this can actually be tough to watch; it isn’t even graphic. The psychological torture of the men in this experiment bleeds through the screen.
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Dr. Philip Zombardo (Billy Crudup) conducts an experiment at Stanford University in the early 1970s. Twenty four men were recruited. They were broken into groups of guards and prisoners. This experiment sees how both groups act under the guidelines of a prison environment in the basement of the university.
Except things start to get a little out of hand. The guards aren’t allowed to physically hurt the prisoners. But they do everything else possible. They psychologically torture the young men playing prisoners. Some of them rebel. Others comply completely. Allowed to leave at any time, a couple do, or at least try to. For Zombardo’s part he tries to keep people there, going beyond acceptable limits; certainly beyond ethical scientific limits. As some of the guards go a little wilder than others, the Stanford Prison Experiment gets further out of hand than even Zombardo could have predicted.
They had two weeks allotted to conduct the experiment. It didn’t even last one.
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Many times we see Zombardo lose it. One key moment is when a member of the research/experiment team has to leave, due to a death in the family, and Philip doesn’t lose it, but the lack of care for his colleague’s dead family member is evident. We can see how Zombardo doesn’t care about anything else, anybody else. Nothing other than his precious experiment. So, in subtle scenes like that we see the fabric of his personality wearing away. He meets an older man, either a former mentor or an older colleague, who asks about variables in his experiment; Phil dismisses him in a mix between anger, resentment, and perhaps a small dose of doubt, guilt, too. The character is a loaded one and full of many complexities. We watch as the guy’s mind tears, right alongside many of the inmates and some of the guards in the experiment. Hard to tell sometimes exactly who is slipping most.
Then there’s Michael Angarano. He is a great actor, one I’ve enjoyed plenty on Cinemax’s The Knick. Here he plays the “John Wayne” guard, Christopher Archer. Watching him progress from the first scene where we see him, to the Napoleonic character he becomes later in the film, it truly is impressive. Some may get annoyed by his fake Southern accent – part of the character itself, imitating a character from Cool Hand Luke, and poorly (on purpose). However, I find Angarano excellent here. He plays a young man who is fairly despicable, just as bad as Zombardo, and certainly one of the worst of all the men playing guards. His youthfulness comes in handy because he portrays a guy who, in real life, went too far and thought it was all justifiable, as if being a terrible human being at the drop of a hat, as he was during the experiment, were a situation anybody would find themselves in. His character helps to call into question the individual moral dilemma of such an experiment, and displays exactly the type of behaviour any person in their right mind would be ashamed of if it were them. A few other good performances here, including Ezra Miller and Tye Sheridan plus more. Although, Angarano and Crudup clearly shine. That could also have much to do with their characters’ respective importance to the events in question. Still, they both do an amazing job pulling their share of the weight along the way.
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This a dark and raw 5-star film based on true events. In the final fifteen minutes, The Stanford Prison Experiment devolves to madness and presents us with the regression of humanity, all represented in these men posing as the guards. The moment where Crudup’s Zombardo breaks is quietly intense, but it hits you hard. I do not admire anything about Zombardo. This moment just rocked me – especially with the line by Angarano afterward. There’s a despicable quality to the ending, and it lingered with me, yet above all a sense of relief. This film is a visceral one at times, it will get under your skin. Deep; if you let it. The bare human qualities of this movie made it one of my favourites from 2015.

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 2, Episode 10: “This Is All We Are”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 10: “This Is All We Are”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the penultimate Season 2 finish, “Do You Remember Moon Flower?” – click here
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And here we are: the Season 2 finale of The Knick.
Open on Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) headed into Chinatown. On the floor of a brothel, he finds Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) who doesn’t want to go to The Knickerbocker Hospital, but rather Mount Sinai – to see Dr. Levi Zinberg (Michael Nathanson). He needs a bit of work done on the bowels. Although, John wants to stay awake. Nothing to dull the pain. He and Zinberg are a little at odds, but something will be done either way.
Lots of condoms are being sold. Harriet (Cara Seymour) has them all packed up, disguised in boxed of vegetables, while Clear carries them to and from where they need to go.
Then we find ourselves with Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken) and Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson). He’s obviously torn up with the death of his father, the fire at the new Knick. He plans to take his mother to the country, away from the city and everything else. Henry offers Lucy to come stay at the guest house out there: “I dont know what Id do without you,” he says. Doesn’t seem she’s too eager to head out, though.


Many people mourn the death of Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines). People attend his wake and funeral to give condolences to Henry, Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) and his wife. Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) arrives with his new lady, leaving fairly abruptly. Others such as Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) stay to grieve.
Outside, Herman is confronted by the police. He reels off his mouth a bit, calling the contractors down to the dirt to make himself look better. The cops, for their part, aren’t exactly interested in his bullshit. Herman further throws down a few insults acting all high and mighty. But with August gone, is he exactly in with the upper-ups? Not sure.
Back inside the wake, Algernon with his freshly beaten face talks with his father Jesse (Leon Addison Brown) about what happened between himself and Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson). You can tell Algie has had a history of fights. Not by his own fault, all the same. He is a properly defiant man for good reason. He’s always being thrown into fire, and also feels his father was essentially beaten into submission, “afraid to look up“. This scene comes off incredibly well, plus more perfect Cliff Martinez score works in to turn this into a spectacular moment between these characters. Dark, brooding, and intense.


Then the unexpected happens: Tom took the money he and Harriet earned. Except he took it to invest it in them, “in us” he says. Down on one knee, he asks Harriet to marry him. But then she rushes out, leaving him on the floor in a broken state.
At The Knickerbocker, in the operating theatre, John is getting things together to perform surgery: on himself. Alongside are Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) and Dr. Gallinger. They’re not too eager at first to do what Thack wants. Eventually, he gives an ultimatum: help, or get out.
Barrow is trying his best to weasel out of responsibility for any part in the fire. Furthermore, he’s hoping things will work out for him going forward. It’s possible the city may take over The Knick. Of course, Herman doesn’t like that because it means bureaucracy, which in turn means not much chance for more money. He heads down and talks to Thackery, who’s ingesting turpentine to keep him going. Herman’s flaunting his full membership of The Metropolitan Club: “Bully for you,” John says sarcastically. It doesn’t look like he’s much too concerned about The Knick, not any longer. Still, Herman squirms hoping to come out on top in the end.
Cornelia’s having a tough time after the death of her father, regardless of the business in which he was supposedly involved. Her husband Phillip (Tom Lipinski) is attempting to cheer her up. Then he lets slip Henry has been working on the ports for years. Exactly as I thought. “Turns out your brother is quite the wharf rat,” Phillip tells her. Really, now? Perhaps Henry’s been up to more than anybody ever expected. The look on Cornelia’s face says it all. I knew that sly bastard was up to something nasty, more than just his pornographic pictures.


I know what you did behind our fathers back,” Cornelia confronts Henry, who acts coy and unassuming. She accuses him of all the rotten things first assumed to have been done by their father. Henry felt his father was doing nothing with his fortune, pissing it away. And so he tried to take the reins, steer things towards his vision of the future. He further tries to put some blame on Cornelia for apparently pressing his hand into doing what he did. Henry says she won’t do anything like go to the press, to the police, to their mother because it’s Cornelia’s word against his. Very eerie moment where he backs her to the top of the stairs, and we wait with bated breath almost already assuming she’ll go tumbling down backwards at any moment. He threatens her and assures that her “onewoman crusade is over“. On her way out, Lucy is heading in with bags in tow. The disgust on Cornelia’s face is powerful, staring up at her brother in all his hideousness.


Cornelia: “How could you?”
Henry: “How could I not?”


Barrow is all but unraveling. His new lady Junia (Rachel Korine) is worried, too. Afraid she’ll be put out onto the streets. He’s going just about mad, looking outside and seeing police camped, waiting to see what he does next. Things in his world are becoming less and less fun as the days go by.
In the world of Tom Cleary, he’s over at the Catholic Church looking for a confessional. Kneeling, hilariously with his feet hanging out the back, he talks with the priest on the other side of the veil. He admits to lots of wrongdoing, but also believes he’s “an all right fella” for taking the sick to the hospital “lickety split“. He believes perhaps confessing to God his sin may be what Harriet needs before she can accept his hand in marriage. This is probably the best scene for Cleary, ever. He reveals to the priest he set Harriet up for the abortion crimes, telling a police officer to get things going. But he further shows how hateful he can be, yelling at the priest who scolds him: “She was a fuckinabortionist.” I like Cleary, though, he’s made me feel unimpressed at various times in both seasons. Then again, I guess it can’t be easy for someone like himself in America, at that time. So, kill or be killed, the motto of too many people forced out of their country and homes in the early 20th century.
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More of the modern medicine man Dr. John Thackery. He’s practicing in front of a mirror for the surgery he plans on doing, on himself. What I love is the determination in his eyes, you can almost feel him willing the power to perform right there. An impressive, if not a bit reckless man.
Then we jet back to Harriet and Tom – she’s wearing his ring, as they sit at the table ready for a meal. He spies it and stops. Her smile speaks volumes, and they both have a chuckle. But is he ever going to reveal to her what he told that priest? Can he be cold like that? Perhaps it’s better off, yet I don’t think Harriet could ever bring herself to stay with him if she knew.
Barrow is still being followed by Dt. Tuggle (Joe Hansard). Only now, the detective is apologizing. Seems the reach of The Metropolitan Club has smoothed things out for ole Herman. Plus, even though he’s an embezzler, we certainly do know the source of the fire and so on. Worse – on Herman’s hands are what looks like lesions.
Everett Gallinger is being offered an opportunity to spread the message of eugenics. From the board who reviewed his case, Dr. Phelps (David Pittu) says he would be the “prophet of eugenics“, planning on traversing the globe – of course starting in Germany; “As good a place as any,” says Everett.


But the main attraction – John’s surgery. Doctors of all sorts pile into the operating theatre, each of them eager to see what will happen. Then, Thack gets himself into the medicine locker for a bit of cocaine. We’re back to the old John Thackery. He bursts into the theatre hopped up on cocaine, mainlined to his veins. You can see that there’s a wildness in his eyes. He strips down naked and then gets ready on the table, wide-eyed and maniacal. In the audience, Dr. Levi Zinberg and others watch on with their own widened eyes. Into his spine goes the cocaine solution, rendering John’s lower body painless. And the surgery begins! Thack watches the mirror and cuts, only allowing the nurse present to cauterize and hand around the instruments, not wanting to be “accused of not performing the entire surgery myself“. It is a gruesome scene, and amazing all at once. He pulls intestine out, feeling around to look at the necrotic tissue and determining it worse than expected. Bertie and Everett want to help, though, he refuses any of it. The effects work in this show is at its PEAK here, with lots of nasty looking entrails on camera, a close-up view on the surgery itself putting us almost right in Thackery’s shoes. Soon enough, he nicks himself badly and starts to bleed a good deal. His visions starts to dull, making things a little more difficult. Though, everyone watches on quietly. Not wanting to disturb the mad doctor at work. “This is it,” John says almost passing out: “This is all we are.” Then he fades and fades, seeing images of the girl in his hallucinations. Then he’s out like a light. Algernon comes in from the crowd to help. John has no pulse. They’re all working now, blood pouring out of Thack and onto the floor. Rushing down to the office, Bertie flies like a bird: to get adrenaline. Into the chest goes the drug.


But now we cut to an empty Knickerbocker. At least the operating theatre. Algernon sits looking at pieces of rope on Thackery’s desk. He finds a book belonging to Abigail (Jennifer Ferrin), a diary. Has John died? Nowhere is he to be found.
Henry and Algernon have a meeting. The latter has problems with his eye, even worse now. He says he’ll need a “new profession” and it seems he’s looking to try furthering some of the work done by Thack: “I owe him at least that.” Sitting down on the addiction ward with Mr. Dominczyk (Eugene Poznyak), Algernon tries to continue his therapy. They talk of bad dreams, almost starting the idea Edwards will venture into psychiatry down the road, reminding us of a doctor and patient on the couch situation.
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I loved the end. A true cliffhanger if there ever were one.
Excited to see more of The Knick next year. Season 3 ought to be highly interesting, wherever it goes. I don’t believe Dr. Thackery is dead, but perhaps he’ll be disfigured or permanently injured due to his surgery. Maybe he and Edwards will continue in the third season together, going into a line of psychiatry involving addiction, or something similar. Who knows. He could very likely ACTUALLY be dead, too. It seems that way to most.
Either way, stay tuned with me – I’ll be going back to watch Season 1 over and review it soon enough. Cheers!

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 8: “Not Well At All”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 8: “Not Well At All”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “Williams and Walker” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Do You Remember Moon Flower?” – click here


The immense talents of Cliff Martinez lead us into this episode. With one of the patients Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) has in his care, an alcoholic, sneaking down to get booze straight from a main line. Only it looks as if it were formaldehyde form which he took a drink. “Well hes already half embalmed,” Thack says. “Lets get him up on the table and finish the job.”
At home, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) and his wife are rekindling their physical love once more. In other news, The Knickerbocker Hospital sees a man coming through the front doors wielding a gun, as Thack and Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) are busy doing work in the office involving all sorts of things injected into a rabbit, including potassium chloride. When the animal dies, Bertie brings him back with a dose of what I can only assume is adrenaline.
Turns out the man with the gun is in fact Mr. Brockhurst (Fred Weller). He’s pissed about the girls being separated. He wants them back together, which naturally can’t be done. From behind Brockhurst comes Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan). He cracks him a good one, accompanied by a chuckle, and then the mood goes back to being light at The Knick once more.


In Chinatown, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) meets with Ping Wu (Perry Yung). More money exchanging hands. It seems Barrow is finally moving ahead with the plan to purchase his mistress, Junia (Rachel Korine). “Would you like a receipt?” Ping asks, tongue firmly in cheek, no doubt. Reeling off a quote, Ping tells Herman it is not from Confucius, but from the Irish bad boy Oscar Wilde.
The mood is also light over at the Gallinger residence, where Eleanor (Maya Kazan) and Everett are in high spirits after their latest sex. A Detective Frank Moorhouse (Tom Brangle) arrives at the house explaining Dr. Cotton is dead, having been poisoned. Retracing steps, this leads Dt. Moorhouse back to Gallinger’s place, as he had dinner there the night before his death – is this what made his stomach upset? Did Eleanor kill Cotton? Perhaps that’s exactly why she invited him over, even with all the fuss Everett made which she knew would’ve been coming. Has the madwoman struck? Yes. Not too long after, we see she put rat poison in his soup. White knight Gallinger tries to handle things. But Eleanor spies the trash can where he threw the poison. I can almost feel it coming, as she brings tea back into the room for the unsuspecting detective. Back in the early 20th century, nobody would’ve ever expected people to die at the house of a respected doctor and his wife, would they?


Eleanor: “Im sorry, Everett. I didnt think theyd catch me up so soon.”


More addiction therapy back at The Knickerbocker. Or, the admittance of nothing left to be done. Thack admits his addiction to the last remaining patient on the ward.
Cut to Harriet (Cara Seymour) who is making condoms. Tom is in the other part of the room, shielded, trying on the jimmy hats for good measure. A hilarious bit of dialogue between them, as Tom tries to “maintain” himself. I love how nothing has happened between them, even if it feels like it’s about to every moment. They’re two true friends, side by side in the hard times, both of them being Irish exports and all.
Toughing through another board meeting, Herman listens to the others chatting until he introduces a Mr. Raphael Warren (Ken Barnett), a man dealing with the blueprints and cost estimates for the renovation. Again, Barrow is put back in charge of the dealings. Will this give him more money to siphon off? Surely, if Herman can manage he’ll take what his pockets can hold. Kept back by Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines), he finds out their exclusive club is granting him membership. He finds out $2,000 is required for a donation, plus for membership fees. This stresses Barrow out right away. He accomplishes getting the funds by selling his house off quickly. But what about his children and his wife? Uh oh.
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Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) has received a patient who claims Thackery worked on her. In fact, he was paid in heroin. He fixed up her nose, back at the start of the season, using a gold earring. Seems the earring was not gold and is corroding inside her flesh. He plans to make things right, “on the house“. Then from the guts come a pain, racking John completely. Out comes more turpentine. Algernon wants to help, though, the foolishly brave and arrogant John Thackery refuses. Going it alone, as usual.
John is also readying himself to start fixing Abby (Jennifer Ferrin). He further wants her to talk with an addiction patient, similarly to how she talked John down when he called about the twins’ surgery.
On the phone, Effie Barrow (Molly Price) gets a call about a vacuum sweeping machine – the one installed over at the new apartment. Oh, wow. Things are tumbling down on top of ole Herman’s head now.


Romance is alive, among everything else. Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) is being fawned over by Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken). Interrupted after awhile by Corenlia (Juliet Rylance) who is still followed by a man Phillip’s father employs to watch her comings and goings. She tells Henry about the implications against their father, concerning Inspector Speight and his untimely passing. Will Henry use this to overcome his father? Or will he run to his father with the information? I can only hope the first will come to pass, as Henry seems to want to take things over for himself and steer their business into a new, brighter future. It seems Captain August Robertson has been responsible for bubonic plague outbreaks in Chicago and other areas.
Dr. Gallinger is trying to find a suitable place for his wife to stay, a comfortable spot to tuck her away. A Dr. Adolf Warner (Dieter Riesle) assures she will be looked after and given the best possible life, “under the circumstances“. Tragic, and I hate Everett. Yet something had to be done, or else more murders would happen, further bodies would pile, and Everett would sink with the ship, as well. Only later on, Everett starts to move in close with Eleanor’s sister Dorothy. Pretty damn low.
Some of the nurses around The Knick believe Henry Robertson is turning the nursing staff into a rack of centerfolds, believing Lucy won’t have trouble keeping her job. Called off to the telephone, Lucy gets a call about her father A.D. Elkins (Stephen Spinella). Rushing to some dingy place, lit red in a dark basement where surely a house of sin exists, Lucy finds a crazy eyed A.D. looking full of drugs and falling into the deep end head first. We come to find he suffered a paralytic stroke, as Thack explains back in a room at the hospital: “The best I can do is keep him alive.”


At a show in the city, Cleary and Harriet have a good time, eating candies and checking out the different sights including a horror-picture show that makes the image look as if a man swallows the camera whole. Hilarious scene. Tom misreads signals and goes in for a kiss on Harriet. She believes he brought her ought to put the moves on her, but he was only honestly interested and thought she was, too. Harriet storms off and advises Tom to stay clear of her at home.
In a darkened office, Dr. Edwards is poking around quietly. He gets into a desk drawer and produces a large notebook. Within, he sees something we do not and exclaims to himself: “Jesus.”
Cut to the following day. Thack is drinking turpentine for his rotting guts. Algernon slides the notebook he found in the previous scene across the table. They’ve discovered Everett and his “eugenics project“: boys between the ages of 15 and 18 have been sterilized. Too young to consent, the boys in question have obviously been preyed upon. Nothing technically illegal has happened, so says Thackery, and he doesn’t know what can be done on his end. This disappoints Edwards, clearly.


Placing his last remaining addiction patient in a room facing the wall, Dr. Thackery has Abby come in for a conversation. She asks about him, the patient, Mr. Dominczyk (Eugene Poznyak) first. Then she works into the first time he’d ever drank, which he explains happened when he “was a baby“. His mother apparently used whiskey soaked rags to keep him quiet as a boy. Great practice to turn him into a future alcoholic and lifelong addict.
Bad news comes to bear at the Barrow household. Herman comes home to champagne and treats from Effie, who toasts her husband: “To surprises“. Of course, he doesn’t have any idea about it all. Things are getting mucked up for the greasy little man now that Effie’s discovered the apartment on 74th Street. But Herman reveals who the apartment is for, that he will live in it “with another woman“. He rented an apartment for her and the children downtown, planning to run off. He appropriately gets a drink in his face to end the conversation.
Switch to Herman, now happy and lively. He’s in Chinatown to collect Junia. They embrace with a kiss, each of them looking pleased. Out they go, away from the brothel. But will this new life treat Herman the way he wishes it to? I don’t particularly see much happy ending on his path, though, I may be wrong.


The finale of this episode sees Abby take in a bit of laudanum. Then, she’s off to surgery in the theatre with Dr. Thackery, Dr. Chickering, and the assistance of Nurse Elkins. She is sedated, but then her heart rate drops almost completely; no pulse. Rushing about, each of the three attempts to save Abby’s life. John is racing from one spot to the next, hoping not to see the love in his life die. Except she does. She slips off the mortal coil, as Thackery eventually stops his rush, slowing to a stop. What does this mean for John now? A plunge into addiction, further in I should say, is likely coming for him. Although, I’d like to think he’s getting stronger. Unfortunately I know the weakness for drugs runs high in his mind.
Right before the finish, Everett’s sister-in-law Dorothy enters his room. He does’t want her to leave. He wants her right where she is, moving towards his bed, and finally in his arms. Bad, bad Everett. I expected no less.


The next episode is titled “Do You Remember Moon Flower?” – the penultimate Season 2 episode. Stay with me for another review soon, folks.

The Knick – Season 2, Episode 7: “Williams and Walker”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 7: “Williams and Walker”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “There Are Rules” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Not Well At All” – click here
Picture 1
Back at The Knickerbocker Hospital for another round of surgery and experimentation in the early 20th century.
This episode starts with Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland) and Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) pouring up liquor, again trying to hypnotize a patient into becoming sick at the thought of his former addiction. It seems to work on the man in front of them, exciting Thack to no end.
At the front desk, D.W. Garrison Carr (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) shows up saying he’s giving the go-ahead for the surgery himself, as if on a rogue mission. Feeling as if his wife is a little too involved, Algie gives Opal (Zaraah Abrahams) the tough eye.


In another part of town, Dr. Bertie Chickering Jr (Michael Angarano) is seducing Genevieve (Arielle Goldman) with a funny top hat routine, naked save for a towel. He’s charming, that Bertie. Finally in bed together, they appear a very sweet couple. Each of them are nervous, which makes it all the more gentle and beautiful. It’s nice to see two people like them in a relationship, instead of so many nasty, base relationships that happen throughout other parts of the story and its various plots.
Ping Wu (Perry Yung) is having sex with a prostitute, then says “give it to me“: Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) puts out her foot, letting him suck her toe. Then she’s back in her apartment with a new dress.
The weasel Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is skimming and being called on it by his contractor. Apparently, Herman’s indiscretions aren’t exactly quiet around town. But as is usual: people talk.


And back to Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson), whose racism knows no bounds, treating Carr like a regular animal, as I’m sure he sees him.
Thack is in his office, snorting on drugs and charting his findings. A pain in his gut prompts a swig of… turpentine? Then Everett bursts in: “Have you seen what’s in the ward?” Though John is not a racist like Gallinger, he was trying to help Algernon and feels betrayed. Giving him shit, Thack still doesn’t understand how things are for Algernon and other people of colour at that time.
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Algernon: “Its the future; you think its here too early, I think its here too late.”
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Cornelia Showalter (Juliet Rylance) is down at the docks once again, snooping around for more information. She meets with an Inspector there. Turns out, there’s a “usual deal” for the Robertson family that takes place at the end of the month. Cornelia lies her way into accepting a file full of interesting stuff. This leads into information about Inspector Speight and possible things he may have discovered, or may have caught. She further catches wind of lots that’s happening at the docks and Ellis Island.
In the operating theatre, Dr. Thackery is laying out the procedure he’ll be conducting on the conjoined twins. A bunch of nurses, Dr. Gallinger, Dr. Edwards and Dr. Chickering Jr are all in attendance. Then John announces he wants to capture the surgery with the new motion picture camera, to which Nurse Daisy Ryan (Emily Kinney) replies Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken) has one; Lucy’s eyes perk up a little at this comment, a bit of jealousy flaring possibly.
Former Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) is living with Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan), in a respectable situation for an unmarried man and woman sharing one apartment. Things seem to be going along smoothly. Then in other man-woman relations, it appears Thack is still sleeping over with Abby (Jennifer Ferrin), which hopefully will keep him grounded, as much as possible while he’s all but literally flying high.
Out in the dim light of the morning, John is off at a grave for a young girl. Surely, the one in his fever dreams so often.


Finally, we’ve come to the surgery of the conjoined sisters, Zoya and Nika (Miranda & Rebecca Gruss). Bertie and Thack start to get things prepared; the former notices something on the good doctor’s breath, though, John assures it’s only turpentine. Still, I don’t think the younger of the two is too worried. At the same time, Thackery is on edge. Back in his office he stands as if trying not to fall over. Before taking a bump to dull the edges, John calls Abby instead: “This used to be easier,” he tells her.
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Abby: “What do you need?”
John: “I need you to tell me that I can do this
Abby: “Of course you can. If I hadnt believed in you, I wouldnt even be here.”
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Down in the theatre, John explains to those watching he is hoping to help these girls out of freakdom, to help them lead a “human life” of which “fate robbed them“. With Henry filming, Thack begins to cut into their connecting tissue. Later, the theatre is full of people while Thackery runs through the motion film of the procedure. He even named a new suture after Everett: “The Gallinger Knot” based on his time with fishing knots in the Season 2 premiere. He is a true innovator, regardless of whether or not his mental state is always stable.
Cornelia is given jewelry by Mr. Hobart Showalter (Gary Simpson). They have a chat about her “running around” and their agreement, which brought her back to New York in the beginning. He knows she’s been “sneaking around like a thief in the night“. Hobart is the one who is having her tailed, as we recently saw. With Phillip (Tom Lipinski) she talks later about leaving, though, he has other plans.
At the apartment, Harriet has a few young girls over to teach them how to protect themselves. Tom shows up and I’m inclined to believe he has a bit of a thing for Harriet. We’ll see.


The big ball for The Knick is in swing, with Algernon and Opal in attendance, as well as Bertie and his new lady Genevieve, all of them looking wonderful and ready for a civilized dance, a few drinks, and so on. Others such as Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines), Philip Showalter and those types are talking money, awards, plus everything else other than medicine which truly drives the hospital.
Having their own fun at home, Tom and Harriet eat a big meal, followed by a nice cobbler. Afterwards, Tom starts talking about getting condoms for people like the young girls there earlier, the men having sex with them. Even though he wants the money, part of him also wants to see people not have to go through hardships he’s watched others go through up close and personal. He and Harriet come to an agreement with a nice spit handshake.
At the party, Lucy begins to exert a degree of control of Horny Henry. First, it starts with him fetching drinks for them both. I have a feeling she’s finding her feminine power through sexuality, and at a time like the one in which The Knick is set I can’t say I blame her; the world she’s in doesn’t look well on a woman, so she has to do whatever she can to pull ahead of the game. Meanwhile, Cornelia warns Lucy about getting her hopes up over Henry, about the family and such. Although Lucky doesn’t feel too happy about standing around listening to any of that.
And then, we see Thack show up with Abby. Everyone stares, of course. But John assures her: “Youre beautiful.” Around the party they stroll, even introducing Abby to the Edwards’ and toasting drinks.


The most shocking event of this episode comes when the titular Williams and Walker are introduced, two supposed “coons“. A minstrel show-style act follows. In the audience everyone watches on. But even Algernon and his wife don’t look too taken back. Is it mere appearance, or do they not care?
Simultaneously, we also see the dark shadow of Everett standing in the door of Carr’s hospital room as he sleeps. While people dance away in the ballroom, enjoying their night out to various degrees, chemicals are being mixed in a vial. Is it Gallinger? Medicine is being replaced in tiny bottles. Is this what I believe it to be? Certainly. Gallinger doesn’t want Carr there, and even further wants his whole race essentially exterminated, stunted, sterilized and bent from procreation. Are the switched drugs meant to kill Carr, or simply sterilize him? I believe we’ll figure it out soon, and the former might be the right answer.
On the steps outside of the ball, Captain Robertson chats with Dr. Edwards and his wife. Opal is forward and wants to know if Algie will have a permanent position at the new hospital, though, her husband is reluctant. Yet she presses. August makes it apparent the position may not be guaranteed, which does not sit well with either Algernon or Opal.


Heading home for the night, Abby and Thack talk about her nose. She loves the way he compliments her, but asks if anything else can be done about her face, to make things look better. Nevertheless, Thack says: “I like this one just fine.” It’s apparent he loves her.
The contractor Herman came up against earlier is getting a beating at the hands of Jimmy (Happy Anderson), and now obviously it leaves Barrow to keep skimming for himself and Tammany Hall.
With Carr under the knife, Dr. Edwards begins his procedure. Everett shows up claiming he’d already missed one minstrel show and wouldn’t “want to miss another“. The curare to be injected has been messed with by Gallinger, and of course Algernon goes ahead and injects it, meaning to help Carr. Continuing on, the nurse says Carr’s heart rate isn’t right. He’s stopped breathing. Thack and Everett move in to help. It’s all stacked against Edwards, with Everett pocketing the vial he tainted while no one is watching.


Embarrassed and beaten down, Algernon is forced to rethink everything he’s done to that point. It could be a devastating blow for him, his confidence, his entire career. Luckily, Opal stands by his side in such a rough time assuring “there are better days“.
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Loving the progression overall in this season, from characters to subplots to giant events intersecting with history and its various issues, problems, et cetera. Looking forward to watching/reviewing the following episode, “Not Well At All”. Stay tuned, fellow fans.

The Knick – Season 2, Episode 3: “The Best With the Best to Get the Best”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 3: “The Best With the Best to Get the Best”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the previous episode, “You’re No Rose” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Wonderful Surprises” – click here
Picture 1
After Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) and his shaky hands over Dr. Edwards’ (André Holland) eye in “You’re No Rose”, as well as his interesting rendezvous at the bar with the prostitute, this episode is bound to bring interesting things.
At the start we see Thack in his little office over an open flame. He’s procured a little heroin and cocaine from the medicine locker. He makes himself a nice powder, pops it on the webbing between his thumb and index finger, and BANG – up the nose. This happens several times until he’s obviously had his fix, feeling on the level. Eerie sequence.
Cut to Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) and others listening to a lecture at Mount Sinai from Dr. Levi Zinberg (Michael Nathanson). We get a little tidbit on what they’re calling “adrenaline“, apparently a new extract by a man from Poland. Things are very different for Bertie at the new hospital, used to the ways of The Knickerbocker Hospital. A nurse shares her thoughts with him after everyone has left, believing he hid his true feelings from Zinberg. However, she isn’t even a nurse. She’s doing a story on Zinberg for Collier’s Magazine. Is this the beginning of a new and interesting relationship for Bertram Jr?


Algernon meets with Cornelia (Juliet Rylance), who tells him about the results of the missing body after she and Cleary (Chris Sullivan) dug out the grave of Inspector Speight. There is still a fiery romance between Edwards and the new Mrs. Showalter. Algie says not now, but all she asks is: “When?”
Dr. Gallinger (Eric Johnson) brings his wife Eleanor (Maya Kazan) home, her new teeth in tact. Thankfully, as her face in the first episode of this season was looking like something out of a Tim Burton film. Everett and Eleanor’s sister Dorothy (Annabelle Attanasio) have a chat, about the unsuitable nature of Eleanor, now with her appearance on top of everything else, her status as a “baby killer and a madwoman“.
Back at the hospital, Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken) chats up Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) about her excellent bedside manner. But Henry’s also more interested in a relationship with her. She asks about whether or not he’s a good Christian man, and so on. He isn’t, and she tells him he should “most definitely give up the chase“.


Thack gets a call about a dead girl, one he hopes to use for research; her body, that is. She’s been whoring herself out for a fix, sadly. The good doctor gives his “heartfelt sympathies” and assures them he’s trying to save “girls like her“. He wants to find a cure for addiction, to root out the problem. Regardless if it’s a selfish venture at the core, Thackery is trying his best to do something modern.
Cleary is still busy trying to help Harriet (Cara Seymour). The attorney has taken her case on, but stresses Cleary needs to start coming up with more cash, or else he’s through. The court session commences, as her attorney tries his best against a judge whose prejudice is very clear off the top against a woman he considers a killer. Impartial? I think not. In the gallery, Cleary worries more and more with every passing moment.
Dorothy and Everett are trying to get Eleanor back to looking how she did once. The poor woman tells Everett she just wants everything to be right, for him. Although, Everett does seem to still be in love with her. Most of the tension here comes from Dorothy, who worries constantly about how her sister will be received back home.
Meanwhile, Everett heads down into a reunion party filled with pompous, egotistical high class dummies. Naturally they ask about Eleanor who he says is off “visiting family on Long Island“. Over top of everything, Everett hears a man talking boldly about other races, those dangerous to the white-bred upper crust of New York. And so our episode’s title “The Best with the Best to Get the Best” comes out of their talk about eugenics, the go-to ‘science’ of right-wing nutjobs for the last couple centuries.


At the church of A.D. Elkins (Stephen Spinella), the holy ghost is present. He receives the open airing of sins from a man in his congregation, putting a hand to the man’s chest and comforting him. At the same time, Lucy is right there, looking up as if right to God. Most likely thinking of her own sins. Soon enough, she stands to tell them all: “I have a heavy heart. The heart of a sinner.” Her father talks of Satan infecting people, the cure-all, of course, is confession.
Across town at Huber’s Palace Museum, Bertie and the woman from Collier’s – Genevieve (Arielle Goldman) – have a night out together. He tells her of his admiration of her articles. Though, he expresses that “psychiatry is a new field and all things look worse at the beginning“, not wanting everyone to see medicine only in one way, or in a negative sense. Genevieve really wants to do a positive story about medicine. Perhaps this may help Bertie in the long run. Maybe their relationship could bring him a little recognition. Or maybe something else, we’ll see. For now, they talk about her Jewish identity. She hides it, of course, with a name that means “whatever you want her to be“. Bertie is, luckily, a very good man and I don’t think he has any prejudices about race whatsoever, having worked wonderfully with Algernon already at The Knick.
In the bedroom, Cornelia and Phillip (Tom Lipinski) have a rare husband-wife moment, which he makes a remark about in passing. They do have romance, but only a physical one. “That wasnt so bad, was it?” says Philip after they make love. Even if Cornelia seems into it, there’s still the fact of her passion for Algernon; it’s clear when they’re together something steamy happens. Phillip and Cornelia talk about Harriet – the latter thinks she’s a murderer, a child killer, and resents the fact his wife semi-suggests they ought to fund her need for an attorney, the high-class one currently representing her. It’s obvious Phillip is not happy.
An excellent score, as usual, leads Thack into a crowd of people looking for his favourite prostitute. Out in an alley, they bump his cocaine-heroin mixture and fly high together, before a bit of the ole in-and-out. Almost like she is his muse, in a twisted sense. Thack blinks, and then he’s at the door of Abby. She seems in decent shape, if a little rough at the edges.
A.D. is counting his coins. Lucy tells him she feels better after confessing the sin in her heart, that she felt “forgiveness wash over” her. Only her father doesn’t look impressed with her. He is disgusted by her and says what she told him was “the most disgusting sewage” he ever heard. The holy man then beats his daughter, verbally abusing her. After that he gives her the strap, as she bends over in pain. A disgusting hypocrite of a man.


Chickering is trying his best to fit in at Sinai. He and another doctor are testing vaccines on animals; first it’s very simple, only to “cure the sniffles“. They of course talk about Genevieve a little. But Bertie sticks to medicine, giving suggestions and chatting about possibilities, though he tasks suggestions himself.
Likewise, Henry Robertson is trying to break out and do things on his own. Out of the shadow of his father. Henry doesn’t wish to stay “blindly adrift in the 19th century” like his father, and opts for a more interesting future.
Over at The Knick, a surgery led by Dr. Edwards sees Dr. Gallinger back in on operations again. He seems more full of disdain for Edwards with each time they’re together, certainly not helping are the racists he met at the reunion pumping his brain full of eugenics-based thought. Afterwards, the two doctors wash up. Then out of nowhere, Thackery comes for Algernon needing help. Everett is hurt wondering: “Why do you always choose Edwards over me?” He feels Thack owes him for “saving” him. Yet Thackery is more into working with the races now, unlike Gallinger it seems.
In his small office, Thack lays out his ideas on syphilis and temperature, how the disease can be essentially baked away. What I love about this moment is that we see sometimes how certain ideas in medicine are born out of very indifferent situations; John was writing under his lamps one night, and while sweating profusely he also noticed the syphilis culture died in the heat. Amazing writing and I just love that about The Knick. We get little doses of history and moments like this concerning medicine, which makes each episode that much more rich.


Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is trying his hardest to fleece the construction of the new Knick for every dollar possible. The contract is weary, wanting to talk with the board about everything. However, Herman does his best to make sure there’s no communication. Because he is up to his tricks, siphoning off every penny he can. Before leaving the construction site, Jimmy (Happy Anderson) shows up out of nowhere; Herman thought he was dead and in the ground. Tammany Hall wants to see Barrow, and Jimmy tells him it’s now “Mr. James Fester” because he’s “formal now“. Awesome little scene. Watching Herman scared is great because he is a weasel.
In a brief scene, Cornelia leaves a note for Algernon saying she’ll call when she’s free, then they can get together.
More of the weasel in Herman comes out at the whorehouse, where he gets passed over by a prostitute several times. He’s upset that his lady love prostitute under new management hasn’t had enough time for him. Barrow slowly slips further down the hole, with money, with women and prostitutes, with skimming off the top. Is he ever going to get on the level, or out from under the thumb crushing him? Doubtful.


Cleary managed to grease some drugs out of the medicine locker at The Knick. He’s shooting one of his fighters full of it. Except after he surges in the ring a little, the wrestler goes limp, dying right there on the spot.
Immediately we cut to a pig in a cage, lying limp like the fighter. Algernon extracts a thermometer from it. He and Thack are doing more syphilitic studies. They want to see how a raging fever affects the syphilis. Up shows Cleary with a young girl’s corpse, and Thack is off to the races.
In his office, Algernon receives a call. Not the one we thought he’d be getting, though. He runs off quickly to find Opal Edwards (Zaraah Abrahams) at his home – his wife. What? Now, this makes things quite a bit different with both he and Cornelia married, attached, and having the fling of a lifetime together, or hoping to.
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Look forward to the next episode, “Wonderful Surprises”. It will certainly get interesting, more and more, from here on in.

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!

The Knick – Season 2, Episode 1: “Ten Knots”

Cinemax’s The Knick
Season 2, Episode 1:
 “Ten Knots”
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Jack Amiel & Michael Begler

* For a review of the next episode, “You’re No Rose” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.30.53 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.30.58 PMI’ve only just now decided to start reviews for The Knick‘s second season. Being a huge fan of the first, I thought it’d be fun to get in on the action.
So, after the wild events of the first season in New York – in particular the gutpunch of the final episode as Dr. John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) finds himself being weened off one drug, only to be weened onto the dreaded heroin – Season 2’s opener “Ten Knots” begins with a nice fade in on ole Thack’s eyes; fitting shot to start. But first it’s a blurry image turning into a little girl… then the watery eyes of Thackery emerge.
Then we’re back with Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson). She’s dictating a letter in narration to Thackery. Apparently Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour) is “bearing up” according to her while Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is still kicking about, naturally, as well as young Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) and the steadfast Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland). They’re all getting by best they can. Though, Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) hasn’t returned as of yet, even with his suspension lifted.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.32.15 PMMost interesting, as usual, is Dr. Thackery. In a tiny room he works on a woman’s nose. Very gruesome little bit, not to mention Thack looks like something ragged and worn out. Worse, it appears he’s working for vials of drugs. Sad state of affairs.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.32.27 PMAnother suffering soul, Sister Harriet gets a visit in jail from her Mother Superior (Maryann Plunkett). Mother asks Harriet if the charges against her are true, to which the latter does admit clearly. It’s a sad scene once again, as even the non-religious (like myself) will feel bad for Harriet; she only wanted to do the right thing and help women in need, but this of course turned her against her faith in confrontation. Mother Superior pretty much rubs salt in the wound.
Another actually gruesome scene – at the home of Dr. Gallinger, his wife Eleanor (Maya Kazan) is helping to size up her sister Dorothy (Annabelle Attanasio) for some new teeth… teeth which came out of her own face. Eleanor has a grim smile now with sharp and stumpy gums in her mouth. What an image.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.33.11 PMDr. Edwards has a problem with the retina in his left eye. This is obviously troubling regarding Algernon’s abilities as a surgeon, difficulties with his vision would mean even worse things for his career. At the same time, Edwards hopes to become the permanent chief surgeon at The Knickerbocker Hospital while Thack is not around. What I love is that Edwards works well with those who wish to give him a chance. For instance, his relationship with the youthful Dr. Chickering seems pretty great; he gives Bertie the chance to have a hand at doing a surgery, encouraging him not to simply watch and rather get his hands on the work himself.
Only problem is, as always, Edwards is constantly the underdog to everyone at the top – simply because he’s African-American. Foolish nonsense, though, we are at the dawn of the 20th century in this series. Hindsight is twenty-twenty.
But the scene where Dr. Edwards is being completely dismissed by the hospital’s board was downright brutish! Wonderfully acted and written scene. Still nasty, though. He’s clearly an amazing doctor, we as more modern men and women can see this, yet those racist old white men just can’t get it through their heads.
One of my favourite moments in this Season 2 opener is near the end when Dr. Edwards is let in on the photo-op for The Knickerbocker, to the dismay of a few old white men. Such a classic moment! Loved the look on all the faces of the others involved in the photo, actually made me laugh aloud. Also fist pumped a little for Algie, he’s fucking classy.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.33.25 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.33.32 PMWe watch Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) still continually trying to do good in the world – she carts a load of green vegetables into an obviously poor neighbourhood, Chinatown, and finds herself overrun with people trying to get their hands on a bit of food; pretty dire, no?
Inspecter Jacob Speight (David Fierro) is still kicking around the hospital, up in Barrow’s office, investigating patients records. Certainly we’ll see more about the outbreak of plague, the dirty Black Death, more and more as the episodes get going this season.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.34.23 PMDr. Gallinger heads over to Cromartie Hospital where Thack, under the name Dr. Crutchfield, is wasting away. Turns out Thackery doesn’t want to leave, he’d rather not go back to The Knick. The drugs have taken hold and I doubt they’ll ever let go. He actually tries to convince Everett to infiltrate one of the doctors offices in order to get some cocaine and other drugs for him – a true addict, through and through. Naturally, Gallinger is only there to try and bring Thackery back to the hospital so Dr. Edwards can’t become chief of surgery; therefore Everett could gladly go back and work under him. It’s amazing Everett is willing to work under a drug-adled headcase like Thackery and not Edwards, all because of race. This whole hypocrisy really shows off the idiocy of racists.
Then in a scene later, Thack wakes tied at the wrists. He’s in the belly of a small sailboat, which is headed out on the ocean. Is Dr. Gallinger going to try detoxing Thack?
Way out on the Atlantic, Gallinger tells Thackery about his plans saying he’s going to “fix the mess” Thack drummed up. Only two options Everett says: “Either get well, or jump off.” Everett also gives Thack some rope to tie, saying he’ll know the naughty doctor is back in control if he can tie the ten knots on a wall chart nearby. I thought this was a great touch.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.34.36 PMTom Cleary (Chris Sullivan) shows up down at the jail where he sits with Sister Harriet. He gives a sort-of-apology. Funny, though, how Harriet shows off her sense of humour in the face of so-called justice. She jokes around with Cleary quite a bit here, and even Cleary acts the serious part of the pair. He’s worried about her, clearly. Even with the weak apology (that wasn’t even really an apology), you can tell Tom wants to help Harriet and plans on doing just that. Can’t wait to see how their subplot plays out because I like these two characters, ever since the beginning of the first season. Even further, both Sullivan and Seymour are great actors playing off one another.
Over in Chinatown, Barrow is meeting with Ping Wu (Perry Yung). Wu is negotiating terms with ole Herman – he needs his women, the prostitutes, to be clean. Barrow’s hoping to whittle down his debt from Season 1 by providing discount services for Wu’s stable of ladies; $2 reduction with each service. The money man at The Knickerbocker is no better than a gangster when it comes down to it.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.34.56 PMSo happy the continuity of the aesthetic in The Knick overall is being preserved. With Soderbergh as D.P and Cliff Martinez still rocking out his unique, beautiful score in every episode, there’s no way to deny the power of so many scenes. There’s one sequence which begins with an old school boxing match – in a padded ring with no ropes and a big Masonic-like eye/pyramid on it (similar to the American dollar bill) –  then leads back out to the boat with Thack/Gallinger… such an amazing piece of filmmaking. Soderbergh gives the grim plot such a distinctive look and feel with his camerawork, on top of that there’s a relentlessly percussive score happening which almost keeps you in a frenzy for the two or three solid minutes of the entire sequence. It does not get any better. More and more of this as the episode heads to a close in the last 20 minutes, proving why this Cinemax series is one of the best to ever grace television. Period.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.35.20 PMWhen the episode’s finale comes, Thack has managed to tie the ten knots for Gallinger. However, at the edge of the boat he sees a sickly looking girl – the one from the beginning of the episode – and starts at her with his wide, bloodshot eyes. It’s clear he is not at all back in full control, nor should we have ever thought so – Everett may be too gullible compared to the addiction that rages inside Thack.
Could the girl be Thack’s daughter, one who may have died? There’s a pain inside him he tries to drown in drugs. Take a look at the girl’s eyes – they look very much similar to those bulging out of Thack. Either way, we’ll figure out more about the force driving him towards drugging himself into a stupor, this season will bring us more characterization. Owen does a fantastic job with the role and I’m always itching for more after an episode finishes.
Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.36.17 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.36.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.36.30 PMCan’t wait for the second episode. This is one of my favourite series’ ever, plus it’s one of the best on television right now. Stay tuned for my review of the next episode, “You’re No Rose”, coming again this Friday, October 23rd. Cheers!