'The Knick' Season 1 Recap Will Get You Scrubbed In For The Season 2 Premiere
There are a lot of different kinds of hospitals on television. If you want a hospital where the doctors are more concerned with their personal lives than their patients, you can always check into Grey's Anatomy's Grey Sloan Memorial. If you want a hospital that's constantly running out of resources, you can check into Code Black's Angels Memorial. But if you want a hospital where surgery is performed with early 1900s technology, you're liable to catch on fire from faulty wiring, and your doctors are addicted to cocaine, then you should definitely check into the Knickerbocker Hospital from Cinemax's The Knick and recap everything that happened there in the series' first season.
The Knick returns for its second season this Friday, which is a bit later in the year than the first season's premiere (which dropped in early August). In fact, the Season 2 premiere date marks almost exactly one year since the Season 1 finale (which aired on Oct. 17, 2014). Since it has been 12 full months since we've gotten any new Knick episodes, there's no shame in needing a brief recap of last season's events before scrubbing in for Season 2.
The Knick tells a sprawling story with such a large ensemble cast, the easiest way to break down the events of the first season is by character. Here's where all the show's most important characters left off one year ago:
Dr. John Thackery (Clive Owen)
Thack's cocaine addiction and rivalry with Doctor Levi Zinberg led him to perilous lengths in the Season 1 finale, "Crutchfield." When he learned that Zinberg was close to a breakthrough on blood transfusions, Thack tried to beat him at his own game, but his rushed experiments and faulty assumptions resulted in him the death of a young girl on his operating table. Finally able to admit his problem, the season ended with Thack in rehab... where he was being treated for his cocaine withdrawal with a new wonder drug: heroin.
Dr. Algernon Edwards (André Holland)
The Knick's first African-American doctor was met with varied reactions (Gallinger's blatant racism, Bertie's affable indifference, Thack's grudging respect). The son of the Robertson family's servants, Edwards fell into an affair with their daughter, Cornelia. Unfortunately, said affair resulted in an accidental pregnancy and, when Cornelia got an abortion against his wishes, he ended their clandestine relationship. The last we saw of Edwards, he was being beaten within an inch of his life after picking a fight at a bar.
Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance)
The head of the Knick's social welfare office and her aged father's stand-in on the board of directors, Cornelia possesses an unusual level of influence for a woman in her time period. But all of that was put at risk when she found herself pregnant with Edwards' child. After her appointment with Sister Harriet led to Edwards breaking off their affair, she brashly married her suitor, dapper Phillip Showalter, instead.
Nurse Lucy Elkins (Eve Hewson)
New to the Knick when the season began, the West Virginia transplant quickly learned the rhythms of the hospital — and the rhythms of Thack's cocaine addiction in particular. She eventually began a relationship with the chief surgeon, even partaking in cocaine with him and stealing the drug from other hospitals when supplies ran low. Elkins was totally on board... right up until Thack killed the young girl with his flawed transfusion attempt. Recognizing that he needed help, she helped get her boss/lover into rehab.
Dr. Everett Gallinger (Eric Johnson)
Gallinger's newborn baby died when he inadvertently brought meningitis home from a patient. His wife Eleanor succumbed to despair and denial, and although Gallinger tried to smooth things over by adopting a child from the orphanage run by Sister Harriet, Eleanor wound up killing it in a delirious haze. In the finale, Gallinger visited his wife in the mental institution, only to learn that her doctor had pulled out all of her teeth, convinced that disease in the mind is caused by infection in the mouth. The doctor then informed Gallinger that her tonsils and her colon will be next to go if she doesn't improve.
Dr. Bertram Chickering, Jr. (Michael Angarano)
For most of the season, Bertie idolized Thack as a mentor and a hero. But when the chief of surgery asked to steal Zinberg's research, Bertie's faith in Thack was shattered. Throughout Season 1, Bertie also struggled with his affection for Nurse Elkins, who was so enraptured by Thack she barely had a thought to spare for the younger doctor. And we met Bertie's domineering father who disapproves of his subordinate position at the Knick and would rather see his son move on to bigger and better things — like working for Dr. Zinberg.
Tom Cleary (Chris Sullivan)
The Knick's roguish ambulance driver is more of a thug than anything else, beating up other ambulance drivers to lay claim to paying patients, stealing valuables from said patients, and blackmailing Sister Harriet when he finds out that she performs abortions. However, when he witnesses a young woman die after a self-administered abortion, he agrees to help rather than hinder Sister Harriet, ensuring her patients' safe passage. Both he and Sister Harriet were shocked when Cornelia herself showed up for an appointment in the season finale.
Herman Barrow (Jeremy Bobb)
The Knick's manager not only has to struggle with a financially troubled institution, but with his own penchant for gambling and sleeping with sex workers. Desperate to rid himself of his debtor, Barrow made a deal with Ping Wu, the owner of the opium den that Thack frequents — despite Thack's warning that he was bargaining with the devil. True to his word, Wu killed Collier and all of his associates... but showed up at Barrow's office to claim ownership over the manager's debt. Looks like poor Barrow simply traded one cruel crime lord for another.
In the closing moments of the season, the Knick's board, compelled by the increase in non-paying patients and Thack's confinement to rehab, unanimously voted to move the hospital from the expensive Tenderloin district to a cheaper lot in Harlem. What will the Knickerbocker — and its staff — look like come Season 2? Find out when the premiere, "Ten Knots," airs Friday, Oct. 16 at 10 p.m. on Cinemax.
Images: Mary Cybulski (6), Paul Schiraldi (3)/HBO