The Authority From Above
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The eighth hour of The Knick isn’t as good as the previous but it continues to be a solid hour for one of this fall’s most pleasant and thrilling surprises. Working Late a Lot is more of a subdued affair compared to the previous week but that bit of a breather was necessary. Even with that breather the show continues to imbue its hour with a dramatic weight signified ultimately in the scene where the Bible Typhoid Mary is supposed to swear on is thrown away because her waste is on it and it’s thusly a contamination risk. No one’s there for them, holding their hands. And the authority figures themselves are breaking apart, their façade of formidable strength falling away as those who look up to them are splintered apart. In the realms of equality, few as they may be, there is still formidable strength.
The equality and frailty come to light starkly with the romances The Knick undertook at the end of last week. Lucy and Dr. Thackery’s affair is a bit more problematic, outside of Dr. Bertie’s affections for her. It is an odd thing, cocaine. The very first use of it that Lucy might have ever seen was when she inserting cocaine into Dr. Thackery’s penis. And now her and Dr. Thackery are shooting and fucking with a frenetic pace that reminds me of the speed at which Superman travels. But there’s an emptiness there that no amount of shooting cocaine could fill. There’s no legitimate companionship that’s blossoming from the authority figure whom Lucy admires oh so much.
The relationship between Dr. Edwards and Cornelia certainly speaks as much. The maturity between them is incredible, considering that even in 2014, the only other example of passionate sex between a black man and a white woman remains Masters of Sex, and that happened a couple of weeks ago (If I’m wrong, enlighten me in the comments below). There’s just a gaze, a gaze that fulfills everything that cocaine could never do. This isn’t a utopia, of course. This is 1900. Cornelia is a wealthy white woman and Dr. Edwards is a black man who, despite his prestigious position now, still rose from nothing. That’s not commendable to everyone.
The Knick has taken a couple of liberties with history as is wont to happen with shows, but it ties neatly into real history quite well here. The Philippine-American War is in full swing after we tried to quote on quote “liberate” it from the Spanish. That has led to a decrease in the quantity of cocaine supplies, much to the dismay of our kind of dear Dr. Thackery. It’s kind of hilarious if not ultimately pitiful and pathetic how he goes around and around, searching for his next fix that ought to come as quickly as possible for the sake of his own bloody sanity. Ultimately, he has to end up at his last resort, Wu’s opium den where the series had opened. Consequently with the storyline of the decrease in available narcotics for him to consume, the episode largely plays off of Clive Owen, who truly has to carry the majority of the expression work this hour and more than lives up to expectations. This could very well be his Emmy submission.
The authority figures failing takes on more than just Dr. Thackery losing functionality without cocaine. The case of doctors maltreating experimentation is a severe breach of trust between patients and physicians and a violent breaking of the Hippocratic Oath. And then enters Typhoid Mary. This case of The Knick dealing with history imbues several liberties with her, considering that the timeline is off. But it fits in so well thematically that I’m willing to be a little forgiving. The judge initially letting her off because the science of typhoid was still new is a logical strand of thought from a narrative point of view, if indicative that those who commit to serve justice don’t always do so. She doesn’t give a damn about the human cost of what she’s done, the lives she’s taken. The authority of the judge set her free on matters he did not understand and she’s seen at the end applying to a new cook job under a different name, dooming more to death at her hands.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Dr. Bertie remaining steadfast in his position at the Knick despite his father’s pressure to do completely the opposite for the sake of Lucy
+Speaking of which, this might be one of the most organic love triangles to originate in a drama
+Typhoid Mary skipping and signing “Sweet freedom! Go **** yourselves!” is one of the darkest things this show’s ever done, and that’s saying something
Episode Title: Working Late a Lot
Writer: Jack Amiel & Michael Begler
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Image Courtesy: Geek Binge