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New York City, 1900: The Knickerbocker Hospital is home to groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff who push the boundaries of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. The newly appointed leader of the surgery staff is the brilliant, arrogant renegade Dr. John Thackery, whose addiction to cocaine and opium is trumped only by his ambition for medical discovery and renown among his peers. Into the all-white staff and patient hospital comes the equally gifted Harvard graduate Dr. Algernon Edwards, who must fight for respect while trying to navigate the racially charged city. Trying to maintain its reputation for quality care while realizing a profit, the Knickerbocker makes an effort to attract wealthy clientele, while literally struggling to keep the lights on.
As Barrow and The Knick prepare to move uptown, Dr. Edwards lobbies the hospital board to be appointed permanent chief of surgery in Dr. Thackery's absence. Though his suspension has been lifted, Dr. Gallinger refuses to return as Edwards' subordinate, so he heads to Cromartie Hospital in hopes of getting Thackery to return to work.
Dr. Thackery sets his sights on a return to The Knick - a request that doesn't sit well with the board. After a shocking discovery, Cornelia enlists Cleary to do a dirty job, for a price. Bertie makes a change; Robertson pushes a new subway initiative; Barrow drives up construction costs; Lucy is surprised by an unexpected visitor from home.
Thackery enlists Edwards to help him test a new hypothesis. After rejecting Robertson's advances at The Knick, Lucy learns that confession isn't always good for the soul. Young journalist Genevieve Everidge works on a story about one of Thackery's rivals. Cornelia is dismayed by the limits of her husband's (Tom Lipinksi) sympathies; Barrow faces a new adversary at Tammany Hall; Gallinger is intrigued by a discussion of eugenics at a class reunion; Edwards deals with a surprise visitor.
Abby's worsening condition persuades Thackery to test out his novel syphilis treatment. Edwards comes clean to Opal, but does not get the response he expects. Cleary makes a last-ditch effort to raise funds for Harriet as her date in court arrives. Bertie undergoes physical training; Barrow loses a sponsor; Gallinger's prejudices are reinforced; Cornelia probes a suspicious death; Lucy laments her lot in life.
A subway explosion leads to an influx of patients at The Knick, but little margin for profit. Pursued by Henry, Lucy takes to heart advice from one of Ping Wu's girls. An addict's misfortune gives Thackery an ideal test case for his latest theory on addiction. Bertie submits his adrenalin research to Zinberg ; Cornelia gets a new clue in Speight's death; Barrow repays a debt but gets no credit; Genevieve charms the Chickerings; Harriet finds herself a boarding-house pariah.
Faced with a quandary, Bertie decides to take matters into his own hands at Mt. Sinai, enlisting Algernon to help. Thackery investigates the efficacy of hypnosis, and takes an interest in a pair of conjoined twins. Lucy lobbies Henry for a gala invitation; Cornelia visits the brother of a deceased immigrant with ties to Speight; Gallinger dines with an unwelcome guest; Barrow previews a new home for Junia ; Harriet agrees to make a change.
Fighting his nerves, Thackery readies himself to attempt to separate Zoya and Nika in front of a packed audience. After getting a surprise gift from her father-in-law, Cornelia attends a gala charity ball for the new Knick with other familiar guests. Barrow gets rid of a threat; Opal spoils the Robertsons' good mood. Algernon gets a long-overdue spotlight in the surgical theater, but complications ensue.
Thackery introduces a new kind of cure to his inebriation ward. Brockhurst demands the return of his "girls." Gallinger's relationship with his wife and Bertie's relationship with Genevieve move in surprising directions. Cornelia presents evidence of the company's wrongdoing to Henry. Barrow's troubled marriage comes to a head. Thackery performs plastic surgery on Abby.
Thackery's connection to Captain Robertson, and how the doctor arrived at The Knick, is revealed. The conflict between Edwards and Gallinger comes to a head after a medical-board hearing regarding Gallinger's vasectomies. Cleary and Harriet launch a joint business venture; Lucy shares memories with her father; Barrow confronts the rising costs of living well; Cornelia and Henry weigh the cost of a family crisis.
Thackery eschews Zinberg's advice at Mt. Sinai and opts for a dramatic, and risky, alternative course of action. Cornelia confronts Henry about his role in the family business; Barrow defends his actions at the hospital construction site; Gallinger considers a job opportunity; Cleary refuses to give up on Harriet.
Leon Addison Brown(Jesse Edwards)
Matt Frewer(Dr. Jules M. Christiansen)
Eric Johnson(Dr. Everett Gallinger)
Andre Holland(Dr. Algernon Edwards)
Cara Seymour(Sister Harriet)
Chris Sullivan(Tom Cleary)
Clive Owen(Dr. John W. Thackery)
Eve Hewson(Lucy Elkins)
Ghana Leigh(Miss Odom)
Grainger Hines(Captain August Robertson)
Juliet Rylance(Cornelia Robertson)
Michael Angarano(Dr. Bertram "Bertie" Chickering Jr.)
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