UK VOD TV review: The Knick Episode 5
Philip W Bayles | On 13, Nov 2014Reading time: 3 mins
We’ve reached the halfway point of The Knick and it feels like a turning point. After four episodes of heavy exposition, it feels like Steven Soderbergh is finally letting the reins out with his characters – he’s letting their actions speak for themselves, rather than drowning them in pontification, and the result is one of the freshest episodes in the series so far.
We hit the ground running as Bunky Collier (Danny Hoch), the man who’s been breathing down Mr Barrow’s neck for most of the series, is forced to bring an associate with a bullet in his leg to the Knick for surgery. Collier threatens Thackery and Edwards with a bullet each to the head if the man loses his limb, but both men stand their ground. There are no obvious lines of defiant dialogue, but Thackery’s glib remarks to the mobster’s cronies (“Thank you, nurses, we’ll take it from here…”) and Edwards’ fearless stare speak volumes.
It’s great news for the ever-fascinating Barrow, who can’t resist smirking in glee, as he finds the ball in his court after so long. Thackery and Edwards may be the stars of the show, but it’s Barrow who’s done the most interesting things so far to advance the plot – we can’t wait to see how long his new-found power lasts, or how badly it’ll all blow up in his face.
After sound recordings and vacuum cleaners last week, the innovation du jour is the x-ray machine. While Thackery is convinced that this new innovation will become the future of medicine, the Knick’s administrators see things differently. They’re discussing moving the Knick to a new location uptown, away from all the riff-raff, who selfishly hog all the healthcare innovations they can’t even pay for (selfish b*stards).
Even those who do agree with Thackery’s opinion aren’t necessarily thinking of the greater good. A perfectly played scene in a restaurant with Captain Robertson shows the competition to be seen being altruistic, or at least forking more money out in the name of altruism. It’s a not particularly subtle dig at New York’s upper crust, but it does set into motion what will become one of the key plot points for the rest of the series; the future of the hospital itself. Everyone will be forced to either, in Cleary’s words, “follow the smart money uptown”, or get left behind in the sticks. We also get another glimpse of Edwards’ underground surgery, which comes dangerously close to being discovered – another conflict to look forward to as events come to a climax? – while Cornelia’s investigation into the outbreak of typhoid continues on without much fruition.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign of life in this episode is the fact that we finally get some depth to the good Dr Thackery, which Clive Owen sinks into with relish. There are signs that he’s warming, if imperceptibly, to Dr Edwards, but his views on race remain refreshingly unclear. In the closing of the hour, he goes from elated to drained of all hope in the space of a single scene change, attempting to shrug it off with a resigned comment: “Just another Tuesday at the Knick.” But a final exchange with Nurse Elkins shows how much weight the man is carrying on his shoulders.
Yes, things are finally starting to pick up in The Knick. It’s just a crying shame it took five hours of a ten-hour run to really come into its own.
All episodes of The Knick Season 1 are available to watch online on Sky On Demand – or on NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription. Season 2 starts on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday 12th January.