The Knick: The Golden Lotus Review

On The Knick, Thack is jonesing for a hot fountain drink, but can't get the real thing. The baby gets thrown out with the ice water.

Last week on The Knickwe squirmed as Thack started to sweat himself into withdrawal. We also watched Gallinger try to force his wife to love a replacement baby and we got to see Robertson and Edwards have illicit sexy time. This week everything went straight to shit. What a glorious episode: Freaking brutal to watch, like, heart wrenchingly awful, but still glorious.

This episode, things only get worse for our twitchy, sweaty, hophead. Thack graduated to burglary in an effort to score some of his sweet, sweet yeyo (my husband assures me this is credible slang for cocaine). Did I say burglary? Add to that, crabby aggression, paranoia, and diva-like behavior. Basically he is being an enormous dick. More of a dick than he was in the season premiere.

After the robbery, which Robertson senior and the weasel bailed him out from in a brilliantly shot scene, Thack stalks Lucy around his drawing room as she confronts him about his addiction. Back lit, his face obscured in shadow, he looks demented; almost devilish. Like Mr. Hyde. When he can’t get his hands on any cocaine he tries to cook it out of some left over cola. Ingenious, but also ineffectual. In the end it is the much abused Lucy who scores Thack more cocaine, and a few grains of opium (just don’t ask what she had to do with her golden lotus to get it).

In other news, Gallinger’s wife managed to kill the new baby by drowning her in an ice water bath (ostensibly to cure a non-existent brain fever). Man, babies just cannot catch a break on this show. I believe this makes four dead babies? If Christiansen blew his brains out after twelve bad outcomes, how many will it take for the rapidly fraying Gallinger to throw himself off the roof? The good news being that he doesn’t have to worry about his wife anymore; not since the men in the white coats came to take her away. The men in the white coats and, wait, was that John Hodgman from “The Daily Show”?! That WAS John Hodgman! Son of a bitch! Is it weird that if I were crazy, I would want Hodgman to show up at my door with a padded wagon?

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It looks like we may have to chuck one more teeny tiny body on the pile. Robertson is knocked up and Edwards is the father. And naturally she wants the father of her unborn child to abort said unborn child because, well, god forbid. Edwards simply cannot go through with it. Look, I will spare the Den of Geek editors a heart attack and will (mostly) skirt the subject of turn of the century interracial relationships. Yes, knocking up Robertson might get Edwards killed. And anti-miscegenation laws would still be on the books until the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case. Making the mixed race whoopie was literally illegal.

But when Edwards suggests they keep the baby, the idea is not completely out of left field. Henry Ossawa Tanner, a famous African American painter, married a white woman in 1899. They spent most of their time in France, the Middle East, and North Africa, but they (and their son) were not strangers to the U.S. either. Interracial marriages, in 1900, were not without precedent.

The fact that that Soderbergh is willing to deal with race, addiction, insanity, and child mortality in the stark and unforgiving context of the time, is absolutely astounding. He does not flinch, he does not blink, and every episode rubs salt into wounds we did not realize were so deep.

@AtTheKnick Fun Fact: In 1900, cocaine was regularly sold in pharmacies – no prescription needed?

True. Although, technically, you still don’t need a prescription for cocaine.

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5 out of 5