'Genius: Chapter 9 and 10' episode recaps – Einstein the world citizen
Did you miss the final episodes of the NatGeo series about Albert Einstein? Catch up here with this 'Genius' instant recap.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
'Genius: Chapters Nine and Ten' / National Geographic Channel
Original airdate: 6.20.17 / Written by Ken Biller & Raf Green & Mark Lafferty / Directed by Ken Biller
Episode grade: 4 out of 5 stars
The finale covers the last couple of decades in Einstein's life, which means three things: 1. The episode is very long. 2. The episode bounces around a lot from time and place. 3. The episode is action-packed.
The backdrop of this episode is World War II and the Nazis' rise to power. Einstein's old nemesis, Professor Philipp Lenard, has been promoted in the ranks and is now basically put in charge of science for the entire country of Germany. In his new role, Lenard starts purging scientists who are not members of the Nazi party. In this sweep, Einstein's old colleague Fritz Haber is forced to leave Germany. Haber decides to move to Israel where he is offered the position to lead a new science institute there but, alas, he never makes it. He has a heart attack and passes away during the journey.
As for Einstein, he and his wife Elsa are now living comfortably in Princeton. Einstein has become somewhat of a celebrity in America and even becomes friendly with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In one scene in tonight's episode, the genius and the commander-in-chief share a dinner and cigars in the private residence of the White House. Roosevelt asks Einstein to explain the theory of relativity.
"If you are standing on hot coals, a second feels like an eternity," Einstein says. "But when you are in bed with a beautiful woman, an hour passes in a split second. That is relativity."
The political turmoil happening back in his home country of Germany causes Einstein great consternation. He uses his relationship with Roosevelt to try to convince the United States to intercede. When Einstein discovers that one of his old German colleagues is working on splitting an atom and creating an atomic bomb, he tells Roosevelt about it. "I'm a pacifist," Einstein declares. "Science must never be used for violence."
Roosevelt heeds Einstein's warning, but also launches the famed Manhattan Project for the U.S. to create its own atomic bomb. Eventually, when the U.S. uses the bomb in Hiroshima, Japan, Time magazine places a picture of Einstein next to a mushroom cloud. This upsets the genius to no end. This is not what his life's work was all about. He doesn't want this to be his legacy.
At his birthday party, a friend tells him: "You have achieved more than almost anyone in human history."
Einstein replies: "And yet if I die tomorrow, I would be remembered as the man who ushered in the nuclear age."
Einstein decides to create the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists. "We are dealing with a threat to the basic existence of humanity," he says. "In my own work, I find that when I'm faced with an audacious problem, an audacious solution is usually the answer."
Einstein speaks out against the arms race between nations in a famous broadcast as seen in the photo below.
The atomic race spirals Einstein into a bit of a funk. Compounding matters is the deteriorating health of his wife Elsa. As she lay bedridden, the episode shows a touching montage of the workaholic Albert finally putting his research aside to take care of his wife. He brings her food and reads to her in bed. Weeks go by, and Elsa eventually passes away.
Years later, Einstein meets Margarita Konenkova, who is portrayed by the Israeli actress Ania Bukstein in the show. The two of them fall for each other and she is considered to be the last of Einstein's loves. Unbeknownst to Einstein, Margarita is also a Russian spy.
In 1945, her boss says the mission is over. "Tell Moscow I want to stay," she pleads.
Her boss: "Why? Because you have made the unforgivable mistake of falling in love with your target?"
We've now entered the final years of Einstein's life. Mileva has died, Elsa has died, Margarita has left him, and he's not on speaking terms with his children and grandchildren. His only companion is his long-time loyal assistant Helen.
We see Einstein puttering around the house in his pajamas. He's mopey. "I haven't had an original thought in so long, I've forgotten what it feels like," he says.
When Helen leaves to go to the market one day, a little girl named Alice Edwards knocks on Einstein's door and asks the professor to tutor her in long division. Einstein sees a younger version of himself in the precocious kid who is constantly asking questions.
"I wish my teachers were more like you," Alice says after one tutoring session. "You make this stuff sound fun."
"It is fun," Einstein replies. "Thank you for reminding me of that."
Alice seems to have lit a spark in Albert. He starts going back to his office at Princeton (albeit still dressed in his pajamas). He works on equations, discusses time travel with a colleague, and seeks to find the elusive solution to unified field theory. He writes letters against war and gives a lecture at an all-black college. "I'm getting old. I'm sick," Einstein says. "My voice is all I have left."
Helen convinces Albert that it's time to reconcile with his son, Hans.
Helen: "You have compassion for so many people. You fight for so many people. Why is it you cannot fight to reconcile with your own son?"
Einstein: "I think I liked you better when you kept your thoughts to yourself."
Helen: "You care so much about your legacy, about how you will be remembered by the world. But the world begins and ends in your own family."
And so Albert calls Hans, who brings his children over to visit their grandfather.
"I'm proud of you, Hans," Einstein says in the series' penultimate scene. "I hope you know that. You're a brilliant engineer. And a far better father than I ever was. I wish I could've spent more time with you."
Einstein becomes ill. With Helen at his side, he continues to work from a hospital bed. He seems to be coming to terms with his own mortality and wants to keep being productive until the very end.
On the night of Monday, April 18, 1955, Albert Einstein suffers an aneurysm and dies at the age of 76. When he passes, the nurses find two sets of papers by his bedside. One is a speech he was writing that would be read at an upcoming event celebrating Israel, a country to which he would bequeath his archives. The second was a set of equations. As Walter Isaacson writes in his definitive biography of Einstein: "And the final thing he wrote, before he went to sleep for the last time, was one more line of symbols and numbers that he hoped might get him, and the rest of us, just a little step closer to the spirit manifest in the laws of the universe."
The series ends with the autopsy of Einstein's body. The doctor on duty cuts out Einstein's brain and asks Hans if he can study it.
Doctor: "Before us is your father's last great gift to the world."
Hans: "Do what you will with the brain, but if you think you can comprehend who my father was or why he was so brilliant by looking at his brain under a microscope, you are sorely mistaken. It is just a thing. "That," he says pointing at the brain in a jar, "that is not the man."
(Read the incredible story of what happened to Einstein's brain.)
The scene flashes back to Einstein taking a stroll with the young Alice.
Alice: "So how did you get so smart anyway?"
Albert: "I have no special talent, but I am very, very curious, Alice. All I do is ask questions, just like you do. Anybody can do that."
Missed an episode? Read our recap of the first episode, the second episode, the third episode, the fourth episode, the fifth episode, the sixth episode, the seventh episode and the eighth episode for all the details.
Want more Einstein? Check out our treasure trove of stories related to the beloved genius.
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