Lessons in Chemistry Season 1 Episode 2 Recap

By Adam Lock
Published: October 13, 2023 (Last updated: March 20, 2024)
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Lessons in Chemistry Season 1 Episode 2 Recap


“Her and Him” is centered on a sweet and loving romance, which in turn is elevated by its two outstanding leads. The period setting continues to impress as well, with the crew making the most of 50s America and the Christmas season. This charming drama is upended though by a surprising twist ending.

The second episode from Season 1 of Apple TV+’s Lessons in Chemistry focuses on the romantic relationship between Elizabeth and Calvin. Episode 2, titled “Her and Him”, finds the duo working together on a grant proposal, whilst falling in love with each other. It isn’t plain sailing though, as the whole world seems to be working against them.

Our recap of this episode contains all the juicy details, but also, naturally, major spoilers.

Lessons in Chemistry Season 1 Episode 2 Recap

The installment begins in 1950. Elizabeth interviews for her PhD at UCLA. One of the professors involved in the process, Dr Bates, informs her that the qualifying exam has gone swimmingly. He then proceeds to kiss her out of nowhere. Elizabeth rejects his advances, but he overpowers her anyway.

Why didn’t Elizabeth get her PhD?

This appears to be the sexual assault incident that was referenced in Episode 1. Elizabeth fights back against the professor, stabbing him in the side with a pencil. Shockingly, it’s the university that is asking for an apology after this attempted rape, they are not the ones apologizing. Elizabeth refuses to apologize though and loses out on her PhD in the process.

The main story continues back in 1951. Elizabeth wants to return to her old job, fearing that a similar situation could arise with Calvin. Fran refuses to help her out though, pointing out that she did warn her in the first place.

With no other options, Elizabeth decides to work with Calvin but divides the lab into two separate sections. Calvin still doesn’t understand what he has done but offers to give Elizabeth her space. Elizabeth cooks alone that night and befriends a stray dog.

Meanwhile, Calvin babysits for Harriet again. She returns home that night, after her committee meeting. She is fighting construction plans, which could heavily disrupt the local community. Harriet asks Calvin to support the committee and he agrees to attend the next meeting.

What is Donatti’s ultimatum?

Calvin leaves Elizabeth an apology note. He continues to give her the space that she needs, missing another board meeting. Dr Robert Donatti is given an ultimatum by his boss: He must get Calvin to pitch his research proposal and submit his findings by a certain date or Donatti loses his job. He blames Elizabeth for distracting Calvin.

In retaliation, Donatti lies to Elizabeth, stating that if Calvin doesn’t hand in his proposal by the deadline, then people will start getting fired. Donatti hints at Elizabeth losing her job too. She heads over to Calvin’s home to tell him the bad news.

Calvin admits that he hasn’t had a good idea in a long time, although Elizabeth has inspired him recently. Elizabeth struggles to talk about her trauma but makes it clear that she needs her boundaries, and the door needs to stay open.

She clearly has trust issues, but Calvin agrees to her terms. He offers to take her for a rowing lesson and Elizabeth accepts. The lesson goes terribly though; they fall into the water and Elizabeth begins to drown. Calvin saves her, admitting that he is developing feelings for her. Afterward, they kiss.

Why does Calvin miss Harriet’s council meeting?

Next, Calvin teaches Elizabeth how to swim. Their romance continues to blossom. Calvin misses Harriet’s important council meeting, distracted by this new romance. Harriet is belittled at the meeting. Here, the series addresses racial issues as well as ones concerning sexism in 50s America.

At Christmas, Calvin and Elizabeth decide to stay on campus together. Calvin has no family to celebrate with and Elizabeth hasn’t spoken to her parents in some time, so they celebrate together instead. During the holidays, they have a major breakthrough in their research and enjoy a romantic meal together.

Calvin asks Elizabeth to move in with him and she agrees. Their presentation to the board then follows. Elizabeth presents their controversial findings. The board members struggle to take Elizabeth seriously though and reject their proposal.

Lessons in Chemistry Episode 2 Ending Explained

Elizabeth storms out of the presentation, heartbroken by the continued sexism and misogyny. Calvin chases after her, declaring his love for her in that moment. They agree to submit their research without Hastings’ help. They decide to go it alone.

As their romantic relationship continues to develop, Elizabeth confesses to Calvin that she doesn’t want to get married or have children in the future. She wants to focus on her work instead. Calvin is happy to accept Elizabeth’s terms once again. He only wants to spend his life with Elizabeth, that is enough.

The episode ends with Calvin going for a run with their pet dog. As he crosses a street, Calvin is hit by a bus. This wholesome romantic storyline concludes with a shocking twist ending.

What did you think of Lessons in Chemistry Season 1 Episode 2? Comment below.

Additional reading:

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