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RECAP CHARITÉ Light of the World

Dr. Koch may have all the fame, but Dr. Behring is this show’s complicated male lead, at least for this episode. His past with Ida was finally revealed. When Ida was 14, Dr. Behring was an assistant doctor who used to help out in her father’s surgery. He courted her with the expectation that he would take over her father’s practice. After Ida’s parents died of typhoid, a distant uncle became her guardian. This supposed guardian embezzled her inheritance. With no more money, Dr. Behring then disappeared from her life. That was how she ended up a penniless servant in the first episode. It was why she loathed him.

His defects, notwithstanding, Dr. Behring could still acknowledge that Ida’s mind was sharper than many of his students, that her sex ought not to be a barrier to her dream of a career in medicine. There was some residual affection there, as well, whether it was out of respect for her mind and driven nature, or a rose coloured romance, it was not yet clear. When Ida begged Dr. Behring to help with Dr. Ehrlich’s wife, who was in need of an emergency Caesarean, he did.

There had been tension between Dr. Ehrlich and Dr. Behring from the beginning, mostly because of their rivalry for the esteem if Dr. Koch. Dr. Koch noticeably favoured Dr. Ehrlich; Dr. Behring’s reputation as a difficult man was not unjustified, and even the polite, patient Dr. Kitasato had difficulty dealing with him. When Ida went to get Dr. Behring to help with Dr. Ehrlich’s wife, he was in the middle of having opium withdrawal symptoms. His hands were shaking. He could not possibly operate. Ida murmured a quiet ‘Please’, and Dr. Behring strolled into the hospital, steady now that he has taken the opium he had been trying to quit.

How much of the trouble Dr Ehrlich’s wife found herself in was due to the antisemite midwife who was so convinced she was right even when it became clear both the baby and the mother needed more medical care than she could provide? Dr. Ehrlich was there, but he was not a gynaecologist, nor was he a surgeon. All the other doctors were at the Congress. Dr. Behring remained at Charité only because Dr. Koch did not give him a ticket to the huge gathering of doctors. Because of Dr. Behring’s role in saving the life of his wife, Dr. Ehrlich told Dr. Koch that he could work with his famously prickly colleague.

Dr. Koch announced at the Congress that his team was weeks away from testing a cure for tuberculosis on humans. The announcement was greeted with a standing ovation and later, the famous doctor was carried on the shoulders of his peers. For Dr. Koch, the possibility of making serious money off the tuberculin meant that he could divorce his wife and be with his lover Hedwig. His wife, however, refused to agree to a divorce.

Ida’s self study of medicine continued, with Dr. Behring as her tutor. Tischendorf, who had declared his wish to marry Ida both whilst drunk and sober, was jealous of Ida and Dr. Behring’s closeness. Go off, Georg. After he said women should not study medicine, I want him away from Ida.


■ Therese kissed Ida. Ida, however, continued to date Georg.

■ Georg was now a member of his father’s fraternity. He told Ida he would take over the practice if that meant his blessing for them to wed. Ida encouraged Georg to pursue his passion for photography.

■ The daughter of Director Spinola appeared very much taken with Dr. Behring. She looked like a child so this made me rather uncomfortable, but I suppose there was a period in history when this was acceptable.

Image from Charitè, currently streaming on Netflix

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