The Knick: Seeing the Light

Image courtesy Cinemax/Anonymous ContentPreviously on The Knick: Edwards dealt with being marginalized at the hospital by opening a secret clinic for black patients in the basement. Baxter’s in deep with some very bad people and paid for it with a tooth, Sister Harriet’s performing abortions for poor women, and wealthy uptowners are coming down with typhoid.

A woman arrives at the hospital and asks the nurse at the front desk where she can find Thack. We don’t see her face, but when the nurse does, what she sees makes her pause briefly, so we know it must be bad.

Lucy is the lucky one who gets to interrupt Thack in whatever research he’s working on to tell him he has a patient calling herself his friend.

Thack: Ha! I have no friends.

But then he catches sight of the woman and knows who she is and seems pleased to see her. Her name is Abby, and when she steps forward, we see that she’s wearing tinted glasses and a metal covering over where her nose should be. This is apparently a fairly new development, but Thack does not show his surprise. Thack brings her into his office and dismisses Lucy.

Abby sits and we quickly learn that she and Thack used to be close. Very close. Thack, treating her more gently than we’ve seen him with anyone else (and to be fair to him, he’s generally quite nice to his patients) offers to take a look at her and see what can be done. He removes the glasses and the nose and we see that she has no real nose left. Ahh, syphilis? Yes, indeed. She explains that she’s been with two men in her whole life: Thack and her husband, and it wasn’t Thack, obviously. It was her husband, who cheated on her with some girl at his office and got infected. Man, that’s a hell of a double whammy, isn’t it? You’ve been betrayed and you have a horrible, disfiguring disease on top of it? She’s understandably still bitter. Thack does not judge, just carries out the exam, noting that she has good capillaries, so there’s that. He explains that she can essentially have a skin graft done (they could do that in 1900?) but since there’s no cartilage or bone structure left, it’ll just be a covering for the hole she has now. He recommends a surgeon, but she really wants him to do the procedure.

Barrow goes to collect a body he’s been promised, only to find out it’s been sold to a higher bidder: Cornell paid $75 for the corpse.

Back at the hospital, a very flashily dressed woman arrives and soon finds the newly returned Barrow (who, by the way, is nursing a rather puffed-out cheek from his backroom dentistry last week). She’s his wife, Effie. He’s in the middle of some discussion with a couple of nurses, but Effie insists on being prioritized, so he takes her into his office. She immediately scolds him for not introducing the nurses, but he explains that he knows she doesn’t care about them.

Effie: Of course not, but now they know that, and I can’t have the peons thinking I don’t care! It’s so ill bred!

She starts comparing him to her father, something she clearly does frequently, and Barrow, who does not have time for this, reminds her that her father was a bankrupt, which puts her into a pout. He apologises and explains he’s in a lot of pain. She moves on to business: she wants cash to take some friends to lunch, get some things for the kids, and do a little shopping for herself at Bonwit Teller. He obligingly (though not enthusiastically) hands over a wad of cash from his desk, trying not to look sick as he does so. On her way out, she asks if he’s seen a pair of pearl earrings that have gone missing. He suggests the maid took them and she tells him to fire her in the morning.

Edwards has the two boiler stokers in the Clandestine Clinic so he can find out how busy that part of the hospital is at night. Not very, unsurprisingly. It doesn’t seem all that busy during the day. Edwards is pleased to hear this and asks the two men to consider helping him out, in return for a little extra scratch. He lets them think about it while he goes to check on some practice stitches that one of the hospital laundresses is doing on chicken skin in an adjoining room. They pass muster. He makes her a surgical nurse.

Barrow bids everyone good night at the end of the day and makes his way to the morgue. He uncovers one of the bodies, then covers it back up and moves onto another one. He removes its toe tag (in case it’s important, it looks like this was one of Gallinger’s patients) and gets ready to do whatever it is he’s going to do.

Edwards goes up to the ward to score some supplies. One of the patients wakes and calls for the nurse, so Edwards goes to check on him. He looks at the man’s chart, asks where it hurts, and gives him a shot to help with the pain.

Barrow drags the body out to the ambulance bay, which is fortunately Cleary free at the moment.

A young black woman runs into Thack, who’s about to go into the pigpen, and asks for the back door to the kitchen. He points her in the right direction, then goes into the pen to get his guinea pig. We can just overhear the woman saying she’s there about the washing job.

Barrow hands over the cash he owes to the moneylender and demands his tooth back. The guy hands it over, but Barrow swears it’s not his. How would he know? And why does he want it back anyway? It’s not like it could be restored, right?

Barrow leaves and goes to a nearby building, watched by a policeman.

Thack removes the dead pig’s heart and starts practicing on it.

Barrow, meanwhile, is clearly at a whorehouse, and a fancy one at that. He’s with his favourite girl, reclining on the bed while she helps him get his shoes off and listens to him complain about how hard his job is. He gives her a gift—his wife’s earrings, of course, which she loves. She puts them on and he admires them. She offers to give him his ‘special gift’ and he asks her to show him ‘the busy flea,’ which I totally thought was some weird late-Victorian euphemism, but it is, in fact, her pretending she’s got a flea running all over her, as she squeals and scratches and removes her corset.

A man arrives at Clandestine Clinic and says he’s there about the washing job too. The ‘washing job’ is apparently this show’s euphemism of choice. Like ‘sketching trip’ or ‘let’s buy a cottage together’ on Downton Abbey. The man is shown in and tells one of the stokers, who’s acting as a receptionist, that he needs to see the doctor. He’s invited to have a seat while Edwards finishes up with another patient.

Edwards is doing surgery, explaining in detail what he’s doing to his new surgical nurses, one of whom is writing everything down. He’s repairing a hernia. The directs the non-writing nurse to start suturing. She’s understandably nervous and uncertain, but he gently urges her to press on and she does.

Gallinger’s wife is trying to translate that French medical article, but it’s not going well because her finishing school French lessons kind of left out the medical vocabulary. But apparently if you need someone who can tell you what all the words mean on the Delmonico’s menu, she’s your gal! She apologises for having failed at this one thing he asked of her and he reassures her he’s not mad. She asks why he won’t just ask Edwards how to do it and Gallinger pretty much says ‘because I’m petty as hell!’, which we already knew. Their baby starts crying and Mrs G goes to feed her, offering to try translating again later, but Gallinger tells her it’s fine, just leave it.

Also leaving it: a mother, dumping her baby in a basket at the hospital’s door. It’s found by Harriet, who notes that it’s a six-month-old girl. Cleary looks in and comments that the girl’s lucky to have made it this far. Harriet gives him a hard look.

Edwards wakes in the Clandestine Clinic and goes upstairs so he can score some breakfast for his secret patient. He checks the man’s surgical site and tells him he’s going to have to go home and remain on bedrest for several weeks. No work, certainly.

Captain Roberts reads the newspaper over breakfast and complains about how much the Times fawns over Rockefeller. He turns his attention to the maid, who, by the sound of it, has been with the family for quite some time. It also sounds like she’s Edwards’s mother. Iiiiinteresting. After she leaves the room, Roberts asks how Thack and Edwards are getting along. Cornelia says they’re getting along pretty much like oil and water, but Edwards wants to handle the matter himself. Her mother asks if Cornelia’s heard from her fiancé, Philip, who works for her father and meets with everyone’s approval. Mrs R brings up the Met opening the night before and comments on how odd it is that the Abbots weren’t there. They were missing because they’ve been struck with typhoid too. The Captain hopes this isn’t the start of an epidemic.

Harriet takes a wad of cash out of her pocket and drops it in the donations box at the hospital. Presumably payment from last week’s abortion.

Cornelia arrives for the day, while the electrician gets back to work fixing his crappy job. Cornelia goes into the lab, where it seems Thack’s gone through half the herd of pigs. She comments that it looks like a slaughterhouse in there.

Thack: Now you know why we don’t employ any Jewish doctors. Seriously, don’t bring any Jewish doctors here, the black guy’s bad enough.

Cornelia suggests Thack just ask Edwards for help, because he’s pretty good at this whole medicine thing. Thack dismisses the idea and asks just what she wants. She brings up the typhoid spreading through the good neighbourhoods, but he tells her that germs don’t respect bank balances. Cornelia points out that typhoid is fairly uncommon amongst the wealthy because it tends to like crowded, unsanitary conditions. Thack admits that this is somewhat unusual and suggests she call in Speight the health inspector.

The patient Edwards helped on the ward is the other heart patient. He notices that the other guy’s gone and Gallinger briskly informs him that the man died, but it’s ok, they’ll get it right next time!

Harriet and some of the other nuns play with some kids, presumably orphans, in the yard before bundling them inside for lunch. As she passes Cleary, he says: ‘if they only knew what you really are.’ How does Cleary know what happened in that apartment? I suppose he’s just wildly guessing, unless he listened at the door.

A doctor at the Knick checks out the little girl with typhoid while Cornelia talks to Speight about the two families that have come down with typhoid (the little girl’s father has died, for anyone interested). Speight agrees that this is a little unusual and will investigate. Cornelia offers to go along as an ambassador, which pisses him off, but she tells him that rich folk will let him in, but they won’t talk to him unless he has one of their own alongside. The doctor comes out and says the little girl is doing really badly and may have a perforated bowel. Thack is brought in to examine her and he agrees the intestines are already perforated. He won’t operate, though, telling Cornelia the risk is too great. Cornelia reminds him that this is a little girl with her whole life ahead of her, but Thack says she’s too far gone, and anyway, her quality of life would suck because he’d have to remove a lot of her intestines, which are kind of necessary. Cornelia still can’t believe he won’t at least try, but he says there simply isn’t much point.

Gallinger and Bertie are trying to figure out the procedure on one of the pig carcasses, without success. But, as Bertie points out, the room does at least smell delicious thanks to all the electricity they’ve been running through this animal. He’s such a Pollyanna. Gallinger’s trying to decipher the French, but many of the words have about five meanings, which is complicating things. Bertie, too, thinks they should just get Edwards to help but Gallinger still won’t bend, adding that ‘such people’ tend to exaggerate their accomplishments. I don’t think we’re supposed to like him.

The boys report to Thack that they haven’t cracked this procedure at all, but they did get their hands on the original paper. Thack takes a look and, seeing that Edwards is second author, finally says they should get Edwards to help. But he won’t actually do the procedure, he’ll just walk Gallinger through it, because that’s the efficient way to go here. Gallinger asks Thack if he needs assistance on his skin graft that afternoon and Thack says he’s all good. They leave, and Thack gets his drug on.

Edwards drains some nasty leg wound on the ward when one of the stokers comes and tells him he’s needed downstairs. Right now. Edwards hurries down and finds Hernia Guy, who went back to work against orders because he can’t afford to lose his job, and is now bleeding like crazy. Edwards gets him back on the operating table and sends the stoker off to find his nurse.

Thack is doing the skin graft while Lucy and another nurse, Baker, assist. Baker comments that Abbie has lovely hair. Thack gets Lucy to help him with something and Baker clearly takes note and inappropriately asks Thack if it’s true he knows the patient. He ignores the question, so she goes on to speculate about Abby’s life, noting that her nails are too nice for a streetwalker. She sighs that it must be awful to wear your shame on your face like this, and Thack finally loses his temper and growls that if she doesn’t shut the hell up, he’ll happily stitch her mouth and nose shut and watch her asphyxiate. She shuts up. Lucy hides a smile.

Mr Hernia is bleeding profusely. The nurse arrives and Edwards sets her to stitching while another woman tracks the patient’s pulse. The nurse says they don’t have enough thread, so Edwards goes running upstairs, hands and arms covered in blood, avoiding touching anything because he’s sterilized for surgery. He bursts into the surgical theatre, where Thack’s still working on the graft, apologises, and grabs some silk with his teeth. Thack tells him that they’re doing the heart operation in the morning and they’ll need him.

Edwards: Oh, good, I’ll finally get to do something!

Thack: Ha, ha, no. You’ll be standing by while other people do things and then take all the credit when the patient survives.

At this point. Edwards gets this amazing look on his face that clearly says, ‘if I weren’t scrubbed up, I would happily throttle you while also sewing your mouth and nose shut and watching you asphyxiate twice, but I do not have time for this shit right now! And then he runs back downstairs. But it’s too late. The patient dies. Edwards is frustrated. He calls in the stokers, who ask what they should do with the body. He tells them to drop him in the bushes on Murray Hill. Yeesh. It clearly breaks him up to have to do that, but it’s better than having to explain why there’s a dead black surgical patient in the basement.

Abby is wheeled out of the theatre and Thack and Lucy clean up. Thack wonders what the point is in doing this, because Abby’s face will never look the same, and everyone will always know what happened. She’ll spend her life alone, ruined, and diseased. Lucy says that may be true, but she could have a better quality of life than she did before, which is something. ‘In the blackest darkness, even a dim light is better than no light at all,’ she says. Thack considers that…

…and goes to little Cora’s mother and asks to operate on her perforated bowel. She gives her permission for him to proceed. Later, Cornelia goes to the child’s room and, finding it empty, panics a little until someone tells her that Thackery’s operating. She goes into the viewing area of the theatre, where Thack informs her that there’s good news: they got lucky. I guess the little girl’s not going to lose half her intestines after all.

Barrow goes into the lab, checks out all those pigs, grabs a saw, and starts getting to work on one of them. Later, he opens the furnace and puts the pigs’ legs inside. WTF?

Edwards has done what many people do after a rough day at work: gone drinking. At the bar, he starts picking on some guy nearby who’s trying to impress a woman. He keeps pushing until finally the guy invites him to take this outside. That was just what Edwards was hoping for. In the street, he stretches a moment, and then the two men commence their fight. And as we’ve already seen, Edwards is a surprisingly formidable fighter. eE eventually lays the guy out. Feel better now, Algernon? He’s turning into one of the most interesting characters on the show for me.

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