'Genius: Chapter 5' episode recap – Einstein and Curie share secrets
Did you miss the fifth episode of the NatGeo series about Albert Einstein? Catch up here with this 'Genius' instant recap.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
'Genius: Chapter Five' / National Geographic Channel
Original airdate: 5.23.17 / Written by Raf Green / Directed by Kevin Hooks
Episode grade: 3.5 out of 5 stars
We just finished watching the fifth episode of the NatGeo "Genius" series produced by Academy Award winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer about the life of Albert Einstein. (If you're just catching up now, read our recap of the first episode, the second episode, the third episode and the fourth episode for all the details.)
Whew! OK, a lot happens in this episode. We see everything from Einstein's rise in the academic community to the time he went on vacation with Marie Curie to the moment when he realized he was in love with the future second Mrs. Einstein.
But let's begin where the episode does in Zurich, Switzerland. The year is 1910 and Albert Einstein, after spending years toiling away as a patent clerk, goes to school for his first day of teaching. It doesn't go as you might expect. The great and beloved Einstein wasn't always great and beloved. In his very first class, which was only sparsely attended, one of the students is so bored, he actually gets up and leaves the classroom.
Einstein realizes he's not good at teaching in a stodgy manner from behind a lectern. He enjoys a more free-flowing form of discovery. "Who'd like to join me for a walk?" Einstein asks the remaining students. "I'm a terrible lecturer, but I'm not a bad talker." During their stroll, he points up to the sky. He discusses how rays from light make the sky blue.
After class, Einstein visits with his new friend, noted psychoanalyst Carl Jung. When the special theory of relativity comes out, Einstein confides: "Honestly, I wish I could move beyond the damned theory. It makes me feel like a charlatan. ... It only covers a specialized circumstance. The theory is still incomplete."
Einstein is invited to Salzburg, Austria, to speak at a conference where he meets Professor Max Planck, the Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist who is one of the leaders of the prestigious Prussian Academy in Berlin. Einstein meets someone else there as well – the head of the Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague, who offers him a job.
Einstein accepts the offer. The move is especially tough for his wife Mileva, who has been depressed for years. "Your emotional reactions are disproportionate," a doctor tells her. Mileva hates her new life in Prague, but Einstein isn't sure if she'd be happy anywhere.
During a work visit to Berlin, Einstein stays with his aunt and uncle. It's there that he reconnects with his cousin Elsa who he hasn't seen in many years. There's a spark and some chemistry between them. They take walks and talk about love and life. She even bakes him cookies and fixes a hole in his sweater. The series paints her in a more nurturing light than it does Mileva.
Elsa, herself divorced with children, tells Einstein: "I speak from experience. Not every marriage is meant to last forever. You just have to be happy, Albert."
Marie Curie, the famed scientist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity, invites Einstein and his family to vacation with her in the Swiss Alps. On a walk with Curie, Einstein opens up about his issues with Mileva. "I think of all the mysteries of the universe, people are the hardest for me to fathom," Einstein tells Curie.
Curie understands; she herself has had an affair with a married man. "You and I don't accept all the rules of conventional science," she tells Einstein. "So why must we accept traditional marriage?"
Back at home in Zurich, Einstein hears a knock at his door. It's Planck from the Prussian Academy with a job offer. Einstein says he needs a couple of hours to think about it. He meets up with Planck later and Einstein is wearing his trademark fedora. Hooked into the hat's clasp is a rose that Elsa gave Einstein. He accepts the job offer. He will be returning to Berlin, to Elsa.
Throughout this busy episode, there are flash forwards to an insane asylum in 1932 where Mileva and Einstein's son Eduard is a patient. Like his mother, he has had bouts of depression and has even tried to commit suicide. Dr. Carl Jung, the family friend and psychiatrist, comes to visit him. Eduard has been mad at his father for many years, but Jung convinces the son it's time to reconnect.
"Tell Papa I want to see him," Eduard says.
Episode's best cameo: At a party in Prague, Einstein chats about the existential meaning of life with an angsty young writer named Franz Kafka.
Want more Einstein? Check out our treasure trove of stories related to the beloved genius.
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