The Knick, Ep. 2.03, “The Best with the Best to Get the Best”

The Knick, Season 2, Episode 3, “The Best with the Best to Get the Best”
Written by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Airs Fridays at 8pm (ET) on Cinemax

Like many of television’s best dramas, The Knick seems to be more and more intent on not letting its characters get away with a single thing. With at least a half-dozen character actions from the past and present leading to far-reaching consequences in “The Best with the Best to Get the Best”, Cinemax’s medical drama is proving to have quite a healthy memory.

The first of these comes in the form of Thackery’s returning addiction. As hinted in last week’s final moments, Thackery (Clive Owen) is quite a ways from being out of the woods as far as his unorthodox work and play practices are concerned. Knowing full well that Elkins (Eve Hewson) will continue with her periodic checks for needle marks, Thackery has switched to snorting equal measures of heroin and cocaine, in an attempt to maintain his highs while offsetting them with lows. Of course, this too will catch up with him in time, and like any addiction plotline, it may also catch up with the writers themselves. Jack Amiel and Michael Beglar, who have penned every episode of the series thus far, seem far too competent to allow that to happen, but a long-in-the-tooth addiction storyline has overstayed its welcome on many a classic series in the past. Let us hope that Amiel and Beglar are well aware of this trend.

Elkins’ past catches up to her as well, when she reveals her past misdeeds in her father’s church during confession time. While she hopes this will lead her to absolution and absolve her of her guilt, she instead finds herself being beaten and berated by her puritanical father. This confirms the suspicions many viewers likely had about his mental instability during last week’s sermon, but where will this predictable new development lead us? Is Elkins doomed to chase his approval for the remainder of the season, or will she rebel by descending once more into so-called “wickedness”?  It’s almost impossible to say this early.

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Likewise with Dr. Mays (Ben Livingston), another new addition to The Knick. Though he has added some levity to the first few episodes of the second season, Mays remains a wild card, with his true purpose doubtless to be revealed later on. After all, why add new characters to an already large cast only to leave them side-lined for the majority of the season? Expect big moments for both Mays and the senior Elkins as the season continues.

Continuing this throughline, Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) is confronted about his assassination of a crime boss, Cleary (Chris Sullivan) pays dearly for injecting a fighter with cocaine in an attempt to fix a match, and most shockingly of all, Algernon (Andre Holland) is confronted by his wife in the episode’s closing moments. Chalk that one up as a curveball from left field, and maybe the most shocking and dumbfounding moment in the new season. Still, with yet another cast member added to the fold, there’s a new pinball bouncing about on the table and it’s only a matter of time before they begin to collide.

With the return of Thackery’s syphilis patient, a new chase for the cure with Algernon (complete with an insanely realistic thermometer removal from a pig’s anus), and Barrow’s seeming proposal to a prostitute left unresolved, it looks to be a busy season for The Knick.

Featuring the most consistent thematic writing of any episode yet, “The Best with the Best to Get the Best” is a rewarding hour, particularly for careful watchers and seasoned TV veterans.

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