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Jeremy Bobb (#110 of 11)

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 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 2, Episode 1, “Ten Knots”

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

Mary Cybulski

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

Steven Soderbergh’s period epic The Knick remains a smorgasbord of scrupulous period detail, as the second season’s all-business opener, “Ten Knots,” picks up exactly where last season’s beyond-bleak conclusion left off. Disappointingly, the naturalism and economy of Soderbergh’s approach continues to run contrary to the dramatic straits navigated by the show’s writers, Jack Amiel and Michael Begler. The eponymous New York City hospital has relocated uptown, relatively painlessly, and in keeping with the show’s pointedly unromantic vista on early-20th-century history, it continues to turn a profit, having severely curtailed its social-justice mission under the corrupt reign of administrator Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb).

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 9, "The Golden Lotus"

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The Knick Recap: Season 1, Episode 9, “The Golden Lotus”

Cinemax

The Knick Recap: Season 1, Episode 9, “The Golden Lotus”

Director Steven Soderbergh’s gift for unfussily blocking The Knick’s scenes is made awesomely apparent in the opening of “The Golden Lotus,” wherein Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen)—deep in the throes of his ongoing, beyond-gnarly cocaine withdrawal—breaks into a Greenwich Village pharmacy in the dead of night. After busting a glass cupboard to retrieve the drugs, he crouches into a shadowed patch of floor space to shoot up, only looking upward as policemen shine their light through the front door. Thinking he still has enough time to make a quick exit, he bolts for the other passageway, only to open the door and find a cadre of New York’s finest beaming their lights directly into his face. In the space of mere seconds, Soderbergh’s camera has followed Owen from entrance to exit, and the intuition of the scene transitions the audience’s sympathies from Thackery back to the world at large, while casting one hell of a pall over the rest of the episode.

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.

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.