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The Knick - Wonderful Surprises + Whiplash - Double Review: "Still A Brilliant Show"



The Knick Season 2 Episode Guide
2.01 - "Ten Knots" - Review
2.02 - "You're No Rose" - Review
2.03 - "The Best With The Best To Get To The Best" - Review
2.04 - "Wonderful Surprises" - Review
2.05 - "Whiplash" - Review
2.06 - "There Are Rules" - Review (Coming Soon)
2.07 - "Williams And Walker" (27 November 2015)
2.08 - "Not Well At All" (4 December 2015)
2.09 - "Do You Remember Moon Flower?" (11 December 2015)
2.10 - "This Is All We Are" (18 December 2015)

Once again, apologies for the lateness in these reviews, I've been busier than expected as of late, but I should be able to get coverage of this Friday's episode up before the next episode airs. So if you're interested in what I thought of Wonderful Surprises and Whiplash, episodes four and five respectively of The Knick's second season, keep reading, but if you'd rather wait for my review of the latest episode, that's perfectly fine. As usual, there will be spoilers, and I'll be treating each episode as different, mini-reviews/recaps as individual reviews as they were written after I watched the respective episode. Now without further ado, let's get on with the show.

Wonderful Surprises

Wonderful Surprises is an interesting episode that continues Thackary's new and novel syphilis treatment as this show continues to develop a complex narrative dealing with multiple character's storylines. As usual, praise must be given to Soderbergh's excellent direction, but also, the writing and the soundtrack, the acting and in general, everything about this show has been on top notch this season. With both these episodes taken into account we're halfway into the series now and it's progressing so well. I don't think that there was actually a single filler episode at all within this season so far, and that's a good thing, especially when we're limited to the ten episode running time. Plus, The Knick isn't really a show that is likely to fall into the trap of your standard medical drama procedural like Code Black on CBS and Chicago Med on NBC. I enjoy both shows to a certain extent, but The Knick, at least in my opinion, is on another level. This episode saw Thackary also continue to hide his addiction problems from everyone else and thus be able to avoid the risk of discovery, combining both cocaine and herorine. However, despite the issue with addiction being an underlying theme of the series, it's pushed to the side as Thackary and Algernon now have a prime first human test subject for their syphilis treatment with Abigail, his ex girlfriend experiencing a condition that's becoming steadily worse, with seizures forcing Thackary's hand. It's something that could go horribly wrong very quickly, with Thackary's plan to infect her with malaria could lead to a fever that would not just kill the disease but also Abby at the same time, and you can naturally see that she's going to be sceptical about this, but what choice does she have? It's death versus the possibility of death, and at this rate, the risks outweigh the rewards.

And they're big risks. It would take years of experiments on animals before human experiments should have even been considered, but despite Algernon knowing that Thackary is crossing a line, going so far as to tell him that "You’re frying her brain!", it did allow for one of the stronger scenes of the episode and it was something that could really have gone very wrong indeed. However, everything seemed to work out OK in the end. Also, in this episode, we may have answered the question concerning Thackary's dreams. It seems to look like that the girl who he saw on the boat was a victim of a failed medical experiment in the previous season, and now she's been replaced by Abigail and as a result this allowed for one of the key scenes of the episode to work really well, but other parts played an important role in how things turned out as well as we shifted focus from Thackary to the secondary players, like Algernon and his wife Opal in Harlem, which thanks to Soderberg's direction, really enhanced the scene where they finally stop being at each other's throats because they've been consistently disagreeing with each other since Opal's return and the admission of Algernon's affair.

Elsewhere at The Knickerbocker Hospital, Gallinger’s racism has been very much an underlying problem of its own throughout Season 2 and continues throughout this episode. It's seen him clash with Algernon before and is starting to tip over when he learns that his wife Eleanor, who's still recovering from time spent in a sanatorium as well as the death of her child, has been the victim of an attempted robbery by some Italian kids. They didn't get away with it though and had to deal with Gallinger's anger in the jail cell, and this is something that's going to no doubt create plenty of problems going forward. Bertie also saw some development in Wonderful Surprises after leaving The Knick. His mother is suffering from issues of her own, and his employer Dr. Levi Zinberg seems to be insistent that there's nothing that can be done to cure her terminal tumour that's coming from her throat. Could this be pushing him on a path back to Dr. Thackary that would see him return to the measures that were the reasons why he walked away from The Knick in the first place? And finally, it's also important not to overlook Cornelia, whose husband is refusing to pay for a lawyer for Sister Harriet, and as a result, she's forced to turn to Tom Cleary, and they come up with a method of blackmail to save her, and it's a plan that works, with Harriet having been spared a prison sentence, but that doesn't mean that she's out of the woods yet and has to come up with her own solutions for when she has to look for a place to stay.

And finally, we said goodbye to Dr. Mays this week in a perfect example of how this show uses black humour effectively. Whilst Mays may well have been one of this season's best secondary characters, he did go out with a literal bang this week as his attempted means to win over the younger nurses at the Knickerbocker lead to his downfall. It shows that the series isn't afraid to kill off its supporting cast in often humorous manner, and works well to freshen up the tone even if it might not be to everyone's taste.

Overall Episode Verdict: A
Positives:
+As usual, the direction + soundtrack + acting!
+Thackary and Algernon testing out their syphilis treatment!
+Cornelia and Cleary's plans to free Harriet!
+Dr. May's death!

Whiplash

The second episode of this recap/review was just as good as the first one in keeping with the overall consistency of the show so far. The opening of the episode continues to delve on the romantic plot between Abby and Thackary, touching on it in the opening scenes where Thackary and Abigail are discussing her continued treatment and how much care she needs. We're not quite done with this subplot just yet and whilst it may not appeal to some, it still manages to be effective, as Whiplash continues to progress forward with the storyline as we enter the halfway mark of the ten episode season.

The subway disaster had a big impact on this week's episode and allowed to increase the tension at The Knickerbocker Hospital. It may be accidental but it does mean that the characters have a whole lot of injuries on their hands in this episode. This means that Henry Robertson, having secretly invested in the new rail system with his family fortune without his father's knowledge, can capitalise on this situation and admit all patients into the hospital under the name "Jane Doe". Henry later on learns that investors will have to pay $1million to those living on Park Avenue, whilst at the same time, he continues his romance with a previously reluctant Lucy who has finally accepted his offers of a date particularly after a conversation with Lin-Lin. Another side character, Bertie, who's dealing with his mother's decreasing health problems this week, was given the OK by his father against the odds to perform a risky operation on her. It's not quite the return to Thackary but it pushes him on the road to becoming like his former mentor, but he is going to seek help presumably from Edwards. Bertie himself explains that those higher up from him are afraid to take risks, and this leads to Edwards suggesting that Bertie look for a Journal that's only published outside of the USA in a move which promptly forces Bertie to loot the documents in question. It's an interesting move by the character that could potentially have interesting consequences down the line.

These two characters above, Bertie and Henry, show just how well that the series can transform people who start out as less important cast members and turn them into key players effectively. Their growth has been fantastic to watch over the course of the previous few episodes as we've watched both characters only get better and better overtime. But at the core of the show is still Thackary, who still had plenty to do in Whiplash. He got kicked out of Abby's house with the drugs playing a part in that decision, but also it's pretty clear that their relationship is in fact, very much not a relationship. The spark has gone and their conversations over the past few episodes, back and forth, hasn't really lead anywhere.

Whilst this episode was very much the build up to what would happen next, Whiplash was still a super effective one with plenty of things going on. I don't think I quite as enjoyed this one as much as Wonderful Surprises but they were still both very close in their levels of consistency, and it will be extremely interesting to see where this show goes next - there's plenty of angles for it to explore as we reach the second half of the season. (I've watched the sixth episode, but have refrained from writing spoilers in this review as there are those of you who may not have had the chance yet). Also, be sure to let me know what you thought of both these two double episodes in the comments below!

Overall Episode Verdict: A-
Positives:
+As usual, the direction + soundtrack + acting! (This is more than likely going to be featured as a positive for every episode).
+Henry and Bertie evolving into major characters!

The Knick continues at 10pm Next Friday on Cinemax.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, Childhoods End, Da Vinci's Demons, Hell on Wheels, The Knick, Manhattan, Murder in the First, Narcos and Veep for Spoiler TV as well as books, films and games for his own blog The Fictional Hangout and contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic.
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