Dickinson – S02E02 – Fame Is A Fickle Food [Transcript]

Emily's participation in an Amherst baking contest gives her a taste of fame and celebrity, but she questions the benefits.
Dickinson - Season 2

Original release date: January 8, 2021


It is risen.

[dramatic religious music playing]

My God. How much does that thing weigh?

Uh, 20 pounds.

[Ship] That’s huge.

Thank you.

[Ship chuckles]


No! No, don’t.

Emily, the judges will take off points if it’s partially eaten.

Which is why I’ve made two. Maggie’s got the other one in the kitchen.

Nearly threw me back out lifting it onto the table.

I am not taking any chances with this baking contest.

Last year was a disaster.

You came in second.

Yes, exactly.

Nothing like that can happen again, understand?

I am winning this contest.

Now, I need you all to taste it and give me your honest opinions.

Mm. It tastes like booze.

Yes, I soaked it in brandy for a month.

Getting, like, a nuance of dried fruit.

It’s the five pounds of raisins.

It’s a bit eggy.

What do you mean?

I mean there’s a hint of egg.

Is that a bad thing?

[all] No, no.Mm-mmm.

Dear, your cake is perfect.[Ship] It’s perfect.

[Mrs. Dickinson] It’s perfect.

Oh, boy.

I am gonna give this town a moist, sticky, generously spiced ass-kicking.

[loud chewing]

Ew, you’re chewing so loud.

Your mom’s biscuits are the bomb.

Why, thank you, Mr. Shipley.

Your mom’s such a role model.

[Mrs. Dickinson chuckles] Oh.

I must say, having you as our boarder is even pleasanter than I ever expected.

You fit right in with the family.

Feels like a good fit to me too.

At last, the big day is here!

It’s time for the Amherst Cattle Show! Ha ha!


You’re still eating breakfast?

Come on, everybody’s already at the cattle hall.

Let’s moo-ve.

Cow pun.


Austin, a word, please, in my office.

Dad, it’s Saturday.

And we have business to attend to.


Oh, Maggie.

I just wanted you to know you can take the night off.

Oh, thank you, madam.

So nice of you to notice me back troubles.

I didn’t.

Today is the Amherst Cattle Show, which means tonight is a special night for me and Edward.

I beg your pardon?

You see, every year on the night of the cattle show, Edward and I have… a date.

All right, then.

The cattle show gets him very excited.

I’ve heard enough, ma’am.

Once a year.

[whispering] Like clockwork.

Please, no more details.

[Edward clears throat]

As my partner in this law firm…


…and as a grown man with your own home to manage,

I assume you keep yourself apprised of the family ledgers.

Of course.

Well, so then, you must be aware that we have racked up a substantial amount of debt.

We have?

Uh– We have.

Yes, what with the railroad investments and the stock market troubles, not to mention everything that we sank into the building of your house.

Which I’m going to pay you back for.

Yes, I know, my dear boy. That’s your intention, but such a day seems to recede ever further into the distance.

And what with your wife’s lavish tastes…

Sue likes spending money.

She certainly does.

She never had the opportunity before.

And it turns out she’s good at being rich.

Yes, well, we’re not quite as rich as Sue thinks.

We’re not? I mean, we’re not. Mm.



But I have received news.



Your uncle Mark Newman is dead.



Oh. Oh, that sucks.

No. That’s very good for us.

Oh. Okay, good.

Yes. You see, I have been appointed executor of his estate.


Yes, which means, through various loopholes, all strictly aboveboard, of course…

Oh, yeah?

Yes, that we may now have a new cash flow to aid in reducing our debt.


With one minor caveat, of course.

Which may mean a little extra work for us.

The adoption into our home of one or two assets of the deceased.

Okay, sweet. Sounds like you got this all worked out, Dad.

So, I won’t rein in my spending at the cattle show. Huh?


It’s a horse pun, get it?



By the way, Dad, it is a pleasure and an honor to be your partner in the firm.

[Edward] Yeah–

Stop poking me with a fork.

Austin, where have you been? I need you to taste my cake.


Tell her it’s good.

Kind of intense talk with Dad.

Is everything all right?

I don’t know, I was kind of zoning out.

You guys.


Let’s go hit the cattle show!

Oh, yes!

[“My Town” playing]

[no audible dialogue]

[no audible dialogue]

Works like a charm.

Oh, look, Edward, oysters.

I’m going to get some for tonight.

Quite right.

So, you’re, like, an actual sailor?


A Native American sailor. That is so interesting.

There are actually a lot of Native American sailors in this time period.

Cool. [chuckles]

Hey, man.

Don’t steal my girl.

You stole my land.



Don’t be old-fashioned.

I am not gonna be fenced in like a common pig.

No offense.

[pig snorts]

What’s wrong with being old-fashioned?

Why are we letting traditional values out the window?

There are differences between men and women.

You know, biologically, it’s a fact.

We have different skill sets.

And it’s beautiful.

What does that have to do with anything?

[Toshiaki] Excuse me.

Pound cake coming through.

Oh, my God. It’s time for the baking contest.

[“Make That Cake” playing]

Did I mention I soaked it in brandy for a month?

She’s so extra.

Jane, you didn’t enter this year?

Um, no. I’m slightly busy being a widow.


Lavinia, you’re looking well.

Oh, my God. The judges are here.

I haven’t seen you since you gave me that tour of your vegetable garden.

And you gave me syphilis.

Ooh, tell us about that cider cake.

But wait, where are the raisins?

I’ve never seen a cider cake without raisins.

I– I couldn’t find any raisins. Everywhere was sold out.

[Aunt Lavinia chuckles]

Oh, we are in for some surprises.

My cake is made with six kinds of flour.

It looks like a biscuit.

You look like a biscuit.

Ah. Evelina Dickinson.


Of course.

And what cake have you for us today?

Uh, it’s my take on a traditional Caribbean black cake.


It has two pounds of sugar and two of butter.

But I swapped in beef suet for a richer flavor.

Two whole nutmegs, 19 eggs, and five pounds of raisins, a pound and a half of currants, citron for flavor…

All soaked for a month.

Recipe called for two weeks, but I doubled down.

Her brain is broken.

Do you have any questions?

None spring to mind.

Let’s just have a taste.

[Aunt Lavinia] Mm.

Are you nobody too?

Am I who?

[Aunt Lavinia] Mm.

I’ve never tasted anything like it.

[Aunt Lavinia] Mm.


Oh. This one’s gorgeous.

[horse whinnies]

Wouldn’t she look perfect in our stables?

[Austin] Mm.

Oh, look. She has a little baby. You’re pretty too.

That is so sweet.

Let’s buy them.

Hey, Sue.

Can I ask you something?

Is it whether I want this horse? The answer is yes.

No, it’s something I’ve been meaning to bring up for a while now.

I made you a promise, and I want to honor that promise.

But every day gets harder for me.

Austin, what do you mean?

I was wondering… if you’d ever be willing to try?

For a baby.

You swore you didn’t marry me for that reason.

And I didn’t.

But, Sue, I feel like something is missing from my life.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have something to take care of?

Why don’t you take care of me?

And buy me a new horse.

And the winner of this year’s Amherst Cattle Show baking competition is…

Miss Emily Dickinson!


Amherst baking contest so white.

Yes, bitch! [whoops]

That’s what you get for soaking this shit in brandy for a month.

The judge was her aunt.

The whole thing was rigged.

Go, Emily!

Why didn’t you bake anything?

I’d like to thank my maid, Maggie, for her support in the kitchen.

I really couldn’t have done it–

No speeches, please.

Oh, but I wrote a thing.

The winner of this year’s contest will have her name and recipe printed in tomorrow’s Springfield Republican.

And, speaking of that fine paper,

I believe that its illustrious editor has just joined us.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Samuel Bowles!


[no audible dialogue]

Hey, Amherst. Happy to be here.

Mr. Bowles, come taste the prizewinning cake.

So, you’re the winner?

Come, Bowles. A taste.

Oh, I’m good.

[man] Is he for reals gonna get into that cake like that?



Damn. It’s good.

[crowd cheering]


[Lavinia whoops]

Whoo! Whoo! Yeah, Emily!

Well, of course, I taught Emily the fundamentals of baking, but the artistry was all hers.

More tea?

It’s almost time.

Edward. The guests!


[Jane] Emily, your cake was so good.

Thank you, Jane.

It was the best cake I’ve ever tasted.

I’m obsessed.

Thank you, thank you.

Didn’t you say last year’s cake was the best you ever tasted?

Oh, last year’s cake was hot garbage.

For real. That cake was bullshit.

People went so crazy over that cake, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t good.

Yeah, whoever made that cake should kill herself.

Um, she did.

Wait, what?

Last year’s winner, that girl Lizzie?

She fully had a mental breakdown and committed suicide.

Oh, yeah.

[Lavinia] Yeah.

I heard about that.

That’s awful.

I guess the fame just went to her head.

Anyway, Emily, my cousin owns a mill. I’d love to put you in touch.

Maybe in your article you could mention how you use his brand of flour.

Is this the whisk you used for the cake? Can I sell it?

Will you be competing at Provincetown?

No, this was really just–

[Mrs. Dickinson] Of course she will.

We’ll be doing the entire cattle show circuit.

Boston, Providence, New Haven.

We will?

Well, one win is nice. Two is momentum.

Straighten your ribbon, dear.

[Ship] Cake, cake, cake.

[all chanting] Cake, cake, cake, cake…


Thank you.

Your name in the paper and everything.

[chuckles] Yeah.

I just… I just think it’s a little absurd, don’t you?


That you’ll be remembered as a baker, not a poet.


[door opens, slams]


What are you doing here?

Hey, look, it’s Amherst’s celebrity baker.

Please don’t.

I just wanna say,

I’ve been thinking and I don’t want–

Actually, I came to see your father.

My father? For what?

I’m looking for investors for my newspaper.

Ah, there he is, the man himself.

My apologies, my good man.

Sam Bowles. Editor in chief of The Springfield Republican.

Honor to meet you, Congressman.

Oh, no. I gave up on politics.

Well, I’ve got a new proposition for you.

I was hoping we might sit down and discuss?

Another time, another time. Go inside. Have some cake.

Well, as long as I’m here, wanna get this interview thing over with?

What interview thing?

For the paper.

It runs next to your recipe, just a fun little intro.

“Ten things you didn’t know about Emily Dickinson.”

Something to create a little buzz.

Come on, let’s walk off that cake.

So, we just need a couple of fun facts.

Fun facts, okay.

Robins are related to blackbirds and nightingales.

Not about birds, about you.

I don’t wanna talk about me.

All right, all right. Well, uh… let’s talk about me then.

What do you wanna know?

What’s it like running a newspaper?

It’s exciting. It’s nonstop.

I’m always in the middle of things.

I work all day, sometimes all night.

Running around, chasing the stories. Chasing the facts.

When I go anywhere, talk to anyone, I always ask them, “What’s new?”

That’s how I found out about you.

What do you mean?

Well, when I got the letter from Suzie.

She invited me to her party.

And I said, “Tell me who’s gonna be there.

Who do I need to know?”

She said, “Well, there’s this poet.”

So, you came to Amherst for me?

Among other reasons, yeah.

I was interested.

I’m always interested in hearing a new voice.

But I haven’t heard yours yet.

No, you haven’t.

I’ve tasted your cake, but I haven’t read your poems.

Guess I’m kind of shy.


You remind me of Mary.

Mary who?

Mary Bowles. My wife.

Of course.

She’s just like you.



I mean, she really sees things, you know?


But it’s hard for her sometimes, because she sees the darker sides of life.

I get that.


It’s not easy.

I mean, she’s an amazing woman, but she just…

She overthinks.

You know what I mean?

I think so.

It’s funny.

I don’t even know you, but I-I feel like I do.

Maybe I don’t though.

People are deceptive, aren’t they?

Anyway, if you’re as special as Suzie says you are, then I’m determined to find out.

What if I don’t want to be found out?

What if I don’t want fame?

I love this modesty act.

It’s so perfectly ladylike.

I mean, go ahead.

Pretend to be this shy little daisy.

But I’ll come along, and I’ll pluck you from obscurity.

Just like this.

And besides, that whole attitude?

It’s so 1840s.

It’s 1859, baby.

It’s almost the ’60s.

You’re an exciting person, you know that?

[Sue] Darlings.

Bubbly is in the back. And, uh, use the Baccarat crystal.

It just arrived from France, and the craftsmanship is divine.

Anyway, I don’t care about farming, but clearly we need another horse.

Technology is at such a pace these days.

Oh, I know. Have you heard of Morse code?

Heard of it? I’m fluent in it.

I was sorry to hear about your husband.

Honestly, it’s fine.

I’m really just in love with my baby.

That’s so nice.

Sorry to interrupt. The new horse is in the barn.

Okay. Thanks, Henry.

You got her another horse?

Whatever Sue wants.

[woman 1] Free the wrist.

[woman 2] Oh, absolutely.

The pagoda sleeve is giving me life.

Wait, Henry.

I want you to have this.

What is this for?

For whatever you need.

Are you sure about this?

Please. Take it.

I want to pay for something that actually means something.

I truly appreciate this.

What was that about?

Oh, nothing.

Just keep it between us, okay?

You can trust me, Austin.

Can I grab you some wine?

Do widows drink?

A lot.

[Emily] I better get back home.

We never did do that interview.


No, and that’s okay. [chuckles]

I don’t want to be remembered as the winner of the Amherst Cattle Show baking contest.

How do you want to be remembered?

Fame is a fickle food

That’s good.

Did you just think of that?


Yeah, there’s a poem coming into my head.

Right now?

Yeah, they’re always coming. They never stop.

Say it for me.

Fame is a fickle food

Upon a shifting plate

Whose table once a Guest but not

The second time is set

Keep going.

Whose crumbs… Whose crumbs…

Whose crumbs the crows inspect

And with ironic caw Flap past it

Flap past it to the Farmer’s Corn –

Men eat of it and die.

Eat of it and die.

That was better than your cake.

[door opens]

[Edward] This way.

[door closes]

I’m in the parlor.

What’s all this?

What… is that?

This is Anna and Clara.

Mark Newman’s girls.

Their father has recently passed, so they and their inheritance are now ours.

Girls, greet your aunt.

Where’s our bed? It better be comfortable.

Or I’m gonna set it on fire.


[thunder rumbling]

You’re in trouble.

What– What are you doing here? Who are you?

I’m Nobody.

I’m here to give you a warning.

Listen to me, Emily Dickinson.

So, you know who I am?

I do. But I shouldn’t.

You shouldn’t be known, do you understand me?

No. No, not at all.

Emily, do not seek fame.

Do not trust others who would seek it for you.

They are not genuine.

Fame is not genuine.

It will use you.

It will destroy you.

[indistinct whispering]

[gunshots, yelling]


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