What caught my attention is that it's not the walls jogging in and out that my memory had oversimplified. Instead, in conversation with celli about her femme_fic story, I realized that I have habitually, mistakenly, imagined the exam table as parallel to the counter (with the desk thus on the same wall as the counter)! I went back through many screenshots (most courtesy of Knight Watchman) and worked out the map above, pushing and pulling at my longstanding mistaken impression. Why had I pictured the exam table sideways?
Wide shots of the lab are rare, of course, but that's not the key. I concluded that it really comes down to FK's tete-a-tete filming style, in which conversations between two characters do not usually show both on screen at the same time when that would require the camera to back up to capture both. Instead, the camera more often flips from framing one character's torso to framing the other's, showing each against his/her own background throughout the conversation. Of all the scenes in Natalie's lab, so many frame Natalie against her desk and Nick (or Schanke, Grace, Tracy) against the counter, with no hint of the wall space between. My imagination had discarded the "missing" wall, the one with the chalkboard on it.
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