Mary Cybulski/Cinemax
Debbie Day
September 06, 2014 AT 03:00 AM EDT

The Knick’s medical staff members continue dancing around one another like chess pieces on a board, while others live or die by their moves. Edwards engages in a particularly dangerous game, talking Gallinger through a heart surgery up to the point of no medical return, then standing silent, defying each white man in the room to prevent him from taking the scalpel and saving the patient’s life. Thackery sums up the brutality of the Knick under his care and supervision with one flick of the tongue, spitting a threat at Edwards: “If he dies because of your horses—, I am going to stab you in the throat with my father’s Union Army sword.” Cheers to Edwards—who says he would’ve guessed Confederate—for an expertly played match. After successfully completing the procedure, he gets a punch to the stomach from Gallinger for his cheekiness, but still made his point, stood his ground, and survived (as did the patient, fortunately).

Literal gaming kicked off the episode with ambulance driver and nun harasser Cleary gleefully hopping from darts to overseeing a vile rat-stomping wager—this game’s deadly in more ways than one when the rats exact revenge after the contender slips on some guts and falls in the ring. “Started biting the s—e out of him,” as his pal says. Don’t touch any liquids oozing from the man, Edwards warns when the rat-stomper shows up in the Knick’s patient-receiving area. Hello, hantavirus. Hello, plague. What idiot thought up this game? Thackery isn’t in at the moment to quote Shakespeare, so we’ll choose Macbeth’s Act 5, Scene 5 soliloquy in his stead:

…All our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing.

Later, Gallinger attends the guy laid up in a hospital bed, and when Edwards reads his chart, Gallinger gets hostile. Edwards offers to let Gallinger take another swing. He’s ready to accept Gallinger’s challenge this time, but Gallinger smartly backs down, as he is ultimately no match for Edwards in, oh, so many ways.

Edwards steps onto another gaming board when his father, Jesse (Leon Addison Brown), the Robertson’s coachman, picks him up to attend Cornelia’s formal engagement party at the house, which surely won’t be at all awkward for the black doctor. (Must we note that he’ll be the only black person attending as an invited guest?) But first an observation on Thackery, who leaves the hospital at the same time: “Is he really that good?” dad asks. Edwards: “He is, but—I think I might be better.” Care to lay bets? At the house, oblivious Capt. Robertson introduces Edwards to a South American plantation owner, and the two verbally spar about the benefits of free labor. Throughout, Edwards’ face says, “You’re kidding me, right?”

NEXT: Nurse Elkins pays a visit to Thackery’s favorite drug den

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