The Knick Season 2 Episode 2 Review: “You’re No Rose”

The Knick

I’ve never really understood what my issue is with The Knick. I’ve felt like I should like it, but never quite do. It’s always felt to me like it was trying to be a prestige TV show, instead of actually being one. Like, it was trying to ape all of the things that make for high-brow television, similar to how an Oscar movie hits certain beats and notes to make you think it’s important, when really it’s just trash.

Last episode, I wrote something along the lines of how I wished Thackery’s storyline was totally cut, because I thought it stood too far apart from everything (at least I think I did; it’s 1 am right now, I’m not checking; regardless, I thought it). But I noticed tonight that it wasn’t so much Thackery and his storyline that I despise, but which Thackery I’m getting.

Standalone Thackery, who deals with Barrow and Elkins and all of that stuff, is boring and stupid and too much of a blatantly constructed hero for me to enjoy. Of course, Thackery wants to treat addiction like a disease, and of course, the board members find that ludicrous. Of course, he thinks virginity is a male construct used to control women, because what early 20th century white guy wasn’t a proto-feminist? I’m not saying he’s wrong, but he is too good of a person to be interesting.

The Thackery that is involved with Edwards? Now THAT is interesting. It probably has to do with the fact that Andre Holland is the best actor in every scene that he’s in, but Edwards!Thackery is so much more complex to me. His relationship with Edwards, and his agreement to help while simultaneously questioning him at every turn is something that has much more depth and charm than anything to do with the hiccup sobs of the clearly underage Lucy Elkins or the simmering anger of Gallinger. They feel like set pieces around him, or mirrors, only things for him to play off of, and to reveal himself in.

I feel the same way about literally anything involving the Cornelia/Robertson/Showalter plot. It’s so boring, but also incredibly unsettling, that I have no reason to really invest in it. I like Cornelia, but she is so damn naive that it can be almost impossible to take her arc seriously. But when she gets involved with Cleary, everything changes.

Chris Sullivan is so charming, and so funny, and also so terrifying that he brings life to every scene he’s in. His portrayal of Cleary is so note-perfect and so engaging that you don’t want to watch anything else when he’s working. He took the Cornelia storyline, which was once again another lesson for her to learn how the real world works (how many more of these are on the horizon? Who knows!), and turned it into a genuinely funny and exciting thing to watch.

All of the weird mannerisms that I don’t like about this show become really amazing whenever Edwards and Cleary are involved. I think that The Knick that I love fits perfectly in with all the quirks of the Soderbergh directing. If the series would just pare down everything, and keep it all a little more connected, then I think I would really like this show more. I think the first season was a little too disconnected in its storylines, and when the writers did bring some of them together, they didn’t quite fit. This season has already shown great promise in improving on that.

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I am actually looking forward to The Knick next week. I definitely did not anticipate that happening

[Photo credit: Mary Cybulski/Cinemax]

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