Previously on The Knick: A mob tore up the hospital during a race riot, and Thack and Lucy and Cornelia and Edwards started hooking up.
Thack and Lucy are engaging in a little foreplay, which for them includes Lucy asking him to shoot her up. Because nothing gets one in the mood like a little coke. Afterwards, she talks about how her father preaches on the weekends and tells everyone how evil they are 24/7. Thack observes that that must have been fun to grow up with. His own father was a mean, violent drunk who was as devout as they come. It’s kind of turned Thack off religion. And he doesn’t think that sex and pleasure are sinful. He also thinks God’s kind of a jerk for letting kids get sick and decent people starve. She doesn’t seem too at ease with him badmouthing God.
It’s the dead of winter. Thack arrives for work in the morning, along with Bertie, who tries to invite Lucy to an exhibit at the Met that weekend, promising there’ll be no indecent pictures of naked, French Polynesian women. Well, thank God for that. Also, it seems that Lucy has continued dating him even while she’s sleeping with Thack, which, at the time, seems a bit mean and misleading. Dating around’s fine in these enlightened days, but in 1900 if you were seeing one guy, and you were an upstanding young lady, you were basically off limits to anyone else. It also seems unwise for her to be doing this to two doctors who work together. This is going to end badly, you can tell.
Thack breezes past them and goes into the storeroom, where he immediately notices that they’re out of cocaine. Bertie patiently explains that the ongoing war in the Philippines is seriously impacting supply. Thack’s like, ‘I don’t care about the macro-political situations interfering with our lives, we need COKE!’ Edwards arrives and tells Thack he has a couple of last-minute questions about an upcoming presentation but Thack brushes him off.
Board meeting. The insurance company is refusing to cover the damage from the riot because it’s not explicitly covered in their policy. What, race riot wasn’t included in the fine print? What a foolish oversight! This leads to more discussion of moving uptown, while Thack sits and sweats and twitches and finally snaps: ‘insurance, whatever! Cocaine! We need COCAINE!’ Barrow tells him there’s not much they can do about a war and one of the other board members adds that all the hospitals are out or critically low and nobody’s made or shipped a bottle of the stuff in weeks. They’re all going to have to do without.
Later, Speight comes to tell Cornelia that Mary Mallon is petitioning to be released from her quarantine, despite the fact that the tests done on her prove that she’s a carrier of typhoid.
Lucy goes to Thack’s office and presents him with a couple of vials of cocaine that she managed to track down for him. He’s so grateful he actually starts making out with her. Honey, this is quite the red flag. But then, she’s an enabler here, so obviously she’s not going to see it. Edwards stops by to talk about this presentation: Thack’s going to be talking about the hernia operation at a conference that afternoon, which Edwards isn’t even allowed to attend. Thack twitchily goes through the notes and Edwards asks if he’s ok, because he so clearly is not. Thack promises he is. Edwards doesn’t push it.
Gallinger is in the orphanage, snuggling little baby Grace while Harriet beamingly looks on. Harriet tells him the child’s six months old, which can’t possibly be true, because she was six months old when she arrived at the orphanage, and that was in the middle or the beginning of summer. It’s got to be at least January by now (I tried to pin down the month by looking up Typhoid Mary’s history, only to discover that she wasn’t even investigated until 1906, so we’re not actually following history to the letter here). Anyway, the kid should be nearer 1 year than six months. But I digress. Gallinger’s fallen for her and has decided to adopt her. I don’t blame him, she’s adorable.
The Meeting of the Metropolitan Surgical Society gets underway. Thack continues to fidget and sweat and generally look like shit, right in the front row. While the guy in charge is welcoming everyone, he gets up, goes down to the basement, and shoots up.
He then gives his talk in pretty much the way you’d expect someone all coked up to give it. He talks at about 90 miles an hour and rudely refuses to answer any questions. The crowd nonetheless applauds. The next doctor is a recent arrival from Chicago, Levi Zinberg, who breaks the ice with a few self-deprecating Jewish jokes that puts all the WASPS at their ease. He then moves on and presents a new surgical tool he’s created: an illuminating intrascope, which he didn’t name after himself because he didn’t want it listed at the end of any book. The device enables surgeons to illuminate the inside of the human body through a small incision so they’re not always flying blind. Everyone seems pretty impressed.
Afterwards, Zinberg seeks out the surgeons from the Knick and introduces himself, making it clear he’s done his research on this crew. He tells Thack he’s eager to read the hernia paper and Thack says he wants to get his hands on one of these magic scopes. Zinberg says they’re still in the development phase. Thack asks what he’s presenting at the last meeting and Zinberg elects to remain mum for now. He excuses himself and Gallinger sniffs that the man is arrogant, before leaving to go meet Harriet because ‘he has a little surprise for Eleanor.’ Woah, woah, woah, Gallinger. Are you seriously surprising your bereaved wife with a baby? Are youout of your frigging mind? What is wrong with you? Does Harriet know about this terrible plan?
Gallinger peels off and Bertie goes in search of snacks. Thack orders up another scotch, which he starts downing as he’s approached by Chickering Sr., who first observes that Thack looks like shit, and then basically begs Thack to send Bertie away, because Bertie will never leave of his own accord. Thack angrily says that he and Bertie are doing important work together. Chickering presses , saying that his son could have a good, prosperous life away from the insanity of the Knick. Maybe he could work with Zinberg! Thack takes that as a personal affront, asking if Chickering would actually prefer for his son to work at a Jewish hospital than at the Knick. Chickering says he’d rather his son work for the Czar than with Thack.
Eleanor sits in her gloomy house, some neglected embroidery on her lap, staring sorrowfully at nothing, drowning in the silence. Gallinger comes in, along with Harriet and the baby, and announces they’re going to be adopting this child. Eleanor reacts to that about as well as you’d expect. Actually, perhaps a little worse, getting hysterical and crying that they’re cursed and clearly aren’t capable of caring for a child. She won’t be responsible for the death of another child and begs Harriet to leave. Harriet immediately apologises and turns to go, but Gallinger tells her to hold right up, takes the baby, and shoves her into Eleanor’s arms, telling her that his baby needs a mother. Dear God, everything about this storyline is so deeply depressing to me. And this was so poorly handled by Gallinger (and maybe Harriet, depending on how much she knew about this being a surprise). Eleanor might have been brought around to this idea, gradually, but this was 100% the wrong way to go about this.
Cornelia emerges from the hospital and tells the coachman she’s working late and he should go on home. After he leaves, she hops in a cab and directs him to Diggs Hotel. The driver warns her that’s no place for a lady, but she tells him to shut up and drive.
At Diggs, she goes to Edwards’s room and they start making out. Later, she smokes a cigarette, naked, on the other side of the room, for some reason, and Edwards observes she’s been ‘working late’ quite frequently lately.
Cornelia: Yeah, but I’ve been changing up the excuse by also claiming to be going to the ballet and opera. Fortunately, my parents and all their friends are recluses, so nobody’s noticed I’m never seen at any of these high-society functions.
They have some sexy doublespeak, and he asks if she’s scared of what they’re doing. She says she’s only scared they won’t be able to stop. She goes to him and they embrace, rather tenderly.
Thack is just finishing up with Lucy. Afterwards, he shoots up again so he can get some work done. She lies awake in bed, waiting for him, and finally goes downstairs (they’re at his place) in the sexy girlfriend uniform of one of his shirts and bare legs. She offers to make him a cup of tea, but he completely ignores her, he’s so deeply immersed in his work. She suggests she might go home and he tells her that’s fine, as he continues scribbling away. She looks sad as he walks off.
Eleanor Gallinger cuddles the baby, as Everett watches from the doorway, his face inscrutable.
Bertie arrives at the hospital and notes that Lucy’s in early. She shortly says she couldn’t sleep. He asks why not and she dismissively says he doesn’t need to worry about it. Poor, sweet little Bertie says he knows he doesn’t need to, but he still does. Lucy, let this poor guy off the hook already. I know it’s clear to most people that you’re not interested, but obviously it’s not clear to him. Thack comes in and asks Bertie for a word. Before he goes, Bertie tries to joke about writing Lucy a prescription for a large cup of coffee. ‘You’re very sweet,’ she boredly says.
Even Bertie observes that Thack looks terrible and Thack claims he might have a touch of ‘something.’ That ‘something’ clearly being ‘withdrawal,’ and I’m pretty sure everyone knows it. Thack takes Bertie into his office and says they need to rework the presentation on the praevia procedure, because they can’t be outdone by Zinberg. He’s made some notes and shows them to Bertie, and it looks like it may be kind of a lot of nonsense. Bertie’s starting to look a little alarmed.
Barrow’s making the rounds, hand out, to get some more cash so he can buy up scarce supplies of cocaine. He starts with Cornelia’s father, who tells him that he’s kind of tired of being the first stop every time the Knick needs something. He’s over being the Knick’s wallet.
The surgeons examine a patient, Mr Tuttle, who’s got a swelling in his jaw that seems to have been caused by recent dental surgery. Edwards is recommending surgery, while Gallinger doesn’t think the guy’s up to it. Thack yells for someone to shut another patient up and then swiftly orders Tuttle prepped for surgery. Gallinger asks if Thack’s ok and Thack bug-eyes that he’s FINE, JUST FINE! WHY DOES EVERYONE KEEP ASKING THAT?! Edwards aplogises on Thack’s behalf to the patient, who doesn’t care how much of an ass Thack is, all he cares about is not having a black surgeon. Ok, show, I think we get it, everyone in New York is a racist.
Barrow next goes to a monsignor, reminding him of how many Catholics they treat at their hospital, as the camera lingers on all the trappings of wealth strewn about the room. When he gets around to asking for some funds, the monsignor says that they just have so many other hospitals and such to fund, they really don’t have anything to spare.
Bertie, who performed many of the tests on Mary Mallon, is sent to the hearing to represent the hospital. His dad goes along with him. He asks how the praevia paper’s coming along and Bertie admits it’s still being worked on. His dad once again urges him to join his practice and Bertie sighs that he appreciates the offer, but his heart belongs to the Knick. And to Lucy. His dad’s happy to hear that Bertie’s in love and looks forward to meeting her, but he can’t use her as an excuse to stay at the Knick forever.
Mallon’s attorney tells the judge that she’s been imprisoned against her will despite showing no signs of being ill. She’s called to the stand and the judge asks how she came to be in this position. She shrilly says that Speight and Cornelia kidnapped her and shut her away, making awful claims, even though she’s clearly not sick. The judge agrees she seems pretty healthy.
Barrow goes down to the boiler room and announces that two of the men shoveling coal are fired, effective immediately. Well, arbitrarily firing people is one way to make economies.
Bertie takes the stand and informs the judge that, just because Mallon is asymptomatic doesn’t mean she doesn’t carry the disease. The judge asks how many asymptomatic cases there are and Bertie admits that this is a first. But tests done on her poo clearly showed the typhoid bacilli. He does admit that, of 16 tests, five didn’t show the disease, but the fact that she’s been locked up with other typhoid patients and still isn’t sick is further proof that she’s impervious to the disease. The judge thinks that’s proof that Mallon is supernaturally healthy. Bertie, exasperated, snaps that, if the judge had gone to medical school instead of law school, he’d know what he was talking about. Cornelia’s face says ‘oooooh, shiiiit,’ as the Judge pissily tells Bertie to step down.
Mallon is released. Bertie apologises for losing his temper, but even his dad thinks he was right and the judge is an idiot. Mallon rubs their faces in her victory as she goes tripping away, and Speight yells for her to wash her gross self. Or at least to wash her damn hands in between using the toilet and preparing people’s food.
Thack gets ready to go into surgery, but first, he grabs some strychnine from the dispensary and mixes it with water to drink. Okaaay. I didn’t realize that was some kind of painkiller, I thought it was just a serious poison. Guess you just have to be really careful how much you take.
He starts working on removing the mass from Tuttle’s jaw, and he’s not doing so well in the concentration department. Edwards quietly makes a suggestion about the cut, which Thack ignores. Thack loses his train of thought as he tries to tell the gallery what’s happening, and Gallinger asks if he’s ok. Thack says he has a headache and goes to leave. Lucy asks where he’s going, as Edwards prepares to step in.
Gallinger returns home to find Eleanor, still in her nightgown, knitting in the sitting room. She says she’s making Lillian a hat, because it’s cold. He opens the door to the dining room, where the baby’s crawling around wearing nothing but a nappy. He notes that Grace hasn’t been changed all day.
Mrs G: Who’s Grace?
Oh, great, Gallinger, your horrible plan actually broke your wife’s brain. Nice going, doctor! He takes the sobbing baby upstairs.
Mallon goes to an employment agency and prepares to get back to work, using a different name. And the deaths go on.
Thack visits his usual opium den and learns that Wu is adding something to his bill. Thack says that, if he knew that was going to happen, he’d have let Wu choke to death. Wu says he wouldn’t have died, because nothing can kill him, but he won’t forget what Thack did for him, and Thack will always have a friend in Wu. With one hand this guy gives, the other, takes away. Thack orders up three bowls, despite the high price. He tells the girl packing the bowl to just keep him high. ‘You do want to wake up sometime, right, Johnny?’ she asks him. No, honey, he doesn’t.
Thack gets high and flashes back to seeing Christiansen’s body, just after the man shot himself. It’s a Christiansen’s point of view shot, so at least we’re spared the gore. As Thack looks at him, grief and disbelief crossing his face, taking his mentor’s limp hand in his, Lucy comes into the room and stands at the back with another nurse and someone else. Thack quickly covers Christiansen with a sheet.
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