'Genius: Chapter Three' episode recap – Einstein grieves & grows up
Did you miss the third episode of the NatGeo series about Albert Einstein? Catch up here with this 'Genius' instant recap.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
'Genius: Chapter Three' / National Geographic Channel
Original airdate: 5.9.17 / Written by Mark Lafferty / Directed by Minkie Spiro
Episode grade: 3.5 out of 5 stars
We're now into the third episode of the NatGeo series "Genius" 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 and the second episode for all the details.)
This episode opens with Wilhelm Röntgen, a German scientist, working in a laboratory. He has discovered the X-ray machine, for which he will receive the first-ever Nobel Prize. But Dr. Philipp Lenard, a physics professor and Einstein's rival, is upset by this news. Lenard thinks he should get credit for inventing the device, since it was based on his research.
"He snatched the credit you justly deserved," his wife tells him. "It's only the first Nobel. You will win the next one." The episode foreshadows a looming battle with Einstein, but it's something we'll have to wait for a future episode to see.
Meanwhile, Einstein isn't concerned with winning a Nobel. He just wants to find a paying job. His girlfriend Mileva is pregnant with their first child, and staying with her parents in Serbia. Einstein can barely pay the rent on his run-down apartment in Switzerland and goes on interview after interview, but to no avail.
He travels to the Zurich Polytechnic and asks his former principal for a letter of recommendation. The dean cuts him off: "You openly challenged my authority. You publicly disrespected me," he shouts at Einstein. "How am I to justify sticking my head above the grass for you when there are so many qualified alumni that have actually earned my respect?"
Einstein's friends tell him about a job opening at the patent office in Bern, Switzerland. But Einstein politely declines. He doesn't want to be a mere clerk, he tells them. He wants to be a scientist. "Someone else can rot in the patent office," Einstein declares.
Albert travels to the Swiss Alps where he meets up with his mother and sister. He asks his mom for money, but "I'm afraid the well is dry," she tells him sternly. She also informs him that she's not a fan of Mileva.
When his mother leaves the room, Einstein confides to his sister that he got Mileva pregnant and that he's going to have to marry her. The sister is less than enthused and Albert tries to explain his feelings. "I love her," he tells his sister. "She's like nobody I've ever met before. I felt this pull towards her since I saw her. I should be thrilled. Well now I feel this opposing force pulling me down." Einstein explains that he's just getting started with his life and is worried that if he marries her "I'll never take flight."
Einstein decides to get into the tutoring business and, in one of the episode's funniest scenes, he spends the afternoon with a rebellious little boy who could care less that the world's greatest genius is giving him math lessons. The boy's grades actually get lower after his tutoring and Einstein is duly fired.
Albert and Mileva arrange for a rendezvous at a hotel halfway between the two of them. She's excited, but ends up upset when Einstein shows up a day late.
When she asks what his excuse is, he answers by simply saying "Radiation quanta." She thinks he's only there to discuss science, not their relationship. "I've defended you to my family. I feel like a fool. None of them have even met you and yet they know you more clearly than I did."
They get into a fight about the baby, about marriage. "I missed the train because I was distracted. I couldn't wait to share my ideas with you. Not because they promise glory for me, but because it was like peeking through a keyhole to our future – the two of us. Mleva, you're the love of my life. And I will do the right thing for you and this child. I promise." They kiss and the fight is over as quickly as it began.
Einstein meets two wealthy benefactors who pay him to teach them about physics from their gilded living room. "I think I have room in my schedule," he says jokingly. He teaches them about sound waves and about how light travels. As in previous episodes, the show truly comes alive when Einstein is teaching science, rather than focusing on his love life.
The three men, who basically start their own book club, decide to "codify their salon" – they call it The Olympia Academy.
Meanwhile, back in Serbia, Mileva goes into labor and delivers a baby girl. She names her Lieserl. Einstein hears the news, but decides not to visit right away. "You must not sacrifice your dreams just to make them happy," one friend tells him.
Instead, Einstein visits his father, who is on his deathbed. After years of a fractured relationship, Albert and his dad finally reconcile. "I've never told you this, Papa. But when I am lost it's always your voice I hear in my head, guiding me."
He advises Albert to marry Mileva and have a big family. "The one true blessing in this world is family," he tells his son, shortly before passing away. While mourning for his father, Einstein receives a telegram. It's from Serbia and it contains some horrible news: Baby Lieserl contracted scarlet fever and has died.
Albert's sister tries to offer some consolation: "Perhaps it's for the best," she tells him. "You no longer have any obligation to marry this girl now ... Here you are free to pursue your dreams, to pursue your responsibilities."
Einstein feels guilty and travels to Mileva, where they reunite at a train station.
Mileva: "How could you not have come?"
Albert: "Hate me if you choose. I know I deserve it. And I know I don't deserve you. But I will never feel anything but love for you, Mileva."
He gets down on one knee and proposes to her in the train station. She hugs him and accepts his proposal.
Einstein decides it's time to take some responsibilities in his life, so he accepts the job at the patent office. Even though it will become a place that inspires him to create many inventions, he's already dreading this new desk job.
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