In Lessons in Chemistry Episode 6, Elizabeth reminisces about her childhood. Growing up, her father was a preacher who spoke of being chosen by God, citing signs of fire as his evidence.
It was Elizabeth’s brother, John, who showed her that their dad was a liar. The fires aren’t signs from God, but from combustible pistachio shells. This revelation may have been the beginning of Elizabeth’s fascination with chemistry.
In the present, Elizabeth inspires a woman in her audience to pursue a career in open heart surgery. She also wears pants on live TV. When she shares with Harriet how she feels like she’s making a difference, Harriet struggles to feel excited. She’s trying to organize a peaceful protest against the freeway, but it takes a lot more effort to help her Black community than something like wearing pants. In fact, Martin Luther King Jr. was just arrested for standing peacefully on a street corner.
Elizabeth’s excitement for change is short-lived too, as Phil pushes her to advertise a shortening product she hates. She disobeys on live television, so Phil suspends her–and all nonessential personnel–for three days. This reminds her of her father’s lies and of how he mistreated her brother for being gay.
Later, Elizabeth runs into Fran Frask at the grocery store. Fran apologizes how things ended; she seems truly happy for Elizabeth’s success. Willing to let bygones be bygones, Elizabeth invites her to come to a taping of Supper at Six.
After her suspension, Elizabeth is blamed by those who lost paying shifts due to her stand. This causes her to promote the shortening she hates during the show, as Fran watches from the audience. She then takes questions from the audience after the showing. Fran notices how inane some of the questions are and suggests Elizabeth should have someone screen the questions for her before time. So, Elizabeth offers the job to Fran.
Meanwhile, Mad has been searching for more information on her father. She has no luck calling all the St. Luke’s schools, so she gets Linda and Junior to sneak into Harriet’s office to find a file on Calvin. Harriet catches them, however, and Harriet tells Elizabeth about what Mad has been up to, which causes Elizabeth to realize she hasn’t been talking enough about Calvin to her daughter.
Elizabeth then tells Harriet she can’t come to the protest because the studio will hurt others who work there. Harriet tries to convince her by citing the struggles of Black women. Elizabeth says she cares about women’s suffrage, but her audience is mainly White women. She has a platform she can use, so why isn’t she?
Elizabeth remembers back to how her brother suffered. Her parents would drive him around in the trunk of their car. Then one day, they all heard a gunshot from the bathroom. Her brother died by suicide.
She remembers the words John told her regarding their dad’s lies. “I think that living a lie will eat you up inside. Whatever hell is, it must feel something like that.”
Taking Harriet’s words to heart, Elizabeth announces on her show that she’ll be joining a peaceful protest to fight the freeway. Phil suspends her for four more days, but Elizabeth isn’t scared. She cites how much money he will lose. She won’t feel the loss nearly as much as he will, so he can go ahead and suspend her. She can afford to pay for the crew’s lost wages anyway.
So, Elizabeth attends the protest with Harriet and so many others. When the police show up to tell them to disperse, they all sit down instead, following Harriet’s lead. They then forcibly remove some and beat them. And they arrest Harriet and Charlie. When they get home, Charlie admits to Harriet that he’s terrified for her safety.
After the protest, Elizabeth finally sits down with Mad to talk about Calvin and ask about what she’s learned about him. She also shares with her how she used to remember her brother John when she was the same age as Mad–with pistachio shells.
Mad then feels emboldened to continue her investigations. Most of the letters she got from Linda and Junior were from people asking Calvin for money, except for one from Avery Parker, who mentions St. Luke’s in Modesto. She shares this with Reverend Wakely. Seeing the letter, only then does Wakely realize her dad is Calvin Evans.
The Episode Review
I just want to hug everyone after the revelations in this episode: Mad, Harriet, Charlie, Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s poor, wonderful brother John, whose thoughtful words guide Elizabeth’s life even now. I’m so glad to see his memory, along with Harriet, inspiring Elizabeth to take a stand for more than just the right to wear pants.
One of the things I like about this show is that, in its focus on women’s suffrage, it doesn’t downplay the things women are fighting for in any way. But it does put things into perspective. Elizabeth’s wearing pants is a great victory, but the show puts into perspective how her victories are more easily won than Harriet’s victories. Lessons in Chemistry really navigates those scenarios thoughtfully. I’m excited to see how Elizabeth will continue to use her platform for a variety of different stands–on vegetable shortening, on freeways, or anything in between.
What do we think of the revelation that Wakely seems to know about Calvin Evans? The next episode is titled “Book of Calvin,” so get ready to learn more about his mysterious past!
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|