The second season of Steven Soderberg’s gory medical drama, The Knick, premiers this Saturday. Missed it last season? We give you a walkthrough to help you prep for what lies ahead
Knickerbocker, as New Yorkers are often referred to was also a hospital that operated in Harlem between 1862 and 1979. This becomes the setting of Steven Soderbergh’s brutal and stark fictional medical drama, The Knick.
We see a New York of the 1900s, which is swarming with immigrants and diseases. Dr John Thackery (Clive Owen), the chief surgeon at Knickerbocker Hospital, is a brilliant surgeon and a cocaine junkie.
A scene from Season 1 of The Knick
The titular hospital, or “circus”, as Dr Thackery prefers to call it, is a greenhouse of turn-of-the-century medical procedures especially focusing on the evolution of modern surgery. However, more often than not, The Knick comes across as a horror house where gruesome experiments are performed on live patients and bodies keep piling up.
Not for the faint-hearted, the graphic and visceral show has an ample dose of cutting, sewing and gutting of human bodies, as one would expect from a show set in a period when medical processes were still half-primitive and used antiquated and ghoulish tools. And the way Soderbergh doggedly uses his camera capturing each gash, stitch and skin flap with uncomfortable precision doesn’t make for an easy viewing. In other parts, the story unfolds on the gloomy streets and alleys of New York, luminous in soft gaslights, candles, incandescent bulbs and cold sunlight.
Soderbergh’s handheld camera follows each going on with documentary-style precision, a second camera adding a different perspective. Apart from directing and shooting each episode, the award-winning director also lends his expertise on the editing table and the result is a visual style that is quintessentially Soderberghian.
And it is his all-round and total commitment that makes even the most reluctant audience sit up and take notice of this deliciously gory saga, which begins as a fictional period drama tracing the macabre beginnings of modern surgery, but soon encompasses racism, class-divide, immigration, widespread use of narcotics, and women fighting for their rights in what was still very much a “man’s world”.
The second season begins with Dr Thackery returning after getting treated for his adiction. The sleek trailer welcomes the audience with a huge ‘Quarantine’ placard signalling the bleak future of the hospital. What is in store for The Knick?
Show name: The Knick (Season 2)
Channel: HBO Defined
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starcast: Clive Owen, Andre Holland, Jeremy Bobb, Juliet Rylance, Eve Hewson, Michael Angarano