Culture of Pop

‘The Knick’ Recap: ‘Start Calling Me Dad’ on Cocaine

The sixth of the episode of The Knick featured … wait for it … some victories! All around! (“Wait, for characters in the show? But why?!” said everyone that worked on The Leftovers.) And not just for the characters. The season-long wait for Drs. John Thackery and Algernon Edwards to make (separate) humanity-altering medical breakthroughs on-screen finally occurred, as did a breakthrough of sorts in their relationship. A monumental victory for the show’s small but steady audience.

I’ve said it before: at root, Thack isn’t racist. What he is is pragmatic, realistic, and often too honest. This caused his objection to Edwards’ presence at the hospital; not that his race would prevent him from being a competent or even brilliant surgeon (which he is), but that his race would impede on the likelihood of patients with pockets exponentially deeper than that of the Knick’s typical clientele coming through the doors for treatment.

Also the realistic, passionate, pragmatist, Algernon took to the basement to continue his work. Although Thackery’s perfectly pissed off when he discovers what his “deputy chief of surgery” has been up to underground, Thack seems to commiserate with Edwards on the position he was put in, eventually relenting the idea of turning Edwards in, and agreeing to treat him as his rightful equal after Edwards offers to share his brilliant discovery to advance hernia treatment. I’m not positive he’ll take Edwards up on the latter (Thackery proves he’s not so willing to attach his name falsely to things; unlike the esteemed Dr. Pepper) but who cares if he does. Surgeon buddies!

It took him a weekend-long cocaine bender, two (extremely clean) Chinese prostitutes, a basketball, and help from the delightful Dr. Chickering, but Thackery finally solves placenta previa. A victory for the two of them (and, posthumously, Dr. Christensen), as well as for the audience (and, let’s not forget, the world); hopefully this is the last time we’ll have to watch anyone cut a pregnant woman open.

New York’s most mismatched detectives had their buddy-cop arc come to an end when Cornelia Robertson and Health Inspector Speight finally find the source of the typhoid outbreak among the city’s elite: Typhoid Mary. Despite Speight’s vileness and Cornelia’s agreement with me over the former, they’ve had some fun moments together. But none as good as Cornelia’s Lawrence Taylor impression while apprehending the cook.

Of course it wasn’t all pretzels and peach ice cream; there are four whole episodes left after all. Cornelia is grossly intruded upon when her future father-in-law makes cruel and suggestive remarks in her own bedroom; if he knew of Algernon’s boxing ability, temper, and feelings for the lady, he might think twice. And Dr. Gallinger and his wife lose their child to meningitis. The fact that Gallinger is an ignorant, racist pig offers no silver lining to the loss of a child, but Sister Harriet does: she relays to Gallinger that a newborn has just come under the church’s care. His wife is shaken to the point that she doesn’t acknowledge her daughter’s death, and the nun believes a new child might make a profound difference to a woman who launched herself head-first into motherhood. Although he declines at first, Gallinger seems to entertain the idea. I hope he changes his mind, and that through this loss and the kindness of others, he might develop a heart of his own.

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