The Wonder Years (2021) s01e09 Episode Script

Home for Christmas

1 Girl, you better not be clumping that tinsel.
I'm not.
I'm just putting it on - in little bunches.
- Mm-hmm.
That's the definition of clumping.
See, just just one strand at a time.
And hurry up.
He'll be here any minute.
I need everything to be perfect.
I finally finished wrapping his present.
You think he'll like it? It's a telescope.
Really? We thought it was a sweater.
He's here.
Look who I found.
Two years ago, the Williams family was ripped apart.
Tonight, we were made whole again.
My brother Bruce finished his tour of duty in Vietnam, and he was coming home, just in time for Christmas.
Uh, excuse me, sir.
Have you seen Dean Williams? He's my little brother, about this tall.
It's good to see you, man.
I didn't expect him to look so different.
Maybe it was the uniform, or maybe it was just that two years had passed since I'd seen him.
Whatever the reason, Bruce was not the same teenager who left this house.
He was a man.
I mean, he was almost as tall as Kim.
And he definitely had a man's appetite.
What? I've never seen anyone eat so fast.
Don't get that sleeve too close to your mouth, son.
You might swallow a button.
Let the boy eat.
He obviously missed his mama's cooking.
We can talk later about you chipping in on the grocery bill.
Okay.
In our family, eating in the dining room was reserved for special occasions, like holidays, or when Grandma came over and Mama had something to prove.
Even more rare my dad giving my brother a beer.
Bill, the boy is only 20.
If he's old enough to fight for his country, he's old enough to drink.
I guess you're right.
Enjoy your first beer.
I think I'll have one, too.
Uh, sit.
You not ready for your first beer.
I saw that.
So, now that you're home, any plans for your future? The coach at 'Bama State was dying to have you on the team before you went off to war.
You should reach out.
Might be a scholarship in it for you.
Speaking of Alabama State, there's a stop-the-war rally there tomorrow.
- You should come with me.
- So I can get booed and spit on by a bunch of kids who have no idea what I've been through? So, uh, my sister's an activist now? Last thing I remember you protesting was your curfew.
Stupidest signs I ever seen.
Well, I am proud of you.
And, Mom, I'm just looking to settle in.
Get a job, make a little money.
Don't forget We still have a lot of work to do if we want to fix up the treehouse by Christmas Eve.
You still want to do that? Of course.
I mean, well, I'm too old for that stuff, but I'd hate to ruin our tradition.
My brother and I had a longstanding tradition.
We would sleep in our treehouse on Christmas Eve, hoping to catch Santa.
And I have some cool new ideas too, like, uh, we could build an observation deck so we can look at the stars together.
I promise we'll get it done.
Mm, that sounds like the perfect Christmas activity sleeping outside in the cold on rotten wood.
Okay, hey.
I slept in a lot worse in Vietnam, like trees that didn't have houses.
Good.
Then once we finish the treehouse, you can move out of my room and live up there.
Oh, oh, oh and I know Ohh Through the highs and the lows I'mma find my way home Hey, Dean.
Does Bruce seem normal to you? Yeah, of course.
Why? 'Cause I just watched this movie on TV about this soldier who came back from the war.
He was, like, psycho.
Yeah, I saw that one.
That lady asked him how he wanted his steak, and he was like, "I want it raw.
" Yeah, yeah.
And then he went crazy and stabbed everybody in the park.
Cool.
I heard that was based on a true story.
Shh! I don't know what you guys are talking about.
That's just a movie.
Nope.
Those guys don't come back the same.
He's right, Dean.
My mama's cousin came back from Vietnam, and now everybody says he's on the junk.
What's "the junk"? I don't really know.
But whatever it is, it makes your grandma lock up her rings.
But what if they were right? What if guys don't come back from Vietnam the same? The next morning, I decided I needed to pay extra-close attention to my brother.
Never let him leave my sight, examine every word and action to make sure he's sane.
Ooh, I'll take that.
Mm.
I'll take that.
Bruce brought the balance of power back to the house.
Nothing crazy about that.
I'll take that too.
Nope, he was clearly bat[bleep.]
crazy.
Dad, can I borrow your car to run some errands? Oh, uh, I'll go with you.
You like running errands now? Oh, you know me.
I just love 'em.
Of course I didn't, but I had to be careful what I said to my parents.
The last thing I wanted was to tip them off that something was wrong with Bruce.
He's got a knife! Which he's using to butter his biscuit.
Or wrong with me.
Bruce's "errand" took us to two streets my parents told me never to cross.
We ended up at a shady house in a sketchy neighborhood.
Stay in the car.
What kind of errand required a duffel bag? Well, just in case Bruce was a little off, it was good that I was there to look after him from the car.
Ah, Bruce was taking too long.
I tried to signal him with the bird calls we used when we played hide-and-seek against Kim.
Ca-caw, ca-caw! Nothing.
Quack! And my bird game was clearly strong, so I had to go see what was really going on.
Now, I hadn't been to many white people's houses before, but tiptoeing felt right.
Dean.
Oh.
Is this your little brother? Yes, this is my nosy little brother.
Dean, this is Mr.
and Mrs.
Johnson.
You are very lucky to have such a wonderful brother.
You know, my son always spoke so highly of you.
He really admired the way that you you always took care of him and the other men in your troop.
You cherish every moment you have with your brother.
Did their son die? Yeah.
He was one of my guys.
Was he one of your friends that you talked about in your letters? Yeah.
James.
Well, what about Carver or Monte? Still there, but good.
You know, Carver has a pet chicken.
- What's his name? - Cat.
That's so Carver.
Hey, Dean, let's go over to the hardware store, pick up a few things for the observation deck.
I mean, we gotta be ready for when Santa come, right? Can we buy some rope? I told you last time, - we are not tying Santa to the chimney.
- No, stupid.
Although that was a solid idea.
I want to buy some rope and a pulley so we can pull supplies up in a bucket.
Yeah, I also have a bunch of other ideas too, like a doorbell or maybe a slide? A slide? Isn't that a bit much? No, "a bit much" would be a moat filled with man-eating piranhas.
The piranhas part, not the moat.
Um, excuse me, sir.
I saw the "help wanted" sign in the window.
We filled that position.
Uh-huh.
Well, maybe you should take the sign out the window, then.
I, uh, noticed the jacket.
'Nam? Yeah.
Yeah, I just got back.
I was a corporal in the 22nd Infantry.
Oh, man, y'all saw some serious action.
I just stocked shelves in the PX.
Heard you say you needed a job, though.
I work at the bank downtown.
My boss loves vets.
Hired me as a teller my first week back.
- Seriously? - Yeah.
- That'd be great.
- Here.
Just let him know Mark sent you.
And, uh, good luck in the real world.
Thank you.
Let's go find some rope.
Cool.
To tie Santa up.
- Wait, what? - Nothing.
- Good luck.
- Remember, firm handshake, look him in the eyes.
Okay, Dad, I handled an M55 howitzer.
I think I can handle a job interview.
It was nice to see Bruce so excited.
It seemed like he was back on the right path.
Still, I wasn't gonna take my eyes off him for a second.
- Dean, what are you d - I promise I'll stay out of your way.
Besides, I have some important bank business, too.
Dang it.
How did this Canadian penny make it all the way to Alabama? Corporal Williams? Thank you for your service.
I served in W-W-Two.
Always happy to help a fellow vet.
Just because we're back home doesn't mean we shouldn't still watch each others' backs.
Well, I appreciate that, sir.
Ah.
Please.
It's gonna be so cool having a brother who works in a bank.
I'll get all the free lollipops I want, and maybe I can take a bath in money, like Scrooge McDuck.
More, more, more! Mr.
Williams.
- Mr.
Williams! - Dean, let's go.
Wait, but I didn't get a chance to finish m Now, Dean! Come on! So, how'd it go? Well, uh, they offered me a job.
- But I didn't take it.
- Why not? Because I don't want to be a janitor.
What? I thought you were interviewing for a teller position.
Yeah, me too.
But, clearly, they only offer the good jobs to the white veterans.
I forget what things are like back here.
You know what? You're too smart to be a teller.
It's time to start college.
The GI Bill will cover your tuition.
Let your Uncle Sam pay instead of your father.
Thanks, Dad.
But you don't have to worry about me.
I know I got options.
All right, son.
I felt bad that Bruce didn't get the job he wanted, but the silver lining was we had more time to spend on the treehouse.
Maybe now we could finish that observation deck by Christmas Eve.
W-Where's Bruce? Yep, that's an electric saw.
It was 1968.
There were a bunch of kids walking around missing a couple of fingers.
He said he had some last minute shopping.
Look.
It's the ornament Dean made in kindergarten.
I can't tell.
Is it Jesus in a manger or a space alien on a skateboard? Oh, there he is.
Oh.
Where are your shopping bags? Oh, right, right.
Um I didn't do much shopping.
Good news The dean of admissions from 'Bama State is gonna meet with you personally the day after Christmas vacation.
Thanks.
Thanks.
But, uh, I wouldn't want him to waste his time.
That's fine.
Maybe you're not ready for school, but I could ask around at work and see if there's anything.
- I can take care of myself.
- Hey! Don't speak to your mother that way.
I'm sorry, Mama.
What's wrong? Tell us.
I re-enlisted for another tour.
I go back in January.
- Have you lost your mind? - When did this happen? Now.
I just got back from the recruitment office.
I guess maybe my friends at school were right.
Bruce had to be crazy if he wanted to go back to Vietnam.
But you just got home.
What about all the stuff we were going to do together? I know, Dean, and I'm sorry, little buddy, but I promise we'll finish the treehouse before I leave.
Don't bother.
Now he'll never know what his present was.
You're not thinking straight.
We've been watching the news.
We know it's getting worse over there every day.
I've been going to protests and sit-ins to end this war so you could come home.
And now you're choosing to go back? Okay, you just don't understand.
I Help us to understand, son.
When I'm here, people see me as just a janitor.
Over there, my men, they respect me.
I'm a leader.
You really think they respect a black soldier? Kim, one of the reasons I re-enlisted is because they're gonna promote me to sergeant.
I could have a career in the Army, which is a hell of a lot better than sweeping floors for the rest of my life.
You'd have a lot more opportunities if you went to college.
You made good grades.
That was two years ago.
So was my last baseball game and my last rally.
None of you have any idea what I've been through.
I have a lot of friends back there in Vietnam.
And I feel bad about that.
I think about that a lot.
Okay? I feel like I have to go back right now and make sure they get home safely.
- Son, that is noble, but - There's no point in talking.
I already signed the papers at the recruitment center.
It's too late.
It's too late.
The good news was Mama and Daddy were on the same page.
Bruce was wrong and we were right.
It would only be a matter of time before they laid down the law.
What are you doing? Putting a box together for your brother to take with him.
Want him to have some things that remind him of home.
So you're just letting him go back to Vietnam? We can't stop him, Dean, much as we want to.
He's a grown man.
He makes his own choices now.
But he's our son, so we have to love and support him.
I bet Dad would yell at him.
They've been out there working on that treehouse all morning.
No yelling.
No yelling.
What is wrong with this family? I couldn't believe it.
My parents were actually gonna let this happen.
Clearly, it was up to me now to keep my brother from going back to Vietnam.
That's right the sit-in, a classic act of civil disobedience.
Occupy, disrupt, let them know you mean business.
Yeah, it wasn't really working.
Merry Christmas, little fella.
Malcolm X was right.
This nonviolence thing was not very effective.
Uh-oh, here comes one of the imperialist warmonger pigs now.
Hey, any idea how long your sit-in's gonna last? Time to hold my ground.
We're supposed to close early for Christmas Eve, and I've still got some shopping to do.
Gonna buy my nephew a G.
I.
Joe.
Don't waste your money buying the black one.
It's just the white one painted brown.
But I'm not leaving until I end this war.
I don't want my brother going back to Vietnam.
Okay.
What was your brother's name? - Bruce.
- Right.
Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.
I couldn't believe how all these people could just blindly go about their lives while my family was being torn apart.
I also couldn't believe how stupid I was not to pee before I started my sit-in.
I gotta use the bathroom.
Can you hold this sign for me? I'll be right back.
I was starting to see how they get people to re-enlist.
This guy was a master of persuasion.
Hey.
Can I join your sit-in? No.
I'm trying to end this war.
And you don't care.
Okay.
That's not true.
I want to end the war, too, but I also want to help my guys from my platoon get home safely.
So you care about them more than you do your own family? Of course not, Dean.
But you all are safe here.
I just want to make sure my buddies get to spend next Christmas with their little brothers.
When Bruce said that, I realized that all those soldiers I saw enlisting today had families that felt the same way as mine.
Or worse, like the parents we visited yesterday who lost their son.
I still didn't want my brother to go, but at least I could understand why he was going.
So you think we can get home now? I got something I want to show you.
Okay.
Plus, we gotta get that sign back to Kim's room before she knows it's missing, because she'll murder you.
By the way, my plan to end the war in Vietnam did work.
It just took another seven years.
How about that for a treehouse? How about that? I totally dig it.
Mm-hmm.
It's the perfect place to sit and look at stars.
You know, if one of us had a telescope.
Yeah.
If.
Oh, you see that constellation right there? That one's called Cassiopeia.
You can see it from where I'm stationed in Vietnam.
When I look up at it every night, I'll always be thinking of you.
And you can think of me, too, when you see it from here.
I guess the war did change my brother in some ways.
But not in the ways I had feared.
And not in the ways that really mattered.
He was still the kind of guy who would spend Christmas Eve freezing his butt off in the treehouse with his little brother.
Yeah.
Where's Santa? - He's late.
- Hmm.
Maybe he really is Black.
- Unh.
Unh.
- Yes! Bruce! Here.
Careful.
- Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland"! - Later, it occurred to me that we all gave Bruce gifts that he had to be home to use.
That's how confident we were he'd be coming back.
Now, I wonder what this could be.
It's a telescope.
I thought it was a pair of socks.
You think you can, uh, keep an eye on it for me while I'm gone? Of course.
Wait.
I'm allowed to use it, right? Don't feel bad, Bruce.
He said the same thing to me last year when he bought me a black GI Joe.
I love it.
Ohh!
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