We did not expect Lessons in Chemistry to turn out to be such a feel-good show. What we were expecting was some heavy subject matter that unfolded painfully while filling us with constant rage at the treatment of women in the past. While that is present, what dominates the show are the joys of Elizabeth Zott, and we actually love this angle more because it shows the lesser-represented side of women’s stories, about how they are much more than the troubles in their lives. Lessons in Chemistry Episode 4 was rather beautiful to watch, and this is the recap of it.
How does Elizabeth handle motherhood?
Growing up alone and without friends, Elizabeth had learned to do it all alone. But she probably never expected that there would come a time when she would need help, and her approach of viewing things as a ‘calculated science experiment’ would not work. Elizabeth named her daughter “Mad,” which wasn’t short for anything but a representation of her feelings after waking up from her sedation, all hurt, angry, and worried about getting back to work. When she comes home, she finds that she is having trouble understanding what her baby wants. She wouldn’t stop crying, and she was also not eating anything or drinking milk. Utterly helpless, Elizabeth turns to Harriet for help, and finally, she has some answers. Harriet tells Elizabeth that she is not alone in feeling the way she does. It is entirely natural to want to do things differently in life, and it also makes sense if your first feelings upon seeing your child were confusion and a sense of not knowing what to do next. Despite what is depicted in popular literature, a motherly instinct does not mean that a woman always knows what her child needs or wants. That part still takes some practice, and eventually, one figures out their way around it all and learns to find the moments of happiness. We suspect that since Elizabeth had always considered herself to be a ‘different kind of woman,’ she failed to realize all the things she would have in common with the female experience. It took an empathetic person like Harriet to finally feel included in the gender.
While that is a great comfort to Elizabeth, she still needs to figure out a source of income for herself. It looks like Hastings had his way, and Elizabeth had been fired. Her bills are piling up, and she also needs to pay the mortgage on the house. When she goes to the bank, they refuse to give her a second loan since she is unemployed. Money really breeds some funny insensitivity, and perhaps if Elizabeth was not so consumed by her worries and was a little distant from the topic, she would have found it funny that the banker told her to be grateful for being on the deed of the house before the owner had died.
Elizabeth was a hustler, and she found a way to make money. She had always been good at her job, and her self-awareness of it allowed her to recognize that she was better than the men in her department and that she was the one who helped them often. Therefore, she resumed the helping part off the record and started charging money for it. The people at Hastings needed her more than they ever cared to admit, but all is well now since Elizabeth is finally making money in place of the credit she deserves. It is during this time that she comes to know that Donatti and Boryweitz are working in Calvin’s old lab. Elizabeth immediately realizes what must be happening, and she rushes to Hastings to have her doubts confirmed. She finds that Donatti and Boryweitz have gotten the Remsen grant, and both of them have stolen her and Calvin’s research and are trying to build on it. Elizabeth calls them thieves and challenges them by saying that she would finish the experiment in less time than them and publish it under her own name. This was one of the many reasons why Donatti probably wanted her out of Hastings, so that he could continue with his theft without her interference.
How does Elizabeth get the cooking show?
With time, Elizabeth learns to manage her new life, though she is still hell-bent on continuing her work as a scientist. In a way, only Elizabeth can; she gets all the equipment she needs to her house and makes the bill to Hastings. By pretending to be Fran Frask, an employee of the organization, she has gotten everything she needs without having to pay for it. Hastings stole from Elizabeth, and she could justifiably steal some back for her own benefit.
In the meantime, Harriet’s husband, Charlie, comes back from the war. Elizabeth also makes some new friends who learn to enjoy her company, despite her nerdy ways. Additionally, it might have helped if Elizabeth approached them with less hostility. We are actually comparing the scenes from the beauty pageant in episode 1 to this barbecue in episode 4. The first time Elizabeth approached a group of women, she couldn’t stand them as much as they did not understand her. Right now, her manner of speaking has not changed, but she herself has become a lot kinder, and that has helped.
Throughout this time, Elizabeth has been constantly seeing Calvin around her. It started around the time she was giving birth, and Elizabeth felt the loss of the things she could never do with him. This is the next stage of her grief, as she mourns for the time they did not get to spend with each other. Elizabeth is clearly in a better place emotionally, socially, and financially, and this is when her grief is acting in a more melancholy manner than a soul-crushing, overwhelming way. Meanwhile, Harriet is preparing to take her bar exam and is going to head the association for the housing committee with Charlie’s full support.
Seven years have passed, and Elizabeth is now enjoying motherhood along with managing her new life. Initially, we thought that her daughter might be sad and lonely because, like her mother, she did not know how to make friends. We will do better not to assume such things in the future. Mad, who has been renamed Madeline, is a happy and bright child who is helping the lonely girl, Amanda, by giving her the lunches prepared by her mother. When Elizabeth gets to know of this, she furiously makes her way to Amanda’s father’s office, and as luck would have it, he works for a channel and was looking for a replacement for a show that was going off air. At the end of Lessons in Chemistry episode 4, Amanda’s father not only likes Elizabeth’s cooking, but he has also gotten a taste of her personality, and he recognizes that more people would also love it. He offers her a cooking show, but Elizabeth doesn’t care as she considers herself cut out for a different line of work, but he tells her to think about it.
The men in Lessons in Chemistry have been shown to be generally awful, except for one or two exceptions, like the sweet doctor who invited Elizabeth to come rowing. There is also Charlie, and he may have been supportive, but we won’t bet too much on it since that only happened after Harriet put her foot down. Finally, there is Amanda’s father, who had the decency to roll his eyes when his boss said he wanted someone ‘maternal but sexy.’ Either way, we are loving this show and are excited about what it is going to offer next.