As of last Friday, The Knick is back, baby! I don’t feel comfortable saying Cinemax’s turn-of-the-century medical drama is the best show on television, because I am physically incapable of keeping up with shows, and thus it is the only one I actually watch. (Seeing posts like this makes my eyes bug out a little.) But damn, as long as you can stomach medical gore—or as long as your reflexes are quick enough to block the screen whenever something gross happens—The Knick is pretty amazing. Steven Soderbergh, history, Clive Owen, and a weird yet oddly fitting techno soundtrack? Sign me the fuck up.
The breakout performer, though, is Andre Holland, who had supporting roles in 42 and Selma. Here plays Algernon Edwards, a black surgeon at the Knickerbocker Hospital who spent last season trying to overcome the racism of his employers, co-workers, patients… everyone. Vulture said it best: “There’s a plot-adjacent, but entirely separate TV series happening in Holland’s facial expressions. We aren’t just watching a character move through a particular time and place; we’re watching him think about what it means to be that person in that time and place, and come to terms with its possibilities and limits. It is more exciting to watch Andre Holland think than it is to watch almost any action scene I can think of. You always know what his character is feeling, but never what he’s going to do next.”
I’m going to indoctrinate all of you. Here’s future Pajiba 10 candidate Holland in season two premiere “Ten Knots,” killing it.
Algernon Edwards stars in I Am So Done With Rich White People, So Help Me God: A Life.
Here’s the immediate aftermath of Algernon’s surprise reunion with Cornelia “Neely” Robertson, the daughter of the rich white couple that employed his parents and sent him through school. Last season, he and Neely had an affair that ended when she got pregnant and had an abortion (that he tried to perform before deciding he just couldn’t do it), after which she married her fiance and shipped off to San Francisco. Oh no, I’m fine.
This. Damn. Scene. You can see so many emotions cross Algernon’s face as he watches Neely and her husband talk about their new living arrangements—heartbreak, disgust, I-think-I’m-going-to-be-sick. Without a single word spoken.
“Greetings, my racist foe. Guess who’s acting chief of surgery now? SUCK IT.”
“No, no, Michael Angarano, you can do the surgery.There’s nothing wrong with my eye because I’ve been going to Fight Club in my off-hours. I’m fine.”
“Screw you, too.”
I loved this little shoulder tap he gives Barrow, the Knickerbocker’s weaselly manager whose constant attempts to avoid conflict and suck up to his superiors hides some serious corner-cutting going on behind the scenes. It seems friendly, but there’s something delightfully passive-aggressive about it. “Hey guy, you’re about to make the choice about whether to do something racist or not. And I’m right here. Watching you. JSYK.”
For our shallow, suit-loving selves. Bask:
And finally, the last two times Andre Holland was awesome: That time he had nothing to do with the nose scene…
…or the pus scene:
Thank you God.
If anyone has anything they want to dicuss—Sister Harriet’s confrontation with Mother Superior in the prison, Clearly being sweet, Neely’s horrific bastard of a father-in-law maneuvering the situation so that she lives in his house (permashudder), the extent to which I really, really hope they don’t go too hard on the Lucy/Thack relationship plotline—pop your impractically white shoes on and let’s go.