Lessons in Chemistry – Episode 7 “Book of Calvin” Recap & Review

Book of Calvin

In Lessons in Chemistry Episode 7, we get a peek into Calvin’s past. We learn that his parents abandoned him and died, which left him in St. Luke’s Boys’ School, hoping for someone to adopt him.

He never gets adopted from the orphanage, although one man does mysteriously show up at the school because of him. But the school’s priest suspiciously tells Calvin that the man didn’t want him, likely because the priest wanted the smart child to keep producing alcohol for him in his illicit underground business.

Calvin carries the idea with him that nobody wants him for much of his life. He spends most of his time alone and friendless, even later as a famous scientist at Hastings. He does strike up a bizarre friendship over letters with Reverend Wakely, however. They connect over mutual curiosity and respect for each other’s opinions.

Things change for Calvin even more when he meets Elizabeth and falls in love. The engagement ring she found after his death? We learn he bought it before he knew Elizabeth would never get married. He later writes to Wakely that they will never marry, but it doesn’t matter; they are meant for each other.

Calvin dies, at least, having loved and been loved. He’s come a long way from that child who felt no one wanted him. But he never received the mysterious letter from Avery Parker or learned who the man was who visited the orphanage.

In the present, Elizabeth takes Mad to St. Luke’s, where they ask about Calvin. The same priest from Calvin’s childhood lies to them, claiming they have no record of a Calvin Evans. But in the library, they find a copy of Great Expectations with Calvin’s name in it. On it is a stamp that reads “donated by the Remsen Foundation.”

Meanwhile, the man who supposedly tried to visit Calvin at the orphanage is leaving his office at none other than the Remsen foundation. On a shelf in the office is a copy of the Scientific American that features Calvin.


The Episode Review

Lessons in Chemistry is Elizabeth Zott’s story through and through, so going back to journey through Calvin’s past without incorporating much of Elizabeth’s present feels like a misstep. Especially as, in just the first two episodes, Calvin has already been presented as a well-rounded, important character with flaws and hurts. Now, in bringing up more about his past, it hurts to know we’ll never see a catharsis for him.

Mad is a different story at least, and there may be catharsis for her. Although I wish Calvin’s past had been interspersed as flashbacks throughout a present storyline featuring Elizabeth and Mad, the background did add intrigue to Mad’s current dilemma. With the suspicious priest guarding secrets about Calvin, will Mad ever learn enough about her father?

I’m also wondering… when will we get to see more Supper at Six drama? There’s only one episode ahead of us, and little time has been devoted to Elizabeth’s show considering the fact that it’s been used as an important framing device to delve into the chemist’s life. I want to see more of it!

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