The Knick debuted by giving its characters lofty secrets—ones that were too big and too interesting for them not to come to light. We’ve already seen some truths trickle through (Sister Harriet), but our main characters have managed to dodge discovery. But that changed in “Start Calling Me Dad” for Algernon. And if you could have asked Algernon who the last person he’d want to see find out about the secret clinic, I’m guessing he’d have instantly answered with Thackery.
But that’s exactly who comes strolling into the clinic after seeing Algernon’s assistants come running through the hospital’s main floor. Instantly filled with rage, Thackery all but promises that Algernon will be fired. Not even Algernon’s familial ties with the Robertsons could back him out of this corner. But then Thackery discovers something that proves how similar the two characters truly are: an improvised medicinal invention.
Thackery, who had spent the majority of the episode devising a way to insert a basketball into a pregnant female to aid in delivering a baby, has a keen interest in tinkering. There will forever be people who refuse to believe the way something is currently being done is the best way. And it’s these types of people who are responsible for progress in every capacity of the word. So when Thackery discovers a jerry-rigged vacuum that’s been outfitted to suck away blood during surgery, thus clearing up the use of an extra hand, he’s impressed. And when Algernon informs Thackery of the other discoveries he’s made, specifically with the use of silver wire in surgery, Thackery’s damn-well impressed. A scene that seemed destined to result in a firing instead ends with Thackery finally permitting Algernon to participate in surgery at The Knick, and the two of them agreeing to publish these findings in a medical journal. Talk about a 180.
This proved to be a good day for Thackery. As I mentioned briefly before, Thackery spends the episode with Bertie, the two of them working on ways to improve the C-section surgery we’ve seen fail twice now. After practicing on two prostitutes (and in Bertie’s case, giggling and blushing), the surgery is put into practice when another pregnant woman is rushed in. And for the first time, it’s a success, as both the baby and mother live!
Unfortunately, all was not well when it came to babies. In the last episode, we saw Dr. Gallinger and his wife’s baby grow sick. In a true reflection of the grim and sudden nature of death, the Gallinger baby passes away. I was genuinely surprised. This marks the third baby killed off already on The Knick. While Dr. Gallinger was an entitled, smug bastard, this is something no parent deserves, so while he and his wife awkwardly pose with their now-dead baby for a memorial photo, it was hard to hate the man in that moment. But now that Algernon has Thackery’s support, it will be interesting to see how Gallinger behaves. Will he give up and accept Algernon’s role? Or will he resort to physical violence yet again? My guess is it gets physical.
Herman Barrow continued to disgust, as he opted for the used-version of Edison’s x-ray machine. I’m guessing that there will be problems with the machine, just like there was with the electricity. When will the guy learn to stop cutting corners?
Elsewhere, we spent more time with Cornelia and Health Inspector Speight as they wrapped up their multi-episode arc investigating the source of a typhoid fever epidemic. Having narrowed down the case to the point where only one cook could be responsible, Cornelia and Speight head to find the woman. When the woman runs away from Speight, Cornelia tackles her, further evidencing that she’s not like other socialites. So it doesn’t take a genius to see that there will be problems with her upcoming marriage. A scene where her fiancé shares brandies and plays poker with her father and soon-to-be father-in-law all but drives the point home: Cornelia doesn’t want to leave The Knick.
And I think that’s the unifying factor for many of the characters; they don’t want to leave The Knick, even though easier roads lay beyond it. But will everyone be allowed to stay? Bertie’s father wants him to leave. Cornelia’s fiancé wants her to leave. I want Barrow to leave. Seriously, the guy’s just the worst. Hopefully all that radiation he was unknowingly exposed to this past episode will take effect soon.
Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element. He spends his time equally obsessing over the Game of Thrones series and the New York Giants, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.