The Chair – S01E05 – The Last Bus in Town [Transcript]

Ji-Yoon visits Pembroke's new lecturer as Bill joins in on a Korean tradition. The tenured professors band together, and Yaz receives an enticing offer.
The Chair - Season 1

Original release date: August 20, 2021

Ji-Yoon is asked to make a statement about Bill’s Nazi salute. She is also told to disclose if she is romantically involved with him; she says she isn’t. Bill takes pills from his late wife’s medicine cabinet. He attends Ju Ju’s cousin’s birthday party with her, gets drunk, and disrupts the traditional Korean Doljanchi ceremony. Habi and his family members take Bill home, where Ju Ju helps him complete a Day of the Dead ritual for his late wife, a tradition that honors Ju Ju’s biological Mexican heritage. Ji-Yoon goes to visit David and tells him that she already promised the Distinguished Lectureship to someone else and his research work is obsolete. Yaz tells Elliot their classes are merged because he is on the list for forced retirement. Elliot, Joan, and Jack think Ji-Yoon is only protecting Bill because of her feelings for him, rather than looking after the entire department. Yaz tells Ji-Yoon she has accepted a Distinguished Lectureship at Yale and is interviewing for a job there, as well.

* * *

[Larson] Did you at any point threaten Bill’s TA?

What? No. Where is this coming from?

Did you say she could get hurt if she talked to the student newspaper?


[inhales] I mean, I, I…

I… I mentioned that the… the department could get hurt if we…

Pembroke Daily is running an article suggesting you issued a gag order.

I would never do that.

Did you have a conversation with Bill’s TA

in which you asked her not to discuss Bill’s incident?

I can try to kill the story if it’s inaccurate.


That is certainly not what I meant to convey.

Students are already mobilized,

and we’re concerned that this is going to exacerbate things on campus.

We would like you to make some kind of statement.


I mean… I mean, yes.

I’ve drafted a letter from both you and Dean Larson

alerting Professor Dobson that next week’s hearing

will be on termination for cause.

It’s no longer a disciplinary hearing.

What about due process?

In order to fire a tenured professor, don’t you have…

Tenure is not a blank check anymore. Particularly in this climate.

And we heard about him lecturing hungover and showing nude photos in class.

Or nude videos, I think it was.


That was…

Getting rides from female students.

That happened once.

Which one?

All of them.

I realize that’s not a great defense.

So you knew about him with a coed?

I mean, did she complain?

Really? She shouldn’t have to.

No, no, she shouldn’t have to.

His wife died a year ago.

Are you two involved?

If I were a man, would you ask me that?

The three of you left campus yesterday in the same car.

Only because his was in the shop.

If you are romantically involved, you need to declare it,

or you yourself are in violation of university policy.

Another option would be for you to step down as chair.

My defending Professor Dobson

has nothing to do with my feelings for him,

which are entirely platonic and professional.

I have a responsibility to protect my…

You have a responsibility to this institution,

to prevent issues like this from spinning out of control.

You’ve managed to do the opposite.

Sign here, if you would.

Call me when you get this. We need to talk. It’s urgent. And…

it’s pretty bad for both of us.

Anyway, I have to go to this meeting,

and I’m gonna drop something off to you, so just…

Please call me immediately when you get this. Call me.

You better call me.

[“Stakes Avenue” by Love as Laughter playing on headphones]

[Ju Ju] Who’s David Duchovny?

[Ji-Yoon] Nobody. I just have to give this to Bill.

Stay here.

I have to tell him something now.

I told you it can’t happen today.

I have to tell him something for Día de los Muertos!

[banging on door]

Bill? I have to give you something.



His wife’s soul won’t know where to go.

She will.

She won’t be able to find him.

Yes, she will, Ju Ju.

You don’t know anything about Día de los Muertos.

You don’t know anything about my heritage!


[pulls handbrake]

Guess what? The reason you know the word puta

is because I’m giving you Spanish lessons.

And the reason we’re going to Oaxaca this summer

is because some of your ancestors are from there.

Ava’s going to Disneyland.

Duly fucking noted.

[“It’s a Good Day (To Fight the System)” by Shungudzo playing]


♪ I woke up feelin’ great ♪

♪ The birds are in the trees ♪

♪ They’re singin’ me a melody ♪

♪ La-la-la-la, fuck the police ♪

♪ My head is on straight ♪

♪ My heart is in peace ♪

♪ My soul is incredibly ♪

♪ Ready to change history ♪

♪ It’s a good day ♪

♪ To fight the system ♪

♪ To fight the system ♪

♪ It’s a good, good, good day ♪

♪ Yes, a good, good… ♪

[door closes]

[in Korean] You’re early.

[sighs] Yes, we…

[in English] There was a mishap at Bill’s.

Here’s her stuff. I’ll be back later.

[in Korean] When are you coming back?

I’m not sure.

Minji only has a first birthday once.

Everyone complains how they never see you.

[in English] Appa, I don’t know what you want me to do. This is for my job.

[in Korean] I thought this promotion means you don’t have to work so much.

[in English] What promotion ever means you don’t have to work as much?

[breathes deeply]

Baby, for God’s sakes, just be good and do what halahbojee says, okay?

[in Korean] How can she do what I tell her when she doesn’t speak Korean?

[in English] Appa, you can speak English.

And she understands more than you think.


[in Korean] See you later. I love you.

[in English] You understand, right?

[in Korean] I love you, Ju Ju.


She’s mad at me because she was supposed to work on her Mexico presentation

this morning with Bill.

[in English, sighing] She’s mad at me for bringing her here instead.

[Habi] Mexico?

[in Korean] For homework.

[in English] She’s cultural ambassador for… for Día de los Muertos.

It’s a Mexican tradition.

Never mind.

♪ I’m in the backseat swinging Easy living ♪

♪ Zooming off ♪

Heads up, Hitler!


[tires screeching]

♪ Making riches kids dream of ♪

[pills hitting the ground]

[music continues]

[doorbell rings]

[knocking on door]


Mr. Duchovny?


[water splashing]



[water splashing]

What the fuck?


Hi. Hi.



I didn’t know anybody was here. [spits]

[exhales] Ji-Yoon?


The, uh… The door was open. Do you always leave your door open?

Never had a problem before.

That’s why I love it here. Nobody bothers you.

Oh my God!

[David] Oh.

You okay? [exhales sharply]

Yeah, sorry, I… For a second, I thought you were naked.



[car approaching]

Bill! Bill! Bill!


What are you doing?

Going to McDonald’s. What are you guys doing here?

We’re going to Minji’s birthday party.

Who’s Minji?

[Ju Ju] She’s my second cousin.

Habi, can Bill come?

No, no.


Yeah, I’m on a tight schedule.

[smacks lips]

Will there be cake?

You left this at the copier.

Uh, you’re not supposed to read this.

I only glanced at the first few sentences to see what it was.

It’s against the rules.

Okay, let’s move on from the argument

about whether or not I should’ve looked at it,

and just get to the real argument here.

I’m all ears.

[inhales deeply]

Never mind.

I offered a positive assessment of your scholarship.

The P&T committee doesn’t buy it

when I don’t express any reservations whatsoever.

So believe it or not,

I’m… I’m trying to help you.

[laughing] Help me?

[Rentz] Yeah.

You’re helping me?


Ji-Yoon came to me and begged me to co-teach with you

because your enrollments were so low.


[Yaz] You were on a list.

They were gonna force you to retire.

So she merged us so that you could piggyback on my enrollments.

What list?

You’re lecturing to an empty hall.

Because I don’t pander to my students.

Nobody wants what you’re selling.

I’m not a salesman.

You’re not a professor either, ’cause you don’t have any students.




Have you heard about a list?

All us dinosaurs, they’re targeting us, trying to force us into retirement.

We gotta band together.

There’s strength in numbers.

We’re still in our intellectual prime and have plenty to offer.


Was that you or me?

For the Distinguished Lectureship,

I was thinking of presenting my Yale dissertation.

“The Schizophrenic Critique of Pure Reason in Beckett’s Early Novels.”

I only wrote the one chapter.

Well, that’s… that’s a hell of a chapter. Did you use really big font?


I got sidetracked for a few decades,

but I’ve… I’ve been thinking recently about finishing it and filing for my PhD.

Dr. David Duchovny.

Maybe too much alliteration.

Do you think it’s unfair

for people to start thinking of me as Dr. David Duchovny

after thinking of me as just David Duchovny for so many years?


Anyway, take a gander. I reread it last night. It’s…

It’s pretty good. Prescient, even.

Prescient? Really?

I think it’s pronounced “prescient,” unless we’re English.

Aren’t we speaking English?

I mean, maybe you chose the wrong department.

Maybe you’re better suited for the schiences.

Oh, and I… I don’t say that because you’re Asian.

I mean, I don’t even know that you are Asian.

And I don’t see color,

or ethnicity,

or even faces at this point.

I just see vibe, an aura.

And yours is lovely.


I’m gonna make a schmoothie.


Would you like a schmoothie?

No, thank you.

[David] Have you been to the farmers’ market here?


[David] Ah. I used to think this town was devoid of culture,

but I stand corrected.

I mean, look… look at that carrot.

Anyway, pretend I’m not here.

[juicer whirring]

[upbeat dance music playing]


[indistinct chatter]

[woman 1 speaking indistinctly]



[in Korean] It’s like a Frankenstein family.

Why didn’t she adopt a baby from South Korea?

[in English] Hi.

[woman 2 speaking Korean] You can only adopt from South Korea if you’re married.

She was closed out from international adoption

because she’s single.

Please, Madonna’s single and she was able to adopt.

Angelina Jolie too.

[Korean pop music playing]

[Ju Ju] Bill! It’s not time for cake yet!


How much longer?

Stay here for a sec. I’m trading Pokémon cards.

Hey. Sit. Sit. [coughs]


[man] Korean earmuffs.

Excuse me?

When children are screaming…

What screaming?

[both laugh]

Hold with two hands.


Turn your head away.


You don’t make eye contact or drink in front of another.


Okay? Like this.


Gun bae.

Gum bae.

Gun bae.

[man chuckles]


“Gun” or “gum?”



Gun bae.

Gun bae.


I… I can’t just catch you up with a quick tutorial.

Why not?

Because that’s an insane request.

This is over 30 years old.

A lot has happened in the last 30 years.

Like what?

Like affect theory, ecocriticism,

digital humanities, new materialism, book history,

developments in gender studies and critical race theory.

When’s the last time you picked up an academic journal?

I… I’ve been on tour with my band.


Hmm. It shows.

And you know what else?

The fact that you’re using this honor from Pembroke

to dust off your dissertation and go back and get your PhD,

it’s… it’s self-serving.

Whoa. Is… Is this hostility because Pembroke

is like this lower-tier Ivy, and I went to Princeton?

No. Okay…

And Yale?

No. no. My God, no. This is hostility

because I promised this Distinguished Lectureship

to someone who deserves it.

The purpose of the talk is to present cutting-edge scholarship,

and this reads like it’s out of the mid-’80s. I mean, like, the…

The discipline has moved forward,

and you’re still stuck back in a different era.



I just need a minute.

Here, can I maybe…



[in Korean] I think that’s Ji-Yoon’s boyfriend.

Peter Seung?

No, it’s been so long since they broke up.

He’s in Michigan now.

I’m knitting him this sweater.

Look at his face. He’s a white man.

[men laughing]

Oh, I see.

Habi said they picked him up off the street.

That makes sense. He looks messy.


[inhales deeply]

[guitar playing]

[David singing indistinctly]

♪ When I come back, if I come back ♪

♪ I swear that I’ll be simpler ♪

♪ When I come back, if I come back ♪

♪ I’ll have a mind of winter ♪

♪ I’ll have a mind of winter ♪

♪ I’ll have a mind of winter ♪

Only song I’ve ever heard quote Wallace Stevens.

Fuck, I hope so.

You have a good voice.


Was there someone else before me?

A celebrity author?

Did Pembroke offer this position to someone else first?

It’s all right, I can take it.

There was talk of James Franco a while back.


Well, he got his PhD from Yale.

Oh, did he?

Oh, he got it? Oh.

Yeah. Yes, he… He did. He did.

They might’ve invited Ethan Hawke, but he was shooting in Bulgaria.

What was he shootin’?

[Ji-Yoon] Pardon me?

In Bulgaria.

Well, a movie or a TV series?

Well, I… I don’t know what he was shooting.

There’s a lot of shootin’ in Bulgaria.



Look, so I did all that work at Yale on Beckett, right?

But I… I figure I’ll just stick with that and then… [exhales]

Let’s take a swim.

Oh, I don’t… have a bathing suit.

Well, you can borrow one. Here, borrow this one.

Um, whose… Who… Who wore that?

Oh, it’s mine. It’s a speedsuit.

I wear it when I wanna swim for time. Skin’s a drag, you know, ’cause of hair.

You can’t only teach Beckett for the rest of the semester.

Why not? You got Murphy, Molloy, Malone Dies…

The students bought the other books.

So I’ll reimburse them.

I’m a grossly overpaid actor/musician/novelist,

and they’re students burdened with student debt.

I will unburden them.

No, the syllabus is a contract with them.

You can’t change the reading…

Let’s go for a swim.

Okay, you know what? Teaching is not a pastime, it’s a profession.

If you really wanna make a contribution to the field,

tell them you’ve changed your mind.

And give them a check to endow a chair in your name,

and I’ll get you an honorary doctorate.

The David Duchovny Chair in English Studies?

The Dr. David Duchovny Chair in English Studies.

[indistinct chatter]

What’s this?

The main event.

Doljabi ceremony.

Minji picks her future.

She’s only one.

Oh, she… she’s very smart.

She can make a clear decision now.

What’s all this?

[Ju Ju] A stethoscope for a doctor, a pencil for a teacher,

paintbrush for an artist,

money for being rich,

a tennis ball for an athlete, and a white string for long life.

I would pick the string so I could live a long, long, long time.

What about you?

I can only pick one?


[people shouting excitedly]

[Habi] You’re beautiful.

[all cheering, applauding]

[Ju Ju] Go, go, go!



Go! Go, cutie!

[Habi] Let’s go, Minji.

[man] Best of luck!

[excited chatter]

[all cheering]


Minji, get the string! The string! The string!

[Habi] Let’s go, Minji.

[man 1] That’s the one!

[people laughing]

So close.

[man 2] Let’s go, Minji.

[people] Oh!

[Habi] Oh!


You can’t do that.

[Habi] Get the money.

This isn’t authentic. She’s clearly tampering with the process right now.

Let her make her own choice.

[all cheering]

Great. Great.

[all cheering]

That lady right there, she rigged it.

This lady rigg… She rigged the process.

She… She wanted the paintbrush. Here.

Hey, hey, mama. You can have this.

Don’t listen to them.

[man] Hey.


Hold on, hold on.

She wanted the paintbrush. Oh!

[woman] Oh!

[people] Oh!


[somber music playing]

[Joan] This is one of the few professions

where you get more respect as you get older.

I mean, one of the reasons I went into this

was that you don’t age out.

I… I never thought I’d retire.

As long as you’re not… out of it.


Oh, Jesus.

That’s low.

You got your glucose tablets?

Where are they?

[Joan] Hang on. [sighs]

You get older…

[Rentz] I don’t see them.

…you accumulate more wisdom,

you garner more respect.

I, um…

I’ve been, uh…

I’ve been here for what, 32 years, was chair for six of those,

and nothing like this ever happened.

A lifetime of doing this, and I get nothing.

Well, she wanted me to doctor my tenure letter for Yaz

in exchange for co-teacher.

I get put on a list.

What about Bob? I mean, what about Bill? What about Bill?

[chuckling] I can’t take you seriously

when you look like you just stuck your head in a beehive. Here.

Bill’s not on this list.

No, Bill, everybody knows she’s in love with him.

Now, if one of us had stepped out of line,

she would not be going to the mat like this.

Mmm. Well, we elected her.

Her job is to represent our interests.

She’s only protected his.

We gotta do something.

Like what?

[scoffs] You wanna stage a coup?

♪ Done some good and done some bad like ♪

♪ Any man I bet ♪

♪ A man of words is a man of lies ♪

♪ But words is all I get ♪

I’ve got great news. David Duchovny’s not giving the Distinguished Lectureship,

you are.


What’s wrong?

I already agreed to give it somewhere else.



Holy shit, that’s great.

It’s also a job talk.

They’ve invited me to apply for a position.

Why didn’t you tell me?

[breathes deeply]

Look, I know it’s been a mess around here.

I… I mean, I’ve been a mess. [inhales]

You act like you owe them something.

Like you’re here because they let you be here,

not because you deserve it.

I mean, what are they without us at this point?

A name and a pile of bricks.

A shit ton of money.

Seeded by benefactors who got rich off of sugar

and cotton and railroads.

Off the backs of Black people and yellow people.

And, yes, that includes Yale.

Yale’s different?

You should be running this place.

Instead, you’re running around playing nice.

You think that’s how I got here? By playing nice?

Is that how you think I fucking got here?


You are gonna be the first tenured Black woman in the department.


That’s why I’m leaving.


Pembroke said and did all the right things to keep me here.

But you know the real reason I stayed?

It was because of Joan,

and Bill,

and this dazzling new hire named Yaz.

Fucking Yale.


You know what New Haven’s ranking is

on WalletHub’s list of best college towns in America?

A hundred and ninety-eight.

A couple notches below Fargo, North Dakota.

What are we?

I don’t know. I’ll have to ask my dad.

[chuckles softly]

What are they offering?

[inhales deeply]

Expedited tenure and an endowed professorship.

And a shit ton of money.

We can beat that.

[inhales deeply]

I think.

I’m getting a little bit full, but I love… It’s wonderful.

Uh, Mr. Kim, thank… thank you all for helping clean up.

You didn’t have to do that. But it’s nice to see my table.

[Ju Ju] Bill, I’m ready.

I need the pizza.

Excuse me a second. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

[sniffles] Excuse me.

[Ju Ju] I need all her favorite things.

[in Korean] How can a grown man live like this?

He’s a widower.


I’m a widower, and my house is clean.

How long ago did he lose his wife?

It’s been about a year.

He works together with Ji-Yoon?

Yes. English professor. And he wrote a book, maybe two?

[in English] I’m so sorry about this afternoon.

Thank you.

I hope I didn’t mess it up.

Okay. Okay.

I couldn’t find any pizza, but I have pizza rolls.

Okay, what do we do?

We’re gonna make a trail.


[Ju Ju] Let’s put them far apart so that she can smell it.

[woman in Korean] If only there were a good Korean woman in his life.

What about Ji-Yoon?

He has a good job. Not bad-looking if he’d only shave.

And he’s good with kids.

They say he’s a drug addict and he drinks.

You want Ji-Yoon to bring a drug addict alcoholic into her life?

She’s turning 50 soon.


Maybe this is the last bus in town.


[phone dings]

[in English] We have to go. Ju Ju, your mom got home early.

She’s gonna find you.


Wait. I have a question.

Not for you, you goof, for your grandpa.

[Ju Ju] Habi?

Um, what did Ji-Yoon pick for her Dol ceremony?

Do you remember?

Yeah, she picked a pencil.


She go straight there. No one can stop her.

[“Calling All Angels” by Done Again playing]


♪ Then it’s one foot then the other ♪

♪ As you step out onto the road ♪

♪ Step out onto the road ♪

♪ How much weight? ♪

♪ How much? ♪

♪ Then it’s how long? And how far? And how many times ♪

♪ Oh, before it’s too late? ♪

♪ Calling all angels ♪

♪ Calling all angels ♪

♪ Walk me through this one ♪

♪ Don’t leave me alone ♪

♪ Calling all angels ♪

♪ Calling all angels ♪

♪ We’re tryin’, we’re hopin’ ♪

♪ But we’re not sure how ♪

♪ Oh, and every day You gaze upon the sunset ♪

♪ With such love and intensity ♪

♪ Why, it’s, uh, it’s almost as if ♪

♪ You could only crack the code ♪

♪ Then you’d finally understand What this all means ♪

♪ Ah, but if you could Do you think you would ♪

♪ Trade in all, all the pain ♪

♪ And suffering? ♪

♪ Ah, but then you’d miss The beauty of the light upon this earth ♪

♪ And the And the sweetness of the leaving ♪

♪ Calling all angels ♪

♪ Calling all angels ♪

♪ Walk me through this one ♪

♪ Don’t leave me alone ♪

♪ Calling all angels ♪


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