The Knick: The Silver Lining

Image courtesy Cinemax/Anonymous ContentPreviously on The Knick: Edwards opened a secret clinic in the basement so he could treat the city’s non-white patients and actually get to practice some medicine for a change. Barrow was in deep with a nasty lot led by Bunky, and Cornelia was helping Speight investigate the sudden typhoid outbreak amongst the city’s upper crust.

Bunky’s men bring one of his thugs into a place that makes the Clandestine Clinic look like the Mayo. The totally incompetent doctor checks the guy out and initially says he should just get some rest and he’ll be fine, but Bunky points out that the guy’s leg is all messed up, on account of the bullet in it. The doctor takes a cursory look and gets ready to just saw the limb off. Bunky, who originally pooh pooed the idea of taking the man to the Knick because he didn’t want to be indebted to Barrow (he prefers it the other way around) finally decides that seeing a real doctor would be a good idea.

Thack is awakened at home by the ringing telephone. He answers thus: ‘Whoever the hell this is, go to hell.’ I would love to hear his outgoing voicemail message.

Thug is loaded into an ambulance and taken to the Knick.

Edwards has a new patient in the Clandestine Clinic. It’s a Cuban man who has a nasty hernia in his genital area. Edwards diagnoses him using a lot of doctor-ese, which the guy calls him out on. Edwards apologises, tells him to get dressed, and they’ll talk treatment. The man puts his clothes back on and Edwards explains that he needs surgery, but he’s been having trouble getting silk sutures to hold in this type of surgery, so he wants to try using silver. The man asks what happens if the surgery fails and hears that he probably won’t die, but he’ll be in pain forever. The man chuckles that every cloud has a silver lining, and now he will too. That’s the spirit!

Bunky’s thug is brought into the hospital, which apparently is barely staffed overnight. Thack has come after all and Barrow quickly explains that the patient is Bunky’s brother-in-law, so please don’t screw this up. Thack sees Edwards passing by and tells him to scrub in, because there’s nobody else who can help out at this hour (Gallinger doesn’t have a telephone and Bertie’s too far uptown).

While they’re scrubbing in, Thack notes Edwards’s bruised knuckles. Edwards jokes that he’s a knuckle dragger.

Barrow takes a seat with Bunky and the others in the gallery and brings up the matter of compensation for bringing the man to the hospital. Bunky offers $500 if the man doesn’t lose the leg. Barrow says that barely covers a few months’ interest. Holy shit, Barrow, how many busy fleas have you been buying? The doctors come out and Bunky objects to Edwards and warns him not to get too close to his guy, unless he fancies hanging from a lamppost. Edwards just gives him a ‘Jesus, these people! Why didn’t I stay in Paris?’ look. Bunky turns to Barrow and says that, if his BIL loses the leg, they’re all dead. That’s encouragement! Surgery commences. The man’s been shot, and it’s not looking good. Edwards advises amputation, because the tissue’s already showing signs of necrosis. Thack runs out of the operating theatre and fetches…bolt cutters? Why were they in the prep room? He uses them to do something—cut the jagged edges of broken bone, I think—which allows him to fix the leg.

Speight and Cornelia meet with the housekeeper and staff at another house that had a typhoid infection. The only thing of interest is that three staffers were released the week before, two of them assistants to the cook, because they didn’t need quite so many people.

Thack and Edwards relax outside the hospital and talk about the hot and humid weather. Barrow joins them, takes a pull from a flask, and offers it to Thack, who takes a drink and hands it back. Edwards’s face: ‘yep, par for the course. Greatest city in the world my ass.’ He excuses himself, leaving Barrow to ask after their ‘personage.’ ‘Still bipedal,’ Thack replies, adding that, if things continue to improve over the next 24 hours the man should be back running Barrow’s favourite whorehouse in no time at all. Barrow suggests Thack get cleaned up for a meeting with ‘the Edison people.’ Thack instead watches Lucy arrive for work on her bicycle. Oddly, she’s already wearing her uniform, even though we’ve previously seen her going home in street clothes. Does she keep the street clothes at the hospital and change out of her uniform at the end of the day? Why? Also, wouldn’t her uniform get filthy on the ride in? It probably would nowadays, and New York was even grosser back in 1900.

The Edison people present an early x-ray machine to Thack and Barrow. Thack thinks it’s pretty awesome and goes to show it to Cornelia, who also thinks it’s pretty cool. The rest of the board, however, refuses to pony up $3000 for ‘some sideshow attraction.’ Thack warns them that this will soon become a standard and if they don’t get one they’ll fall behind the other hospitals. A board member says they just don’t have the cash and should instead focus on moving the Knick uptown so they can attract wealthy patients instead of all the gross poor people taking over the neighbourhood. Cornelia thinks they should stay put, because the poor need medical attention too. The strawmen on the board couldn’t care less. Barrow just looks exasperated.

After work, he seeks refuge with his favourite prostitute, sighing about how peaceful he finds this place and how he wishes he could take her away somewhere. He tells her he tried to get the money together to do just that, but he made some bad investments with the cash he embezzled. Easy come, easy go.

Later, he’s met in the hallway by the policeman who was eyeing him going into the brothel a couple of weeks back. The man says he wants a favour and Barrow says that, in that place, $4 will get him any favour he wants. Wait, so if each turn is $4, then how the hell did Barrow rack up a debt that accrues $500 in interest over the course of just a few months? That’s insane! The cop wants an introduction to Bunky, because he has a business proposition for him. Basically, he wants to become a procurer for Bunky. Barrow agrees to help, but not for free, of course.

Cleary has found a patient for Harriet: a Chinese woman who doesn’t speak English and doesn’t seem all that keen on having this procedure. The husband tells Cleary that they’ve reconsidered, but Cleary insists and the husband goes to talk to his wife. Cleary ushers Harriet in and she goes and sits down beside the wife and tells Cleary to clear out. ‘Can’t I watch?’ he asks, creepily. Why the hell would you want to, Cleary? Jesus. He absolutely cannot, so he collects the husband and goes to a nearby pub.

Gallinger returns home to a frazzled wife and a screaming baby who can’t seem to keep anything down. He examines her and immediately tells his wife to get the baby ready to go to the hospital, because it looks like she has meningitis, just as I feared.

Harriet finds Cleary in the bar and tells him Mrs Sung didn’t go through with it, because she was seven months along and the child was already moving around. Harriet tells him it would have been a sin. It also probably would have been extremely dangerous to the mother. They talk about how they could both go to prison for doing this and that the Knick may close down and move uptown, which worries Cleary. Couldn’t he go along, or would the commute be too far? She tells him he needs to smarten himself up if he’s going to work at a higher-end hospital, and learn to drive a motorized car. They share a rather nice comeradely moment.

Robertson goes out to dinner with Barrow and admires the x-ray. Barrow tries to impress him by mentioning a recent trip to Delmonico’s, but Robertson shuts him down by basically saying, ‘yeah, nobody I know goes to Delmonico’s.’ Guess it’s like the Guy Fieri restaurant of its day. A friend of Robertson’s comes over (a Vanderbilt) and Robertson asks him when he last dined at Delmonico’s. The Vanderbilt says: ‘Ha, ha, who the hell eats there anymore? Just the tourists and riffraff. I’m surprised they don’t sell I <3 NY tee shirts at the door!’ They talk about the Panama Canal and then Vanderbilt spots the x-ray and says he donated two of them to Manhattan Hospital. He wanders off and Robertson agrees to pay for the machine. Never underestimate the power of rich men’s pissing contests.

Edwards works on the hernia surgery with the assistance of his nurses. One of them is operating a camera, taking regular photos as they go along. One of the nurses asks how he managed to get his hands on silver wire and he basically says he pawned his watch for it. Is he not getting paid? In the middle of the nurse’s stitching, they hear someone coming down the stairs and douse the lights. It’s a nurse and some patient, looking for a spot to get it on. Thankfully, she deems the area too dirty and they go to find someplace where she won’t get coal dust on her knees. Classy!

Barrow introduces the policeman, Sears, to Bunky. Sears explains that he sees girls working the street while he’s out on his beat and the sight of his uniform and threat of incarceration makes them mighty eager to agree to any alternatives he might propose. So, he’ll bring them Bunky’s way and let him set them up in his whorehouses. He’s even brought two tonight, as a sort of taster. Bunky looks them over and decides the black girl is fine, but only because she has a nice figure, and the other girl needs to dye her hair red because they have too many blondes already. He tells them to strip while he goes over the way things work: they’ll receive room and board, the cost of which will come out of their earnings, and will be regularly seen by a lady doctor who’ll examine them for illness or pregnancy. Bunky may be an asshole, but that’s a pretty good deal for a woman working the street. Safer and healthier, certainly. He checks them out and decides they’re nice looking before sending them off with one of his guys to ‘test the level of their enthusiasm.’ Ok, that was a little icky. But, I guess, kind of a necessary part of the interview process for this sort of job.

Edwards showers and relaxes in his room at the crappy boardinghouse. But just as he lights his cigar, someone knocks on the door. It’s Cornelia, who urgently tells him there’s something wrong with his mother. As they hurry out, she explains that his mother’s had lower back pain for days and hasn’t been able to urinate. The pain’s gotten worse, so Cornelia’s father sent her to fetch Edwards. Wow, Robertson sent his daughter into what has already been stated is a pretty rough neighbourhood instead of going himself? What a dick. Edwards and Cornelia arrive at the Robertson house, where they find Thack already attending to the patient. He swiftly diagnoses a kidney cyst and pops it, which sounds horrible but apparently does the job. Mrs Edwards hurries to the privy and Thack gathers his things and tells the waiting Robertsons that she’ll be fine and just needs a couple of days’ bed rest. Robertson walks him out and asks how Cornelia’s doing on the board. Thack says she could be running the whole hospital in the next 10 years, but Robertson says that, in 10 years, he expects Cornelia to have become a breeding machine and that he hopes she understands that, after she’s married, she’ll be expected to be the good little angel of the hearth. If that was your idea all along, Robertson, than why did you give her this opportunity at all? Why give her a chance to spread her wing and test her mettle if you want her to be brainless and docile? That just seems strange. And it also seems strange for a character who so clearly admires his daughter’s brain and abilities to expect her to just set all that aside at a moment’s notice, even if it was a common belief at the time. This man just seems really inconsistent to me.

Robertson and Thack reminisce about their time in Niceragua. Apparently something happened down there that put Roberston in Thack’s debt, but we don’t hear anything about it just now.

Bertie looks in on Lucy, playing with a baby at the hospital. I briefly thought this might be the Gallinger baby and, since she’s moving her head, I was all happy that she seemed to be doing better, but no, this, I believe, is that little foundling from a couple of weeks ago. Lucy looks up and sees him and joins him in the hallway, where he admires her natural touch with the infant. Bertie, a little awkwardly, tries to ask her out, but she’s being a bit obtuse, either deliberately or not, it’s not quite clear. Harriet interrupts to ask Chickering to order a praevia case she’s got into surgery, which apparently Harriet’s not authorized to do. Chickering checks the woman out and finally, after Harriet pushes, calls for Thack so they can take this woman into surgery.

Thack shoots up before going in.

As he and Thack scrub in, Bertie admits he’s nervous, thinking of how the last case went. Thack reassures him that this time it’ll be totally different.

It totally isn’t. The woman bleeds out, just like the last time. And I guess the baby dies too, though it’s not stated. They just can’t seem to get this done fast enough to avoid disaster.

Harriet loads ice cubes and cold water into a basin attached to some cap that’s on little Lillian Gallinger’s head, I guess in an attempt to cool down her brain and bring down the swelling. The child continues to howl and now she’s got a bulge in her forehead. The Gallingers hold her, looking helpless, because let me tell you, there are few, if any, sounds worse than your infant wailing in pain and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. I’m guessing this creature is some sort of fancy animatronic, and I’d hate to be the poor person who drew the short straw and had to leave off creating Ewoks for the new Star Wars movies so he could create a freakish looking infant that could tremble and scream like its brain was exploding.

Harriet goes and tells Thack about Lillian.

Thack: How the hell did an upper middle class surgeon’s kid get poor-it is?

Harriet: Probably thanks to Ratbite McMoron from last week.

‘Just another Tuesday at the Knick,’ Thack sighs.

Later, he finds himself outside, staring at Lucy’s bicycle. She comes out and finds him checking the thing out and tells him it was the first thing she bought after she came to New York, before she even found a place to live. Pretty things are a greater priority than a roof over one’s head. She says she likes riding around the city, because then she feels a part of it. He tells her she looked free when he saw her that morning, and he envied her that. She asks if he can ride a bike and, upon learning he can’t, offers to teach him. He’s terrible at it, until she advises he sing a song to distract himself. He does and magically rides almost perfectly. If only someone had told me to just sing a song, I’d have learned to ride much more quickly when I was young. He compliments her teaching.

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