The Knick: Mr. Paris Shoes
August 17, 2014 7:31 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Dr. Williams starts a side gig because, compassion. He gets into a fight because, badass.  His fellow surgeons keep killing patients and break into someone's personal medical library to forestall admitting they need Williams' expertise. ‎Thackery does more coke.  In hock to the local leg breaker, Mr. Barrows, the hospital administrator, steals from the electrical contractors causing fires, outages, and the death of nurse Not-Lucy. ‎ ‎
posted by Ik ben afgesneden (6 comments total)
Williams wakes up in a shitty boarding room and Robertson wakes up to riches and luxury. The juxtaposition doesn't work for me. 

Sure, Robertson is heading the board solely because her father allows it but even if he didn't her privileged life is secure. Edwards has nothing if nobody will acknowledge it. If the Robertson family didn't blackmail the hospital, Edwards won't have a job. It's not about Edwards working for everything he has, he has nothing as long as nobody will recognize his accomplishments. The board could revolt against Ms. Robertson and she would still be rich and privileged. There's no comparison there. ‎

I know Williams is there to learn cutting-edge surgery techniques but I need more motivation for his decision. His situation is so shitty.  I feel for Edwards. In every way he's a better doctor than the others (except maybe Thackery, but in putting his feelings before his patients, Thackery becomes a bad doctor regardless of his technical ability). ‎

Mr. Cleary, robbing the dead. Entirely expected. Also expected that Barrows is dirty. 

Yay, Frewer appears in a flashback to hire Thackery as his new surgical assistant. Barbers used to do surgery. I know this and I've never understood why, but I love it. Huh. Make-up added jowls to Clive Owens. 

Another surgery. The docs appear to be using the same bowl of water for each surgeon. And, no soap? Also, in trying to cauterize the wound, they set the patient on fire and blow out the brand new $12K electrical system. And killed a nurse. Luckily, it isn't Lucy, Clive's budding love interest. I predict she'll get to do some actual surgery long before Edwards. I'm feeling bored by her character but it is only ep 2. 

Of course, Barrows put Edwards in the basement. ‎Such a perfect quote from Edwards to Robertson: I expect these things. You're upset because you don't.  Of course, Edwards can't "stand up for himself" and demand better treatment from the hospital. He tried. He has no leverage. What is he going to do, threaten to quit or stop treating patients?
Nurse Lucy should pick an accent and stick with it. ‎

I'm all for Edwards starting his own side practice but how long can that last? In any other show, leading a woman into a dark, secluded basement would not end well. ‎That scene gave me flashbacks to Penny Dreadful.

I really don't believe it's that easy to pull out someone's tooth. Barrows deserves it, however. 

The scene with Edwards fighting was totally unnecessary. Other black people wouldn't have had a problem with him. But I get they're trying to show that he can hold his own in a fight. ‎Still, unnecessary and misguided. 
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:56 AM on August 17, 2014

The first episode of this was so fantastic — unnerving, disorienting, transporting — that I suppose the second episode had to be a comedown. Specifically, I felt the first episode had the rich vision and tight construction of a feature film. This one felt more like a TV show -- which, fine, that's what it is, but that first hour was really riveting. I hope it returns to a similar level of tension and spectacle during the run of the season, but then I'm kind of an adrenaline whore where TV is concerned.

Anyway, this time you could feel the pieces being moved around, characters being expanded, situations being defined.

I do disagree with Ik ben afgesneden about the scene in the men's boarding house being "misguided." That seems like exactly the kind of dick-waving that might go in in that kind of situation — someone asserting authority or status over an outsider through mockery and intimidation. And, yes, we learned that Edwards can take care of himself (and has probably been down that road before), which is likely foreshadowing of events to occur later in the season.

It's kind of interesting how this show is dovetailing with Masters of Sex right now — both of them dealing fairly realistically with race and racism in the context of segregation in health care. The Knick is somewhat blunt in this regard so far, but I think what Masters of Sex is doing is more complex and nuanced, if also more contrived. (Everything about Masters of Sex is pretty contrived, but it's a neat little show anyway.)

Love the modern musical score by longtime Soderbergh collaborator Cliff Martinez. Goes a long way to help the show shake off its (necessary) period trappings and feel remarkably urgent and contemporary.
posted by Mothlight at 9:18 AM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with about the musical score. It's very good and sets an excellent tone.

The boarding room is misguided because it is one of those truthiness mis-steps. He's black and a doctor in NYC, in 1900, surrounded by poverty, segregation, and unwanted Americans. Everyone in the boarding house would be lining up to see him not fight him.

Like everyone else, writers watch a lot of TV and absorb these tropes that come to be viewed as history or how things are or how certain people act, regardless of how false these perceptions are (as even a bit of real research or lived experience outside of one's personal bubble would reveal).
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 10:07 AM on August 17, 2014

OK, I see what you're getting at. I just thought it was interesting to see class resentment trumping self-interest in the boarding house but you're right that it's a trope. But I feel like if we're going to start objecting to tropes, there's the whole "brilliant but drug-addicted genius" cliche to deal with. Anyway, for my premium cable money screenwriting is a less interesting element of this show compared to direction -- mood, pace, cinematography, performance.
posted by Mothlight at 3:26 PM on August 17, 2014

The long shot of Barrows walking around, pulling up the shades on all the windows, is a fine example of what a talky scene becomes in the hands of a strong director.
posted by shadytrees at 8:35 PM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I thought that the conflict in the boarding house was believable. I've definitely known people who were successful but ended up unwelcome in their old town/neighborhood because of being seen as betraying their kind.
posted by octothorpe at 9:17 AM on August 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

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