Unorthodox Season 1 Episode 4 Recap – removing the imaginary rules

By Daniel Hart
Published: March 26, 2020 (Last updated: December 4, 2023)
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Unorthodox episode 4 - Netflix Series


Unorthodox Episode 4 is a powerful final chapter as Esther goes through the motions to finally find her freedom and be unshackled.

This recap of the Netflix Limited Series Unorthodox Season 1 Episode 4 contains significant spoilers.

At the start of Unorthodox Episode 4, we begin with a flashback; Yanky gets frustrated with Esther, stating he is young enough to remarry — he implies his mother has got a matchmaker again and walks out furiously.

This is yet another scene demonstrating how women can be deemed disposable if they are seen as “defective”

In the present day, with Yanky learning that Esther was out partying with another man, he storms Leah’s house and demands to know where her daughter is before breaking down in tears. He immediately apologizes for his aggressiveness. He tells Leah he asked her for a divorce because he thought she could not get pregnant, but then she did. Leah tells Yanky that he should ask Esther what she would like to do.

I think Leah recognizes that Yanky is emotionally turmoiled, and is not acting like Moishe.

While out and about in Berlin, Esther notices Moishe and runs away. Moishe grabs Esther and throws her into a car. He takes her to a park nearby and gives her a history lesson about Germany and how millions of Jewish souls are dead and that she’s living in it. Moishe questions Esther and asks how she is going to cope in Berlin with no skills. He gives Esther a gun and says if he does not come home, she will kill herself.

Moishe is attempting to use intimidation tactics to scare Esther in returning home.

In a flashback, Esther tells her piano teacher that she is pregnant. Her piano teacher tells Esther that the rules in her community are imaginary. Esther gives the teacher papers as proof that she can get German citizenship and asks for help. Esther then goes to a pawn shop and sells her jewelry so she has money.

In the present day at the halfway point of Unorthodox Episode 4, a scared Esther goes to see her mother Leah — she cries when she locks eyes with her. Esther shows her mother the gun and tells her about Moishe. Leah explains to Esther that there is always a “Moishe” and that they always want to make you feel like you cannot survive the outside world — Leah promises to help her. Esther wonders why her mother never cared about her and abandoned her — Leah says that is a lie and that she was taken from her after they threatened her life and took her to court; she was terrorized and lost Esther in the case.

So Esther decides to attend her audition with her mother’s support and she is nervous. Surprisingly, Esther has opted to sing instead while someone plays the piano. Moishe tries to head to the audition to interrupt, but Leah stops him and pulls out a gun and tells him to leave.

Esther sings her heart out and everyone is impressed. The people assessing her audition ask her why she picked the song she did; Esther explains she chose that song because her grandmother loved it and it was a secret song. She goes further to explain that in her community in Williamsburg, she was not allowed to sing, no women were and then proceeds to explain the situation she has come from. Yanky enters the room and watches from the sidelines. Esther is asked to sing another song and she shuts her eyes and sings passionately another song in Yiddish — Esther’s emotions spill into the song and the audience tears up. Even Yanky is emotional.

Afterward, it is evident that Leah is proud; Esther introduces her mother to her friends but then she sees Yanky so decides to have a conversation with him. Esther and Yanky walk around the city and talk. They share small jokes about how her new hair is fashionable in Berlin. Yanky explains to Esther that he wants to discover new things with her and has something to show her.

Back at the hotel room, Yanky has a gift for Esther — it’s a necklace with a musical emblem. He then tells her he knows about the baby and tries to kiss her but she looks away. Yanky asks Esther to come home so they can start over and that he made a mistake by asking for a divorce. He states he can be different too, and emotionally starts cutting his hair despite a tearful Esther trying to stop him. Esther tells him it is too late and as she leaves the hotel, she barges Moishe out of the way.

This scene was powerful; it shows how Esther has enjoyed her freedom for too long and it is too late to go back and Yanky suddenly understands what it means to experience new things in life, including how to treat a woman with respect. The conflict going through Yanky’s mind was more paramount than Esther’s decision — he will always be tied back to his community whereas Esther has the chance to live her own life.

Unorthodox Episode 4 ends with Esther walking the streets crying, but you can tell she feels free still. She sits in a cafe and gets out her money and sees her small compass and smiles. Her friends head towards her and she looks at them longingly — she has a new community now.

Additional Notes

  • Moishe has a gambling problem.
  • Esther’s grandma has multiple heart attacks in Episode 4 and dies.

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