The Knick: Season 1 (Episodes 6-10)

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you have not yet seen or don’t want to know details from the Cinemax series The Knick.  

Episode 6

Whoa, the health inspector says they are looking for “Typhoid Mary!”  She is a cook that has (unfortunately) come into contact w/ many people in the city.   After that scene, Cornelia and Algernon have a nice chat (they were tight- growing up in the same household.)  Hmmm… I wonder if this is just a brother-sister vibe?  I doubt it, seeing a few of the S2 promos.

Awww, Lilian died!  Dr. G tried to save her, but couldn’t. How will this affect him and his wife?

Bertie and Elkins are out on a date, strolling arm in arm, and chatting. They are having a good time.  Both express their admiration for Dr. T.  Elkins says that being close to such work as “intoxicating.” 

Barrow is amazed by the x-ray machine; he says the x-ray is “like looking into his soul” (LOL- bet it’s a pretty dirty one)!

Dr. G’s wife won’t accept that their baby is dead.  Harriet offers a solution- maybe she can take care of the baby girl that was recently left at the doorstep of her orphanage. It could ease some “melancholia” (depression). 

Dr. T and Bertie perform (successfully, this time) the surgery that Dr. Christensen had tried so many times.  Dr. T gives part of the credit to Bertie; the young man is VERY happy/proud. 

Later that night, Dr. T discovers the secret clinic that Dr. E has created.  He is pissed off, but then he sees the advancement that Dr. E came up w/ re: hernias.  (The “colored folks” hold jobs that cause hernias a LOT, Dr. E adds.)  “This is good… This is more than good,” Dr. T comments w/ admiration.

Typhoid Mary was found and captured, thanks in part to Cornelia.  She is congratulated by her father, fiance, and even his father.  Ewww, what was up w/ that (super-creepy) scene w/ Cornelia and her soon-to-be father-in-law!?  Is she going to be in danger if she joins that family?  She better break off that engagement!  I thought that something horrible was going to happen!

Episode 7

A mob attacks the hospital after the death of a policeman who was trying to break up a street fight between a black man and a white man (he had insulted the black man’s lady by assuming she was a pro).  A few of the staff has to move out the Negro patients- fast.  While they’re downstairs, they (of course) pass through Dr. E’s clinic.  Cornelia is VERY impressed; Barrow is astonished/angry.  Dr. E says he purchased most of the equipment- didn’t steal.  Dr. T says he stole the obstetric equipment (we know he and Bertie experimented on the Chinese pros in the previous ep). 

When they come to the Negro hospital in “Little Africa,” there is a doctor there, Moses, attended Harvard (like Dr. E)  Cornelia helps out- she’s no shrinking violet (and she even brings up a funny childhood moment she shared w/ Dr. E.) 

Later that night, Cornelia and Algernon go back to check on the damage at The Knick.  They’re surprised to find that the secret clinic is intact.  Cornelia compliments him on ALL he’s accomplished.  Then she admits that she was SO scared for him.  They share a long, passionate kiss (whoa, BIT of a surprise there)!  Then he bends her over one of the examining tables.  I’m going to say that those two have been IN LOVE for a LONG time! 

Dr. T walks Nurse Elkins home, she invites him in, then even into her room.  Her roommate is not home this night.  She asks for help to take off her uniform (was NOT surprised by her boldness there).  They spend the night together.

Episode 8

We see John’s bedroom- he and Lucy Elkins lying in bed; she feels guilty about sleeping w/ him (w/o marriage).  He tells her that here and now is all there is.  We learn that his father was devout, but also a drunk and mean.  If she wants to be w/ him, then that’s all that matters.

“We need cocaine to exist!”  Dr. T tells Bertie while he’s trying to ask Elkins out on another date (LOL- that young’un doesn’t realize that she’s NOT interested anymore!)  Cocaine is not available- the VERY little out there has already been claimed. 

We learn that Drs. T and E have published a paper together which will be presented at the Metropolitan Surgical Society.  (Of course, Dr. E can’t go.)  Dr. T notices that there is something different about Dr. E (that’s love, we know). 

Before the presentation, Dr. T injects himself w/ cocaine.  A Jewish doctor presents after Dr. T- he is impressed w/ this man’s work. (We know that the Jews have a separate hospital.)  Bertie’s father is at this event (ugh, what a jerk)!  He says that his son “worships” Dr. T, but he wants a different life for Bertie.  Dr. T says he has invested a LOT into Bertie, and that he has “talent.”  (That’s good to hear!)

Dr. G’s wife is freaked out when he and Harriet bring the new baby girl over, understandably.  Dr. G eventually calms her, explaining that this child needs them.  (Awww, he cares so much already!)

Cornelia heads off to the hotel where Dr. G lives; she insists that Jesse go home (b/c she’ll be working late).  At the hotel, they joke a bit, then Algernon seriously: “Aren’t you scared about what we’re doing?”  She’s only scared that “I won’t be able to stop.”  (Yowza, it’s gotten hot!  But I’m kinda scared for them.)

During a consultation, Dr. T gets mad when asked if he’s OK by Dr. E.  Seems like MANY people have been asking him that lately. 

Barrow continues asking around for money, going to a bigwig, then to the head of an Orthodox church. 

Poor Bertie-  he tells his father he’s in love w/ a nurse at his job!  His father, who suggests he work w/ that talented Jewish doctor from the seminar, seems happy about that.  (Isn’t that how it goes sometimes though?  The guy that is seen as suitable to marry isn’t the one that a gal wants in her heart!)

We see Typhoid Mary being questioned in court in 2 separate scenes.  She may not have symptoms, but still have the disease; Bertie tries to explain this to the judge, but he lets Mary out of prison.  The inspector, Cornelia, and Bertie are greatly disappointed. 

Dr. T has to leave the operating room- he doesn’t look well.  (Uh oh, that’s NOT a good sign!)  Elkins tries to go after him, but is needed to bring supplies.  (I think that gal is going to get her heart broken, sooner or later.) 

At Woo’s, Dr. T asks for 3 bowls of opium (that’s a LOT apparently).  Woo is also indebted to him, we learn.  In his sleep, Dr. T dreams of the moment when he discovered Jules dead.  But the weird thing- he sees himself through Jules’ eyes!  (Is HE getting close to death?  Yikes!)

Episode 9

Dr. T breaks into a pharmacy… and gets caught!  Barrow and Capt. Robertson come to talk to the police, then give bribes to get the tall, dark, and destructive man out. Whoa, the financier knew about Dr. T’s addiction all along!  Barrow suspected it, but didn’t want to believe such a thing. 

Lucy comes to Dr. T’s house, worried and wanting to help. He’s going through withdrawal- acting paranoid and feeling that there are bedbugs on his skin.  And we already know re: his energy and hallucinations.

Dr. T is in the papers- even Collier knows what’s going on!  He offers to get some coke (or any other drug); Barrow can’t believe his ears. 

Back at the hospital, some of the staff are talking re: Dr. T’s arrest and addiction.  Dr. E says that he showed ALL the signs.

Whoa, Cornelia is pregnant! Algernon kisses her and says that he wants to keep the child.  She says that she would, too (but he’s a colored man, he finishes). We can tell that he’s VERY disappointed/upset. She asks if there is any other way, but he tells her that surgery is the only option. 

Lucy goes to see Woo and asks about getting cocaine.  (This gal is in deep now!)  He propositions her after complimenting her “dainty” foot.  Eww!

Harriet is upset b/c Grace is now also dead, like Lilian.  She wonders how Everett will cope.  Cornelia mentions faith, but the nun says “faith isn’t always a comfort.”  (Yes, religious folk can have doubts, too!)  

Lucy lies to John, saying that she got coke by selling her bike (she didn’t).  She also sneaked into the Jewish hospital (called “German Hospital”) and stole more coke. (She’s in VERY deep!)

Eleanor is taken away (in a straightjacket) to the insane asylum.  Dr. G helps by providing the cloth doused w/ chloroform.

Episode 10

Awww, such a tough ep, esp. the scene where Algernon tells Cornelia: “I can’t kill my own child.”  She gets a ride from Cleary (MANY of her class have needed his help); she is surprised when she sees Harriet. They are friends, but never revealed these things to each other.  Algernon broke up w/ Cornelia (saying “our affair was a mistake”) before her bridal shower/luncheon.  She is in tears; she meant that having the abortion was a mistake.

Poor Eleanor has had her teeth removed, Dr. G is shocked to see.  The doctor at the asylum says it’s common practice.  (Ouch!) 

Dr. Zindberg comes to observe at The Knick- this makes Dr. T mad (and also jealous).  Later, Dr. T says he’ll devote himself to research; Dr. E will take the lead in surgeries.  Dr. T asks Bertie to spy on Zindberg for him. 

Barrow wants to get introduced to Woo; he wants to kills Collier b/c he owes the man $10,000.  Dr. T says that Woo is not the type of man one wants to get involved w/ (thinks he can’t die).

It turns out that the generous Dr. Z DOES want to collaborate w/ Dr. T, he tells Bertie in his office.  He’s getting close to finding a way to do blood transfusions, he reveals. 

Barrow goes (alone) to see Woo, saying that Dr. T wants Collier dead. (Whoa, this guy has SOME nerve!) 

“I don’t care what you like.  I need to work,” Dr. T tells Nurse Elkins when she comments on the effects of his drug use.  Dr. E tells her not to give the coke to him, but she says the alternative is worse. 

The night before the wedding, Cornelia’s brother (Philip) reveals that their father has NOT been making good business decisions lately.  Philip has been living/working in San Francisco; he has also traveled the world and hunted.  He’s NOT keen on this marriage.

Cornelia has a sleepless night.  Algernon gets ready for her wedding, but we can see that he’s upset. While Cornelia gets married in the church, Algernon boxes w/ a big man out on the street.  He eventually gets knocked out!

After the ceremony, a frantic Lucy finds Bertie, then begs him to help John.  The young doc gets angry, shouting: “I don’t have to do anything!” 

We see Dr. T and he nurse next in another doctor’s office.  He has seen many such coke addicts recently, esp. wealthy women. 

The board decides to move The Knick uptown (in that time, this meant any area above 14th St).  We know that Dr. G has fallen out w/ Dr. T, who himself is no good now.  And the only one w/ skills (Dr. E) is a black man. 

Dr. T has killed a young girl (transfusion gone wrong)- OMG, what can happen next!?  He’s taken by Elkins and Bertie to a private hospital that specializes in the treatment of cocaine addiction.  “Time to start getting better,” a doctor calmly tells him as he gets into a bed.  The camera closes up on a bottle marked “heroine.” 


The Knick: Season 1 (Episodes 1-5)


I’m bing-watching this Cinemax series, directed by Stephen Soderbergh, on HBO2 today. Of course, the main draw is Brit Clive Owen, who sports a thin mustache on the show. It’s SIMPLY riveting, even if you’re a bit squeamish re: blood (like me)!  The setting is early 1900s- an important era for medical innovation. I recommend it to those who are looking for a shot (forgive the pun) of realism in their medical dramas.  ALL the actors are good- many of whom I’ve never seen before! 


SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you have not yet seen or don’t want to know details from the Cinemax series The Knick.  

Episode 1

In the series premiere, the head of surgery (at The Knickerbocker, a public hospital in NYC that serves mostly poor, working-class patients) shoots himself after many failed operations on pregnant women w/ complications. The man working directly under him, Dr. John Thackery (Owen), gives an eulogy for Dr. Jules Christiansen (Matt Frewer, nearly unrecognizable w/ long fluffy beard/shaved head) in a Catholic church, then is quickly promoted to his old friend’s post.  We can tell from his tone/words to the nun after the funeral that Dr. T doesn’t put much stock in religion.

So, who will be the new Assistant Chief of Surgery?  Dr. T, who is brilliant/arrogant/confident, wants it to be the young Dr. Everett Gallenger, who has been working under him for some time.  The wealthy lady whose father currently finances The Knick, Miss Cornelia Robertson, puts forward her choice- Dr. Algernon Edwards.  He studied at Harvard, then worked in London, Paris, etc.  Dr. T is quite pissed off about this, even threatening to quit.

Dr. Edwards (Andre Holland- a theater actor who recently played Andrew Young in Selma), to almost everyone’s shock, is a black man (whoa)!  Dr. T thinks this is the last straw- he’ll only be a distraction, making the important work of the hospital even more difficult.  But he has to give way or the electricity won’t be put in.

We also learn that Dr. T is a habitual cocaine user (whoa again)!  A young nurse, Elkins, recently arrived from West Virginia has to help him out by injecting him in his house (just before a crucial surgery).

NOTES: This show is based on the life of a real, pioneering, yet quite flawed surgeon (not unlike the lead character).  Yes, cocaine was used (in small quantities) in the early days of surgery, as we see here.  Doctors created their own tools, like the metal tubing we see inserted inside patient’s stomach.

Episode 2

A young nurse gets accidentally electrocuted during a surgery.  It turns out that the wiring for The Knick is faulty.  Dr. T says that the contractor should be “beaten and tarred.”

Dr. T sits her down and calmly explains to Elkins that he has things (his drug use) under control.  He thinks she had been avoiding him; she says not at all.  The lives they have inside the hospital are different from the lives they lead outside, he says.

Dr. Edwards is in some dark, cluttered basement room (his office).  He barely gets to do any work, though he expected this type of treatment.  Dr. E searches for the black woman who had a swollen arm, then drains the liquid from her arm.  She wonders about his work.  Later, we see that he can fight (boxing) when attacked by a young/angry/jealous black man.

NOTE: Tenderloin District, where Dr. E lives, was considered to be a notorious/red light area of NYC; in modern times, it has some of the most expensive real estate in Manhattan. Wow, how times change!

Episode 3

An old flame of Dr. T’s (now married) comes to see him in his office.  Her husband (w/ whom she’d expected a “calm life”) has run off- she doesn’t know where.  When he uncovers her facial coverings, we see the VERY scary-looking effects of syphilis.  It turns out that her husband was seeing another woman on the side (who was infected).  He explains how her nose could be reconstructed; it’ll go rough though.  (Awww, it’s so sad!)

Dr. E has a secret side clinic going on the late night hours!  We learn that he is providing a much-needed service to the black population of the area.  He sees the careful stitching of a seamstress- she can work alongside him as a nurse.  We also learn that Dr. E’s mom is the long-time/beloved cook of the Robertson family!

Dr. T wants to have cadavers to practice on, but only has access to dead pigs.  The manager complained that The Knick is competing w/ Cornell, Columbia, and NYU.

Everyone is worried re: (the rapidly spreading) typhoid fever.  Rumor has it that the new immigrants carry it (yeah, blame ALL the worst stuff on poor immigrants).  Dr. T sets that right- it’s not just a disease of one’s lifestyle.

The eager/kind/idealistic doc, Bertie, and ambitious Dr. G break into a prominent surgeon’s house to get the latest medical journals.  (Wow, we’ve come a LONG way!)

Elkins assists Dr. T during the reconstructive surgery on his old girlfriend Abby’s nose.  She starts commenting on the “proper lady”- he shuts her up w/ one of his quick cutdowns.

Dr. E loses a patient- perhaps for the first time.  Later on, he takes out his aggression on a man who challenges him to fight.

Episode 4

The ep opens w/ drunken/rowdy mean stomping on rats for enjoyment.  Ugh, that just looks terrible!  (Hey, history was NOT all pretty.)  Then, another OMG scene- a grieving widow gets pig remains instead of her husband’s body!  His cadaver will be used for practice/ experiments (of course).

Dr. E freezes during a surgery, but Dr. T yanks him out of it w/ an insult.  Drs. G and E almost get into a fight (whoa); the doctors observing break into a laugh afterwards.

The self-important/burly health inspector (who we met in E1) is back.  He goes to a wealthy family’s home (w/ Miss R as a sort of liaison) whose patriarch recently died. He asks about the dead man’s “character,” staff, and then moves on to “toilet rituals.”  LOL!

Flasback: We see a Christmas party w/ Abby, Dr. T, and others- laughing, joking, and drinking.  Abby says that they should stay home, but John wants to drink/party more.  (Yes, that’s the type of behavior that made her leave him.)

Later, Abby (who is all bandaged up, but recovering) says “I should have chosen you.”  He disagrees about that- she chose the wrong husband, but HE wouldn’t have suited either.  Elkins stands outside the door and listens in on their private convo.  Hmmm… I definitely think she is intrigued by Dr. T!

Cleary, the bearded/big ambulance driver blackmails the nun (Harriet).  He somehow found out that she performs abortions on the side (illegal at that time, of course).  He wants a cut of her profits.

We meet Dr. E’s father, Jesse, the carraige driver of the Robertsons.  He formally invites his son over to the mansion for dinner, then asks about his work.  You can tell that he is proud of his son (awww).  “Can’t be more until there’s one,” his father quietly comments upon learning that his son is the ONLY black doctor in the entire city working in a white hospital. They see Dr. T walk out and Dr. E comments “I may be better.”

Dr. E’s mother wonders why her son rarely comes to see her.  He has to suffer some indignaties during the convo w/ Capt. R and the father of Cornelia’s fiance, Mr. Hobert who owns rubber plantations in South America.  Philip, Cornelia’s fiance, wants them to soon move down to Ecuador.  She doesn’t seem too pleased about that!  Dr. E looks disappointed, commenting that it’ll be tough to get her out of NYC.  (Notice how her family calls him “Algie” and he calls her “Nealie?”)

Elkins follows Dr. T to his usual opium den in Chinatown.  She sees him lying on the arms of a young Chinese woman- both are passed out.  She quickly rushes away.

Dr. G resents Dr. E, as we see in the domestic scene w/ his wife and (super-cute) baby girl.  Well, no surprise, but Dr. G says that some at The Knick call Dr. E “Dr. Darkie.”

Cleary rushes to get a young woman to The Knick.  Dr. T says that she tried to end her own pregnancy (yikes)!  Unfortunately, she dies on the operating table.  Bertie’s father watches this all, then comments to his son: “There is only poverty in poverty and struggle in struggle!”  He says he climbed out of a place worse than this hospital, and is clearly disappointed that his son works there (thinking it “romantic”).  The younger Dr. Chickering says that he wants to learn from Dr. T.

The poor girl who died came over by herself from Russia, Cleary tells Harriet by her fresh grave.  He comments on immigrant life.  The “look and terror” he saw in her eyes was too much.  He decides that he’ll find girls who are “needing her services and send them your way.”

Elkins forlornly watches Dr. T get in a hired coach to head off to his opium den.  (Yeah, she has an infatuation w/ him!)

Episode 5

OMG, an old/drunken barber sends a guy off in a cart after he can’t treat him!  Dr. E has a Cuban patient w/ a hernia, but (at first) explains it using “big words” that confuse the man.  Dr. E says he can perform surgery using a wire- the man (a cigar roller) agrees.

Dr. T is surprised when a noted gangster (owner of “cathouses”), Mr. Collier, is brought in by the manager for a rush surgery.  In the operating room, two other gangsters sit and wait, guns in their belts. We know this manager likes to gamble and spends time w/ young prostitute.

We see the head housekeeper and some staff of that big/fancy house where the health inspector and Miss R are visiting.  They are so well off that they eat ice cream each day.  Hmmm… is this making them sick?

Dr. T tries to get the board to see the importance of an x-ray machine.  Some of the men say they should move The Knick to a new location to be near the donors.  Miss R says that “almost every other hospital has moved uptown,” so the poor need The Knick even more.

Mr. Barrow (the manager) tells his favorite pro that he stole money from his employer.  A cop later approaches him about getting an introduction to Collier; he has a business idea.  Cops bring in “a lot of girls who hook for no one,” so he can bring some in to be under Collier’s “protection in a nice place.”  He has a lot of mouths to feed.  (Yes, everyone is out for something!

Cleary argues w/ a husband re: his wife’s (possible) abortion.  They argue re: religion and sin for a bit.  Later, Harriet explains that “the child was too far along- 7 months.” It’d have “been a sin” to abort this baby.

Oh no, Dr. G’s baby girl may have meningitis!  She won’t stop crying since breakfast, his wife says. They quickly head out for a hospital.

While Dr. E and a group of ladies are performing hernia surgery (using silver wire), a nurse and her beau pass through their room, so they shut off the light. They wanted to hook up- notice the mention of “French letters.”  After they leave, it’s lights on and back to work.  LOL!

Barrow and the cop (a police sergeant) bring in three girls for Collier’s brothel. One is a black woman; Collier says she should refer to herself as an “octoroon.”   They will be housed, fed, protected and regularly examined by a lady doctor.  (Hey, that’s better than fending for themselves on the street!)

Hmmm… something happened to Capt. Robertson in Nicaragua; Dr. T helped him out.  When Dr. T comments that his daughter could be running The Knick in 10 years, the financier laughs and replies that he’s expecting “a gaggle of grandchildren.”  Dr. T wonders if Cornelia knows this (hehe, he gets her).

Dr. T learns that Gallenger’s baby (Lilian) is sick.  He sees Elkins outside w/ her bike and they have a nice convo.  He comments that he “envied her freedom” when he saw her riding the other day.  Her bike is blue (like her eyes).  She offers to teach him how to ride.  Dr. T sings a little ditty as he goes for a spin on her bike.  (Oooh, I really liked seeing this light-hearted scene!)