Last week, Vienna Blood left the mystery as background noise to the lives Max Liebermann and Oskar Reinhardt are living in the final years of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. This week continues that trend, opening with Max at the hospital, where he's openly growing weary of Professor Gruner and the so-last-century method of electrocuting patients.
Strasser: There's been a complaint.
At St. Florian's, the schoolboys gang up on Herr Lang after he sold them out to the Inspector. Meanwhile, Max visits Amelia to ask her to be the proto-forensic scientist to his proto-mind hunter detective. He breaks her into the hospital to examine Zelenka's body, in the weirdest nerd-sexy scene PBS has had in decades. (It ends on a handshake.) The experience also doubles as exposure therapy, helping Amelia face her experience there as a patient and come out stronger.
While Max is bagging Amelia's evidence samples, Elsa officially moves back in with Oskar, and she's tidying up the stagnant house. That includes throwing out the clothes and toys of their late daughter, Mitzi. She tells him she's figuring out how to move on; he needs to do the same. At first, he's upset, but then he admits she's right. Perhaps there's hope for these two after all. Also, Elsa meets Max, and she's not impressed. She gives him the same look all women seem to: What is this obnoxious young man suddenly on my doorstep.
Max turns up because Leah fretting over Daniel's refusal to draw gave him a brainwave. Thomas's sister talked about his paintings, but when did he paint if there were no art classes? Herr Lang admits to teaching Zelenka privately. He hid the picture because he feared the detectives would see something suspicious in the subject matter. It's a lovely painting of a young lady. Oskar recognizes her as the daughter of one of the professors on campus. When they call upon her, they discover that she is Fräulein Becker (Sophie Stockinger), the science teacher's daughter.
She pretends she doesn't know Zelenka, even though the background of the painting is the room in her house they're interrogating her in. She finally admits she's lying because there are strict rules. She's not allowed to interact with the male student body. But when Lang told her a student wanted to paint her portrait, she agreed. Bernhard Becker comes home, interrupting the questioning. He shrugs the painting off as "youthful infatuation," before firmly insisting his daughter has nothing to do with the case. (Note: the daughter never turns her back on daddy and is visibly frightened of him.) Max thinks she must be the beloved in Thomas' letter, and the two were planning to run away together.
Amelia comes to Max's house to tell him the body was washed clean, so she found nothing. He invites her to stay for tea, only to go downstairs and discover Mendel invited Clara over in hopes of a reconciliation. Bless Clara, she takes one look at Mendel and Max arguing, Amelia yearning to be anywhere else, and proposes they sit down and be civilized. Once seated, Clara goes in on Max with both barrels and says to go straight to hell, bless her buttons. She walks out, head held high before Rachel can make it downstairs. (Amelia flees.) Max's parents are horrified, especially when they learn Amelia doesn't go to synagogue. She isn't even Jewish!
Speaking of the synagogue, Max realizes Daniel's mutterings were a Christian prayer. He doesn't attend chapel, and yet he knows it by heart. It's the school prayer, and every student learns it. It's the basis for the code in Daniel's possession Max couldn't crack, a call to hazing. He and Reinhardt work it out: "Prove Yourself Worthy. Choose, Zelenka" Max realizes the hazing is still going on, and they race to the school to catch the kids in the act. It's an excuse to show the hazing ritual, which includes playing Russian Roulette. Max chases down the lead student, Wolf, who taunts Max into punching him. But the hazing victim flips out, aiming the gun directly at Wolf. He thankfully bursts into tears before he can shoot.
With the decoded note in hand, Max gets his nephew to talk. It was Daniel's turn to bring the victim, in this case, Thomas, for hazing. But Zelenka ran, and the boys gave chase to the river. When they caught up to him, Thomas was choking. Daniel swears none of them touched him, he just stopped being able to breathe, and died in front of them. Daniel believed Zelenka had an attack from the stress. Fearing they'd get blamed, the boys threw the body into the lake. Daniel still has Thomas' cloak; they took it off him before dumping the body. Max hands it over to Amelia, who this time comes back with an answer. It was cyanide, used by someone with a knowledge of chemistry. And the chemistry teacher has a daughter he jealously guards.
Fräulein Becker denies an affair with Zelenka, but when Max brings up the letter, she freezes. Those letters weren't from Thomas; he was just the courier. It was Herr Lang. But her father didn't know that. He set up a chemical experiment in the room while Thomas was studying, slowly letting the kid inhale poison. Upon being confronted with evidence he killed Zelenka in error, Becker honorably throws himself off the parapet.
Strasser is upset with Reinhardt; St. Florian's may not survive the scandal. Reinhardt is perplexed until he realizes Strasser is also an alumnusAlso, Strasser's rewarding the promised promotion to his fellow alumni, von Bulow. (Also, Elsa left Oskar, this time for good.) Liebermann also faces censure when Gruner finds out he let Amelia in to collect evidence after hours. Max gets suspended. But even so, when the two men sit down over beers, they realize these aren't setbacks. Reinhardt wants to be in the field, hunting criminals, as does Max, and they've got Amelia now to help them. If this show ever gets a Season 2, 1908 in Vienna won't know what hit it.