Reading Jeff Labrecque’s listicle about Hollywood’s top actor-director pairings—and running across No. 10, Channing Tatum and Steven Soderbergh—gets a person thinking about where The Knick hovers in Soderbergh’s constellation of entertainment offerings. The Knick‘s 87 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating puts it somewhere behind Traffic (for which Soderbergh won a Best Director Oscar) and above Contagion. That the show falls between two such notable ensemble works shouldn’t be a surprise, since one of The Knick‘s greatest strengths is its collection of diverse, engaging performances—from Owen’s mercurial Thackery to André Holland’s continually tested Edwards and Juliet Rylance’s quietly defiant Cornelia.
In “Start Calling Me Dad,” the Knick gang begins tying off threads left dangling in episode 5. For one, Thackery returns to his old tricks with a weekend-long bender of drugs, medical experiments, and prostitutes (not necessarily in that order). Naturally, it facilitates his biggest triumph to date: the solution to the placenta previa deaths. His episode 5 bicycle ride must have gotten his brain wheels turning—not to mention his libido. (He and his “experiment” subjects indulge in a few “breaks” over the weekend.) The breakthrough is so big that he calls Chickering in the wee hours to join him. It seems like a way for Thackery to draw the younger doctor into his debauchery—but with their findings, they’re later able to save the life of a lovely young mother and her baby. Thackery calls it the Christiansen-Thackery-Chickering Placental Repair, and coauthors a paper on it with Chickering.
Cornelia is high on life when she brings down Typhoid Mary—literally tackling the woman—after Speight deduces that the contagion is being spread through peach melba made by a freelance cook. They track her to a boarding house and interrogate her there. The woman seems fit, and takes exception to the idea that she’s the source of the outbreak—spitting in Speight’s face and making a run for it when he threatens her with arrest. Prim socialite Cornelia lunges at Mary and is dragged down the hall, to Speight’s absolute delight.
What does Cornelia receive as reward for saving New York from a large-scale typhoid outbreak? Her fiancé’s dad, over to play cards with his son and her father, walks in on her undressing for bed later that night and stops just shy of directly telling her she’s expected to sleep with him. Cornelia’s confusion, fear, and, finally, disgust are palpable. “Mr. Showalter,” she calls him. “Dad,” he says, and takes his leave of her. She trembles at a development far more heinous than any of us could have imagined—one that smacks of the medieval concept of droit du seigneur (the “right of the lord”). Cornelia will surely make a run for it, right? Right?
NEXT: The Gallinger baby succumbs