The Knick: The Busy Flea
August 24, 2014 8:51 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Doc Edwards loses a patient and his composure. Thackery uses cocaine and is inspired by an insipid Southern accent. Barrows lies, cheats, and steals. A contagion is brewing.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden (5 comments total)
Before the disguise came off I knew what the disease would be. Still. 

Okay, the missing nose, yes that hit the mid level of my gross meter. Syphilis is a hell of a disease. ‎ That surgery description is amazing. Bullocks. Your arm attached to your nose. Damn. When all the antibiotics stop working, fucking is going to suck. 

From laundress to surgical nurse. Now that's a promotion.‎

The flea sex scene blew out my gross meter. 

The nun being an abortion provider was awesome. The undertaker continues to be a jerk but now his comments make more sense. He wasn't just picking on her because she was a nun.

Overall, this felt like a pretty slow episode that was all over the place.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:09 PM on August 24, 2014

The last scene of this one was amazing, and a good example of what I was thinking about this show's direction and cinematography being so much more important than its screenwriting. As written, the scene isn't that much. "Edwards picks a fight in a bar, takes it to the alleyway outside, and beats the stuffing out of his opponent." But the way Soderbergh chose to shoot it, with the twin camera rigs up close on Edwards' face and on the back of his head, is so unsettling and intimate that it really works. It's genuinely disturbing, and reveals character in a cinematic way.

And there's something else about the way The Knick is photographed, in general, that seems unusual, and I was having trouble putting my finger on it, but I think co-creator Jack Amiel got at some of it in this interview that aired on NPR.
The dim lighting was Steven Soderbergh's brilliant choice and it was real. This was not an era when you had high wattage light bulbs and everything was lit. It was an era when this was all new and not everything was wired for electricity and we wanted the reality of the darkness and the grit and what life really was like. Technology ironically helped with this because Steven uses the camera called the Red Dragon and it has such an incredibly sensitive light sensor that you can be in a room where two characters are only lit by one candle in the center of the table and you can shoot that scene. It can bring more light or less light. It is extraordinary.

And so Steven really took advantage of that and allowed us to see what the darkness really was back then. And I think it's wonderful. I think it's something you don't see in anything else. Steven also mentioned something that I thought was really interesting - which is that he kept trying to figure out why there was a different quality to the show than anything he'd done before. And when he was editing it he kept looking at it. And what he noticed was that the actor's eyes were different and it was because they weren't in bright light. So instead of dialing down their pupils, they were wide open. And it had a whole different effect and a sense of openness that I don't think many other productions have ever been able to capture.

I'm genuinely surprised there's not more interest in discussing the show here. I think it's damned near the best thing on TV right now.
posted by Mothlight at 8:26 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mothlight, I liked the way the last scene was shot, as well. I also liked that everyone in the bar was dressed up and sweating. It wasn't a cool, air conditioned Cheers.

The lack of interest is probably due in some part to this being on Cinemax.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 9:16 AM on August 25, 2014

Still not sure what to make of this show. I mean, we're watching it and all, but it's just not taking me anywhere just yet, and none of the characters are even remotely likeable, but it's hypnotic in a way, and that electro-ambient score probably has a lot to do with it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:13 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm going through this show just now and it's so much about the setting and environment of that time. One thing that's interesting in addition to the low light shooting is the color. There's a good contrast between daylight and electric light that's actually the reverse of modern films and television. For the most part, the daytime scenes are brighter with much cooler light, everything looks bit cold and blue. The night scenes are lit with the then-new electric lights which are much warmer. I wouldn't go as far as saying it's unsettling, but it definitely makes it look different from a lot off stuff today when the default nighttime/dark basement look is cold with a blue tint. Of course it gets even more interesting when they start turning on the electric lights during the day and throwing that orange light around the operating room.

I'm not sold on the narrative just yet, but I'm not sure that's what they're trying to sell. The characters and production quality are more than enough to keep me going.
posted by dogwalker at 11:13 AM on August 23, 2015

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