Previously on The Knick: Lucy and Barrow stuck their necks out to get Thack the cocaine he needs just to function, Cornelia discovered that she was pregnant and Edwards couldn’t bring himself to perform an abortion on her, and Eleanor Gallinger went completely crazy.
It’s nighttime. Cornelia waits for an approaching carriage and is startled to find it driven by Cleary. If he’s surprised to see her he doesn’t show it. He tells her to get in the back of the ambulance. On the way, she asks where they’re going, but he will only reassure her that it’s safe and she won’t see anyone she knows there. He chuckles that he’s seen more of her type than she’d think. I can’t help but wonder how she found him in the first place.
They arrive at a boardinghouse or wherever and Cleary laughingly reveals Harriet, who clearly had no idea who her patient was. Cornelia’s even more shocked at this than she was at the appearance of Cleary. ‘We’re friends, Harry. You could have told me,’ she says, a little tearfully. Yes, why didn’t Harriet tell Cornelia, a member of the hospital’s board, about her illegal abortion business? Heavens, Cornelia, use your head. Harriet tries to talk Cornelia out of having the procedure, reminding her that she’ll be married soon and could just lie and say the baby came a little early. Cornelia’s silence explains a lot, so Harriet gently leads her to the bed and promises to get her through it as quickly as she can.
Thack and the others are working on a man who has a brain tumour. Looks like Thack’s back on his A-game, or at least close to it. Yay cocaine! Dr Zinberg is in the gallery and his presence seems to rattle Thack just a little.
Afterwards, Zinberg is shown to the scrub room by Barrow, who explains that Zinberg’s visiting all the city hospitals in the hope of increasing cooperation between all the surgeons. Bertie greets him enthusiastically and compliments a recent procedure of Zinberg’s. Barrow goes on to say that Zinberg’s been invited by a board member to perform a surgery at the Knick. Thack is not happy about that. Zinberg says he wants to try the procedure Thack just performed on another patient, with modifications, and suggests they could compare findings, like grownups who are interested in furthering the cause of medicine instead of petulant children only preoccupied with their own glory. Guess which one of those things Thack is?
Gallinger goes to visit Eleanor in an insane asylum. She’s looking pretty hellish, and when she goes to talk, Everett is shocked to find she’s had all her teeth pulled. Yikes! The doctor in charge explains that insanity is caused by disease and infection polluting the brain, and since the teeth are ripe areas for infection, they had to go. He’s even done it to his own kids, so it must be ok, right? ‘But her teeth, she’s a beautiful woman!’ Everett protests. Seriously, Gallinger? That’s what disturbs you most about this situation? He asks if this is accepted practice and the doctor carefully answers that it’s not widely practiced, but hopefully is colleagues will leave the dark ages and start experimenting with dentistry any day now! Gallinger then asks if it’s been effective. No, not yet, since Eleanor (who is in focus at the front of the shot, alternately staring out the window and flinching at the light in a truly creepy manner) is clearly still pretty nuts, but if they just keep chipping away at her, hopefully she’ll come around soon. They’re thinking about taking out the tonsils and colon next. She’s not crazy enough that she doesn’t flinch and whimper at the very thought.
Barrow’s having a tryst with Junia, his favourite girl. In comes Bunky, who’s seriously pissed off that Barrow has missed yet another payment. He has one of his guys give Barrow a good dick punch, tacks on $1,000 for being late, and doubles his rate for being a repeat offender. He and his guys leave, and Junia goes to fetch some ice.
Edwards finds his mother hard at work in her kitchen, readying everything for the wedding, which is now just days away. He asks after Cornelia and his mother says she seems to have some jitters and is sitting in the parlour. He goes to see her and asks without asking if she’s taken care of things. She tells him it’s done and he asks if it was terrible. She nods, adding that it was their child. He’s sorry he couldn’t help her, and she says she understands. Tearfully, she says they made a mistake. He misunderstands that she’s talking about their affair, which was not what she meant at all. He refuses to believe her, keeps brushing off her hand when she puts it on his arm, and says she’ll have lots of healthy kids with Philip and this will just be a distant memory someday. He excuses himself from the luncheon that day.
Zinberg gets ready to perform surgery on a patient with anaemia. Apparently blood typing is his new area of research, which is fairly historically accurate because apparently the ABO group was discovered by Karl Landsteiner in 1901. Thack and Edwards are in the gallery. The surgery gets underway, Zinberg explaining his work confidently while Thack twitches and dead eyes in the gallery.
Afterwards, Thack gathers Bertie and Edwards in the lab so they can discuss transfusions and why they fail. He wants to figure out blood typing before Zinberg does, purely to beat him to the punch. What a dick. Edwards reminds him that ZInberg has been working on this for a long time and is miles ahead of them, but Thack doesn’t care. He’s seriously paranoid, accusing Zinberg of wanting to steal other people’s work. Edwards is like, ‘uh, most of us call that collaboration,’ but Thack’s too far gone to hear him. Edwards suggests Thack take a step back and realize he’s too coked out to know he’s acting irrationally, but of course Thack refuses to hear him. Edwards gives up and leaves. Thack helps himself to some of Bertie’s blood and tells him to go to Zinberg and get the details of his research.
Barrow comes in and asks for a moment with Thack, whom he asks for an introduction to Wu. He wants Thack to call in the favour Wu owes him for saving his life and have Wu kill Bunky Collier. Thack laughs at the very idea, which seems reasonable. Why would he do that? Barrow desperately says he has no choice but to ask for this, because he owes nearly $10,000, which is growing every day, at an exponential rate. Thack warns him that Wu is not a man to get wrapped up with.
Apparently the luncheon is Cornelia’s bridal shower, which makes me wonder why Edwards was invited. There aren’t any men there at all. She unwraps an ivory piece carved from the tusk of an elephant some woman’s husband shot on safari. Philip’s mother hands her a pair of giant earrings that probably cost as much as my entire apartment building. She explains that they belonged to Hobart’s mother, and of course it was Hobart’s idea to give them to Cornelia. Cornelia manages to smile instead of throwing up at the idea.
Gallinger stomps through the hospital and throws himself on Edwards, accusing him of being the author of all of Gallinger’s misfortunes. Everett, I know you’ve been through the hardest time anyone could even begin to imagine, but how the hell is this, by any stretch of the imagination, Edwards’s fault? Because he was checking ratbite’s chart and you got annoyed and accidentally brushed up against the guy? Oh, why am I looking for logic here? The poor man is just enraged and looking for a target and poor Edwards is really the only target he can settle on. Barrow suspends Gallinger until he’s straightened out, which may very well be forever. Gallinger swirls out and Thack follows, trying to be a bit of a friend here, but Gallinger accuses Thack of giving up on him. Thack reminds him that Everett, not Edwards, was his choice for second in command and he didn’t really have any options. He urges Gallinger to go home and pull himself together. ‘Go home to what?’ asks Everett. Seriously. His big, empty house full of memories of his now-insane wife and dead child? What a lovely refuge!
Thack goes back to his blood research, which apparently isn’t coming along as well as he would like. He goes into the operating theatre, where Edwards is working on a patient. ‘Don’t you look antiseptic,’ Edwards drily comments. ‘Perhaps you would like to complete your task by sneezing into my patient?’ Hee! I mean, not funny for the patient, but heh, Edwards. Thack starts babbling about blood coagulation and citric acid, but Edwards blows a hole in whatever Thack’s addled theory was, so Thack goes to the ward and tells Lucy he wants blood samples from all the nurses and orderlies.
Bertie goes to Zinberg, who totally respects the pupil/mentor relationship Thack and Bertie has and sincerely says he wants to collaborate with Thack. He says they’re really close on the blood typing, but they’re stumbling at the finish line. He hands over all his research to Bertie, saying he doesn’t care who solves the problem first, just so long as it gets solved. Bertie clearly feels guilty, but Zinberg doesn’t pick up on it.
Barrow goes directly to Wu and tells him that Bunky has been abusing Thack and it would really be doing Thack a solid if Wu got rid of Bunky. Oh, Barrow, do you really think this won’t get back to Thack eventually?
Lucy urges Thack to take a break and just sleep, but he’s way too obsessed, certain Zinberg is on the cusp of publishing his findings. He asks her to fetch his ‘medicine’ but she hesitates and says she doesn’t like what it’s doing to him. He doesn’t care what she likes and orders her to do as she’s told. She gets some from the dispensary, so I guess their supply problem has been fixed. Edwards meets her outside and urges her not to give Thack any, because it’s seriously messing him up. She says she can’t, because the alternative is not pretty. Not pretty at all.
Cornelia’s brother returns home and she happily goes to greet him. Later, they chill in her bedroom and he tells her that he told Philip not to mention San Francisco, but dammit if the moron didn’t go ahead and do it anyway. He asks what she’s going to do and she says she doesn’t have much wiggle room here, with the wedding tomorrow. He says she actually can wriggle right out, but she wants to talk about something else, anything else. She asks about San Francisco and he tells her that their father’s been seriously slipping. Business matters out west were a complete mess. Cornelia’s sad to hear this, probably realizing even more that she has no choice but to entangle herself with Philip’s family. Her brother’s sad too.
Downstairs, Mr Roberts works.
The next morning, the maid comes to wake Cornelia but finds her already up. Cornelia watches the coachman decorate the bridal carriage with flowers outside.
At his hotel, Edwards eyes his suit, lying on the bed, and goes out to join the line for the bathroom. The man who gave him so much trouble in the beginning now defers to him, calling him ‘sir’ and letting him jump the queue.
Cleary pages through the Sears catalogue, amazed by what you can buy from it. Amazon would have blown his mind. He calls out to Harriet and playfully asks if she’s looking for a gift for herself. He wants to get an automobile and learn to drive it, laughing at the thought of piloting one around the city. She heads off as Bertie arrives for work and goes right to Thack with Zinberg’s research. But Thack informs him that he’s already solved this riddle. He thinks the key lies in the size of the blood cells. Bertie’s hesitation basically shouts, ‘um, no, crazy.’ He allows Thack to show him some slides, even though he clearly has no faith in anything Thack has to say right now and flat-out tells him that he’s not seeing what Thack’s talking about. He hands over Zinberg’s research and urges Thack to take a look at it and really consider collaborating. But Thack’s still hung up over being first. He then accuses Bertie of being followed, and of being a spy, because there are spies everywhere. Bertie, starting to look sad at the wreck his mentor has become, quietly tells him he’s not a spy. As he goes to leave, he asks Lucy if Thack enlisted her in this crazy endeavor. She tells him she volunteered.
Cornelia heads outside and hands a leather satchel to a coachman.
Thack finds a young girl on the ward suffering from anaemia. He wants to try out one of his theories on her, a suggestion that even Lucy thinks is a poor idea. Nonetheless, she goes along with it. The two of them take the girl into the operating theatre and Thack promises she’ll wake up all better. He gets started, transfusing his own blood into the girl, and predictably, the whole thing goes horribly pear-shaped in seconds and the girl dies. Whether it’s from a failed transfusion or the fact that she’s probably just had about ten times as much cocaine pumped into her body as any normal person can withstand is anyone’s guess. Thack looks terrified, as he stares at the dead body now on his operating table.
Edwards has decided to forgo the wedding and get drunk in his favourite bar instead. Seems reasonable. But once he’s had a few, he goes over to the big guy the barkeep warned him away from a few weeks back and picks himself a fight.
Meanwhile, the cream of New York society (plus Bertie, Harriet, Barrow, and Chickering Sr) arrive at the church for Cornelia’s wedding. As she marries Philip, Edwards gets the absolute shit beaten out of him. You’d think a surgeon would have the sense to protect his hands, but I guess he really needed this catharsis. Cornelia looks lovely but is not wearing the earrings she was given. She gives her creepy father-in-law the side-eye as the vows get underway.
Lucy hurries to the church and grabs Bertie as the bride and groom are emerging. She desperately tells him that Thack really needs some help. He goes with her immediately.
Gallinger goes back to the nuthouse to visit with Eleanor.
Lucy and Bertie go to Thack, who’s sitting on the floor in his living room in shock. Lucy gently tells him the drugs are destroying him and he seriously needs rehab. She calls him John, so Bertie very quickly realizes what’s up. He also takes in the sight of the empty vials and syringe at Thack’s bare feet. Thack weeps and says he’s sorry while Bertie tries to take all this in, his horror increasing by the second. Lucy begs him for help, but it turns out that, when the scales fall from Bertie’s eyes, they fall hard. ‘You have to help him!’ Lucy insists. ‘I don’t have to do anything!’ Bertie shouts. Oh, poor Bertie. He’s tried so long to have Thack’s back and believe the best of him. He went to Zinberg, a physician he very much admires, and takes his research, all the while Thack was nailing his girlfriend and performing surgeries high off his mind. I don’t blame him for being angry.
The coachman delivers Cornelia’s satchel, full of cash, to Cleary.
Bertie’s gone to fetch his dad, whose specialty must be addiction or something, because he knows just what to do. He asks Thack how much coke he’s taken that day. ‘Twelve grams.’ Holy. Shit. Chickering Sr doesn’t even blink, hands Lucy a syringe to keep Thack comfortable, and goes to make arrangements.
Cornelia and Philip leave for their honeymoon, she plastering on a smile as they drive away in a carriage driven by Edwards’s father.
Wu arrives at Bunky’s, assesses the situation, and then takes off his jacket to reveal a chain mail vest and a whole bunch of serious weapons. He makes short work of Bunky’s men and dispatches Bunky himself with an axe to the middle of the forehead. Woah.
The next day, Barrow reads the news in the paper. He goes into the hospital and finds Wu sitting at his desk. See, when Bunky died, his debts didn’t just disappear. Wu’s no idiot and found Bunky’s ledger, which has several columns devoted to Barrow. Barrow’s debts are now Wu’s debts, and really, what the hell did Barrow think would happen? Also, talk about going from the frying pan into the fire.
Bertie and Lucy take Thack to a rehab clinic out in the countryside. On the way, Thack sighs that he was really close to breaking the blood problem but Bertie snappishly tells him that he wasn’t close at all. Zinberg’s research showed that Thack’s theory was totally wrong. ‘You were off by a mile,’ he spits.
Bertie checks Thack into the clinic. Thack is asked if he wants to list someone as next of kin and he just stands there, silent.
On the way home, Lucy cries while Bertie roughly tells her there’s nothing she can do for Thack and it’s no use sitting there worrying about him.
The board meets and discusses the dire situation they’re in: Their chief surgeon gone, patients who can’t pay, a black man in charge. They propose moving uptown and Robertson agrees and calls a vote. It passes.
Thack is shown to a room. The doctor explains that Chickering Sr requested Thack be registered under an alias to protect his privacy. Is there one he would prefer? Thack chooses Crutchfield. I don’t know the significance of that, but there are a few places named Crutchfield, so I’m guessing it’s his hometown. In his room, the doctor begins to treat Thack, checking out all his shooting-up points and preparing an injection to help him through the withdrawal. It’s a miraculous medication courtesy of Bayer, so you know it must be ok and safe as can be. He administers it and Thack lies down. The doctor explains that these treatments will only last for about a month or two, and then he can really start getting better. The camera focuses on the bottle as Thack slides into a blissful sleep and we see that the label gaily says ‘Heroin!’ Awesome!