The third episode of The Knick’s second season, “The Best with the Best to Get the Best,” immediately snubs out whatever mystery was engendered by the finish of its predecessor, “You’re No Rose,” showing Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) up late at night in one of the hospital’s offices, cooking up a sniffable hybrid of heroin and cocaine. He’s fallen back off the wagon, and hard.
The episode’s first dialogue scene finds Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) establishing himself at Mount Sinai Hospital, under the tutelage of sharp-elbowed surgeon Levi Zinberg (Michael Nathanson), the indirect recipient of Thackery’s drug-fuelled bigotry toward the end of the first season. (Just as an episode late in the last season hinged on Thackery’s bleary-eyed assessment of Zinberg, the camera remains at a distant remove from the Jewish doctor, playing up his much-commented-upon intensity while betraying as little about his inner workings as possible.) Chickering is entering into a situation drastically different from the Knickerbocker (or so Zinberg would want us to believe, anyway); there are three scheduled staff meetings per day, and he’ll have to earn the trust of his colleagues before being setting foot in the surgical theater. Chickering also meets a comely journalist named Genevieve Everidge (Arielle Goldman), embedded at Sinai to work on a story about Zinberg for Collier’s. She toys with him, faking indignation at his assumption she’s his secretary, only to ask him out on a date.