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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 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 4, "Where’s the Dignity?"

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

Cinemax

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

Throughout The Knick’s first three episodes, the majority of its individual plot components have been progressing at a pretty steroidal clip. This is the first wherein director Steven Soderbergh and writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler truly manage to let the hospital’s staff members come and go on their own time, passing one another in the Knick’s hallways for reasons that aren’t always determined by plot exposition. Not once is Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) seen shooting up his signature liquid cocaine concoction, nor do we see Dr. Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland) in his makeshift underground emergency clinic. The point isn’t that these activities are over; they’re just being allowed, for the first time, to happen off screen. Instead of having more piled onto the Jenga-like plot trajectories of the past two episodes, the central characters appear between crises, interacting with one another like real co-workers in a way that feels, ever-appropriate to this show’s founding intent, novelistic. “Where’s the Dignity?” doesn’t lack for drama or tension; it’s just much better stacked than its predecessors.

The Knick Recap Season 1, Episode 3, "The Busy Flea"

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

Cinemax

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

The Knick remains one hell of a panoramic contraption, and Clive Owen’s starring turn as Dr. John Thackery is one of the show’s major draws. “The Busy Flea” opens ice-cold with a jarringly long scene wherein Thackery is confronted by a former lover, Mrs. Alford (Jennifer Ferrin), who arrives at the hospital insistent on seeing him without an appointment. Framed in cold blue daylight, the absent-minded nurse at the front desk responds more with a stinging awkwardness than revulsion: Her eyes hidden behind sunglasses, Mrs. Alford’s nose has been replaced by a prosthetic. Within minutes she’s managed to talk her way into Thackery’s office, broken him down in the way only a former lover knows how, called him out for shunning their past in conversation, and insisted that he’s the only one qualified to operate on her ravaged, empty nasal bridge. Instead of shrugging her off, Thackery meets her condition with a hardened, dispassionate stare, signaling to her that he’s not kidding around—and signaling to us how deep he’s sunk into his own isolation. It’s official: This is the episode that verifies he’s going to be The Knick’s Don Draper.