The Knick reviewcap: Getting the best the hard way

the-knick-god-has-a-rivalWelcome to the Buffa reviewcap, where I blend the idea of covering a TV show without being boring about it. As in “here is what happened and let’s see if you are still awake.” I like to review the episode while pondering what just happened. Here is what I took from Season 2, episode 3, entitled “Best of the Best with the Best”

Thackery and addiction reaches testing

The rabid doctor is taking a full swing at this curing addiction thing and why not. Here is a brilliant man hospitalized for taking too many drugs who was broken out to come back to work and do more drugs to find a cure. The episode opens with him snorting a combination of heroin and cocaine. One thought runs through our head thinking is he just doing this to get by or is he really trying to solve something? The doctor is not quite back in yet. He’s hovering around sanity on a drug high.

Poor Chickering

The young doctor has joined the stiff pencil “other” Dr. Levi Zinberg(Michael Nathanson) across town and now gets pushed to the back of the crowd, performing low liability surgeries and working his way back up. When he tells his colleagues to call him “Bertie”, the chief of surgery correct him. He is “Dr. Chickering”. Buddy, the place is called Mount Cyanide. What did you expect? Everything about Cyanide is stiff and bitter, as opposed to The Knick, where it’s all loose and easy. Surgeries in the basement, cocaine snorting in the lab and other fun shit. It’s 1901 and you may die before you are 40 so what the fuck?

Dr. Edwards burns for ambition and other things

Cornelia and the doctor have no idea how the Inspector popped up on the shore dead, but that doesn’t mean they can’t share a kiss. So much tough here. Two people who are forbidden to be together yet have that burning desire and have already produced a child(albeit short lived) together. Drama!

Gallinger has his wife back…sort of

Dr. Everett Gallinger has his wife back. She has new teeth but possible a head that is still scrambled. A doctor who is doing everything to recover his status at the hospital while searching for his sanity at home. Every character on the Knick has a few shades of grey and a complete dark area.

Take Nurse Lucy for example. She loves Thackery, feels safe around Birdie, and is trying to reconnect with her father. Geeeezzz!

A death at the hospital Thackery was at leaves a door open for him to experiment on the dead girl and see if his “addiction theory” has any legs or is just a chance to get high. He gets consent to operate on the girl as long as the face is left alone. The coldness back then was prevalent and the search for decency was a short wick away from it.

Sister Harriet is still in chains at pre-trail with a high priced lawyer who hasn’t seen a bit of cash due to Tom Cleary’s lack of funds. When the lawyer fumbles his case, the judge takes a chance to slam Harriet. This is a personal vendetta for the judge. Back in the early 1901, abortion was pure murder and there was no place for it. As if Harriet needed another block in front of her freedom, the judge is not standing firmly against her.

I love Cleary. Here is a tough, bitter, imperfect yet passionate man. The first few episodes of Season 1 made him out to be an asshole and someone who cared little for anything not resembling a coin. As the season progressed, we saw his friendship with Harriet blossom into one of the best things about the show. An ambulance driving bear and a decent yet rule bending nun. Only on the Knick.

Gallinger walks into a room full of diplomats, political wannabes and talky peeps and basically says, “You just don’t like black people”. Remember in Season 1 when Gallinger was on the other side. Slowly, he is turning into something else. The situation with his wife Eleanor is changing him from coldly ambitious to something different.

Lucy’s healer dad is at it again, and she sits there waiting for forgiveness. Will he provide her with peace of mind or blaze her in front of his followers? He waits until later when he is counting his winnings from the gathering to broil her for her sins. He beats her and whips her as well, making her feel ashamed for her drug infused binder with Thackery. For Healers, you can’t make any mistakes.

Bertie is courting the writer covering his new hospital and trying to distance himself from The Knick.

Cornelia tries to ask her husband to help with Sister Harriet’s case and gets rebuffed for wanting to help a baby killer. Too bad he doesn’t know Harriet helped kill her baby. HA!

Tyler Bates’ score is so good. A hypnotic blend with a procedural heart to it. Clive Owen’s haunted face stalks the parlor for a woman to do drugs with and have some sex and you just go with it due to Owen’s ability to hold your attention no matter what he does. Afterwards, he winds up at Abby’s home. His long lost love who he is helping with her nose procedure. A beautiful woman with a terrible disease that Thackery never feels like he can help enough.

Edwards and Gallinger continue to battle in the theater over live bodies. This war has raged since season 1, and it only gets worse when Thackery continues to choose the black doctor genius over the esteemed white male prototype. Gallinger angles towards the “I saved you” route and sets himself up to be launched by Thack. It is Edwards that has discovered, tested and proved procedure after procedure, while Gallinger was tending to his sick wife and emotions. “Jealousy won’t suit you here as much as drive and ambition.” The writing of Jack Amiel and Michael Begler is so good during the showdowns between doctors. It’s never over the top.

Driven by his need to help Abby, Thack wants to cure syphilis, a terrible disease that claimed many lives during that period. In order to do this, Thack would need to nearly cook the patient at a 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Baking the disease. Edwards persuades him to attack malaria first to find a perfect method. Here is a case where each of these doctors is threatened by the other but also pushed in the best way. Edwards wants to be Thack but can’t move past him. Thack wants to be the first to everything and he needs Edwards.

You fight cocaine addiction with heroin and try to take down syphilis with malaria. Back in 1901, you used one evil to kill another. Old school shit ladies and gents!

Herman Barrow is a bastard! He wants top of the line materials for the new Knick up town and the architect is curious as to why. Barrow also wants to slow construction down, and all this has to be leading to him slipping more money under the table and back to himself. Something is always tricky and slimy with Barrow. Right when he thinks he has the construction where he needs them, an old haunt shows up. Apparently, one of Bunky’s men didn’t die and now has new accounts at Tammany Hall. Old habits don’t die after all. James Fester is out for Barrow, further cementing the fact that you can be slippery in life but there’s no way you are escaping your past. He can’t get his girl at the brothel and he owes money to everyone in town.

Cleary needs drugs. Speed. Adrenaline. Anything to get his fighter to win a match and score the bear some cash. He cons a nurse into giving him a couple boxes to keep on the carriage to help a dying patient. Everyone on this show is selling something. A faulty story, wish, need, or a need to be recognized. Maybe just survival. Cleary’s fighter wins but has a heart attack afterwards and dies. There are no victories on The Knick.

Dr. Edwards has a bum eye, a grudge at work, enough ambition to fill a warehouse but he also has a wife back to scam him. His parents have no idea who she is, and Edwards tells them he met her in Paris when medicine was going well and he was happy. When he decided to jet and come to New York, he basically left her. She is back to wreak havoc and Edwards’ already fractured existence just got an extra kick of drama.

Line of the week from Cleary after dropping a body off for Thack to dissect-“If people knew what you did in here, they wouldn’t trust you to give them a fucking aspirin.”

Come back next week for more Knick examinations. As the promo in Season 1 said, modern medicine had to start somewhere.

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