The Wonder Years (2021) s01e08 Episode Script

Science Fair

1 ADULT DEAN: The Jefferson Davis Junior High School science fair was only a couple days away, and a few of us stayed late to work on my project.
By 7th grade, I'd taken my game to the next level.
Then add a catalyst and stir and - Whoa! - Whoa! [Laughter.]
Just wait till I make my own yeast out of potatoes.
Hey, I bet you could win the science fair this year, Dean.
Me? No.
Of course I was winning.
I'd been doing experiments ever since my aunt got me my first chemistry set when I was 8.
I was still holding out hope that a lab accident would bestow me with superpowers, but no luck yet.
Goliath is kinda cool, huh? See, in comics, you could be a nerd and be cool.
Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Hank Pym all were superheroes that started out as scientists.
What you doing, nerd? Reading like you white? Leave my stuff alone! Or what, dork? In that moment, the spirit of every scientist superhero coursed through my veins.
Standing before me was the most evil supervillain ever born, and I owed it to the world to do something.
- [Students chanting "fight, fight".]
- Read! This! Science! Boy! Hey! Pick on someone your own size! You know he can't fight! Was there anything more embarrassing than your crush calling you a wimp in front of the entire school? Get off my son! You know he can't fight! Yeah.
Guess there was.
Mom, what are you doing? I almost had him.
I did not raise you to be out here fighting.
What is your name, young man? Michael Simms, ma'am.
Back then, there was an unspoken agreement that Black parents were allowed to parent not just their own kids, but all the kids in the community.
Both of you, butts in the car.
Now! Oh, oh, oh and I know Ohh Through the highs and the lows I'mma find my way home Unh-unh.
You wanna fight? Then you're gonna have to pay the piper.
Your parents are gonna wanna hear about this.
Come on.
Let's go.
Come on.
[Car door closes.]
[Knock on door.]
Michael, are your parents home? Who was supposed to pick you up? My brother.
But he usually has to work late.
Are you home alone? I-It's fine.
[Car door closes.]
- Tell me about your friend Michael.
- He's not my friend.
How do you begin to describe someone that is so evil, diabolical, dastardly, antithetical to everything good in the world? He's a butthead.
Can you believe this boy's situation? I mean, clothes thrown all across the sofa.
And I'd hate to see the kitchen.
- Probably dishes everywhere.
- It's a real shame.
And I was talking to some of the moms - You mean the moms busybody gossip line? - [Laughter.]
Speaking of which, Miss Doris said she saw you at the mall, and I said that was impossible because you told us you were at the library.
- Mm.
- [Keys jingle.]
Now, anyway, as I was saying, I found out that Michael's older brother is 22 years old.
Can you imagine? A boy being raised by someone who's practically a child himself.
Well, at least they have each other.
I bet Michael could use some guidance and a warm meal, too.
Michael definitely didn't need another meal.
He was already the size of a linebacker in 7th grade.
Okay, Lil.
I see where this is going, and no.
You let that boy in here, he gonna steal something.
I don't know what you mean.
You can't fix every baby bird with a broken wing.
- Even if it is Dean's friend.
- He's not my friend.
You remember Homeless Joe? How many batches of hot water cornbread you bring him? - Still on that stuff.
- Well, that ain't the cornbread's fault.
And what about your Cousin Joanne who needed $100 to start that hair salon? Mm-hmm.
Then she met a man with a Cadillac, and we never saw her again.
Well, I will not apologize for being Christ-like.
You weren't so Christ-like when that co-ed from my college needed a place to stay.
[Laughs sarcastically.]
What that girl needed was a job and a shirt with a neckline.
Anyway, I'm not gonna be helping Michael.
Dean is.
What? Why me? Because you said so yourself.
He doesn't do well in school, and look, we've been blessed with so much, which is why you do so well.
I think it'd be a good idea for you to help someone who's less fortunate.
What my mom was asking was just as ridiculous as asking Spider-Man to team up with Doc Ock.
I mean, sure, it happened once, but only because Spidey had amnesia.
Wait, can't I help Homeless Joe? I bet he never finished school.
This is happening.
I promised my mom I'd offer to help Michael.
Sure, I'd been working on my project for a month and he hadn't even started his.
That's totally fair.
My mom says I have to help you with your science project.
Shut up.
Oh, well.
I tried.
I knew my mom was hoping I'd try harder, but there was no way I was teaming up with a guy that's been tormenting me since we were in the 2nd grade.
That's Michael Simms in your kitchen.
Well, it was nice knowing you, man.
I'm gonna work at my house.
Mom! What is he doing here? I told you he didn't want my help.
Yes, and I'm sure you asked very sincerely.
My mother definitely had my number.
And since I'm not about to let this boy show up empty-handed, we decided to make a potato clock using one of your old science kits.
But you're gonna do all the work yourself, you understand? Yes, ma'am.
But those are the potatoes from my project.
Sweetheart, don't be silly.
There are plenty of potatoes.
Who knew root vegetables could be so interesting? Uh, I did.
Michael was just reading about the role electrolytes - play in conduction, weren't you? - Yes, ma'am.
Well, all right, then.
Go ahead.
Keep reading.
We don't have all year.
"An elec-trolyte is a soob-sti-nin-a-nence which e-mits ions when" [Slams table.]
Dangit! You don't use that language in school, do you? Yeah.
I mean, no.
Sorry, ma'am.
All right.
That's what I thought.
Now, keep going.
I can't.
Listen, you use that word "can't" one more time, and not reading will be the last of your worries.
What was my mother doing? You don't poke the bear.
She was racking up a swirly tab that I was gonna have to pay for tomorrow at school.
It's easy to see You better be Your mom said I have to ride the bus home with you after school.
He was coming back for more? What type of madman would do homework with my mother if they didn't have to? You're not gonna hit me? What a weirdo.
While my mom spent the last couple of days working with my archnemesis on a rudimentary potato clock, I was working on splitting oxygen atoms like a real scientist.
- [Laughter.]
- Unfortunately, Michael Simms was clearly intent on disrupting my peaceful lair.
LILLIAN: That's hilarious, Michael.
Dean never told me how funny you were.
Well, maybe if I got to drink beer and watch Richard Pryor, I'd be funny, too.
Mom loves spending time with her new favorite son, huh? Shut up, Kim.
But she had a point.
What if they got so close, my mom tried to adopt him? Now, don't blow up my house, son.
- Now, wait just a second.
- The lighting's better in here.
Remember to keep them from touching.
It won't work if they do.
Which reminds me, I have to check on my potato yeast that I'm making.
By myself.
From scratch.
Williams, where do these wires go? You connect your two potatoes to the clock? - [Door opens.]
- Mm-hmm.
- [Sighs.]
Sorry I'm late.
- Then you move those Dinner almost ready? Ooh, I'm so sorry.
We were working so hard, we completely lost track of time.
At last.
The one cardinal sin in a Black household is putting someone above the dad in the food chain.
There's no way my dad was gonna stand for this.
I'll just heat up leftovers since you're busy.
Well, that was unexpected, but at least family dinner meant Michael would finally have to go home.
Michael, it's getting late.
You should stay for dinner.
All that stuff.
Perhaps there's still time to poison his next course.
Michael, can I offer you seconds? Yes, please.
I'll just take bologna to the office.
Uh, you know, Michael, Kim has been looking at colleges.
Is that something you might be interested in doing? Haven't I seen you hanging around Jacque's house? - I don't think so.
- Yeah.
No, it was definitely you.
Man, those parties are so loud.
And the kissing.
I've never seen that many people locking lips in my life.
- Keys.
- [Sighs.]
[Car horn honks.]
Must be your brother.
I'm so proud of the work you did today.
That clock is really coming along.
You know, if you applied yourself, one day, you could become a really great scientist.
[Door opens.]
Thank you, Mrs.
Good night.
And good luck tomorrow.
Good night.
Well, mm.
This is really great.
Project's coming along nicely.
I guess.
Is that a nuclear power plant? Maybe.
I found your potato water on the counter.
- You want me to put it in the fridge? - Whatever.
Obviously, I was handling the situation with the utmost maturity.
You know, I'm so proud of you for doing all this on your own.
Yeah, and maybe I'll become a great scientist one day, too.
Come here.
I get that this is probably very uncomfortable for you.
How could you be so nice to someone who's so mean to me? [Sighs.]
Well, the thing you have to understand is that Michael hasn't had an easy life.
You get love from me and your father every day.
Michael isn't blessed with that type of love.
There are things he misses out on that we take for granted.
So, he's allowed to beat me up? The reason Michael lashes out is because he's angry.
What could he possibly be angry about? He gets to keep everyone's lunch money every day.
Well, it's complicated.
I think the big part of it is the fact that his parents aren't there to support him the way we do for you.
Then he shouldn't have killed them.
He didn't.
Michael shared with me that the reason his mother's not around is because she's not able to take care of him.
She had to go into a mental hospital.
It happened a few years ago, when he was around your age, and he hasn't seen her since.
That is bad.
Wait, does that mean if something happens to you and Dad, - I have to live with Kim? - [Sighs.]
First off, nothing is gonna happen to us, but it's important to put yourself in someone else's shoes.
That's why I helped him.
I can't imagine how hard his life must be.
Does that make sense? Right.
And I hope you remember that I'll always be proud of you.
Now, get some rest.
Got a big day tomorrow.
- Good night.
- Good night, Mom.
Despite the years of bullying, I found myself genuinely feeling sorry for Michael and his mom.
Pretty sure he still killed his father, though.
Ah, the science fair.
One of the best days of the year, next to Christmas, my birthday, and Mama's short rib Sundays, of course.
Carrol, how's it going? Hey, Tom, good luck.
You're gonna need it.
Just kidding.
- The boy ain't right.
- Oh, shush.
So, you feeling confident? A little.
A little? Please.
I was gonna win this thing hands down.
I mean, look at the competition.
A baking soda volcano? What are we, in 2nd grade? Oobleck? Wow.
You mixed corn starch and water.
Did you do that yourself? Heh.
Why is Neptune bigger than Jupiter? Come on, Larry.
Everyone knows it's seven times smaller.
If I'm looking at the future of NASA, then the Russians have nothing to worry about.
Hey, Dean, check it out.
I painted my shoe box so it looks like an actual oven.
Cool, right? MICHAEL: S-Sorry, sorry, sorry.
I'm glad you made it.
Everything okay? Yes, ma'am.
Good luck.
You know, Lil, in spite of my concerns, I got to admit, you were right this time.
Wait, is that my shirt? I knew he was gonna steal something.
See, you can't help some people.
I gave him the shirt, Bill.
He didn't have any good clothes to wear.
Besides, you haven't worn that thing in years.
And like I said, you were very wise.
Michael, this looks interesting.
Did you do this all on your own? Um, I had some help.
Can you tell us about your project? Um, it's a potato clock.
And how does it work? Uh, it tells the time? [Chuckles.]
The science, son.
Um, well, the potatoes have acid, which eats the nail, and that makes electrons.
The penny then picks up the electrons, and that makes electricity.
Can't wait to see you apply yourself like this in the classroom.
Even if it was a low bar, I was happy for Michael.
It was the first time I'd seen him smile when he wasn't beating somebody up.
Let's just hope he remembered that other things could make him happy.
Our future scientist.
What have you made for us? Today, I will be demonstrating the principles of a nuclear fission reactor with a dash of pizzazz.
Nuclear power plants generate heat by splitting unstable uranium atoms.
In my experiment, I will be creating a similar exothermic reaction by splitting oxygen and unstable hydrogen peroxide with potato yeast I made myself.
Safety first, though.
You never know when there's gonna be a cool nuclear meltdown of radioactive foam.
Just a moment.
You know, uh, potato yeast can be a slow catalyst.
[Students murmuring.]
Maybe it just needs a good stir.
Uh, the ratios are probably a little off.
Uh, maybe I need a little bit more hydrogen peroxide.
As my nuclear reactor turned into a sad swamp, I realized that I had been so distracted by my mother and Michael that I hadn't made my yeast properly.
Ta-da? [Giggling.]
My yeast must have died.
I was really excited for this one.
- [Laughter.]
- I guess science is about failure, too.
I had never known this level of embarrassment before.
Science was my thing.
How could I let this happen? [Laughter.]
I don't know what you're laughing at.
At least I did my project by myself.
You needed help from my mom because your mom is so crazy, she got locked up.
I'd finally vanquished the supervillain, so why did it feel like I had lost? Wait a minute.
Was I actually the villain? As kids, we don't pause to think that every supervillain probably has a complicated backstory.
And that superheroes don't always do the right thing.
Or that there are some things in this world that hurt even more than getting beat up.
[Thunder rumbles.]
They announced the winner of the science fair.
I didn't even make it into the top three.
I know I didn't deserve to win.
No, you didn't.
God don't like ugly, Dean.
I guess that business-casual belt was also a Lasso of Truth, but I had it coming.
How you treat people comes back around.
Remember that.
I'm really sorry.
I expect you'll find a way to say that to Michael one day, too.
Yes, ma'am.
I figure you'd want to start practicing for next year.
Thank you.
All my mom wanted to do was help someone less fortunate, and I ruined it.
I wasn't a superhero at all, but if I kept my head down and watched closely, I had the chance to learn from an actual superhero my mom.
Maybe one day, in an alternate universe, she'll have her own storyline.
Hopefully, it'll be a rare reboot that's better than the original.
- Finally found a box big enough.
- Goodwill will be very happy.
I'm very proud of you, son.
I found a few more shirts I'm not gonna use anymore.
Wh That's my lucky belt.
Trust me, I'm doing you a favor.
But as disappointed as I was in myself, the fact is in all comic book stories, every great failure sets up a sequel where the hero gets a chance to redeem himself.
He just needs to take that first step forward.

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