The Chair – S01E04 – Don’t Kill Bill [Transcript]

Pressure mounts for Ji-Yoon to turn the department around after Bill's suspension. The hiring of a new professor undermines Yaz's chance at tenure.
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The Chair - Season 1

Original release date: August 20, 2021

Ji-Yoon tells Bill he is being suspended, is not allowed on campus, and he must write a formal apology. Bill babysits Ju Ju, who’s been suspended from school, and they bond while helping each other write apology letters. Ju Ju says she prefers her nickname over her full name of Ju-Hee, even though she was named after Ji-Yoon’s mother. Two students meet with Ji-Yoon, concerned that Yaz may not be given tenure, noting another non-white professor who was denied tenure. Ji-Yoon advocates for Yaz to Elliot, which Elliot pushes back on. Yaz leads animated discussions about Melville and Moby-Dick, with Elliot looking on with sadness as an outsider. That evening, Elliot shares his sadness with his wife, uncomfortable with the world he now lives in and his aging body. The Dean tells Ji-Yoon that Duchovny will teach Bill’s class for the rest of the semester. When Ji-Yoon pushes back, the Dean reminds Ji-Yoon she should act more like the chair of the department, not like Bill’s peer. Yaz criticizes Ji-Yoon’s leadership, saying she should not allow Duchovny to teach and she should express more sympathy for Elliot, who has had tenure for decades, than for her. Joan meets with the IT guy to figure out who is posting negative reviews of her online. Joan confronts the author outside the library.

* * *

[birds chirping]

[keys jangling]

[dog barking in distance]

[breathes deeply]

Temporary suspension.

My classes?

[exhales]

You’re not allowed on campus.

What?

They had to give something to the students,

especially after the altercation with campus police.

Larson asked them to clear the quad for a fucking donor event.

Because of that windbag, I’m getting lumped in with campus police?

That’s completely unfair. That’s on him. Did you make that clear?

Did you defend me?

You don’t…

Do you know what I’ve been dealing with?

Students coming and crying and…

This isn’t what I wanna be dealing with as chair.

[sighs]

What should I do?

You’re going to need to formally apologize.

I’m so sorry. I…

No, not to me, dumbass!

I mean yes, to me,

but they’re putting together a disciplinary hearing,

and you have to write an apology that can be disseminated.

[phone ringing]

Jesus. What is…

[sighs] It’s Ju Ju’s school. You gotta be kidding me. Hold on.

Hello.

Yes, this is she.

Wait, hit or bit?

[classical music playing]

You’re both suspended.

I’m going to work, and you are going to write letters.

[groans]

Ju Ju, you will apologize to Adin.

Bill, you will apologize… to everyone.

Mmm. I’m gonna be here all night.

[sighs]

[classical music playing]

For next time, everyone needs to come having finished “The Pardoner’s Tale.”

No pardons for slackers.

Oh hi.

I was able to do that thing we talked about.

I didn’t think you were really…

I was joking.

I thought you were pretending to joke but were actually serious.

Good thing I didn’t joke we should kill him. [chuckles]

[chuckles]

[man] All right.

So you tracked him down?

Not exactly. But I was able to hack into the Rate My Professor website.

Hack? No, I can’t even be tangentially connected

to anything that might seem improper conduct or illegal.

But you wanna know who it is?

Yes.

Okay.

It was posted twice from the Humanities Library,

both times between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

EffThisClass223?

No, EatMeChaucer@gmail.com.

If he posts again, and, say, we were at the library…

Yeah. I mean, you’d have to recognize the guy.

That shouldn’t be too hard.

[chuckles]

What are you gonna do if you catch him?

“Destroy him,” Joan said jokingly,

when that’s exactly what she was planning to do.

[clears throat]

Hi, I’m Charlotte Lo from The Pembroke Daily.

I left you a few messages.

Right. Hi.

Uh, I… I don’t wanna comment on the whole thing, okay?

Well, where do you stand? Are you joining the protest tomorrow?

I think people would appreciate hearing your point of view.

Sorry.

What made you pursue Bill Dobson as a mentor in the first place?

I… I can’t answer, okay?

The chair of my department gave me an earful

about not talking to anyone about this.

[beeps]

[Bill] Jesus.

[Ju Ju] She doesn’t cook.

I guess I’m making you some eggs, then.

I don’t eat eggs.

Because you don’t like ’em, or you never tried ’em?

Both.

I’ll give you a dollar if you try a bite.

Name one thing you can buy with a dollar.

Raisins?

[knock on door]

Come in.

Uh, Professor Kim, you got a sec?

Sure thing. Come in, Dustin.

Oh, hi, Capri.

Take a seat.

We’re okay.

What’s up?

Poli Sci just denied tenure to the only person of color in their department.

We’re worried about Professor McKay.

They’re conservative assholes.

Black faculty are held to different standards.

I know.

Their research isn’t considered rigorous.

They’re assumed to be more disorganized, less collegial.

I know.

They get invited less often to their colleagues’ houses for dinner.

I know.

Trust me, I know.

This is a letter signed by 320 students about the impact Professor McKay has had.

The way she’s supported students of color.

If she is denied tenure, we plan to take action.

[door closes]

[knocking]

[Ji-Yoon] Don’t you look dashing.

[Larson] I lost a little weight, so I had this taken in,

but look what they did to the sleeves.

I mean, this isn’t bell-shaped, this is oblong.

This is a master’s gown.

Everyone knows you have a doctorate.

Would you like me to see if Laurie can look into ordering you a new one?

How much is that gonna run me?

Oh, on the house.

Really?

Our secret.

Well, thanks, kiddo.

[Ji-Yoon chuckles]

Um, your tenure letter for Yaz

is going to include material on her teaching, right?

Why wouldn’t it?

I think it’s important that you highlight how innovative her pedagogy is.

The flipped classroom…

Well, I believe a specimen of that will be on display in today’s seminar.

Could you maybe include a mention of it?

Look, she is hot shit right now.

She has over 8,000 followers on Twitter. That’s more than all of us put together.

You know who judged himself by the number of his followers?

Jim Jones. David Koresh.

Yaz isn’t a cult leader, Elliot.

Jesus only had 12 followers. I suppose that makes him a loser.

Because of her, our students are excited

about literature that was written 150 years ago.

I know in your heyday…

How do you know right now is not my heyday?

Look, I don’t want to pull rank here,

but as the chair, I need you to do this.

You sure settled into that role.

Not saying this as your supervisor.

Supervisor?

It’s the best thing for the department.

And the right thing to do for Yaz, so just do it.

[typing]

You still got a top-notch rear end.

Wish I could say the same for you.

What does the whale represent?

[student 1] Calvinism?

No, capitalism.

[student 2] Whiteness.

White supremacy.

Oh-ho!

[student 3] Whoo!

Say more.

“Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze!”

[students laughing]

“All the morning long, I squeezed that sperm

till I myself almost melted into it.”

Whoa! [laughs]

[student 4] “I squeezed that sperm

till a strange sort of insanity came over me.”

[students cheering, laughing]

♪ Ishmael, Queequeg, Flask and Stubber ♪

♪ Sailing the Pacific And searching for blubber ♪

♪ Tashtego kills whales, so does Daggoo ♪

[student] ♪ Yeah ♪

♪ Mates and harpooners All part of the crew ♪

♪ Bulkington gone in a blaze of glory ♪

♪ Fedallah arrives In the middle of the story ♪

[Capri] ♪ Yeah ♪

[student] ♪ Captain Ahab goin’ neurotic ♪

♪ While the crew’s squeezin’ sperm All homoerotic ♪

[both singing] ♪ No women on board No women on board ♪

♪ Oh, cut the cord ♪

♪ No women on board ♪

[Capri] ♪ Off the Pequod Things are grim ♪

♪ A literary movement controlled by men ♪

♪ Can only get in If you’re wearing the pants ♪

♪ Ain’t no ladies In the American Renaissance ♪

[both] ♪ No women on board ♪

[all cheering]

♪ No women on board ♪

[all clapping in rhythm]

♪ Cut the cord ♪

♪ No women on board ♪

[all applauding, cheering]

“I am sorry I made you think I like Hitler,

because I do not.”

“I know he is the worst person who ever lived.”

[applauding]

[Ju Ju] Your turn.

[sighs]

[grunts]

“Dear Adin, I want you to know how sorry I am for biting you.”

“I understand that biting is never allowed,

even if the person asks.”

“You are my friend, and we used to like playing together at recess.”

That’s a lie.

“Signed, Ju-Hee Kim.”

Put “Ju Ju.”

I like Ju-Hee.

It was your grandmother’s name. You know that, right?

I don’t like it!

Well, I… I think it’s beautiful.

Your mom named you after her mom. That’s pretty cool.

Pretty big honor.

It’s a way of keeping her mom alive, through you.

You know what “posterity” is?

Does it have to do with your butt?

[laughs]

That is “posterior,”

and it’s very close.

[Larson] They wanna start marketing right away.

Whittenden picked this.

Apparently, we’re hiring him to sell cognac?

Mmm. And she thought that you should get started right away.

[Ji-Yoon] It’s one thing for her to hijack the Distinguished Lectureship,

quite another to actually expect me to read these.

And David has graciously agreed to take over Bill’s class.

What?

Just until the hearing, and then we’ll see what happens.

He’s writing an apology. This is all going to resolve itself.

David will need Bill’s syllabus, lecture notes.

Wait, wait, wait.

He specifically asked for them so he could pick up where Bill left off.

Minus the Sieg Heil.

Bill’s not just gonna hand over his notes.

When you were on maternity leave, you passed on your class…

That is different.

How?

David is willing to pinch hit for Bill.

He should be grateful that he wants to do the class justice.

Bill’s not gonna see it that way.

Bill was a popular teacher.

But we need to be…

Wait, “was”?

Can I give you a piece of advice?

[inhales deeply] You need to start taking your role here more seriously.

You are chair of the department now.

You’re not a peer.

Do you get what I’m saying?

You are not Bill’s peer.

What time you want me back tomorrow?

Oh no, that’s okay. I probably should, you know, find a real babysitter.

Oh, come on, let me do it.

Being with her makes me, um… I don’t have to miss teaching.

I was gonna give her my Beckett and suicide lecture.

Okay.

[Ji-Yoon] Oh.

This is called food.

[sighs] Thank you.

I have to tell you something.

[Ju Ju] Why’d you go?

Your mom came home. I wanted her to eat.

Hi, little one.

[Ju Ju] Can you come?

Oh, of course.

[Ju Ju] Bill.

Um, don’t you want your mom to…

Uh, no, go ahead.

You sure? Okay.

Come here, wise guy. [grunts]

I thought you were asleep.

[Ju Ju] I was tricking you.

Can you finish the story?

[Rentz] You know what it is?

[woman] Mmm?

She doesn’t wanna teach them. She wants to hang out with them.

Though she’s publishing in all the highest venues, but…

[woman] But what?

They turned you down for tenure, and you were the best we had.

Because I was expected to write a book when I was busy raising three kids.

They should’ve stopped your tenure clock.

I should’ve put more pressure on them.

I’m sorry.

[woman] Shoulda, woulda.

Someone had to make dinner.

Yeah.

I told you I’m not wearing those.

Just tonight.

I’m not wearing diapers.

This doesn’t spell doom, old man.

[breathes deeply]

I used to bestride the narrow world like a Colossus.

[smacks lips] Well, now you’re going to bestride it in Tranquility Briefs.

[chuckles]

Oh God.

[both laugh]

[“(Nothing but) Flowers” by Talking Heads playing]

♪ Here we stand ♪

♪ Like an Adam and an Eve ♪

♪ Waterfalls ♪

♪ The Garden of Eden ♪

♪ There was a factory ♪

♪ Now there are mountains and rivers ♪

♪ You got it, you got it ♪

♪ We caught a rattlesnake ♪

♪ Now we got something for dinner ♪

♪ We got it, we got it ♪

♪ There was a shopping mall ♪

♪ Now it’s all covered with flowers ♪

[reading] Where the dreams of kings and queens “echoo”?

Echo.

Echo.

[Bill] Who created La Calavera Catrina?

[Ju Ju] Posada.

[Bill] And whom was he making fun of?

Rich people.

[Bill] What kind of rich people?

Ones from Europe.

Do you know what it means to lampoon somebody?

Posada was making fun of Mexican leader Porfirio Díaz

because even though Díaz modernized Mexico,

his reforms really only benefited the ruling class.

I wanna lampoon you.

I don’t think so.

My name’s Bill, and I’m so boring.

Um… [fake cries]

[chuckles]

Ju Ju, you’re the cultural ambassador of Día de los Muertos.

If we don’t work on your presentation, you’re gonna be sorry.

When’s recess?

[“Paris Summer” by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood playing]

♪ Walking down some cobbled street ♪

♪ The sound of water near my feet ♪

♪ I found her ♪

♪ A hundred thousand flashes in my mind… ♪

[clears throat]

It’s me.

Yeah, I know.

Um, okay, so I’m all set up on the Wi-Fi.

Mm-hmm.

Now we just, um, wait for a post.

Mm-hmm.

You’re reading Chaucer?

Yeah. It’s like reading a different language, though, you know.

You’ll be surprised how fast you get used to it.

If you can just let go and stop trying to understand…

Yeah, that’s how code was for me.

I just let it go, let it wash over me…

[computer chimes]

It’s him.

Already?

It’s him?

Yeah.

Where is he?

[sighs]

[Joan] “This hag makes me wanna kill myself.”

Good. Now it’ll look like a suicide.

[chuckles]

Let me, uh, check the IP address.

He’s here. He’s here. Okay.

[breathes deeply]

All right, what should we… do?

Oh, okay.

[beeps]

[beeps]

[Rentz] What? No.

[frantically pushing buttons]

[beeps]

[smacks lips] Well, I can’t make copies, but I think I just unlocked my car.

[laughs]

You want a hand?

Be my guest.

She’s got a mind of her own.

[Rentz] Mmm. Don’t remind me.

Okay.

[clatters]

[copier chiming, whirring]

Brilliant. Thank you.

Yeah.

When Melville died, the Times just published a tiny death notice?

They actually misspelled the title of Moby-Dick.

M-O-B-I-E.

I-E.

It upsets me.

Well, that makes two of us.

Thanks.

Yeah.

[sighs]

Oh, hey, you forgot your, uh…

This is a water balloon.

In order to explore air resistance and physics,

what you do is you catch it.

Oh, good catch! That was perfect! That was so awes-

You li…

That’s it!

You’re a goner.

[giggling]

[water balloon bursts]

[Bill] Oh!

I’m coming! I’m coming! I’m coming!

[Ju Ju giggling]

[Bill] Where are you going?

Ju Ju, come on, come back.

[Ju Ju] Let’s go surprise Mommy!

[Bill] I can’t. I’m not allowed to be on campus.

[suspenseful music playing]

What the fuck?

No sleeping in the library. It’s a new rule.

Oh okay.

[man whispering] Hey. So, what’s the plan?

[keys clacking]

[man] Wha…

Hey.

[suspenseful music playing]

Hey, you!

Is that him?

Wait! Goddamn it.

[man] Wait. Wait!

[Joan gasps]

[beeping]

Come on!

Hey!

Steve.

Professor Hambling?

Now you listen to me.

I may not be your cup of tea,

but The Canterbury Tales is a work of genius.

Philandering husbands, horny housewives,

farting, shitting, pubic hair.

Some poor schmuck asked a woman for a kiss and ends up making out with her butthole.

That’s a fate I’m wishing for you.

Okay, okay.

So, you know, pucker up.

[stutters] You hear what she’s saying?

[Joan] You don’t have to like me.

But Chaucer has survived more than 600 years of literary criticism.

And if you can’t figure out that he’s a badass,

then just stay the fuck out of my classroom.

[student] Dope City!

[all laughing]

What are you teaching next semester?

[scoffs]

Chaucer.

[all laugh]

[footsteps approaching]

[Ji-Yoon sighs]

I’ll ask him to pull back.

It’s just a draft.

He was making photocopies on letterhead.

Pretty sure he’s ready to send it.

I promise I won’t let him. [sighs]

[inhales deeply]

What?

You have tenure, I don’t.

Now you’re the chair too. I…

I don’t know, I’m not sure what’s okay to say and what’s not okay.

Yaz, if I haven’t made it clear that I want you to speak your mind, then…

[sighs]

Then I… I consider that a serious failure on my part.

I mean, that kills me.

Okay.

What are you doing?

How does this align with your mission? I thought we moved beyond this bullshit.

I am giving them David Duchovny, so they will give me you.

You shouldn’t be pimping for David Duchovny.

I know…

I shouldn’t be asked to stand out…

I am trying.

[breathes deeply]

I don’t feel like I inherited an English Department.

I feel like someone handed me a ticking time bomb

because they wanted to make sure a woman was holding it when it explodes.

Bill and I started teaching here around the same time.

Whenever Elliot would bump into us,

he would clap Bill on the back and invite him over for dinner,

and I was like, “Um, hello?”

The bottom line is, he still has a lot of institutional power.

He’s insecure because no one takes his classes anymore.

Yeah.

No, I see why you feel sorry for him.

He only got to rule the profession for the last 40 years.

Yaz…

[giggling]

[Bill] Ju Ju!

I’m serious. [grunts]

Ju Ju?

Wait. That is technically campus. I cannot be there.

No, Ju Ju, please.

[Ju Ju giggling]

♪ Who took the bomp? ♪

♪ Every day and night ♪

[Bill] Stop!

I can’t be here! I can’t be on campus!

Hey, Dobson.

Don’t back down.

Free speech in America.

[door unlocking]

[sighs]

[water balloon bursts]

[Ju Ju giggling]

Oh.

[“Deceptacon” by Le Tigre playing]

♪ Who took the bomp From the bomp-a-lomp-a-lomp? ♪

♪ Who took the ram From the rama-lama-ding-dong? ♪

♪ Who took the bomp From the bomp-a-lomp-a-lomp? ♪

♪ Who took the ram From the rama-lama-ding-dong? ♪

Oh my God, you scared me. What are you doing here?

Uh, I gotta…

You’re not supposed to be on campus.

[breathes deeply]

[door closes]

[breathing heavily]

Those are my lecture notes.

Yes, I… [gulps]

[inhales deeply]

Okay, please don’t freak out.

Larson asked David Duchovny to teach your class.

What?

As, like, a… a guest lecturer.

Just a few classes while we… Just until your hearing.

So you were gonna take ’em home and then what?

Invite him over for a… a seminar?

I’m supposed to go to his house. He has a country house…

Jesus fucking Christ. Is this really happening?

You’re taking my stolen notes to David Duchovny’s house?

No. That’s my intellectual property.

I am taking your notes because someone has to teach your class,

even if that someone is David fucking Duchovny.

The larger issue, the one you’re trying to blow by,

is that you’re allowed everywhere except…

[panting]

Where’s Ju Ju?

Oh. Ju Ju?

Go.

[chuckling]

[birds cawing]

Ju Ju!

Hi!

[Ji-Yoon] Sweetie, what are you doing?

Look at us. Stop.

Stop moving. No, honey, look at me.

I wanna jump, to Bill.

Turn to me.

That’s not a good idea.

One.

Okay.

Okay, okay.

Two.

Hold on. Hold on. Oh God!

Three!

[laughs]

[Bill] Oh God.

You scared your mama.

Okay, let’s go.

Let’s…

You scared your mama.

Sweetheart, let’s go.

Stop it. No.

Can Bill come?

No.

Not tonight.

No, we gotta leave.

Come for dinner.

No, sweetheart.

Come!

We have got to leave.

Come on!

Okay, to the car.

Mom!

To the car?

Yes.

To the car?

[“Cemetry Gates” by The Smiths playing]

♪ A dreaded sunny day ♪

♪ So I meet you at the cemetry gates ♪

Mommy, you’re so short.

And cute.

[Ji-Yoon] Okay. Yeah.

♪ So I meet you at the cemetry gates ♪

♪ Keats and Yeats are on your side ♪

[Ju Ju] You do it, Bill.

♪ While Wilde is on mine ♪

♪ So we go inside And we gravely read the stones ♪

♪ All those people, all those lives Where are they now? ♪

♪ With loves, and hates And passions just like mine ♪

♪ They were born and then they lived And then they died ♪

♪ It seems so unfair I want to cry ♪

♪ You say, “‘Ere thrice the sun done Salutation to the dawn” ♪

♪ And you claim these words as your own ♪

♪ But I’ve read well And I’ve heard them said ♪

♪ A hundred times Maybe less, maybe more ♪

♪ If you must write prose and poems The words you use should be your own ♪

♪ Don’t plagiarize or take “on loan” ♪

♪ ‘Cause there’s always someone, somewhere With a big nose, who knows ♪

♪ And who trips you up and laughs When you fall ♪

♪ Who’ll trip you up and laugh When you fall ♪

♪ You say, “‘Ere long done do does did” ♪

♪ Words which could only be your own ♪

♪ And then produce the text From whence was ripped ♪

♪ Some dizzy whore, 1804 ♪

♪ A dreaded sunny day ♪

♪ So let’s go where we’re happy And I meet you at the cemetry gates ♪

♪ Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side ♪

♪ A dreaded sunny day ♪

♪ So let’s go where we’re wanted… ♪

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