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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 7, "Williams and Walker"

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

Paul Schiraldi

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

“Williams and Walker” is another display of spectacular ingenuity from The Knick director Steven Soderbergh and writers Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, wherein the show’s customarily airtight cross-cutting between narratives begins to spell clear doom for the empire of hospital benefactor Captain August Robertson (Grainger Hines). But first, the episode features a solid three minutes of pre-coital—pre-foreplay, even—kidding around between Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) and his new girlfriend, Genevieve Everidge (Arielle Goldman). Unsurprisingly, Soderbergh’s masterful timing is what makes the scene work—which is to say, what makes it uncomfortable: The occasion wracks both Bertie and Genevieve with nervous energy, and the camera refuses to flinch as they laugh their way through one awkward false start after another. It’s a surprisingly warm moment given the death of Bertie’s mother in the previous episode, with little-to-no foreboding attached—a rarity among The Knick’s more intimate moments.

The Knick Recap Season 2, Episode 6, "There Are Rules"

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The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “There Are Rules”

Paul Schiraldi

The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “There Are Rules”

Even if the at-times unbelievable density of The Knick’s second season has felt thus far like no accident, it’s a welcome change to see Steven Soderbergh digging his directorial heels deeper into fewer subplots in this week’s “There Are Rules.” For the most part, the episode bounces back and forth between two narrative through lines: Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) investigating the possible medical benefits of hypnosis, only to become obsessed with a pair of conjoined Belarusian twins (Miranda and Rebecca Gruss), and Dr. Bertie Chickering (Michael Angarano) performing an after-hours, radiotherapy-assisted operation on his dying mother (Linda Emond) at Mount Sinai Hospital.

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 3, "The Best with the Best to Get the Best"

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The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 3, “The Best with the Best to Get the Best”

Cinemax

The Knick Recap: Season 2, Episode 3, “The Best with the Best to Get the Best”

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.

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).