At The Knick: Whiplash review

This week on Cinemax’s The Knick, Clive Owen’s devilish doctor found his way again.

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The-Knick-season-2This week at Steven Soderbergh’s vivid 1900’s bare hands life saving shack, Doctor Thackery was getting his groove back. Watching Clive Owen play this marvel is like riding a train race down a track missing a few rails. The car bends left, dips down hard and coils to the right all at once. As good of an actor Owen is, this role has challenged him in ways other roles only hinted at.

Curing the addition starts with a poke. Thack tests out his ability to detect activity in the brain via his electrical charge. Essentially being able to manipulate a certain part of the brain at will and decipher which part of the brain pushes someone to become addicted to drugs. With a drug addict’s exposed brain, Thack pokes around with his little electrical stick and gets some feedback. Seeing the smile on his face is a memorable shift in his persona.

When a subway construction accident injures dozens of people, the Knick swings into action so does Soderbergh’s brilliant camera usage locks into gear. The theater is stuffed and the alternate rooms are stuffed with bleeding, heavily damaged and close to death folks. Soderbergh uses extended takes, shifting from Thack to Chickering to Edwards and over to Gallinger as they desperately try to save as many lives as possible. There were no IV’s, multiple operating rooms and machinery to combat a horrible accident with mass injuries and casualties. It was truly hands on.

The Thack Genius strikes again when he gets his probe back out and uses the electrical current and circuit to detect metal in the injured. When the probe touches it, the nurse gets a ring in her ear. Five hours after we opened with a painfully lost Thackery stuck in a rehab hospital, the doctor/surgeon has relocated that streak of greatness. Like a pitcher settling into his groove on a mound, Thack finds a way.

Do yourself a favor and watch Grey’s Anatomy and then watch The Knick. The differences in machinery, number of doctors, lack of racial wars and all the other restrictions there were in 1901 are remarkable. Also, one show is okay and one is fantastic.

Edwards has agreed to work with Doctor Chickering and use radium to try and cure his mother’s malignant tumor. Michael Angarano hasn’t gotten a lot of play until this development in the second season. The earnestness in the actor’s face is quickly transforming into a young Thack. Someone who is willing to take huge risks to save lives. A season ago, Bertie was afraid. He is no longer that man.

“The time to invest is when there is blood in the streets.”

Young Henry Robertson(Charles Aitken) doesn’t care about the setbacks in the subway construction. When his dad, August, wants to slow down the subway building, little ambitious Henry pushes back. He wants to plow ahead. And this was accurate in history. Death or high water, the construction continued. When the blood flowed, the interest in advancement was sustainable.

Thackery and Abby are getting closer and recapturing what was lost between them years ago. What was hinted at in Season 1 has been expanded upon in Season 2, showing a more tender side of the maverick doctor as he cures her disease and returns to her life. However, he can’t use drugs in her house. She has no idea he has figured out the exact way to stay even. Little cocaine for the sky high burst and the come back down effect of heroin. Seeing them kiss in the morning was bittersweet and makes me think something bad is on the horizon. People can’t be happy on this show.

Picture a dad and his two finest kids. That is Thackery and his two best doctors, Gallinger and Edwards. The two docs are intense rivals, with the first one edging to get closer and closer to Thackery and becoming his next in command. This may end in a death but only time will tell. They each want to be on the ground floor of Thack’s next discovery.

All hail Eve Hewson. As Nurse Lucy, a woman who has spent an extremely long amount of time loving men who don’t love her back. Now, Henry Robertson has a crush on her. A mad crush. He gets the episode title in describing the effect she has on him. “Whiplash”. Watching Hewson here, for once, she has the higher ground. She is in command. With Thack and Bertie, she had to do all the work and the falling hard. Here, good old Henry is chasing her. He has no idea who he is dealing with.

Back at the Barrow house, Herman is telling his kids goodnight and settling in for a cigar when Mrs. Barrow comes down to jump him for some surprise frisky time. Poor girl. She has no idea that her husband is scheming 24/7. He is scheming the construction of the new Knick. He is scheming his own wife out of a marriage by putting more passion into his prostitute/girlfriend. He’s also buying an apartment in the city for his girlfriend. He is a scheming pile of horse shit who the entire audience has to love to hate. He’s paid his debt to Ping Wu, but now wants to buy his woman’s escape from the business. What a bastard.  One day, Barrow will get what is coming to him.

Thackery performs the surgery on the addiction patient, locating the area that he believes houses the addiction. He cuts the small part of the brain out, knowingly overstepping the risks of rendering other parts of the brain deficient. He could cure his addiction but make his smile crooked or damage another area of the brain. For now, it’s a win for Thack until later he realizes the man doesn’t respond to a command. In the process of supposedly curing his addiction, he rendered him dead in other areas.

Gallinger, after meeting a doctor who supervised in lesser thinking boys(the not so smart crew) and wanted to take away their ability to reproduce. So Gallinger performs off the book vasectomies for this man. I bet this won’t go down well with Thackery or Edwards.

What did we learn this week? Thack has his groove back but he may be off in his chase to cure addiction. Gallinger is doing whatever he can to stay ahead of Edwards but may hurt his stature in the hospital. Lucy is pulling Henry in close, as the subway construction rages on. At The Knick, innovation is constant and always moving, sometimes faster than the doctors can keep up. If Natural Selection ever found a time to play a role in society, it was in New York in 1901.

Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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