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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Luis

‘Lucky Hank’ Episode 1: Recap And Ending, Explained: Who Is The New Chair Of The English Department?

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Come meet Professor William Henry Devereaux, Jr., aka Hank (Bob Odenkirk), the chair of the English Department at Railton College. As he makes that entry, you know that he comes to assert himself, and no amount of coercion will melt him down and make him alter his decision. As much as he is assertive, he is rigid, and any amount of change would leave him unsettled. The first episode of season one of “Lucky Hank,” very quirkily and without mincing words, expresses views on human obsession with happiness, aging, midlife crisis, jealousy among colleagues at work, and parenting. Hank is aware of the mediocre standard of the college and bears with it. But when a student triggers him, he blurts out whatsoever he has in mind, landing himself in trouble and grabbing the eyeballs in the college. But unapologetic that he is, he continues to do what he does with the same passion and vigor that he has for teaching. ‘Lucky Hank’ is based on a novel titled ‘Straight Man’ (1997), written by Richard Russo. While keeping it humorous, like the book ‘Lucky Hank’ the first episode of season one has lighter moments, especially when the faculty of the English Department gather together for their meetings.

Why Do The Faculty Of The Department Want Professor Hank De-Chaired?

In a class where students share their progress in writing, Professor Hank is hardly interested in listening to them. He feels that their writing hasn’t reached the expected standard. So he does this task of getting them to read their work and restrains himself from sharing his sincere opinion. As a student, Bartow reads his work; Hank stops him in between and asks for peer review on the written work. Just one responds, saying it is good, and Hank, thereafter, asks for constructive criticism, and since no one wants to share, he allows the next student to share her work. But Bartow considers his work discussion worthy and thus insists on Hank sharing his viewpoint. Hank is provoked, and therefore, without giving it a second thought, he calls Bartow’s work structureless and explains to him that the write-up could risk distancing the readers. Specifying the mistake Bartow has made, Hank also mentions that the mediocre performance is due to Railton College’s average standard. These controversial remarks make him the center of attention the following day at the college. The outburst could be owed to his impending boredom as a consequence of a midlife crisis.

Bartow attempts to get an apology from Hank but fails to convince him that he was wrong for correcting him and his work. Hank does apologize for being insensitive and embarrassing him in public. Bartow, hurt by it, takes the matter to higher authorities, and when they, too, are seen supporting Hank, he writes a letter to a bulletin discussing how they need a teacher who believes in the students. At this moment, you should be reminded of the films that discussed teacher-student relationships. Naina, for instance, from “Hichki,” suffered from tourette syndrome but was resilient with regard to the pranking students. Her sturdiness, perseverance, and confidence in her students bring her success. Ishaan Awasthi, a dyslexic in “Taare Zameen Par,” is recognized, supported, and trained by Ram Shankar Nikumbh as opposed to his authoritative teacher, Mr. Holkar. Ram makes Ishaan comfortable and helps him accept his reading disorder and excel in painting. Thanks to the effort these dedicated and creative teachers make, it is possible for students to bloom and become successful. Hank, perhaps, is in a phase where he is going through an existential crisis and trying to make peace with certain realities of life.

When alone, Hank is in a constant discussion with himself about the obsession that human beings have with happiness, making a distinction between the misery industry and the happiness industry. Despite the human desire for happiness, the newspapers, courtrooms, social media, etc., present the misery of humankind, i.e., the misery industry, and the happy industry is just one person situated in Canada who may be breeding unicorns and filming them for sensual pleasures. He also debates the idea that, according to advertising agencies, after the age of 49, grown-ups do not change their minds about anything. His mind is definitely wondering and pondering about varied things. He also ruminates about how parents do not want to let their children feel any pain at all and considers it a tempting sick cycle.

Hank’s unyielding and fixed character makes his colleagues decide to de-chair him. He is fascinated by the idea, although he is not told about it, and thinks that at least after a very long time, his faculty should be happy about the change they could expect sooner with the upcoming de-chairing and election of the new chair.

‘Lucky Hank’ Episode 1: Ending Explained – Who Is The New Chair Of The English Department?

Gracie, one of the faculty members in the English department, complains that the remarks made by Hank have degraded the Department and also invalidated all the hard work that she put in to make her successful career. Sarcastically, the whole scene is presented to the viewers to show the frivolousness of the academics. It also attempts to say that one needs to be less serious about one’s achievements, whether recent or from the past. Nevertheless, Gracie doesn’t refrain from expressing the need to change the chair, as she feels that after so many years under Hank, the Department is getting dormant and rigid. She feels the change will help the Department grow. The recent outbursts by Hank and his crisis make it more evident that he needs to set aside this responsibility and take a break.

The department faculty, therefore, arrange a day to discuss the de-chairing and unanimously decide to free Hank from the office. Hank is happy that he can now take a break and move to New York. He is excited that now he can choose to be at the Museum of Modern Art instead of Roger’s Art and that he can be at Peter Huger’s photographic wonder instead of Outback. Despite the students’ attempts to bring to his notice that he is too harsh, unbothered Hank continues to correct the students, reminding them that they need to work harder to get to a better standard in life.

After the de-chairing of Hank, an election is held for the next person to take charge. But each of them is selfish and wants to become chair, except for two, who vote for Hank. And since he has the most votes, he becomes the new chair for a period of three years. The faculty members are upset about nothing having changed despite their best efforts, and the episode ‘Pilot’ ends by suggesting it is Hank who is in charge and will continue to be.

First Published on Film Fugitives: Click Here


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