The Knick: Peekaboo, I See You

Image courtesy Cinemax/Anonymous ContentPreviously on The Knick: Edwards found a new way to treat hernias in the Clandestine Clinic while Thack struggled to keep placenta previa patients from bleeding out and Bertie struggled to gain his father’s approval. Cornelia and Speight were hot on the trail of the person spreading typhoid throughout the city, and Gallinger’s daughter Lillian came down with meningitis.

It’s very, very early in the morning and the phone rings at Bertie’s place. It’s answered by his dad, who is about as pleased as any dad is to be roused from sleep by a phone call for his kid. He fetches Bertie and, after a quick chat, Bertie hangs up and tells his father he’s needed by Thack at the hospital for an experiment. Of course, his dad berates him for that.

Bertie reports to the Knick, where he finds Thack, high off his ass, in one of the labs with two naked Chinese prostitutes—Wu’s girls, apparently. Thack babbles a bit about prostitutes with unlikely names before going back to whatever it was he was doing. Bertie asks how long he’s been working and hears he’s been at it for two days, with no rest. Bertie quietly suggests that his strung-out boss might benefit from a nap, but Thack’s wired and tells Bertie that the girls charge by the hour and are a bit pricy, so scrub in, my boy!

They start talking about the placenta previa patients and what could be changed. Bertie suggests slowing down the rate of dying and Thack says they need to put pressure on the bleed from inside the womb. He produces a contraption that he’s created that’ll allow them to insert a basketball, essentially, into the womb and inflate it, putting pressure on the wound to slow the bleeding and give them more time to perform the procedure. Bertie thinks it’s brilliant. Thack’s apparently been testing it on the two prostitutes, which sounds really horrible, but they don’t seem all that upset. He and Bertie are going to continue the testing so they can evaluate all the variables before using it on an actual pregnant woman. Bertie is visibly uncomfortable and points out that they’re not pregnant, so that’s going to pose some challenges because things are a bit different in a non-pregnant woman. Thack’s like, ‘yeah, well, pregnant prostitutes cost more, so we have to make do!’

Bertie: Okey dokey!

Edwards washes up in the Clandestine Clinic and heads upstairs for work.

The Gallinger baby’s doing horribly, but Eleanor is determined she’s doing better, because look how nice and pink her cheeks are! Harriet gently tells her that the child’s cheeks are pink because her fever’s gone up. Things are going very, very badly, and she tells Eleanor she has to prepare herself for the worst. Eleanor won’t hear it, saying that Gallinger will think of something. She begs her defeated husband to save their child, reminding him that he said there was ‘almost nothing’ they could do, which she takes to mean there must be something with even a tiny chance. There is, but it’s awful: venesection. Basically, bleeding the kid. I’m not sure how that would help in this situation, but I’m not a doctor, so I’ll just go with it. Harriet says there’s almost no chance that’ll help, but there’s hardly a mother on earth who’ll just shrug and say, ‘oh, well, we gave it our best shot. Better luck next time!’ as they watch their baby die. Eleanor tells them to do what they have to do.

Thack puts the girls in a cab and thanks them. They ask if he’ll be by that night and he says he’ll try, and he’ll settle with Wu later. Bertie cutely waves them off. As he and Thack talk about the success of their tests, Bertie suggests filling the bladders with water instead of air so they have more weight and better conformity. Thack loves the idea. He’s also clearly still on something, because he’s much more exuberant than usual. He tells Bertie he’s making great progress and gives him a big bear hug before swirling into his office.

Speight and Cornelia go over a map of the typhoid infections, which include several private homes and two hotels. Speight says that the one thing they have in common are peach Melba desserts prepared by a cook named Mary Mallon. Typhoid Mary. Cornelia says that these sorts of families only hire through two employment agencies, so they should start there in order to track her down.

Barrow is examining a secondhand x-ray machine that a salesman has brought in. The salesman offers a demo and Barrow asks to have his head done. The salesman sets it up and gets started.

The Gallinger baby has died, and she and her parents are having a death photo done. Yes, that’s right, a family photo with their dead baby. Because the Victorians were masters at maximizing the creepiness and tragedy of death. The photographer tells them that now they’ll always have a photo to remember Lillian by. Yes, what a lovely souvenir of the worst thing that has ever happened to them. Gallinger, cradling the baby, looks at his wife, who just looks shell-shocked and bewildered, as one would.

Cornelia finds Edwards outside in the garden at the hospital. They chat about the typhoid cases and Edwards teases her in a brotherly way about how much time she’s spending with Speight. Cornelia notes that he doesn’t look great. He says he’s working all day and researching at night and doesn’t know how Thack does it. She remembers Edwards’s incredible stamina when they used to play as kids, and Edwards responds by complimenting her mettle, pointing out that working at the Knick is no picnic. She agrees.

Barrow admires his head x-ray and starts to haggle with the salesman. They agree on a price of $2000. As he fills out the cheque, two giggly, idiotic nurses come in and ask for a turn on the new machine. The salesman, Mr Luff, agrees, and playfully starts getting them into position. Girls do love new toys!

Thack walks through the halls with Abby, who’s being discharged. She’s still got her arm held up over her head so the skin flap can stay attached to her nose. He offers to get her a cab but she says she prefers to walk. He says it looks like rain. ‘It always looks like rain if you only look at the clouds,’ she responds. Hurl. Seriously, who wrote that dreck? Also, I don’t feel like that even makes much sense.

Thack gets on the phone, looking for previa cases. As he hangs up, Luff swings by his office, clearly not for the first time, and pitches Thack on a business possibility: becoming a spokesdoctor looooong before Dr Phil or any of his ilk were even thought of. But Thack actually has a few principles left and tells the man to go ahead and insert his head right up his ass before marching the hell out of his office.

Bertie is finally out on his date with Lucy, walking around a park and talking about pretzels. Yes, seriously. I don’t think Bertie dates much. He asks how she likes working at the Knick, which turns into a chat about whether or not you can truly know a person from the first moment you meet them. How is that a discussion? Of course you can’t truly know a person having once glanced at them. They talk about Thack and how unique he is. Bertie says his father doesn’t understand the genius of Thack and how intoxicating it is. Lucy totally understands. And then they go back to the pretzels. Oh, Bertie.

Edwards goes to that bar where he finds people to fight with. He eyes one guy and the bartender warns him away from him, because he’s a trained professional. Edwards knocks back his drink and then goes and deliberately bumps into another guy to provoke a fight. Jesus, Edwards, buy a speedbag or something. Rig one up, it can’t be that hard for someone who built a secret clinic in a basement.

Later that night he ices his injuries.

Awesome, a baby funeral. Harriet arrives and gives the Gallingers her sympathy. Eleanor, clearly really out of it, says that Lillian’s going to get better and it’ll all be ok. She asks Harriet to pray for her daughter and Harriet says she will, before asking Gallinger for a word. They move to the side of the room and Gallinger says Eleanor won’t accept what’s happened, she even prepared breakfast for the baby that morning. Yeesh. Harriet says it’s not uncommon, but she totally has a solution: a baby girl’s been left at the Knick, why not just shove her in Eleanor’s tragically empty arms? Problem solved!

If you’ll excuse me, but holy shit, sister, are you deranged? Not only is that an insultingly horrible and stupid idea (whatever, one baby’s as good as another, right?) isn’t there any better time or place to propose this than at Eleanor’s baby’s funeral? Good god.

Harriet goes to leave and finds Cleary waiting for her outside. He tells her they have business to attend to and shows her to a waiting carriage.

Speight and Cornelia arrive at Mallon’s new employers, which seems to be a boardinghouse for well-heeled young men. They’re just being served up some peach Melba by Mallon herself. Speight introduces himself and Cornelia and Cornelia confirms with Mallon the various places she was employed and tells her that they suspect she’s infected dozens of people with typhoid. The boys tucking into their desserts practically start a spitting contest right then and there as Mallon laughs and points out that she’s not sick, so how could she be infecting people? Speight approaches her and tells her she’s going to be taken to the Knick—kicking and screaming if need be—to be tested. She tries to make a run for it, but Cornelia gives chase and full-on tackles her, sitting on her until the officer they’ve brought along catches up and takes Mallon away. Speight laughs that he’s never seen a society girl join the fracas that fast. Feminism!

Cleary drinks tea while Harriet gathers her things and gives the patient’s mother some quinine to give to the girl she’s just given an abortion to. The mother thanks her sincerely and Cleary asks for $8 payment. Woah, that was a really steep charge in 1900. Particularly for very poor people. Outside, Harriet smokes and tells Cleary she has a lot of trouble sleeping, because she can’t always convince herself she’s doing the right thing. She’s ok with today’s work, because the poor girl was a rape victim, but other days it’s a bit harder. Cleary shrugs that he doesn’t let these things bother him, because he figures hell couldn’t possibly be worse than the awful, awful orphanage he came from in Ireland, where the nuns were happy to beat you all the livelong day. Harriet says that not all nuns are created equal. He knows. The two share a flask. I’d like to point out to Cleary that, while hell might not be worse, it is for eternity, whereas the time in the orphanage obviously eventually came to an end.

A woman goes to see her doctor with bleeding and the doctor diagnoses placenta previa. He quickly gets on the phone to Bertie, who rushes to fetch Thack. Thack shoots up ahead of surgery.

He and Bertie scrub in. Bertie’s a bit anxious, since they haven’t had any luck with this procedure so far, and it’s depressing as hell when it fails. But, they must forge ahead. The new equipment is prepared and deployed and the incision is made. Thack confidently says that the new procedure will slow the bleeding to a trickle, eliminating the risk of a bleed out. The baby is delivered healthy and alive and handed off to a nurse. The equipment is removed and the mother quickly stitched up. She’s going to be fine. Thack introduces the crowded gallery to the Christiansen-Thackeray-Chickering Placental Repair. The crowd erupts in applause.

Later, Thack pours a drink for Bertie, who’s fast asleep in an office. Bertie wakes and joins the toast to Christiansen. Apparently Thack’s been working on writing up the procedure since the surgery ended, which is why it’s super late at night now. Thack tells Bertie to go home and rub his dad’s face in his success. Bertie departs and Thack goes to fetch his notes from another room, but while he’s going over them he hears a noise and, when he goes to investigate, finds the Clandestine Clinic. Yeah, it was only a matter of time.

Thack: OMFG, do you have any idea what this’ll do to our liability insurance premiums?! Get these people out of here!

Edwards complies, clearing out the waiting room he’s got going, which is full of people who now have to take their pain-ridden and bleeding selves elsewhere for treatment in the middle of the night. Once they’re gone, Thack reads Edwards the riot act for doing this and Edwards pretty much shrugs, ‘eh, in for a penny, in for a pound. Hey, come check out my operating theatre and recovery ward!’ Thack’s head somehow doesn’t explode when he sees this, but he does basically tell Edwards he’s fired. Edwards points out that he’s been given nothing to do since he arrived, which is ridiculous, so what did Thack expect? Edwards calls Thack a racist but Thack puts his foot down and tells the nurse that she’s going to have to find the current patients somewhere else to go. He turns and sees the vacuum Edwards has been using and asks about it. Edwards shows him how it works and Thack seems interested. Edwards also shows him his publication-ready writeup of his hernia solution, which includes detailed photos. Thack is definitely interested. Thack asks why he risked his career like this. Edwards says he never intended for this to go so far, but once he started making breakthroughs, he had to see it all through. He’s now talking Thack’s language. Thack tells him this writeup is excellent, but they need to shut down the Clandestine Clinic. Edwards agrees, just as soon as his current patients are fully recovered. Thack warns him to keep the door to the hospital locked, so someone less understanding doesn’t stumble across this place. But Thack’s also going to make this hernia procedure the new hospital standard. Edwards wants to publish his findings, but he’s savvy enough to know he’d never get published on his own in America, so he needs a co-author of excellent standing. Someone like…Thack. But if Thack wants to hang onto this brilliant scientific brain, he needs to start treating the body it’s in as an equal and let Edwards into the operating theatre regularly. Thack agrees, formally welcoming Edwards to the Knick.

Cornelia returns home to find her father, fiancé, and future father-in-law playing cards. She kisses Philip and the men ask how the hunt for their infector is going. She says they caught their girl that day. Philip chuckles and says that this experience working at the Knick will give her the best stories to tell her girlfriends over lunch once she’s a married lady with nothing else to do. Cornelia looks a tiny bit depressed at that, and bids them all goodnight.

Upstairs, she starts to get undressed. Someone knocks on her door and, thinking it’s the maid, she invites them in. It’s not the maid. It’s Hobart, her father-in-law to be, who immediately tells her to start calling him ‘dad’ and begins creepily talking about how much he always wanted a daughter, and look, now he gets a lovely one! Mind, this is all going on while she’s standing there in her underwear. He goes on to remind her that he’s invested a lot of money with her dad, and he’s sure all these arrangements will provide lots of rewards and pleasures for all of them. I can’t quite express how squicky this entire scene is, and how freaked out Cornelia clearly is. He kisses her on the cheek and she manages not to scream as he slithers back out.

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