The Middle 5.21 Review: “Office Hours”

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This was probably the closest we’ll get to a Mother’s Day episode on The Middle this year, but it was a good one.  In years past we saw Mike and the kids scramble to find the perfect gift for her, but this spotlighted a different side of motherhood.  Frankie adopts a zen attitude about life, and if only for a few days, she gets the stress relief she desperately craves.

Frankie’s brain is so frazzled by the neverending demands of her family that she completely forgot where she parked her car at work and assumes it must’ve been stolen.  Mike even filed a police report before someone alerted her that it wasn’t stolen, just parked in the back of the building.  I always love when the rest of the Hecks pick on Frankie because moms really are the easiest target.  They’re usually so stressed that they don’t lighten up and see the humor sometimes.  Frankie’s blaming her forgetfulness on her husband and kids so she establishes office hours to be the only time they can unleash complaints/questions/demands on her.

This plan works for a while before it inevitably blows up in her face.  Axl missed out on an apartment for next year because he was respecting her office hours of only bothering her between 5-6 when he needed a check earlier in the afternoon.  Frankie gives in to the harsh reality of life as a parent and accepts that it’s a 24/7 job.  The highlight of the episode was when she showed up at her old job at Ehlert Motors.  We haven’t seen Chris Kattan’s character Bob in a while, so his cameo was a nice treat.

Sue and Darrin are spending a lot of time together in the Heck house.  At first Mike enacts a “no boys allowed” rule in Sue’s room, but then when it gets too awkward when they’re cuddling next to him on the couch as he’s trying to watch TV, he reconsiders the rule.  As long as her bedroom door stays open, Mike’s okay with Sue and Darrin being alone in her room.  It’s only until their silences start to make him more paranoid.  He reaches his boiling point when he catches them kissing in the basement.  The physical comedy of this show never fails.  The arm of Sue’s favorite sweater is stuck on Darrin’s watch, but the two play it as cool as they can and pretend like they were playing pool the whole time.

Sue makes a very true point when she respectfully asks Mike why he’s never had a private talk with Axl’s girlfriends before when he’d always bring them over to the house.  Mike admits he’s guilty of this double standard in an unexpectedly sweet conversation between the father and daughter.  “I’m gonna make mistakes, but I’m not gonna apologize for protecting my daugher,” Mike confesses to Sue.  She presses him a bit further, wondering what he’s so worried about.  Without even making him say it, she catches on and reassures him that she’s not nearly ready for anything more serious than kissing.

After Mike unintentionally ruined one of Brick’s new friendships with a girl his own age at school last week, I was as surprised as Frankie was when he told her he invited friends over.  It was funny then to see that his new friends are actually a group of elderly ladies whose book club he’s joined.  Brick’s always been an old soul so it is cute to see him attempt to bond with these ladies, even though they don’t share interest in some of his favorite books geared to younger people.  One of these days Brick will have to make a friend his age who is semi-normal, right?

Axl wasn’t home at all this episode but he made his presence known via Skype calls on the laptop.  With the future of his scholarship still unknown and now he’s missed a deadline for an apartment deposit, I’m starting to wonder where he’ll be next season.  He could probably commute to college, but then all the fun storylines of his adventures with Hutch might not be the same.  I hope it all works out for him in the end because whatever housing situation they find themselves in next year, Axl and Hutch would be hilarious roommates.

What’d you think of this episode?

[Photo via ABC]

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