Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen) has reached an all time low in “The Golden Lotus,” the penultimate episode of The Knick's debut season. Things are no better for Thackery, as the city-wide lack of cocaine has made his addiction unquenchable. Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson) is still invested in Thackery, but how far will she go to help him? Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson) looks to return to work now that his wife, Eleanor (Maya Kazan), has another child to raise. And Cornelia (Juliet Rylance) and Dr. Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland) have a new problem arise as they continue their affair.
The episode opens with Dr. Thackery breaking into a pharmacy and promptly getting caught by the police. This forces August Robertson (Cornelia's father) to offer up some hush money to keep Dr. Thackery out of jail.
And just like that, the cat's out of the bag. With the exception of Lucy, nobody knew of Dr. Thackery's addiction. But now, after a newspaper reports the robbery by all but writing Dr. Thackery's name, the entire hospital is huddled together in discussion with Dr. Edwards confirming that the signs have always been there.
It's one thing for Dr. Thackery to jeopardize his life and well-being by abusing cocaine, but it's a completely different thing if he brings others down with him; and that's exactly what he's doing with Lucy. When Lucy shows up offering to take his mind off the withdrawal, he sends her off in search of the drug. It's no secret that Lucy's infatuated with Dr. Thackery, and he knows this.
So where do you go if you're looking for cocaine in a city that's been run dry? To the brothel, of course! So Lucy shows up at the brothel she secretly followed Dr. Thackery to a few episodes ago. They don't have any cocaine, but they do have a little opium left. But Ping Wu (Perry Yung) won't just give it up easily. He makes Lucy an offer: he'll give her the opium, as well as $100, if she has sex with him and puts her foot in his mouth, an act from which the episode's title is derived. Later, we see Lucy give Dr. Thackery the opium. And then we see her hide the money.
But a little bit of opium is not enough for Dr. Thackery. And Lucy knows this. She sneaks into another hospital, pretending to be a new nurse. But she foolishly goes right to the drug supply closet and is forced to childishly run away with the cocaine. Somehow she makes it out, and the episode ends with Dr. Thackery and Lucy literally bathing in cocaine.
Elsewhere, a major problem arose for Cornelia and Dr. Edwards. It seems their secretive lovemaking was not without consequence. Cornelia is pregnant, and the father is most assuredly Dr. Edwards, which poses the obvious problem that when Cornelia gives birth, it will be obvious the child is not her fiance's. Thusly, Cornelia wants to terminate the pregnancy, and she wants Dr. Edwards to perform the surgery. Dr. Edwards initially agrees, but as Cornelia undresses and assumes the position, the situation overwhelms him. He cannot kill his own child. Cornelia and Edwards join in an embrace that is equal parts tears and kisses. Edwards begs that Cornelia leave with him to Europe, where race doesn't matter as much. But Cornelia refuses. Their scene ends without any resolution, so we're forced to wait until the finale to see what direction they decide to go.
But one storyline did come to a sudden end: Dr. Gallinger and Eleanor's new baby. Signs popped up last week that Eleanor was starting to lose her sanity when she left the baby alone in a room for a long time. But she officially snapped this week when she shows up at the Knick with the baby dead in it's stroller and a very clear shade of blue as a result of Eleanor trying to cool a nonexistent fever. Clearly unstable, Eleanor is eventually locked in a straightjacket and taken away. Dr. Gallinger might be a racist pig, but it's impossible not to empathize with him. He's lost two babies and now his wife. I hope he doesn't do something stupid next week in the finale.
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.