Warning, this article contains spoilers for Episode 7 of “Lessons in Chemistry.”
“Lessons in Chemistry” showrunner Lee Eisenberg said it’s thanks in part to his wife’s “enthusiastic” reaction to Calvin Harris that the episode takes a look back at his childhood. In Lewis Pullman’s portrayal, viewers learn a little more about the chemist who captured the heart of protagonist Elizabeth Zott (Brie Larson).
The penultimate episode of the series, directed by Tara Miele and titled “Book of Calvin,” introduced viewers to Calvin’s backstory and offered a final look at his meeting and courtship of Elizabeth before he left off at the end of episode 2 tragically died.
“We talked about maybe seeing him in a flashback. And we wanted to have the option,” Eisenberg told TheWrap, noting that they had signed Pullman for three episodes but still “didn’t even know exactly what that third episode was going to be.”
“When I started writing and saw the dailies in the first cuts of Episodes 1 and 2 – and also really saw my wife’s reaction to Lewis Pullman – I thought, ‘Okay, I think this is going to be a thing.’ I was really fascinated by him. And my wife was, I would say, blown away.”
In the episode, it is revealed that Calvin grew up in St. Luke’s, a Catholic boys’ home, where his interest in science became apparent from an early age.
“The entire series is really about how our connections with other people open our worlds and hearts and bring us experiences, love and joy that we wouldn’t have otherwise. It was quite difficult for him to immerse himself in Calvin’s childhood [before] “He connected with Wakely and highlights this theme of connectivity,” Miele told TheWrap. “This rare connection between a priest and a pharmacist, which then leads to the pharmacist’s daughter better understanding her dead father, is just another example of how connections with other people open us and allow us to love more deeply.”
Reverend Wakely (Patrick Walker) came onto the scene after observing Calvin’s lecture at Harvard, which inspired him to write a letter to the chemist asking about the conflict between religion and faith. The two men exchanged letters that lasted until Calvin’s death without ever meeting.
“[It’s] One of the best things about representing different perspectives and not feeling like we have to choose one. “That’s what I liked about the conversation between Wakely and Calvin, that it was a respectful dialogue between two opposing views in which they learn to appreciate each other’s point of view,” Miele added. “This is what happens when you open up and connect with people. It may not be what you expect, it may not be what you agree on, but you might learn something about yourself if you actually open up.”
In a way, someone like Calvin, who has every reason to dislike religion and want nothing to do with it, finds a way to respect it, despite what he endured at the hands of the priests of St. Luke’s.
“We’re all trying to figure out what to do here and what this is about. And whatever you call it – science or God or the experiment or the Bible, whatever you try, you’re still trying to figure out what it’s about,” the director concluded. “That was really, I think, again a unifying theme that underscores Elizabeth’s journey: How am I going to do this?”
The first seven episodes of Lessons in Chemistry are now available to stream on Apple TV+.