It’s here. The scene Peter Counter and I have been waiting for. After all his blabbering about the link between the brain and addiction we finally get to see Dr. Thackery pick anyone else’s brain but his own to find the root of addiction. He finds the perfect candidate, Sydney Carton, a morphine addict who just so happens not to have the top of his skull (he also shares a name with the Dickenson character, and I mean everything works out great for that guy, so you know, no foreshadowing here).
Speed balling and confident as all get out, Thack does a kind of electric slide through Carton’s gray matter working him like a marionette in front of a full operating theatre. Thack’s brain prospecting produces various responses from leg jerks to euphoric laughter. “What about desire?” he asks, and injects the man with morphine to find the exact location that lights up like a Christmas tree in response to the drug. “X marks the spot” rejoices Thack marveling at his gruesome treasure map.
And what of desire? “Whiplash” features the indulgence and denial of the desires of the characters. From flirtatious to rapacious, the episode delves into the pleasures and failures that can come from indulging in one’s inner most wants.
The Female Anatomy
Sister Harriet continues her penance at this House Of Mean Nuns. When a fellow boarder gasps in pain she gives her the period talk about how to care for her monthlies. Sister Sadist won’t have any of it, claiming menstrual cramps fall under the umbrella of the curse of Eve. She tells the fellow girls never to fraternize with Harry, the “worst kind of sinner,” and anyone who talks to her will go without food. It makes one think if she was better off in prison.
Lucy continues her work with Feng’s prostitutes and gets a pro tip from one of her patients. The young woman tells her intercourse isn’t the only option when it comes to being with a man, “When he’s in my hand, I can get anything I want.”
Lucy takes the advice to heart, and promptly begins a witty and saucy repartee with amateur pornographer Roberston Jr. She metaphorically has him in the palm on her hand, not falling for his erotic talk about Martinez glasses and nipples. She’s bold with a great line about uteruses, and gives him a quick kiss goodnight.
Roberston Jr. hasn’t gotten into her pants yet, as it seems like the only person he’s screwing is himself. He invested in the subway expansion, and after an accident with dynamite, it looks like he stands to squander his family’s fortune.
After the explosion, a rush of patients are delivered to the Knick, giving Thackery another chance to test out the potential of electricity. He makes a crude metal detector from a telephone in order to find a piece of shrapnel in a patient’s body. Man, this guy is on fire! (Not to be confused with Dr. Mays who did not use electricity correctly and then was literally on fire).
Bertie must be missing the ad hoc procedures of his former maverick employer. With his mother sick with cancer, he’s trying to find any kind of cure for what is ostensibly a death sentence. Ethel Cohen (aka Genevieve Everage, or the other way around depending on how you look at it) his new gf, helps him translate a paper from Polish that expounds on the benefits of radium and it’s effects on malignant tumours. From helping Bertie try to cure his mother, to breaking the anti-Semetic tension at the dinner table with a Jesus joke; she’s a keeper, that one.
Roberston Jr. tells Herman Barrow not to charge the construction company for the care of the victims of the explosion. He says it’s a “civic duty”, but really he knows he’s going to have to foot the bill. Speaking of bad investments, Tom Cleary made up a clever scheme to underpay his fellow paramedics for their delivery of patients, and stood to make a pretty penny if it wasn’t for Roberston Jr.’s selfish philanthropy. Between this and his dead boxer, Tom can’t catch a break.
Although Barrow seems to be pretty flush. He pays off his debt to Ping Wu in full and starts to discuss the logistics of buying his beloved Junia. He’s even going to get her an apartment and everything. Poor Effie, she’s trying to get her husband to fuck her for “hygienic purposes” and tries to seduce him with her sexy nightgown, but no dice; he’s getting ready to leave her and the kiddies for his new life.
“Who died?” -Ping Wu
Thackery takes out the wicked chunk of Carton’s brain, “Gentlemen the source of addiction” he says as he holds up the removed malady. ‘Cause first time’s a charm right? WRONG. He’s essentially lobotomized Carton, who’s post-op check up consists of him staring blankly. I’m not super great at science, but I don’t think he’s going to be okay.
“Even the brain is getting sick of this horseshit.” -John Thackery
Gallinger is still a racist fuck. He tries to belittle Algernon with his eugenics platitudes, while Thackery plays with a dissected brain. Despite the number of brains in the room, Gallinger doesn’t find himself surrounded by anyone like-minded. But that’s not to say that he won’t be finding his niche somewhere else.
The operator of a local “idiot house” seeks out his services. He agrees to administer forced sterilization for young boys with mental “deficiencies” before they are released from the—what one can only imagine—horrifying institution. “Do what the nice man tells you. Remove your trousers and hop up on the table.” A young man enters an examination room with Gallinger, and the door is shut.
“Whiplash” may have opened with a particularly striking cold open, but it’s the final scene that left me chilled.
On The Operating Floor
-Inspector Cornelia continues on her quest to find out what happened to Speight. We’re given so little information, only that it has something to do with the plague. I just want to know what happened already, Geez.
-I look forward to watching Lucy expand her medical skills as much as seeing her sexual bravado. When Thackery puts her in charge of the incoming patients at the ambulance bay, calling her “more than capable” we know that he means it, and despite her father’s demeaning nickname, this cricket’s got smarts.
-I think Opal’s good for Algernon. Her dedication to the civil rights movement is evident in her expression when they attend an event where a character D.W. Garrison Carr, who claims that black history is American history, and the importance of what a man says.
-Roberston Jr. teaches us a lesson that you should be careful who you let take naked pictures or movies of you—a tale as old as the camera itself.
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