Clive Owen Discusses ‘The Knick’s’ Shocking Cliffhanger

The knick clive owen dead
Courtesy of Cinemax

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched the season 2 finale of “The Knick,” titled “This is All We Are.”

The season finale of Cinemax’s “The Knick” was filled with a series of shocking twists, but none more surprising than the climactic surgery that seems to have claimed the life of Doctor John Thackery (Clive Owen). His insistence on performing a complicated surgery on himself proves tragic, leaving him collapsed on the operating table as his colleagues scramble desperately to try to save his life. Bertie does a mad dash down the hall to find adrenaline — and then we see a clean, sterile operating room, leaving us guessing as to his ultimate fate.

Here, Owen talks to Variety about “The Knick’s” shocking cliffhanger, and what he’s enjoyed most about playing Dr. Thackery.

Just to get the elephant out of the room, is the last we’ve seen of you as Dr. Thackery?
It certainly looks that way.

Did you and Steven talk at the beginning of the season about your fate? Was this pre-conceived or did you just get the script and realize where this final episode was going?
It is something we talked about. It was always kind of the intention to do a two-season arc. I signed on for the two seasons, and it was always about trying to map a journey through that factory. The beauty of doing this project is the script came in very good shape and all ten were written before we turned over anything. So we have the full arc of the whole journey of the character before we even begin. For an actor that’s great, you have time to plot things through properly.

Bringing this kind of talent, between you and Steven, made it feel like something never seen on television before. Was that your feeling too when they first came to you about playing this role?
What I do know is when I read the first script it was unlike anything I had read before. I felt it was so rich, it was so intelligent and well researched and informed, but also sort of exciting and wild and unpredictable and I felt it depicted a time and a period in a most unbelievably and original way. That was kind of what brought Steven in. It’s what brought me in and then those writers delivered script after script that maintained that level.

What is it that Steven brings? Obviously he’s known for movies but he’s made a great jump into TV. 
I think it’s the fact that he is such an auteur and he is completely on top of all aspects of it. You’ve got a singular vision — I mean, “The Knick” is Steven Soderbergh’s vision. It’s him that sort of pulled everybody together, he’s the heart and soul of it. Knowing that as you go in there, to have that continuation, to have that one singular vision, is what separates it from a lot of stuff.

In terms of this season, obviously the addiction was at the forefront again. What did you find most challenging about playing Thackery this season, opposed to the season before? 
I felt that the first season was very ambitious and we developed the characters and built this really incredible world. The beauty of doing the second season is that you can hit the ground running and you don’t have to do all the building up. The audience had followed him and knows where he’s at and it means you can take things farther. That’s the beauty of television, you have the time to do that. The great thing is we don’t have to do any establishing when it comes to season two — we can just move forward into deeper stories.

If this is the last time we’ve seen you as Dr. Thackery, what is it you’ll miss the most about playing this role?
It’s two things. It’s working with Soderbergh and being in such good hands. The best thing for an actor is when a director really really knows what they’re doing. Then the actor feels that, one, they can concentrate on what they’re doing and, two, that they’re going to be looked after. That’s a joy, that’s a privilege for an actor to go, “I’m in great hands and I can concentrate on what I’m doing and he can capture it in a really beautiful way.” The second thing for me is playing such a brilliantly drawn character. It was original, it was visceral, it was unpredictable. It was crammed full of life and as an actor, that’s a joy to get your teeth into.

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  1. Mark says:

    Guys, I loved the character Thackery too, but you guys need to let him go. He is definitely dead as a doorknob. Even with the adrenaline, it is very unlikely he survived. His character arch is done. He has nothing left in his life…he was even starting to mentally and emotionally detach himself from surgery and everything else for that matter at the end. Anyways, they need to kill off Lucy…at first I liked her character, but man she is really grinding my gears as of late.

  2. Doug says:

    They left it open for Thackery to return. Birdy shoved adrenalin in his chest right before they cut out and no one really said anything about it afterward. I expected the third season to show him get back up after the adrenalin shot. But I guess Clive Owen doesn’t want to sign up for a tv series. To bad cause he was great. I loved both seasons but I’m not interested in a third if Clive Owens isn’t there as the main character.

    • Fran Peral says:

      I suspect Soderbergh intentions for season 3 are to make a jump in time, probably to 1940 and in season 5 repeat again an go to 1970. Something like true detective but with the same casting, playing different doctors in a later stage of medicine, so it’s possible that we see Clive Owen in the future roling another great doctor inspired in a real character.

  3. Dick says:

    My favorite program. I doubt that I will watch it without Owen. I have NO interest in the Edwards story.

  4. Kristina says:

    I think there is a lot of potential for the third season. It seems that a new fields of exploration are appearing. I think, there is a big change that Dr. Thackery will survive, because nothing is state for sure (It certainly looks that way, but it doesn’t mean it is that way). But even if Dr. Thackery’s death is real, it still brings a lot of meaning for whole series: (un)limitlessness of a man. Maybe it’s an opportunity for Dr. Edwards to make his best.

  5. jadeva says:

    I absolutely LOVE this show, from the very first episode. Sincerely hope, they decide, to renew it for another season. There are some situations, that could be explored, further. For example, Neely taking a ship, to get far, far away from her selfish,murdering brother, perv father-in-law, and husband, she doesn’t love. I liked her and Algie together, however forbidden their love was, during those times. Also, Algie needs to get his head back in the game, and not be punked by any of his peers. He’s as excellent surgeon, and should be given the opportunity to show more his surgical skills. I still think, there is a lot more to tell, especially, with the mystery of Dr. Thackery’s life, or death. BRING IT BACK!!! please?

  6. They always take off my favorite shows—Dr. Thackery must survive. He IS the show.Please give me something to live for on TV. Television is absolutely boring without House, Jackie, and now The Knick. I think I’ll buy a radio.

  7. Geneva says:

    Please don’t stop watching the show.😭. We still have to find out if Cornelia turns her brother in for the fire, their dads death and all the no good he e has perpetrated from coast to coast. Then there is the wedding of Tom and Harriet, Herman’s tricks will come to light. We must see if Lucy marries Cornelia’s brother. A zillion reasons to continue watching. Whew!!! See you next season.

  8. Geneva says:

    Omg. We lost another character. You know Dr. Thackery was just crazy enough that he could bring himself back from the dead🙈🙉🙊

  9. Maya says:

    Sorry, I’m afraid the show lost me. The assisting doctors would have jumped in by force as soon as he announced his peripheral vision was impaired. Instead, they stood there watching his aorta bleed out as if it was ‘too late’. Then suddenly they jump in. Then the last minute cutaway as he’s stabbed with Adrenalin. And now a variety article calling it both a cliffhanger “and” a shocker. You can’t have a shocker unless he dies and you can’t have a cliffhanger unless he doesn’t. The net result is an unsatisfying conclusion of any kind.

  10. trixi says:

    The Knick without Clive Owen’s, Dr. Thackery will be ever so boring. I guess it’s the end of the road for me.

  11. Nancy Warner says:

    It’s me again……Please bring Clive Owen back as Dr. Thackery. He’s the reason I began watching the series in the first place.

  12. Alan says:

    thackery’s heart was stopped and it ended with bertie injecting adrenaline to restart his heart. So I’d say he still alive, maybe in a coma or something as Edwards was taking over thackerys work

    • HristinaB says:

      Adrenaline alone doesn’t restart hearts. If it could, then no one would ever die, would they? Medicine is actually much more complicated than what you see on TV. Thackery is very much dead and gone.

    • Dr. Edwards– whose bad eye is now blurring the lettering in Abigail’s notebooks– was finding a new career direction in working with the addicted patient as had Abigail. Using her notes, and his own powerful intellect, he may find his way into psychology… I found the Edwards story at times very painful and angering, but compelling, also loved his affair with his childhood crush Neely, nicely erotic; as an Irish American I found the Irish stereotypes of Season 1 toned down considerably and the principle Irish characters, Harriet and the sweet big man, certainly made more human. And to have a TV show address the absolute madness of the Eugenics movement in that era was so powerful and refreshing. Art should confront people with our history, warts and all, and a sometimes harsh look at ourselves. Will definitely watch Season 3 without Thackery as it’s Soderbourgh I tuned in for ;)

  13. Shawnte McCall says:

    It’s weird that Variety would give a spoiler warning for an article that has a headline that spoils the exact topic in question.

  14. David I. Goldstein says:

    Hoping that Clive Owen is resigned for a third and fourth season, with Dr. Thackery having fulfilled his own death wish fantasy while high on cocaine and losing blood. Owen is one of the finest actors in my six and a half decades and it would would a terrible shame to allow his character to be so short-lived. Don’t blow this, Cinemax, you have another “House.”

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