UK VOD TV review: The Knick Episode 8 (Working Late a Lot)
Philip W Bayles | On 04, Dec 2014
After the frantic brilliance of ‘Get the Rope’, and the myriad of intrigue and character development it raised, the eighth episode of The Knick was always going to feel like coming down from a high. But while it can’t match the intensity of the domino toppling we saw last week, the new batch Soderbergh has begun to set up here promises another fascinating display come the finale.
In fact, Soderbergh has nudged things along a bit by jumping ahead by months. A thick blanket of snow now lays over the streets of New York. Mostly, this helps gloss over some pretty big changes of character: Thackery and Edwards, for example, have clearly settled into a comfortable groove as colleagues on a more or less equal footing. But it also forces everyone indoors once again, pushing them ever closer to the director’s voyeuristic lens – none more so than Clive Owen’s lead.
Thack’s affair with Lucy Elkins may be blossoming, but there’s a dark cloud on the horizon. Thanks to the war in the Philippines, the Knick’s supply of cocaine has run dry, and Thack is starting to notice its absence in his bloodstream. As board meetings and medical conferences go on around him, we focus on Thack’s head as he sweats, shivers and twitches; he almost ages visibly over the course of the hour. It’s a wonderful piece of acting from Clive Owen, and a harsh reminder of the toll that his character’s thirst for knowledge (and the prestige it brings) has taken on his body.
We also spend a lot of time with Nurse Elkins, although there’s no trace of the enigmatic smile she had at the end of last week. The honeymoon period has truly worn off, and she’s now stuck between a man too obsessed with his vices to even notice her and the affectations of Bertie, who’s too smitten to realise that she just isn’t all that interested. Eve Hewson didn’t register all that much in the first few episodes, but she’s proven herself to be a remarkable actor and an integral part of the show’s success – in a way, she is us, cheering on Thackery even as we know it hurts him even more.
Algernon and Cornelia, meanwhile, seem to be handling their illicit romance a lot better – we see them reposed in Algie’s hotel room, watching each other intensely. Algernon asks if Cornelia has any worries about what they’re doing. Her response? “I’m worried that we won’t be able to stop.” Maybe Thack isn’t the only one struggling with an addiction.
Melissa McMeekin makes another memorable appearance as Typhoid Mary and we’re also introduced to a new player: Dr Levi Zinberg (Michael Nathanson), a man whose intellect and innovation may rival even Thack’s. Zinberg’s character is interesting for a number of reasons. He raises old tensions between Bertie and his father, Dr Chickering Sr, who wants Bertie out of the madhouse that is the Knick and aligned with a more respectable practice. But it also serves to remind us of Thack’s major flaws as a man of medicine. When Zinberg talks about his colleagues cutting indiscriminately into their patients it’s hard not to think of the failed surgery that drove Dr Christiansen to suicide. And considering how nicely he’s been playing with Dr Edwards, it’s almost shocking to hear the revulsion in Thack’s voice at the thought of Bertie going to work at a Jewish hospital. Still, baby steps.
It may not have quite the same punch as Get the Rope, but Working Late A Lot continues to build on the show’s strong characters and keeps things interesting. It feels like there’s still a lot to come between now and the finale.
All episodes of The Knick Season 1 are available to watch online on Sky On Demand – or on NOW, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription. Season 2 starts on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday 12th January.