The Knick: Welcome to Our Circus

Photo: Mary Cybulski/CinemaxOur main man, Dr Thackeray, comes around in a red-lit basement as a woman tells him it’s half past seven. He staggers out to a hansom cab and gives directions to the Knickerbocker Hospital (the ‘Knick’ of the title—and what is it with olde tyme New York and the word Knickerbocker? It loves it some knickerbocker). The cabbie points out that he’s taking the long route, but Thack doesn’t care, because he wants the extra time to shoot up in his foot to the sound of some thumping house music. Once he’s done, he laces up his shoes and is ready to face his day.

Today, he’s joining his close friend and colleague, Dr. J Christiansen, in a fairly experimental surgery. A nurse holds up a basin and Christiansen dips his beard in what I’m assuming is some sort of antiseptic solution. Thack does not have to dip his moustache, which is probably why he keeps it so closely trimmed. The patient—a heavily pregnant woman—is rolled in. She asks Christiansen to save her baby and he smiles benevolently before she’s put under. He then turns to the crowd of observers up in the peanut gallery and explains that the woman has presented with placenta previa and is now going to have a c-section. Christiansen announces that he and Thack have practiced a lot and are sure they’ve got this down. They get started, making the first incision as Thack and Christiansen narrate. The woman starts bleeding heavily and suction begins, the blood flowing into a large jar nearby. Things quickly start going pear-shaped. The nurse announces the pulse is weakening as Thack realizes the baby’s trapped in the cord. A second jar begins to fill with blood. Thack manages to remove the baby and hands it to a nurse to be intubated while he and Christiansen try desperately to control the bleeding. A third jar swiftly begins to fill. The bleeding finally stops, probably because the woman’s basically out of blood. The mother is dead, and the baby too. Well, that’s a shitty day at the office. Christiansen looks up at the full gallery and quietly says that it seems that they’re still lacking, and he hopes this has been at least a little instructive.

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