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The Knick Recap Season 2, Episode 10, "This Is All We Are"

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The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 10, “This Is All We Are”

CInemax

The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 10, “This Is All We Are”

“The time to invest is when there’s blood running in the streets,” said young tycoon Henry Robertson (Charles Aitken), quoting Baron Rothschild in “Whiplash,” episode five of the second season of The Knick. In the season finale, “This Is All We Are,” the chickens of the Robertsons’ gilded-era capitalism come to roost in as many configurations as are possible.

Following the fiery death of Captain August Robertson at the end of the last episode, Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) appears ready to finally accept the socialite-housewife role expected of her—until her husband, Philip (Tom Lipinski), casually mentions that Henry has been supervising the family’s port business for years, meaning he ordered the murder of Cornelia’s colleague, Health Department Inspector Speight. It also means it was Henry who torched the new Knickerbocker Hospital in the last episode, resulting in their father’s death. That he, and not the captain himself, was responsible makes a hell of a lot more sense, but the same cannot be said for Cornelia’s years-long lack of awareness of her brother’s position within the family business.

The Knick Recap Season 2, Episode 9, "Do You Remember Moon Flower?"

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

Paul Schiraldi

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

Tonight’s episode of The Knick, “Do You Remember Moon Flower?,” is bookended in flashbacks to Nicaragua, six years before the series takes place, that finally reveal the meeting of Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) and the Knickerbocker hospital’s benefactor, shipping magnate Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines). Director Steven Soderbergh wastes no time establishing the stakes: Thackery arrives at an encampment where people are suffering from smallpox, having been called in under the impression he would be treating yellow fever. He encounters the captain handcuffed to a post, held hostage by the Nicaraguans after his form of compensation—“trinkets and blankets”—apparently started the outbreak.

The Knick Recap Season 2, Episode 8, "Not Well at All"

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The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Not Well at All”

Paul Schiraldi

The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Not Well at All”

If there’s merit in the idea of pretending each season of The Knick is one 10-hour-long movie, “Not Well at All” more than matches the position staked by the first season’s eighth episode: a headlong plunge into bleakness that abridges and re-contextualizes earlier breakthrough moments—not that things were looking especially up in this season’s previous go-rounds. Three of the show’s main characters—Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson), and heiress/socialite Cornelia Showalter (Juliet Rylance)—are thrown existential curveballs that render their respective ethics systems powerless. Meanwhile, the Knickerbocker’s administrative head, Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb), manages to move apartments and purchase the freedom of his girlfriend, a young sex worker named Junia (Rachel Korine). While it’d be impossible to watch five minutes of The Knick without noticing the show’s (sometimes too-harmonized) juxtapositions of class structure, this episode sees its characters ground up especially in the gears of their own patriarchal systems.

The Knick Recap Season 2, Episode 5, "Whiplash"

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

Mary Cybulski

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

Anyone who had an allergic reaction to the hokey old-flame subplot between Abigail Alford (Jennifer Ferrin) and John Thackery (Clive Owen) in The Knick’s first season will be let down by the opener of “Whiplash,” which offers yet another meandering push-and-pull conversation between them, this time about how much care Abigail needs in recovering from her syphilis treatment. For Thackery, there’s no such thing as too much. But after a wordless encounter between him and Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson), who’s appointed by the hospital to check him for needle marks, the episode opens in earnest, with one of those scenes that make The Knick pretty much unlike any other TV series right now.

The Knick Recap Season 2, Episode 4, "Wonderful Surprises"

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The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 4, “Wonderful Surprises”

Mary Cybulski

The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 4, “Wonderful Surprises”

“Wonderful Surprises” is so over-stacked with incident as to make each scene work purely as exposition. The episode allows for a number of one-on-ones between characters, which director Steven Soderbergh successfully plays out in longer, more fluid takes. The first of these opens the episode immediately where “The Best with the Best to Get the Best” left off, with Dr. Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland) escorting his wife, Opal (Zaraah Abrahams), into what will be her new apartment, wherein she promptly goes about grilling him about his heretofore personal life. He confesses that he’s “met” somebody, by which he means Cornelia Showalter, with whom he grew up, but this disclosure has the curious effect of downgrading the intensity of Opal’s initial appearance on the scene. (Later we see them hanging out at a Harlem nightclub, and despite himself, Edwards looks to be having the best time he’s had on screen since mid-first season, maybe ever.)

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

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

Mary Cybulski

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

The throbbing, syncopated tick-tock of Cliff Martinez’s electronic score is the sole intentional anachronism of The Knick, and it’s against it that the show’s latest episode opens. A pair of dirt-encrusted young men find a bloated, blue-pinkish corpse floating in the East River and pull it to land, only to roll it over, revealing the body as none other than New York City Health Department inspector Francis Speight (David Fierro). Speight’s brief appearance in the previous episode, “Ten Knots,” saw him discovering a potential bubonic plague outbreak on a steamship, via the dead bodies of two immigrant stowaways, all but invited to his own murder by the owner of the boat’s shipping company.

The Knick Recap Season 1, Episode 10, "Crutchfield"

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The Knick Recap: Season 1, Episode 10, “Crutchfield”

Cinemax

The Knick Recap: Season 1, Episode 10, “Crutchfield”

As immersive as it is overstuffed, The Knick’s season finale opens on the anxious face of the hospital’s secretly pregnant benefactor, Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance), just days away from marrying her fiancée, Philip. In the dark of night, the Knick’s ambulance driver, Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan), pulls up on his carriage, and Roberston is astonished that he’s the one with whom she made arrangements for her abortion: “You?” Cleary sighs and responds, “You know, it’d be nice if just once in my life, a lady wasn’t disappointed to see me. Climb in the back.” He takes her to an enclosed apartment where the Knick’s resident nun, Sister Harriet (Cara Seymour), is waiting for her in medical scrubs; the two women embrace with a sad tenderness, each one acknowledging the unspoken burden that had been weighing the other down all this time. Robertson tells Harriet, “You could have told me, you know,” to which Harriet responds in kind, followed by the lingering thought, “But we both couldn’t, could we?”

The Knick Recap Season 1, Episode 8, "Working Late a Lot"

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The Knick Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Working Late a Lot”

Cinemax

The Knick Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Working Late a Lot”

It’s only logical that The Knick begins to deconstruct its mystical antihero, Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen), following the twinned breakthroughs of last week’s much-ballyhooed “Get the Rope,” wherein Thackery both atoned for his prior racism and finally hooked up with the taciturn Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson). Their coupling is the very first scene of “Working Late a Lot,” given passion and ferocity, but also seen at a slight remove from director Steven Soderbergh’s camera. Thackery gently coos into Lucy’s ear about how God doesn’t exist, a thought that scares her even as it gives her pause. Soderbergh shoots them together with cramped, candlelit close-ups in an otherwise pitch-black room, kept warm apparently by nothing more than the bed sheets and each other. Throughout the episode, it’s hard to avoid thinking about the risk of pregnancy; it’s kept unclear whether they’re using a condom or not. He’s unfailingly strung out on cocaine while she’s, it’s implied, pining after a more serious commitment. Albeit seven episodes in the making, their getting together can’t help but appear cast in something of a grim pall; months have passed since the last episode, and suddenly it’s winter.

The Knick Recap Season 1, Episode 6, "Start Calling Me Dad"

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

Cinemax

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

Like its preceding episode, “Start Calling Me Dad” starts with a phone call in the dead of night, this time in the household of Dr. Bertram “Bertie” Chickering (Michael Angaro), whose buttoned-down father picks up the receiver. It’s Thackery (Clive Owen), and he summons Chickering to the Knick for “experiments.” When the flustered young physician finally makes it to the hospital, he finds his boss strung out on drugs, workshopping, with a pair of comely Chinese sex workers (Ying Ying Li and Pei Pei Lin) from his opium den of choice, alternative approaches to the doomed placenta praevia operation that’s haunted The Knick’s first season. As his work-bender winds down, Thackery commissions Chickering’s help in testing a new invention: a type of uterus-pump-sheath that pressures the womb from the inside, allowing pregnant patients to die slower, and the doctors more time to save the prospective baby’s life.

The Knick Recap Season 1, Episode 5, "They Capture the Heat"

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

Cinemax

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

The Knickerbocker Hospital’s putative mission to help New York City’s neediest gets its most interesting stress test yet in “They Capture the Heat.” An earlier episode of The Knick showed hospital administrator Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) getting his teeth plied out by his loan shark, Bunkie (Danny Hoch); now, one of Bunkie’s lieutenants may need his leg amputated in the dead of the night, putting his boss in Barrow’s debt for once. After seeing Dr. Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland) scrub in for surgery, Bunkie tells Barrow, “That black bastard better not get too familiar with my man if he don’t wanna find himself hanging from a lamppost,” and both Algernon and Thackery narrow their eyes in unspoken disgust—a flicker of solidarity between the two men never before seen in the hospital’s surgical theater. It’s a collision of two of the show’s up-to-now isolated environs, and even Clive Owen’s haggard, seen-it-all drug addict Dr. Thackery manages to be appalled by the stench surrounding Bunkie. It’s been a pleasure watching Steven Soderbergh stress Thackery and Algernon’s unspoken shifts in opinion of one another, and “They Capture the Heat” skirts it on the margins.