When Will This Show End?

To recap, I have been writing reviews on episodes of the Apple TV+ series, Lessons In Chemistry. Honestly, I don’t know why people subscribe to Apple TV+. I’ve tried watching The Morning Show—awful. I watched 93% of the 3-hour-and-26-minute-long movie, Killers of The Flower Moon—the most boring movie I’ve ever seen with the most bland acting imaginable, and then Brendan Fraser appears at the end. Why? Needless to say, my time spent watching things on Apple TV+ has been time lost, time I’ll never get back.

So here I am to waste your time, telling you about the third episode of Lessons In Chemistry: Living Dead Things. In the past two episodes, we meet Elizabeth Zott. She’s a lab technician with a haunted past—she was sexually assaulted and dismissed from her Ph.D. program at UCLA. But, things are looking up. She meets, befriends, and falls in love with Dr. Calvin Evans. Unfortunately, he dies. Arguably due to a dog who inserts himself into Zott’s life and finds a way to get Evans struck by a bus.

In the third episode, does much science happen? No. Of course not. Instead, this episode is from the perspective of the dog, Six Thirty—which I still think is a horrible name for a dog. We learn that the dog ran away from military school because the dog was a coward. His words, not mine.

“I was a coward and hated myself for it”

–Six Thirty, dog from the show Lessons In Chemistry

The dog ran away from military school and landed in Zott’s tipped-over trash cans, where he henceforth inserted himself into Zott and Evans’ lives. After Evans gets hit by a bus, the dog runs away again. Away from the scene of the crime and back to Zott. He’s there when the police tell Zott about Evans’s death. He’s there when Zott goes to the funeral. He’s there when Zott returns to work.

Upon returning to work, Zott finds that all of Evans’s lab equipment, supplies, and notebooks have been put in the basement for storage—Zott is unable to continue their work. Luckily, other men are able to swoop in and steal Zott’s research. Dr. Boroweitz and another Dr. set out to reproduce Zott’s data and take credit for it.

Zott discovers she is pregnant by injecting a frog with her urine. The injected frog is placed in a beaker of water and a second, control frog is placed in a second beaker with water. The next morning, control frog looks the same, but urine frog is swimming in a beaker full of frog eggs. Who knew this is how women took pregnancy tests back in the day!?

A small history of women’s health care and family planning (happy women’s history month!): Apparently, from the 1930s to 1960s, the leading pregnancy test for women involved injecting women’s urine into the African clawed frog (Xenopus). This test was named the Hogben test after the British zoologist and medical statistician Lancelot Hogben, who discovered in 1931 that injecting frogs with a pregnant woman’s urine (which contains the hormone, human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG)) causes frogs to ovulate and produce eggs within 12 hours. Modern immunology pregnancy tests were first invented in 1967, but weren’t available for commercial purchase as an at-home pregnancy self-test until 1980. From 1967 to 1980, immunology pregnancy tests had to be conducted by a doctor. In the 1980s, experts expressed concern and petitioned to have the at-home pregnancy tests banned because they feared women would not be able to understand the result or be able to read the instructions.

Back to the episode: Now that Zott knows she is pregnant, and unable to continue her research, she takes a sledgehammer to her kitchen sink. The episode goes through a montage of scenes of Zott dismantling her kitchen piece by piece. We see her chiseling away at the backsplash and peeling up the counter tiles. Her goal is to build an industrial-grade lab because, as she puts it, she is a “ticking clock.” The montage continues with repeating scenes of Zott waking up to her alarm, rowing on a rowing machine, typing on a typewriter, beating meat with a mallet, and doing construction on the kitchen.

The episode ends with Zott being in her last trimester. It’s the first time she has been in a doctor’s office as she was “hoping it would take care of itself.” Her only support system is her dog and her neighbor, Harriet Slone. In the final minutes of the episode, Zott is in her boss’s office being fired for being pregnant, as her being unwed and pregnant doesn’t look good for the department.

Zott exists in a world that now seems foreign, where women aren’t people, don’t have autonomy over their own bodies, are fired at-will, and don’t have authority to conduct their own research. It is astounding how much we took for granted with a single court ruling and never followed through with enshrining in our constitution. Human rights can be stripped away with ease, in a second court ruling, in a blink of an eye. Maybe Zott’s world won’t soon seem so unfamiliar. Maybe this show won’t end. Maybe it will look more and more like our everyday life.

Make sure you vote in November. I hope you won’t be swayed by insipid noise, and will perhaps realize there are two Supreme Court seats that will need filling in the next four years…