The Knick: Get the Rope
September 27, 2014 4:19 PM - Season 1, Episode 7 - Subscribe

An Irish mob storms The Knick leading to strange bedfellows.

This was an incredible episode. Tense, fast-paced, surprising, lovely gore, and people bedding each other.

The open is Thackery introducing his fool-proof method for finding an appendix after being introduced to one of Frewer's colleagues with fulsome praise. Thackery worries the surgery won't live up to the hype, the audience worries the same thing. After all, we've seen him fail before. We cut to Thackery waking up in his usual brothel to a panicked woman shouting at him. Someone is choking. Thackery performs a tracheotomy** and cut to opening credits.

Next up is the Irish cop-turned-pimp propositioning a beautiful and well-dressed young, black woman. The young woman's BF/husband arrives and in the ensuing altercation, the cop is stabbed.

There's a mob at the hospital. Post surgery the cop dies and his incredibly drunk mother incites the crowd to start killing every black person they can find. The cops eagerly join in and provide the titular rope.

Against objections from the guy whose daughter died of meningitis, Thackery takes in the black patients who were being viciously and brutally assaulted. Once the mob breaks down the doors, Thackery's crew heads to the nearest black hospital with Cleary acting as drafthorse while the remainder of the bedridden patients, fully draped, are playing dead on gurneys. The nuns take the, literally, walking wounded to a church while brandishing a cross like a sword. It is glorious.

At the black hospital, Edwards reunites with a colleague from Harvard. They were each first in their respective classes. The look that Thackery gives the other doctor upon learning this is great. Having now known Edwards, the "first in class at Harvard" (relating to a black person) has meaning for him.

Once rain and darkness sends the crowds home, Edwards returns to The Knick and makes out with Cornelia. It is entirely obvious that they've done this before--though unlikely that they've risked going further. Finally, Thackery's nurse invites him and his cocaine into her bed.

Thackery, his nurse, Cleary and his assistant, and the nuns all make the incredible decision to protect and hide the black patients and Thackery actually goes into the street to physically impose himself between the mob and a man being assaulted. There's a sense that, while they're not bad people, if Edwards had never been hired, all of them would have been content to watch from their windows, and tsk tsk to each other, without lifting a hand to help.

**I have seen a field tracheotomy on TV so damn often that I feel fully qualified to perform said procedure.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden (4 comments total)
"Moses was the one in his year and I was the one in mine" -- that meant the one token black student, not the top of the class. Institutional racism would prevent the latter.

Speaking of which, the show has carefully shown how utterly racist most of these people are, how little empathy they have, how resistant even the most forward thinking of them are to changing, and so to suddenly have most of the cast risking life and limb in the face of a mob, not to protect the hospital, but to help the despised people it's attacking, just seems out of tune.

The mob scenes felt weak to me. Particularly a scene where a man who was milling around out front puts his arm through a glass door pane with entirely no provocation. Felt a bit lifted from The Walking Dead. Cleary as drafthorse was amusing, but added to the general unbelivabiltiy of it all.

rant: When you're lighting a kerosine lantern, you don't put the wick so far out that the flame shoots up the full height of the chimmney as you put it on. That produces a lot of black soot, and immediately blackens the chimmney. Instead, you keep the wick as low as it'll go, and once the chimmney is on and the lamp is drawing, you adjust the flame to a higher level, avoiding reaching a point where there's smoke. The kind of thing you learn quickly by doing, and it quickly becomes habitual. For about a solid minute this show lingered on that being done completely wrong. Since I use kerosine lanterns for 5 months of the year, I suppose I'm over-sensative to this, but it's so easy to get it right that it's the kind of thing that makes you wonder how thin and innactuate the show's illusion of the past really is. (I've also seen Downtown Abbey get it wrong similarly once.)
posted by joeyh at 4:42 PM on September 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Angry mob storms an institution" resonates a little differently in 2021!

Yep, kind of agree, I don't think the "oh but this is just too racist for us, a bunch of doctors who have been clearly demonstrating our racism up to now" turn was really earned. You could maybe argue that protecting life was the breaking point, but we've seen the Knick turning away Black patients in previous episodes; although that's more passive inaction than the "if we do nothing here there will be lynchings" threat here.

Felt a bit lifted from The Walking Dead.

I mean yes, but I think using the visual language of zombie films was a deliberate choice there? There was another shot of the bloodied survivors of the mob's beatings shuffling to safety that felt strongly like it was drawing the same comparison.

(and yes yes yes that lantern's flame did seem very high and very smoky)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:18 PM on March 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

@We had a deal, Kyle -- Glad to see someone else watching this is March of 2021 (although I'd imagine you're done with the series by now).

The zombie movie reference seems entirely appropriate: in Night of the Living Dead, the last human to get killed is a Black man; by whom? A cop.
posted by mabelstreet at 4:10 PM on March 21, 2021

Heh, yes, we binged the whole thing. I should put a post up for Season 2.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:02 PM on March 21, 2021

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