Perfume season 1 episode 3 recap: Synthesis


On the third episode of Netflix’s Perfume, as Simon starts to close in on a theory, she is distracted by a startling development in her relationship with Grunberg.

The narrator says that synthesis is the mixing of things that do not belong together into something new. Synthesis is the nature of love, and what is perfume without synthesis.

Meanwhile, back in the school days, Butsche performs oral sex on Katharina while Roman watches. Roman goes home to try it out on Elena, but he doesn’t do very well and he can tell Elena isn’t into it. He gets angry and leaves.

Later, Elena dresses up and goes to the school dance to try to get Roman’s attention and to apologize for not being excited, like its even her fault. He brushes her off and walks away. At home, her father reacts with disgust to her lipstick and walks away too.

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The dog carcass that Simon found exhibits the same wounds found on Katharina. They talk to the old principle of the school who was seen attending Katharina’s funeral. He once owned a dog that went missing that was the same breed as the dog they found.

Might he have had something to do with the murder and was his involvement with Katharina more significant than he lets on?

Toothless has been sexually impotent for years and is seeing his therapist partly for sexual problems. She encourages him to be more positive, so when Butsche pushes him into sleeping with Paula at his brothel he actually completes. This pushes him into a manic phase that turns him into an overconfident dick.

Meanwhile, Grünberg is feeding Simon lines about having to wait until his kids are grown up before leaving his wife. He obviously has no intention of ever leaving her, but it gives Simon hope and keeps Grünberg in control.

When he calls, she drops everything to go with him to the seaside. On the drive back from their romantic weekend he immediately goes cold again.

Simon and Köhler search Elena’s old room at her father’s house and find her diary and the book Perfume by Patrick Suskind. Elena hasn’t been back in 20 years and her father is pretty bitter about it.

Köhler has an idea that Merten was buried beneath the dog so they go back to dig deeper and find him. He has the same wounds as the others.

They summon the five friends and ask them first about Perfume. They each interpret what the book is about in a very personal way that is very specific to their fears and individual experiences.

They tell Simon about how they used to practice and refine their sense of smell and how de Vries was the best at smelling and capturing scents.

Simon tries to corner De Vries, saying that he could better capture the scent of a person by extracting their scent and perspiratory glands. De Vries deflects by saying that she seems stressed, but that high cortisol levels are normal during pregnancy.

She laughs this off, but he can smell very specific things about her, including that she has a carbon plate in her forehead from a past head injury. She runs out of the interview and goes home to take a pregnancy test. We don’t see the results, but I think we can guess.

Butsche discovers that Paula has been bringing her young daughter Elsie to work and keeping her in the closet while she sees clients.

Butsche, implied to have been sexually abused himself, finds this negligent parenting unacceptable. He puts Elsie to bed in another room and then forcefully ejects Paula from the premises. He tries to report it to protective services but they find him suspicious and he finds their methods to be lazy.

When Elsie eventually goes home to find her mother, it is implied that Paula might have been murdered by the same killer.

The boorish detective Brettschnider who drove Simon to the first crime scene is seen playing with a length of string that he absent-mindedly ties into a noose.

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There’s something that seems suspicious and significant about this, particularly because the camera focuses on it so long after he tosses it aside. Might Brettschnider, with his uncouth manners and obnoxious dashboard stickers be involved in the murder somehow?