The relationship between Ida and Dr. Behring has emerged as Charité's most intriguing one. Whilst it was not yet revealed exactly what they shared in the past, their relationship has evolved from outright loathing to one of almost comradeship. Dr. Behring recognised that Ida had the mind of a physician. Though he initially said that she had what it took to be a successful physician if only she were a man, he later encouraged her to pursue an education in Zurich. He even offered to write her a recommendation letter and gave her a pep talk on how he, a son of a poor village teacher, was able to study medicine because of grants arranged by his teachers. He allowed Ida to listen in on his lecture to his all male class. Later, he gave Ida a present, his own anatomy textbook.
Ida's journey into the physician's world, one that was home to her late father, was a far more fascinating tale than her budding romance with young Georg Tischendorf. When a poor boy needed an emergency traecheostomy , Tischendorf volunteered to go, though he did not know how to do the procedure properly. To be fair, Tischendorf's heart may have been in the right place, but it was still reckless of him. That Dr. Behring, who knew the procedure, did not rush to the ward to help the boy was a display of careless disregard for the lives of the poor.
Tischendorf did not have Ida's medically inclined mind. His passion laid in the arts. His father was a doctor who pushed him to join a fraternity. He was all sweetness to Ida, but his decision to perform a dangerous procedure he was not really familiar with and his inability to get a word in with his father was more than a turn off, to me though not to Ida.
It is not that I have begun shipping Ida with Dr. Behring; not at all. It is that their dynamic is more compelling. Dr Behring was a physician who desperately wanted to continue his research on a possible cure for diphtheria, but who was not favoured by the famous researcher Dr. Koch. After Dr. Behring saved the life of the niece of the immensely wealthy Director Spinola, he was able to secure a place in Dr. Koch's lab. Dr. Behring's mood swings were famous amongst the staff. Secretly, he was addicted to opium, an addiction that Ida found out about but kept a secret.
Dr. Koch, too, found out about Dr. Erhlich's secret, that he was away not on holiday but to convalescence because of tuberculosis. Dr. Koch had taken to sleeping in his laboratory, not because he was too busy working on the cure, as he told his estranged wife, but because it was the only place where he could spend time with his lover Hedwig. It was a relationship that had gone way beyond trips to the theatre.
Dr. Koch was shown as a man who did not have the easy charm someone like Spinola possessed. With the visit of the new, young Emperor (Emperor Frederick had died), there was renewed pressure on him to find a cure for tuberculosis, especially with the upcoming International Medical Congress.
■ Deaconess Martha knew opium was missing from the hospital supply.
■ With the imminent visit of the new Emperor, Martha told the nurses to give the patients opium to make sure their cries of pain would not disrupt the visit. Ida testily asked why the opium would not be given simply because the patients needed it.
■ The friendship between Ida and Therese was nice to see.
■ Edith wanted the nurses to form a union.
■ The Emperor promised Dr. Koch an institute in his name.
■ The year 1888 was known as the Year of the Three Emperors.
Image from Charitè, currently streaming on Netflix