Lessons in Chemistry (2023) s01e02 Episode Script

Her and Him

Miss Zott, please
explain how you plan on taking
the X-ray diffraction images
outlined in your proposal
without first drying the protein
into a mineral crystalline form.
Dr. James Bernal and Dr.
Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin
have pioneered a
technique that allows them
to expose pepsin crystals
for X-ray crystallography
within the mother liquor solution
from which they crystallized.
In their crystalline form, the
proteins are largely solvent by volume
within the cellular environment
from which they function.
This allows me the unique opportunity
to image both larger
proteins and nucleic acids.
I'm happy to elaborate.
Thought I'd find you
here. Always working.
Hardly. I just keep
looking at the clock.
What did they say? Tell me everything.
It's too soon to know for sure,
but you just about knocked
their socks off, kid.
Really? I can't believe it.
- Look, like I said, it's not official yet.
- Who are the holdouts?
Meyers. He's old guard.
Did you see his face when I
parried on X-ray crystallography?
He really thought that he had me there.
One of the proudest
moments of my academic career.
Dr. Bates, um, I
Oh, God, no. It's okay.
We're the only ones here.
Oh. Um, no, um
I don't I don't feel that
way about you, Dr. Bates.
Hey, don't play dumb, Elizabeth. We
both know you're anything but dumb.
- I should
- Hey, hey.
- Not in here. I should
- Just wait. Hey, hey. Hey, just
Would you hold on? Just stop. Hold on.
- Hold still. Just hold still.
- Stop!
God! Christ almighty.
You fucking bitch!
You're a very lucky girl.
Dr. Bates has agreed not to file an
aggravated assault charge against you.
However, the department has asked
for a formal statement of regret
to proceed with your PhD candidacy.
They want me to apologize?
Miss Zott, these types
of misunderstandings,
they rarely allow for second chances.
This is an elegant solution
that works for everyone.
Unless, of course, you'd prefer
to discontinue your PhD candidacy.
But I am currently running experiments.
- I'm months away from publishing.
- You stabbed
a tenured professor with a pencil.
Express regret for your actions,
and we will pretend like none of this
unfortunate business ever happened.
Now that I think about
it, I do have one regret.
I regret not having more pencils.
I would like to return to my previous
lab position as soon as possible.
Not sure I follow.
I no longer wish to
work with Calvin Evans.
- I see. May I ask why?
- It's just not working out.
Aw, I'm so sorry, I really am,
but sadly my hands are tied.
For Christ's sake, Fran.
What do I have to do?
Is there a form I need to fill out?
A 20-step exit interview?
Whatever meaningless hoops you want
me to jump through, I will do it.
You're a real piece of work.
Not even Dr. Calvin Evans
is good enough for you now?
- Excuse me?
- Since the day you got here,
you have just acted like you are
so much better than the rest of us.
Marching around these halls
with your perfect little nose
up like you invented penicillin.
- Penicillin wasn't invented. It was disc
- Oh, spare me.
I don't need to be lectured by
somebody so totally clueless.
- What do you mean?
- I told you
that things would get complicated with
Dr. Evans, but you didn't listen to me.
Because I'm a silly,
superficial woman, right?
What could I possibly have to teach
a great lab technician such as yourself?
- I'm a chemist.
- You are a snob is what you are.
You're too good to participate
in Little Miss Hastings,
it doesn't matter how
much time and effort
- went into
- I did participate!
No, you left early. And
you didn't tell anybody.
So, another lucky girl
could've had that spot.
Who could possibly care
about a fake pageant?
I care! It's my job to care.
And I think You know,
I think people would agree,
it's a more important job
than opening up your legs
to the most prestigious
scientist in this joint.
That is unequivocally false.
You know, Dr.
Evans isn't exactly popular,
but he's a damn good scientist.
And you're neither.
You cannot force me to
work with him out of spite.
I'll talk to Dr. Donatti.
Be my guest. He'll tell
you that we already filled
your position in the amino acids lab.
A bright young fellow from Harvard.
On his recommendation, in fact.
You made your bed. It's not
my fault you have to lie in it.
- Can we talk?
- Could you please go
to that side of the
room? This is my side.
I've created a new spatial system that
will maximize our research productivity
while also respecting
each other's boundaries.
That will be your side of the lab.
This will be my side of the lab.
Obviously, the room is
not perfectly symmetrical,
so I gave myself 11
square centimeters less,
which I think is only fair
considering our body mass differential.
Elizabeth, I don't understand.
What did I do that was so wrong?
It's just clearer this way.
Is it hygiene related? Because
you'll notice no more underwear.
I promise not to eat saltines
in the lab anymore.
Whatever it is, I'm certain
that I can make it right.
Dr. Evans, I'm in the
middle of something.
Could we have this
conversation at a later date?
Of course.
Should I
How about I-I take off?
Give you the place to yourself.
Very well then.
Oh, don't eat that!
You'll make yourself sick.
Wait here. I'll be right back.
Oh! Nice to meet you too.
Um Well, best of luck to you.
Are you ready to extract
DNA from a strawberry?
Here we go.
- That's it?
- Hello.
"That's it?"
You are looking at the
instruction manual for life.
That looks like a booger.
Oh, boy.
- Can we watch TV?
- Mm-hmm.
Thanks for watching them.
I tried.
And meanwhile, the
California Highway Commission
sent surveyors out despite our petition.
Or maybe because of it.
They were taking
measurements near the church.
Can you imagine?
Mmm. That's awful.
Is there anything I can do?
Yes, actually.
The city council is having a
meeting at the end of the month.
And the Adams-Washington Committee is
presenting our case against the freeway.
If you came, showed your support,
it could make a big difference.
Sure, but I don't have any
expertise in urban development.
You don't need expertise. I've got that.
What I need is someone who looks like
you standing on our side of the room,
backing me up when I say
this is a community issue.
I'll be there.
You can count on it.
Thank you.
You okay?
He's not in the building.
Give us the room.
This is the third week in a row
I have had to cancel my tee time
to sit in a room, waiting for a ghost.
- Sir, I was
- Calvin Evans is a star.
Hastings need stars.
We need the awards and
grants that follow them.
Stars are not disposable.
You are not a star, Robert.
You are a suit.
Suits are disposable.
So let's, uh, skip the pretense
of these weekly meetings
in this incredibly depressing
room, and, uh, we'll set a deadline.
I'm giving you to February
the first to get Evans in here,
presenting his Remsen submission.
A day later and you are out.
Oh, don't be cross, Robert.
I'm a suit too.
It's just that, uh, mine
is more expensive.
Where's Evans?
I couldn't venture.
He cares for you, doesn't he?
You would have to ask him that.
Layoffs are coming.
If he doesn't secure the Remsen
funding by the top of the year,
I will have to fire people.
Lab techs, for example.
Secretaries. All the female support
staff are gonna have to go first.
The men, they need to take
care of their families.
When you're in my position,
these are the things
you have to consider.
Dr. Donatti, is that a threat?
When I fire them, I
will tell them the truth.
That it is the fault of the girl
that distracted Calvin Evans.
- What?
- Donatti came by the lab yesterday.
So what?
He's going to fire people,
if you don't win the Remsen.
More pressure. Perfect.
Do you know what I've done since I
last won the Remsen two years ago?
Do you?
I go into my lab every day, and I
shut the door so that no one will see
that I haven't
accomplished a damn thing.
I'm out of ideas.
And then I met you
and you had so many.
And it was like I could breathe again.
We were building something.
And then you just
You left me with no
explanation. You just
I didn't mean to hurt you.
There's just things It's
It's hard for me to talk about. I
I need the door open, 'cause I
need to know that there's a way out.
If that's what you need, I can do that.
I miss working with you.
I miss that too.
It's just
It's hard to trust that this
partnership won't go bad.
It might.
Can't say for certain.
See you Monday then.
Elizabeth. What's your dog's name?
Six Thirty.
Excellent name.
After carbon and zinc, I assume?
No. After the time he wakes me up
in the morning. It's like clockwork.
May I ask you another question?
Asking to ask is inefficient,
moving forward, but yes.
Would you like to learn how to row?
On that? No. No, thank you.
No. No, I just meant, uh, on the water.
It's calming, picturesque.
And t-talk about efficiency.
There is nothing more
perfectly measured,
more entirely scientific than rowing.
Even the slightest head
tilt will offset the boat.
I would be hard-pressed
to find someone better
suited for the sport than you.
And could be good for teamwork.
Remember to take a breath
and relax. You know?
Just be patient up the slide, okay?
- You're rushing.
- Rushing?
What? You just said I was too slow.
- Get outta your head.
- That's impossible.
Let the oars just sink in.
- You're doing great, all right?
- Calvin Evans, I am absolutely
- and completely hopeless
- Whoa, whoa, whoa, hey, no, no!
"It's calming," he
said. "It's picturesque," he said.
Why didn't you tell me you
didn't know how to swim?
You said we would be in a boat.
A boat negates the need for swimming,
as I previously understood the word.
Ideally, yes.
Thank you for not letting me die.
- You mean gallantly saving your life?
- Oh, please. Do not take it that far.
It is picturesque. I'll give you that.
Elizabeth, I think this
is gonna be a problem.
And I'm not sure there's a solution.
I'm developing feelings for you.
Deep feelings.
And it's not fair to you as a scientist.
You deserve to be treated with
professionalism and respect.
So maybe you were right.
Maybe it is best if we work separately.
That way, I won't be exposed
to your pheromones and
What now?
We carry on.
But we'll be we'll be doing
that again, right? The kissing?
Yeah. There is always that risk.
And as you can see,
our proposed route is the
most economically efficient one
and will also enliven several
blighted communities in its path.
We are confident that this freeway will
be a shining example of urban geography.
Thank you, Mr. Jenkins.
Next, we will hear from a representative
of the Adams-Washington Committee.
Good afternoon. I'm Harriet Sloane,
legal aid in the office of Eugene
Hollis, proud Sugar Hill resident
and founding member of this committee.
In your proposal defense, you
used the word "blighted" nine times
to refer to the Sugar Hill neighborhood.
I-I-I'm not sure I-I
know the meaning of that word.
Grim, dreary, inhospitable.
Do you need me to define
any of those words?
Thank you. I do not.
I only ask because, well, I'm confused.
I have two children, Linda and Junior,
who love to sell lemonade
in Berkeley Square.
Duke Ellington and his
good friend Hattie McDaniel
host salons in their mansions.
My husband, who is currently
serving our country in Korea,
is the first Black chief of surgery.
One of my neighbors is in
line for a Nobel in Chemistry.
So, when you say "blighted"
I don't understand.
When you seek to put
your freeway through
our predominantly Black neighborhood
and two other Black
neighborhoods miles away,
solely on the basis
that they are "blighted",
my only recourse is to question
the definition of the word.
So, I've tried adding PRPP and
ATP at various concentrations,
but the result is always the same.
Maybe the solution is too acidic?
Too basic?
I am genuinely offended.
What do you think I
am, some kind of dimwit?
No, definitely not.
We should take a break.
Take a break? We haven't
even been productive.
That's why we should take a break.
Elizabeth, you are smarter than me,
but there's one thing
I have that you don't.
A Y chromosome?
Yes. But also, I have a jazz mindset.
I know when to sit back,
go easy, let the ideas
- Meander.
- carry me where they may.
Directionless with no goal?
Towards the supreme goal.
Which is?
The good stuff.
Come on, let's get outta here.
I want to take you
somewhere more important.
You're okay. I'm right here.
I thi I think that the issue is that
my body's residual diving reflex
is being overridden by
my fear-paralysis reflex,
so I just need to find a way
to circumvent that reflex.
Mmm, could be.
I-I think you need to
learn to blow bubbles.
Let's try this.
Keep your hands on the
wall, put your face in
and s and blow bubbles.
You don't even have to
put your whole head in.
Just your face, like this.
You got it.
Oh, this is silly that I'm so nervous.
I'm right here.
I changed my mind.
Well, okay. Um,
what if we were to kiss?
How would that be helpful?
If I were to occupy your mouth
as we go under, I think
I think it could work.
You-You just have to trust me.
- Do it.
- Are you sure?
Yes, do it before I can think about it.
How was that?
I'm not sure. I think
we should try again.
What are you writing?
Just some musings. Not ready to share.
Give me a hint.
Oh, you seduced then tricked me.
"Repeated hydrolysis of ATP after
it's already been reduced to ADP"?
It's just something I'm playing with.
The products are AMP, but
I'm stuck. It's impossible.
The hydrolyzed molecules release
an inorganic pyrophosphate.
I'm very attracted to you right now.
With the energy produced
from the reaction
and the added
phosphorous-containing ion.
This is it, Calvin.
Oh, my God. Come here.
Come, all ye faithful ♪
Joyful and triumphant ♪
O come ye ♪
O come ye to Bethlehem ♪
Come and behold him ♪
Are you going home for Christmas?
What do you mean?
I'm assuming you have family
to celebrate the holidays with?
No. What about you?
I don't really feel like
celebrating this year.
All I want for Christmas
is to keep working.
Hmm. That's strange, Elizabeth.
I feel the exact same way.
What about you?
Calvin, turn the music off.
Do it again. Oh, wow, wow.
- Oh, w-w-wow, wow. Oh.
- Did we do it?
- Oh, man alive.
- We did it.
We should celebrate.
We must celebrate.
Come with me.
Oh, number eight, you little devil.
This is how you dance.
I think this is the
first time I haven't hated Christmas.
Not big on holidays?
Mmm. Just reminds me of things
that I don't want to be reminded of.
Me too.
Like what kinds of things?
Oh uh, all my relatives are dead.
I'm alone in the world. Your
usual festive holiday fare.
I'm sorry.
What about you?
My family? Uh, I lost my
brother when we were young.
And your parents?
I haven't spoken to them since I was 17.
It's my choice.
- Really festive holiday fare.
- Really.
We are quite bad at
celebrating Christmas.
Mmm. Christmas is a fiction.
Right. Christmas is a fiction.
- I forgot about that.
- Mm-hmm.
Guess that
means presents are off the table.
But I didn't say that.
I didn't mean to
It depends. What did you get me?
Meet me in the cafeteria
in two and a half hours.
I did have some A5P I wanted to
purify before next week, so
Perfect. Okay.
Two and a half hours.
You cooked for me?
I can't promise it'll
taste as good as yours.
But, um, you know, I did a practice
run, and it was it was edible.
The open flame is a safety hazard.
Well, just wait till
you try the chicken.
This is odd. I'm
- Yes.
- Too far?
- Mm-hmm.
- Yeah.
You know, um, it's not I mean
It's good. Well done.
Well done?
Not well done. It's well-done.
It's good.
Your gift.
I thought Six Thirty could
be your running buddy.
Because I sure as hell will
not be doing that with you.
Oh, it's perfect.
Um, I have one last thing.
It's small, but
I think you should move in with me.
And maybe you'll say
it's it's too fast.
But we spend all our
time together anyway,
and I have so much space for one person.
It's just illogical
for us to keep going back and forth
and back and forth and
Not to mention just very
disorienting for Six Thirty.
Yes. Extremely
disorienting for Six Thirty.
I'll, um, have to contribute to rent.
I I own the house. It's paid in full.
Oh, no, no. I'll, um
I'll chip in, in some way.
Dinner, four nights a week.
Three dinners and a lunch.
Okay. Let me try this.
I think it's it's
still missing something.
Mm-hmm. Yes, it is
missing quite a few things.
But it is an excellent start.
Thank you.
All right, go ahead. What's it missing?
Do you have your notepad and pencil?
Harriet. Sorry, he's still
getting used to his leash.
I've been trying to catch
you. I have some exciting news.
Oh, shit. The meeting.
I'm so sorry. I It's just
this research with Elizabeth.
And And you know, I I
We actually have a
presentation in a few hours.
Don't worry about it. Looks
like you got your hands full.
How'd it go?
How do you think it went?
- Here, let me help you with that.
- I've got it. Thank you.
Good luck with your presentation.
So, building on the work of Pauling,
my hypothesis supports
the notion Uh, sorry.
My hypothesis,
supported by the notion that proteins
are composed of amino acids
I'm sorry, chains
are composed by chains,
entire chains of amino acids.
It's quite exhilarating.
You ready?
It's a long time coming.
Good afternoon.
Dr. Evans, we've heard a lot of
thoroughly researched submissions today.
So, we're all very
excited to hear what's
kept you behind closed
doors for so long.
Thank you, Dr. Donatti.
But, uh, as first author,
Elizabeth will be presenting today.
Dr. Evans and I have been investigating
de novo nucleotide synthesis
as a way of better understanding early
biochemical evolution and abiogenesis.
Unlike the aminos study group,
we are starting with the
basic assumption that DNA,
not protein, is the
basic foundation of life.
After successfully isolating PRPP,
we've used it to synthesize
uridine monophosphate
and inosine monophosphate for
pyrimidines and purines, respectively.
I'm sorry, are you saying that you
can create nucleotides from scratch?
That is exactly what
I'm saying, Dr. Price.
Even if you have managed
to synthesize nucleotides,
we here at Hastings believe that DNA
will eventually prove to be a dead end.
This protocol that you and
Dr. Evans have come up with
is likely nothing more
than a party trick.
Whether you believe that proteins
or DNA are the foundations of life,
this synthesis pathway is novel.
Diels and Alder won the Nobel
Prize for diene synthesis.
Miss Zott.
Miss? Isn't she a doctor?
She's a lab tech.
It is her research that is
the basis for this proposal.
Dr. Evans, this
institution has a reputation.
A reputation based on the likes of
world-class scientists like yourself
doing world-class work.
Not the specious theories
of a pretty lab tech
who's been distracting
him from real work.
This work is revelatory, sir.
Sir, a lab technician
taking first billing over a chemist?
Hastings would be the laughingstock
of the entire scientific community.
I'd rather shutter the place.
Do you have any other chemists
to present for the Remsen,
or are we done here?
We are done here.
- Let's go home.
- We'll take my name off the paper.
No, we won't.
- We can't finish our research
- Elizabeth.
without the grant, and we can't
get the grant unless we submit.
- The work is too important.
- I was protecting you.
Calvin, I need you to understand this.
If I don't stand on my
own two feet, I'm no one.
And I need you to understand this.
You are what I treasure
most in this world.
Not because you are pretty,
not because you are smart,
but because you love me and I love you.
And you can try and deny it,
but I will not believe you.
When certain atoms collide
it is instantaneous
and it is inevitable.
It is basic chemistry.
I don't deny it.
Thank you.
We will submit on our
own without Hastings.
Can you even do that?
I don't know that anyone has ever tried.
I don't feel bad when I'm with you.
No, I just
I mean, most of my life
I've lived with this
inexplicable panic in
the core of my heart.
When we're together, it goes quiet.
You're like a medicine
that I wanna take forever.
If by "forever" you're talking
about the traditional model,
I'd like to be clear
so there's no confusion.
I don't want to get married, and
I don't want to have children.
Yeah, sure. Not right this instant,
but I mean eventually.
You'd be incredible
Calvin, you could have
six or seven children,
and it wouldn't do anything
to your life or to your work.
A woman has to make a choice.
Does she want to have children, or
does she want to do anything else?
I have made my decision, and
I'm not going to change my mind.
And if that puts an end to this,
I understand.
Thank you for telling me.
Now I know.
Know what?
What you need.
As long as I have you and you are happy,
that that is enough for me.
It's more than I could have ever
imagined. And it's absolutely
I don't know. I
Science has been trying to define
the laws that govern our universe.
The equations that can explain
our past and predict our future.
But I'm starting to wonder if
maybe we've forgotten the
most important variable.
Please don't tell me it's God.
What if life is
necessarily unpredictable?
Maybe even the very thing that
makes it possible in the first place.
Is that how you explain
abiogenesis? How life began?
- You think the Remsen's gonna go for that?
- All right. Okay. All right.
Oh, hear me out. One of
science's greatest minds
and his revolutionary theory:
Surprise, we can't predict anything.
All right. We're gonna go on a run.
I need to have a think
on hydrolyzing enzymes.
Mmm. It's a dead end.
Mmm. Never know.
We're getting close.
- Very close.
- Mm-hmm.
Yes, we are going. Good boy. Good boy.
Hey, come on. Hey, let's go.
Okay, let's go. Okay.
Yeah. Yeah, boy.
Come on. Hey. Hey, Six Thirty,
it's okay. Come here. Come on.
- Okay, okay.
- He's not moving!
- Come here, give me a hand.
- Go get help!
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