Lessons in Chemistry season 1 episode 4 recap and review: Primitive Instinct

The fourth episode of Lessons in Chemistry sees Elizabeth struggling as well as learning to raise her daughter all by herself. The episode is now streaming on Apple TV+.


Elizabeth gives birth to her daughter and names her Mad when the nurse tells her to name her daughter whatever she feels like. In the hospital, a woman stresses that Elizabeth’s daughter is her job now.

Elizabeth struggles with raising Mad on her own. She has no support, and as she no longer has a job, she starts having financial problems as well. Whenever she reaches her breaking point, she sees Calvin coming to her aid and lending his support.

Elizabeth decides to seek Harriet’s help. She tells Harriet that she is not feeling what she is supposed to feel for her daughter. In fact, she keeps thinking about giving away her daughter. She feels better once Harriet assures her that her experience and thoughts are common and that she will bond with Mad eventually.

Calvin put Elizabeth on the house deed before his death, so she tries to take out a second mortgage, but she is refused because she is not employed. Elizabeth then starts solving the problems of the scientists from Hastings for money.

While meeting the scientists, she finds out that Borowitz and Donatti stole her and Calvin’s research. She confronts the two men and comes to know that they got the Remsen grant for the work done by her and Calvin. Elizabeth tells Borowitz and Donatti that she will continue the research and do it better than them.

Harriet talks to Elizabeth about how she never got to finish law school because she got pregnant with her daughter and then her son. She does not regret having children, but she does have regrets about how things turned out.

Elizabeth is determined to continue her research. She finishes building her lab at home and orders lab equipment in Hastings’ name. She keeps imagining that Calvin is with her and tells him that she wanted to know everything about him and wanted him to know certain things about her.

Harriet’s husband, Charlie, who is an army doctor, returns home from Korea. Harriet throws a welcome party for him, and Elizabeth gets to meet Harriet’s friends. She also meets a reverend named Curtis Wakely.

When Charlie gets a job offer, Harriet tells him that she is going to take the bar exam and start working. She is also going to chair the Adams Washington Committee to prevent their neighborhood from being turned into a freeway. Charlie assures her that they will support each other and make this work.

Dr. Mason visits Elizabeth and asks her to start rowing with him and his group. Furthermore, Elizabeth finally bonds with her daughter, who is now named Madeline, when she tells her about Calvin.

Seven years later, Madeline comforts Amanda, one of her upset classmates. When Elizabeth picks Madeline up from school, she comes to know that Madeline has not been eating her lunch and has been giving it to Amanda.

This makes Elizabeth angry. She barges into Amanda’s father’s office and reproaches him for not feeding his daughter properly. Elizabeth works two jobs and cannot feed Amanda along with her own daughter.

She leaves him one of her recipes and some food to taste. Amanda’s father, Walter Pine, is a TV producer, and he has been searching for new talent. He likes Elizabeth’s food so much that he asks her to host a cooking show.

Elizabeth declines the job offer and goes home to her daughter. She now lives a happy life with Madeline. At night, she looks at her reflection on the TV screen and reconsiders Walter’s offer.


  • The show never fails to address women’s issues, and in this episode, the idea that there is nothing natural about motherhood is brought up. Women are led to believe that maternal love is natural, so when a mother, like Elizabeth, feels anything that is not love for their newborn, it results in feelings of shame and concern.
  • The episode mainly focuses on stressing why being a parent is considered a full-time job. The remark by the woman Elizabeth meets in the hospital makes more sense when she and Harriet are seen raising their children on their own.
  • Calvin’s absence is felt in the episode through his presence in Elizabeth’s thoughts; whenever she needs him the most, she imagines his presence. Things would have been a lot easier for her if she had him with her.
Lessons in Chemistry season 1 episode 4
Lessons in Chemistry season 1 episode 4 recap and review: Primitive Instinct 1

Director: Bert & Bertie

Date Created: 2023-10-26 13:12

Editor's Rating:

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