Season two of The Knick ended last Saturday, and hoshit, did the finale go to some dark places. A third season is looking likely, but for better or for worse, we’ll have to wait a while for The Knick’s own patented brand of historical body horror to return. In terms of sheer “Oh, holy shit, gross,” The Knick’s sophomore season had a lot to live up to—this is a show that weeded out the weak of stomach with a graphic caesarian section scene in its very first episode, after all—and it did not disappoint. Or it did. I guess it all depends on how you feel about blood, guts, pus and nose flaps.
Spoilers for all episodes are below. Ditto very gross images. Be warned.
5. “Ten Knots,” the pus scene
That up there? That’s an abscess filled with pus. Bertie cuts it open. It’s disgusting.
4. “There Are Rules,” the throat scene
Fun family time at the Chickering household - Bertie attempts to cure his mother’s throat cancer by injecting the tumor with mercury! Yeah. It doesn’t work. Would someone give this boy a hug after the season he had? He’s one of an ever-dwindling number of characters who aren’t total shits. (Cleary! I trusted you!)
3. “Ten Knots,” the nose scene
In the season premiere, Dr. Thackeray pays for heroin by providing some under-the-table nasal reconstruction surgery during his stay at rehab. Early 20th century plastic surgery: exactly as gross ad you’d expect.
2. “Whiplash,” the brain scene(s)
In which Thackeray attempts to discover the neurological nature of addiction by repeatedly poking a patient’s brain with what amounts to a miniature cattle prod. At the end of the episode, Thack performs a partial (unsuccessful) lobotomy on the same patient. You know, I always thought we needed more brain membrane on premium cable.
1. “This Is All We Are,” the self-surgery
A season that started with pus ‘n’ nose flaps had to end with a bang. Specifically, a cocaine-addled Dr. Thackeray performing abdominal surgery on himself. Everything here—Thack dispassionately slicing his stomach open, the close-ups of him cutting chunks out of his large intestine, the increasing horror of the assembled crowd as they realize he won’t be successful, Thack narrating what is very likely his own death (“My peripheral vision… seems to be dulling a bit… almost…a vibration at the edges… Body temperature’s begun to drop.”)—combines to make this the most gut-churning (pun intended) scene of the season. Hannibal would be proud.
And a bonus:
“You’re No Rose,” the eye scene
At the end of season’s second episode, Soderbergh and showrunners Jack Amiel and Michael Berger engage in some masterful trolling. Algernon needs experimental surgery to fix his failing eyesight; Thackeray is the only one who can do it, but for obvious reasons (read: until recently he was a drug addict) Algernon isn’t too keen on trusting his boss to literally cut into his eyeball with a scalpel. Given the show’s squeamish surgical history, there’s little doubt on the part of the viewers that we’re about to see some gross stuff… until Algernon balks at the last minute, stopping the procedure before it starts. Sodes, I don’t know whether to kiss you or kick you. You asshole.