UK VOD TV review: The Knick Episode 9 (The Golden Lotus)
Philip W Bayles | On 11, Dec 2014
Last week, we jumped from an oppressively hot summer to a bitter winter, and it’s proving to be one full of discontent for the cast of The Knick. We see just about every character at their lowest point over the course of the penultimate episode of the series – all that’s left now is to see whether they can do anything to claw themselves back up again.
Thackery is now truly broken, deep in a withdrawal that only the cast of Trainspotting could possibly sympathise with. He starts Episode 9 in a police station, caught raiding pharmacies for their drug supplies – and though the liberal application of coin gets him out again, he sees it as nothing more than another temporary setback between him and his prize. There’s almost nothing human left in him. When Lucy tries to help him, he snarls like a rabid dog. She asks what she can do to help him. His response? “You can find me an ocean of cocaine.”
The news makes Thackery the talk of the hospital, but what’s most surprising is Bertie Chickering’s complete and utter denial. We’ve seen him fight so hard over the series to step out from the shadow of his famous father, but it’s heartbreaking to realise just how much he’s come to see Thackery as his adopted parent – one imagines Bertie’s realisation of the truth will become a big part of the finale.
In these oppressively blue-tinted scenes, Lucy is framed in an almost angelic golden light. Her actions, however, are far from saintly. We knew her relationship with Thackery would be a corrupting influence on her, but as we watch her scheming various ways to get her man his fix, it’s almost a shock to see how far she has fallen. Especially when we finally find out what exactly the ‘Golden Lotus’ of the title entails. An inferior series might play this for schmaltz, or have Nurse Elkins finally declaring her undying love. But by the end we realise this is not love. Hell, it may not even be lust. She’s getting her fix, even as she helps Thack get his.
It’s a shame, then, that the other story arcs aren’t handled quite so adeptly. The other secret tryst in the hospital comes to a head this week, as Cornelia drops a pretty big bombshell on Algernon – from the moment we see the look on her face, it’s all too obvious where this is going. André Holland and Juliet Rylance give it their absolute all, but the material they’re dealing with is beneath them. This is a show that’s prided itself on a screw-you approach, both to conventions of the time it’s portraying and those of TV drama, and yet the pair’s final, dramatic exchange feels as trite as a daytime soap opera.
Similarly disappointing is the continuation of Gallinger’s saga of woe, which feels less like an earned and logical conclusion and more the final moments of a countdown clock that reads “TRAGEDY STRIKING IN…” The point is obvious – to get Gallinger at his worst and have him finally act on his resentment towards Edwards that’s been building since the opening moments of the show. But The Golden Lotus robs the arc of all its emotional weight, and turns what should have been a sucker punch into a parody of itself.
It’s a shame to see a series that’s been as fascinating as The Knick stumble so close to the finish line, but it hasn’t fallen flat on its face – not by a long shot. The pieces are all in place for a pretty damn interesting finale, and we can’t wait to see how everything will be sewn up.
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.