The Middle 5.15 Review: “Vacation Days”

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After Mike received his special anniversary award at work last week, I was especially happy to see that we were getting another Mike centric episode.  The episode title doesn’t only apply to Mike’s vacation, but also the Heck kids’ spring break.  When everyone has spare time on their hands, there’s bound to be plenty of humor that we can all relate to at some point in our lives.

Staying true to his mediocre life, Mike was very upset that he was being forced to take a paid week of vacation off from work.  It isn’t mentioned, but it’s probably safe to assume that he rarely ever uses his vacation time in his 20 year career at the quarry so they are forcing him to use some of  it now.  Frankie spoke for most viewers when she questioned the sanity of her family and their outlook on work.  Between Mike not wanting to take vacation time and Sue being overjoyed that she’s set to work double shifts while her co-workers at the potato chain go on spring break, Frankie exclaimed “Am I the only normal American who hates her job?!”

Brick takes advantage of Mike’s staycation to spend time with him cashing in on his many years of “coupons” given for Father’s Day and birthdays.  Just shy of his promised 100 hugs and after he’s nearly run over with the lawnmower, Mike flat out tells Brick to leave him alone.  He got pretty harsh when he told Brick that parents never want those silly coupons from their kids anyway.  Luckily Brick wasn’t offended in the slightest.  Mike soon apologized to Brick and they come to an agreement that their time spent together should be natural, not forced under the pretense of silly favors and promises made when Brick was younger.

Sue’s standout storyline was hilarious.  She’s still so excited to be a working girl even though she’s just working at a potato stand in the food court.  When she reads some bad Yelp reviews for her service lately, she gets even weirder than usual.  I always love when Brad is in an episode, and he really stole the show again when he “stage slapped” Sue (and she reacted appropriately) for acting so crazy.

That leaves Frankie and Axl’s storyline together which was also very relatable.  Frankie just misses her oldest son, and since he was going to Florida for spring break, he was only home for a little bit.  I was a little surprised that Frankie and Mike weren’t at all concerned with him driving down to Florida by himself in his old beat-up used car, especially when his only directions were a map drawn on a napkin.  I would have thought Sean or Darrin would have at least been going with him, but he didn’t make it far before he needed Frankie’s help when the car broke down.

As any mother would, Frankie rushes to go pick her son up because he needed her.  Their conversation during their car ride home was probably true for a lot of parents when they’re dealing with their first-born child going off to college and becoming more independent.  Parents may not know where they stand in their kids’ lives anymore.  Frankie doesn’t know if Axl wants her to be his friend or mother, even though he doesn’t really have a choice in that last part.  It was almost borderline creepy, like Jules’ doting on her son Travis on Cougar Town, but luckily Frankie and Axl kept it more funny than odd.

Of course nothing ever goes smoothly for the Hecks.  Frankie ended up running out of gas in her car, so she and Axl needed to call Mike to come help them out.  This tied the episode up nicely by giving Mike something to do with all his free time and Frankie and Axl coming to terms with their current situation.

[Photo via Michael Ansell/ABC]

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