The Knick: “They Capture the Heat”

knick26Politics. Prostitution. Potential. Payouts. Bodies continue to arrive at the Knick and more surgeries continue to be performed. One patient, in particular, arrived at the Knick with a bullet wound in his upper thigh. Bunky, the very menacing pimp and loan shark, decided to take his brother in law to a man, a barber no less – to extract the bullet. After seeing the crude way the man went about conducting his medical business (not washing his hands, smoking and attempting to use a saw to cut off the leg), he and his men quit the scene. Which leads to Thackeray receiving a very early morning call.

Thackeray and Edwards actually perform the operation together; but had little choice in the matter as it literally was a matter of life or death. Barrow needed a favour (we all know he is deeply in debt to Bunky, who is a gangster and a pimp) and the patient in question was the brother in law of the gangster. While the gangsters observe the operation, several remarks are made about Dr. Edwards and a very clear threat is made against all three men: they had better save Bunky’s brother in law, or they will be shot in the face. The procedure is risky, and after a few terse moments, all goes well. Dare I say that Thackeray did not appreciate Bunky’s remarks about Edwards? Could there be a shift in opinions taking place? The two doctors sit outside, commenting on the humidity. Algenon remarks that it is the architecture of the city. The tall buildings trap the heat, therefore adding to the increase of the outside temperature.

Originally, Thackeray wanted Gallinger to help assist in the procedure, but unfortunately, things do not bode well for baby Lillian. We saw in last week’s episode how Gallinger was treating a patient who has multiple rat wounds. I specifically remember watching that Gallinger did not scrub out properly before heading home to his wife and child. It didn’t sit well with me last week and my gut instinct was right. That poor baby showed signs of meningitis. The frightened couple takes their child to a hospital. You have to wonder, will this medical mishap on Gallinger’s part lead to his medical reputation being put under scrutiny? Can any of the staff treat the baby? And will meningitis be able to be treated successfully?

A new technology is making the rounds and Thackeray and Cornelia are on hand to witness it: an x-ray machine. After sitting in on a somewhat campy demonstration of the product, Thackeray and Cornelia struggle to convince the board of directors to invest in it. It’s always about money and politics. After all, one of the board members reminds them that the money is uptown, where all the upper crust wealthy patrons are. The idea to close down the Knick and move elsewhere doesn’t make sense. Barrow says nothing and slumps down in his seat. After all, he has his own financial woes to worry about. Thackeray speaks plainly: the x-ray technology is exactly what the Knick needs. He wants the Knick to be ahead of the other hospitals in the area. I agree with him there. X-ray technology allowed medical staff to actually see the human skeleton in its’ clearest form, without having to cut into the skin. Thackeray is clearly thinking of the potential that this technology has and how it will forever change the way they do medical procedures.

Some highly unlikely partnerships are examined. We see Cornelia making the rounds with the crude and insufferable Inspector Speight. This partnership is going to break and soon. The man is rude and has absolutely no idea how to conduct his investigation about typhoid outbreak with finesse or discretion. While Cornelia tries to be politically correct and genteel, Speight is ignorant and condescending. Barrow brings in a policeman to see Bunky. The slant: the policeman will round up women who have been arrested and bring them to Bunky, so that they may be employed as prostitutes in his brothels. The policeman makes some money, Barrow gets his share and Bunky, being a businessman, gets new women to work for him. The bottom line is everyone here profits off this. As a woman, I was disgusted at this scene. Yes, I understand that pimps ran the business of prostitution back then and it just really bothered me that the two women who were brought in to be inspected like cattle were the losers in this equation. However, it’s 1900 and once again, I am reminded of the fact that women were not equal to men.


Cleary arranges Sister Harriet to perform an abortion on a woman of Asian descent. Harriet joins Cleary at a bar shortly after, saying that she could not go through with it. We find that Sister Harriet is well versed not only in biology, but in the law. She could not perform the procedure because the woman was in her third trimester. She also gives some good advice to Cleary: learn the law, dress appropriately, watch his manners and shave. This is a side to these two we have not seen before. They actually share a laugh and a beer. Their clandestine partnership has to stay under wraps, if they both know what’s good for them.

Dr. Edwards performs an operation on a Cuban gentleman, and with much success. He has three nurses assist him and while leaves the room for just a few seconds to look for an item, he sees two silhouettes in the next room. He has secretly stumbled upon a lover’s tryst. Who were the two people in question? What did the term ‘French letter’ mean back then? And how long have these two been carrying on? Dr. Edwards, ever cautious, quietly returns back to the operating room, saying nothing. Once home, he is summoned by Cornelia, as his mother was not well. Once at the Roberts household, he finds Thackeray already there. What kind of game is being played here? Was Algenon called just to be there to calm his mother down, or was it to impress upon that once again, John is there, taking the credit and glory away from him? The good news is that Mrs. Edwards is cured of what ailed her. The bad news is that being there must have left a sour taste in Algenon’s mouth. Augustus Roberts shows Thackeray out of his home and in doing so, beings to speak of his daughter, Cornelia. While Thackeray sings her praises, it falls on deaf ears. Augustus Roberts wants grandchildren and could care less that Cornelia is a competent hospital administrator. Guess who was fuming on this inside during this scene?! Hint, the woman writing this review. I really hope that we see Cornelia stand her ground and break it off with her fiancée. She doesn’t need to be in San Francisco; she needs to be at the Knick. She has managed to handle a lot of stressful situations with grace and dignity and she is pretty politically minded. You don’t see too many women playing that sort of role, especially ladies from wealthy families.

Politics come into play when Barrow, having dinner with Augustus Roberts, realizes that the x-ray machine is going to be making a lot of money. If he has half a brain, he’ll invest some money in x-ray technology stock. That might just bring him out of debt. Attempting to name drop with Augustus Roberts got him nowhere; and upon seeing one of the Vanderbilt’s at the restaurant, understands that he may get along better if he keeps his eyes and ears open and his mouth shut.


Dr. Chickering is attempting to romance Nurse Elkins when Sister Harriet runs to get them both. Another praevia procedure goes horribly wrong; the look on John Thackeray’s face says it all. Bertie Chickering tries to rationalize it – they did everything right, used all the right medical tools, etc. It doesn’t matter. The patient died. Again, medicine was an ever changing science back in 1900 and the mortality rate was high. However, I often wonder if it is Thackeray’s ego that gets in the way of his success, or if it is his drug abuse that is infringing on his ability to focus. Only then, in his office, does he hear about Dr. Gallinger and baby Lillian with meningitis. Viewers are reminded of just how fragile the human body is. Could it be that Thackeray and Chickering lacked a certain piece of medical technology that could have prevented the surgery from going wrong? I wonder about that medical vacuum that Algenon is testing out. Who knows? Maybe it could have made a difference.

On his way out of the Knick, he gazes at Nurse Elkin’s bicycle. He envies her; he states that she looks free when she rides it. She gently encourages him to try riding the bicycle. I enjoyed this final scene: for once, the brilliant Dr. John Thackeray did not know everything. He attempts, and after a few rounds, gets the hang of it. “You’re a good teacher,” he admits. “You’re a good student,” Nurse Elkins counters back. A felt that there was a tiny little bit of flirtation going on.

It’s just another Tuesday at the Knick.

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