Review: ‘The Knick’ – ‘Working Late a Lot’

A quick review of tonight's “The Knick” coming up just as soon as I tell you about that habeas corpus they've got in the law…

I hadn't planned on making “The Knick” into a weekly thing, and I don't know if I'll have time or interest in writing up next week's episode (which I haven't seen yet). But “Working Late a Lot” was in some ways an even more impressive technical achievement than last week's riot, finding its spectacle through internal rather than external pressures.

Thack suffering through cocaine withdrawal is, like so many of this show's storylines, something we've seen in broad strokes in many previous TV dramas (and films). But the way Soderbergh shoots and edits those scenes does an amazing job of putting us right inside Thack's feverish body and mind, so we understand what he's going through on a much deeper level than we often get with this plot. In scenes where Thackery appears – unless it's one explicitly told from another character's POV, like when Lucy comes downstairs wearing his shirt – the camera's first and only focus is on Clive Owen's sweaty, uncomfortable face. Other characters exist primarily as blurry shapes on the edge of the frame, or disembodied voices Thack barely notices as he tries to maintain his composure. When he uses one of the cocaine vials Lucy was able to scrounge for him in order to get through the presentation of the hernia paper, the camera movements are fast and jagged (a hand-held sprint up the aisle as he delivers the paper), and when he sits down and listens to Levi Zinberg's own presentation, the lightning-quick cuts back and forth between Thack's face and Zinberg's makes clear just how impatient the drug has made him in this moment.

There are other stories of interest here – Cornelia and Algernon's reckless affair, Gallinger trying to use baby Grace to shake his wife out of her grief-fueled insanity, the ignorant judge letting Typhoid Mary go free – but the star of the show this week, as it's been for the previous seven, isn't any of the characters on screen, but the man who keeps finding unconventional, fascinating ways to film their adventures.

What did everybody else think?