In “Working Late a Lot”, the 8th episode of The Knick, Dr. Bertram Chickering, Sr. – Bertie’s father – wants his son to work anywhere but the Knick, Bertie wants to stay for one very clear, and very pretty reason, Cornelia’s engagement to Phillip seems to be the last thing on her mind, Nurse Lucy Elkins succumbs to peer pressure, Typhoid Mary goes to court, the Gallingers try to move on, and Dr. Thackery grows green, due to both envy and withdrawal.
We were already well aware of Bertie’s father’s disapproval. He likes neither Thackery nor the Knick—specifically it’s lower-class standing. When the New York Surgical Society holds an event for doctors to present their latest innovations, Bertie’s father makes it a point to introduce his son to Dr. Levi Zinberg, a Jewish surgeon and inventor of the night’s biggest attraction—a medical scope that would cut down on unnecessary scalpel incisions. But Bertie’s happy at the Knick; he gets to work under Thackery, one of the field’s top surgeons – albeit an unorthodox and polarizing one – and more importantly, he gets to work with Nurse Lucy Elkins. Bertie’s been attracted to Lucy since she coasted into the Knick on her bike on her first day. They’ve even gone out on a date, walking around Central Park and holding hands. Based off the time period and its prudish tendencies, it’s fair for Bertie to assume that he and Lucy could have a potential future together. Which is exactly what he tells his father at the event. He’s in love with Lucy and plans to marry her.
There’s only one problem.
Lucy is sleeping with Thackery. And not just in an it happened one time way, but in a we totally would have had sex in Thackery’s office had Algernon not walked in way. It’s the prototypical good guy versus bad guy, and like so many men before and after Bertie, the nice guy is finishing last.
But you can’t hate on Lucy for what she’s doing. She has every right to sleep with whoever she wants. Perhaps she’s leading Bertie on a bit (She conveniently got cut off in this episode when Bertie asks her out again.), but she’s not being malicious. In fact, I believe Lucy to be the most impressive character. She’s a woman, which instantly puts her behind the eightball in her time. Yet she moves on her own to New York City, gets a job in a hospital, and proves up for the task.
But it’s one thing to sleep with Thackery. It’s a whole other thing to start doing drugs. I hope that cocaine doesn’t derail Lucy, but I have to think some problems are on their way. Maybe the city-wide shortage will save her? It's certainly ruining Thackery. And it’s a shame that she’s inevitably going to break Bertie’s heart. He’s the most likable character; he’s loyal, smart, trusting, and most surprising given the time, not a racist. Will Bertie find out about Thackery? How long will Lucy continue to sleep with Thackery? And do drugs? And if Bertie finds out, will he leave the Knick?
Speaking of sleeping around, let’s talk about Cornelia. The episode gets its name from a post-coital scene between Cornelia and Algernon where they joke around that Cornelia has been working late a lot. That’s the excuse she must give to explain her prolonged absence from her family and her fiancé. It’s one thing for Lucy to sleep around, but it’s completely different for Cornelia. She’s engaged. Now I know she has a creepy father-in-law-to-be, but she’s not going about getting out of her relationship the right way. She’s proven that she’s tough enough to stand up for herself and accomplish what she sets out to do. She tackled Typhoid Mary! But she’s being weak in not leaving her fiancé.
Typhoid Mary takes the cake as this week’s least liked character, giving Herman Barrow a one week break from the position he’s held since day one. Typhoid Mary has been rightfully locked up since she was caught, but being that the she’s merely a carrier of the disease, paired with the fact that the concept of a carrier was foreign to most people of that time, her lack of visual sickness makes it seem as if her prognosis is wrong. Only it’s not. But that doesn’t matter to the judge, so as Typhoid Mary leaves the court house with a city block-wide smirk, we know we’ll be seeing more dead socialites in the near future.
That might be a good thing for the Knick, considering times are even tougher now after the race riots destroyed many parts of the hospital. It’ll need all the business it can get.
Questions for next week:
- Will Thackery be able to get his hands on the dwindling supply of cocaine?
- Will either Cornelia or Algernon want more from their relationship?
- How much crazier will Gallinger’s wife, Eleanor, go? I fear for that baby.
- Will we see Dr. Zinberg again?
- Who will Typhoid Mary infect next?
Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element who graduated from Marist College. He spends his time obsessing equally 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.