Lucky Hank (Season 1 Finale) Episode 8: Throughout the first season, ‘Lucky Hank’ explored Hank’s mid-life crisis through the prism of his unresolved traumas. He masked his issues under his ironical remarks and unabashed self-loathing. He never expressed his concerns to anyone and ended up making things worse for himself. His breakdown at the dinner table episode becomes significant for many reasons. The central one is how it married his marital anxieties with his parental trauma, all the while breeding a complex drama.
The season finale, directed by Nicole Holofcener, explores Hank’s struggle while choosing the three professors to be fired from his department. Lily is adjusting to her new life in New York, and it isn’t easy for her either after having spent years in their small town in Pennsylvania.
Lucky Hank (Season 1), Episode 8 Recap:
Episode 8: The Chopping Block
Hank (Bob Odenkirk) was responsible for firing three professors from his department at Railton College. He demonstrated his anger against the management in a whimsical way and received praise from his professors. However, he did not take a firm stance later on, and meanwhile, Dickie Pope (Kyle MacLachlan) kept wanting the job cuts. He now speaks with the press about the legislature to correct a mistake of the ballooned budget with the layoffs.
However, Hank is clueless as ever about who he should fire. He does not want to be on the receiving end of the scorn from his professors. On the other hand, he is obliged to make a decision and share three names. He walks up to his office after an interaction with his rebellious student, Bartow (Jackson Kelly). Hank notes how Bartow’s persistence will be more beneficial in the administration if his ‘writing thing doesn’t work out.’ He sure knows how to pull punches at the right time.
Then, Hank barges into Dickie’s office because of his assistant, Dennis’ (Bernie Yao) unsuccessful attempts to stop him. Hank hits a nerve by talking about how Dickie expects Dennis to keep his pencils sharpened at a particular length. He also opens up about Dickie’s weirdly specific obsession. That makes Dennis share Dickie’s current location in a cafeteria. Hank goes there to see Dickie licking some raisins and putting them back in the tray. He tries to stop Dickie from this disgusting act while Dickie is robotically adamant about wanting a list from Hank.
Hank threatens Dickie with going to press about how he siphoned off funds that were allocated to the faculty to pay for the shortfall for the new construction. Hank cites how Jeffrey Epstein (Chris Gethard) does not like Dickie having done that. Despite a threat of Jeffrey’s letter, Dickie does not pay heed to Hank’s threats. He denies doing anything wrong.
Back at home, Hank silently chops some veggies while Julie (Olivia Scott Welch) sits around doing nothing. He invites her to be more active and help him with something to get out of the rut. Tony (Diedrich Bader) gave him the same advice some days ago. Anyhow, Lily (Mireille Enos) comes back from her last day at her Pennsylvania school. While packing his suitcase, she says how all the people cried that she was leaving. She was proud of having fond memories. Hank asks if someone is cutting onions near them. There is a playful banter, as always, between this couple.
On the other hand, Julie is justifiably upset about Russell (Daniel Doheny) cheating on her. He comes outside the door expecting to have a word with Julie. She is in no mood to have one. She gets so enraged that she even throws the bottle of wine onto a wall and creates a dent. Hank goes up to clean the wine dripping out of the uncorked bottle. Meanwhile, Julie shouts at Russell to make him leave.
Why does Lily slap Russell?
On the next day, which the script calls the ‘Hatchet Day,’ Hank and Julie walk out of the house to notice Russell notice in a tent outside. Hank mistakenly breaks the leg of Lily’s table. Lily, meanwhile, slaps Russell because he disrespects Julie’s intelligence. ‘You know how Julie is. She will realize she made a mistake,’ he says, while conveniently forgetting that he cheated on her.
As usual, the writing demonstrates how a character’s dissatisfaction manifests itself in outwardly unrelated situations. Lily herself feels neglected, or her opinion not getting enough value in front of Hank or other people. Maybe her slap is the reflection of her anger toward such neglect. Anyhow, before leaving, she tells Julie to decide on her own how she wants to deal with Russell. But no matter what she does, Lily wants her to be calm and reasonable. It seems like her own mantra as an emotionally mature adult.
Before leaving, Lily asks Hank if he can visit New York on the weekend. He says how he has a thing at his college. It brings up their dinner table argument about how he also has a career in their town. He hates himself for having said that. Lily still wants him to focus on doing it the right way.
Why does Hank ask Rachel to come to his cabin?
Hank walks toward Railton, uncertain of what his decision will be. He walks into his department office to find all the professors hiding their faces or ignoring him. Soon after, he asks his assistant, Rachel (Ellen MacNevin), to come to his cabin and tells her to name three professors that she thinks should be fired. Hank asks Rachel because of his own indecision. Sadly, Rachel does not help him in any way since she does not want to be put in that spot either.
Hank later asks Billie (Nancy Robertson) to join him in his cabin. She walks in, dreadful, thinking she is one of three names. So, she pleads a case for herself for how unjust it is to cut down the senior staff. Hank says he isn’t firing her but wants her to help him with the three names. She refuses to help him, which leaves Hank on his own with this task.
In New York, Lily meets her friend, Ashley (Jennifer Spence), at a café. Ashley asks whether Lily set up her keyboard. It seems like Lily is still hesitant to fully embrace her new reality. She recounts memories about Hank – about how he had phantom urges to pee every night. Even that inconsequential detail becomes a topic of discussion for her since she hasn’t fully become a New York person by then.
What do Lily and Catherine Keener talk about?
Right after, Lily notices Catherine Keener standing almost next to her. Ashley says how her characters are always unlikeable. Lily thinks otherwise. She introduces herself to the actress and shares how her name is always a turn-on for her husband and also for her. Catherine jokes about Churchill doing the same job for her husband. She engages in a nice, candid conversation that lights up Lily’s spirits. However, she forgets to click a picture with Catherine and thinks about how Hank would not forgive her for it.
While Lily is delighted by these perks of being in New York, Hank is still burdened by figuring out whom to fire. Paul (Cedric Yarbrough) confronts him in the washroom. Hank says he does not know what to do. Paul calls him a mess. Considering his indecision, Hank resorts to finally meeting Epstein with Tony. But he does not believe Dickie plundered ten million dollars just from anywhere. The moral of the story – Epstein does not help Hank either.
Dean Jacob Rose (Oscar Nuñez), who divorced his wife to get back with Gracie (Suzanne Cryer), thinks of leaving his position. He does not want to keep working for the tyrannical Dickie and prefers to move to Florida. He thinks Gracie would want the same. She says that she genuinely likes being there in Railton. He keeps making efforts to persuade her otherwise. Moreover, he says how he feels like a teenager whenever he is with her. He thinks of it as a compliment, which Gracie may as well take as his naïve remark. After all, he took a step for her after having feelings for her for several years. It should not feel like a teenage romance.
On the other hand, Russell keeps expecting Julie would eventually speak with him. Tired of the knocking on the door, she gives him a chance to speak. He asks her to help him charge his phone. She denies it and says that his affair is an unforgivable mistake. He defends by saying how she also cheated on him twice when they were 19. She says he did not even realize it then since he was stoned. He finally confronts his vulnerability – how scary it is to bring up issues with her. She says, ‘What if it’s scary? How weak are you?’. He shows his charger, and she closes the curtains. So ultimately, their dialogue leads to nothing much.
In school, Hank becomes kind to Bartow while grading his paper. He says he hated it but pointed out a few lines that showed great promise. That’s why he gave Bartow an A grade. Instead of focusing on one’s mistakes, Hank now decides to highlight what’s good. There’s clearly a change in his general outlook. In the staffroom, he tells his professors that he won’t share a list. But he is certain that Dickie would find some way to fire three people.
Later, Hank meets Meg (Sara Amini) at her bar. Their interaction starts off awkwardly. But they eventually talk about Meg sleeping with his son-in-law. She says she did not seduce Russell. But she does not believe in marriage as an institution enough to care about any marital rules. Besides, she also feels sorry for the poor kid. Hank implies Meg was trying to hurt him for lying to her before. She does not like his insinuation and leaves the conversation.
Soon after, Hank joins the English department professors for drinks. Jacob arrives there to declare that he is resigning from his position. It puts a smile on Gracie’s face. She sees it as his willingness to go to a length for her. However, on the side, he tells Hank that he has only written his resignation letter but hasn’t even spell-checked it.
Which three professors get fired?
Then, Jeffrey Epstein joins and shares an update. He says that he tried but could not stop the job cuts. He then hands over the responsibility to Jacob to share the three names decided by the upper echelons. Hank tries to stop him, not wanting to ruin the mood. But Jacob goes ahead to share that Emma (Shannon DeVido), Finny (Haig Sutherland), and Billie are officially fired.
Tony tries to uplift their spirits in his usual style and asks them to join him for a party at his place. They agree after hearing he has a hot tub. While the professors sit around a bonfire, Hank, Tony, Jacob, Gracie, Jeffrey, and his girlfriend get together in the tub. During their casual chitchat, Jeffrey ends up revealing that Dickie is obsessed with MIT. With Jacob’s help, Hank manages to convince Jeffrey how Dickie used him to get a position at MIT.
Why did Dickie Pope lie about the budget cuts?
The next day, Hank goes to Dickie’s office to see him pleased with his shared list. Hank jokingly announces that he is going to be the new president of MIT. Dickie denies that. Isn’t he eyeing that position? Right after, he receives a call to join the board or a meeting. Over there, he sees the TV news coverage about how he violated his fiduciary duty to the college by falsely claiming the job cuts would benefit the school. Dennis is shown as the whistleblower, who revealed the details about how Dickie was eyeing a position at MIT – and thus, the attention-seeking decision. So, it possibly leads to Dickie’s expulsion.
Lucky Hank (Season 1), Episode 8 Ending Explained:
Hank returns home and notices Russell still freezing himself outside the house, inside a tent. He goes in to speak with Julie about it out of slight pity for the young man. Nevertheless, he apologizes for getting Russell a job in the bar – since it led him to have an affair. It leads them to talk about his own marriage. Julie says that Lily has separated from him and has started living with her hot ex-boyfriend in New York. Hank denies any such claim.
Later during his call with Lily, he is oddly defensive. She was eager to have met Catherine Keener and how she was their turn-on. However, Hank is preoccupied with his thoughts about their possibly failing marriage, which makes it impossible for him to focus on any joy. Are they only playing parts of spouses in a functional marriage while the reality is much different? He contemplates.
What happens to the English language department professors after Dickie’s expulsion?
The next day, Paul walks into the staffroom to reveal that all of them have been reinstated, and Dickie Pope is out. They decide to go for lunch and get joined by Hank. He, however, stays back in his cabin, unsure how to deal with this praise showered on him. He goes to his father’s house, hoping to share this joy with him.
Henry Sr. stays caught up in his own made-up worries. He first made up a story about his experiences at the march in Selma without having such an experience. He did it only because he could get into the fancy seminars. Hank notices how miserable his father is for only not getting to be a part of those conferences. While driving back, he wonders why he put him on a pedestal for almost all of his adult years.
Why does Jacob shred Hank’s resignation letter?
Hank returns to his office and shares a letter with Dean Rose’s assistant. Then, while driving away, he introspects upon his life and how his father could have had everything he has. It makes him feel privileged about having his family, and thus, he decides to surprise Lily by traveling to her on the weekend. She smiles at this pleasant surprise, and they kiss each other. Meanwhile, Dean notices Hank’s resignation letter and shreds it.
Jacob and Hank had been friends for a while. So, he may have seen the resignation letter as Hank’s impulsive decision – something that he might back away from later. Also, Jacob had written a resignation letter himself but did not submit it, as far as we know. So, he might have thought Hank did it because he did.
Do Lily and Hank get back together in the end?
Back in New York, Lily tries to take in the fact that Hank has embraced her decision of a job in New York. She tries to take in the joy, but it suddenly dawns upon her how her present would be different than what she imagined in the past few weeks. Due to Hank’s insistence on not moving there, she started picturing her life on her own, without him.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t always a steady path for her. Remember when she was playing her piano in her new apartment? She was trying to embrace her solitude while still caught up in her thoughts of being married to Hank. The last subtle change of expressions indicates more than what meets the eye. So, even if Hank does come to New York after giving his resignation, it is unclear whether the couple does get back together.