It’s the most exciting thing to happen to the Hecks in a while: the Super Bowl is coming to The Middle. Oddly, Frankie is the only excited one. They can’t get tickets to the game, and Mike is upset that the Colts aren’t playing, but Frankie is going to get up close to the event by volunteering.
In last week’s episode of The Middle, Sue got her first “real” boyfriend, Matt. Opposites must attract, because this guy rarely has a smile and speaks in a completely serious tone. He’s been at the Heck’s a lot, and although he’s as small as Brick, he eats as much as Axl. Matt thanks Frankie and Mike for giving birth to Sue, and says he’s honored to share their daughter and their pizza.
Sue, although she can’t take the test for a few more months, has started to study the driver’s ed manual. Matt thought it would be a good idea for her to prepare in advance and taught her his IPDE strategy: identify, predict, decide, execute. Matt likes a plan.
As a Super Bowl volunteer, Frankie had to make a blue and white scarf, and of course, hers looks awful. When she goes to get her assignment, everyone else is wearing beautiful scarves. The scarf probably has nothing to do with her volunteer assignment: manage one of the distant parking lots nowhere near the game. She can’t understand why they aren’t putting the charming people where they can see them. Her neighbor, Nancy Donahue, drops off a bunch of nice scarves at the volunteer center and tells Frankie that as a bonus, her husband’s boss gave them tickets to the game and is putting them up in a hotel for a week. Frankie officially hates the Super Bowl.
Later, Nancy calls Frankie from a pregame fiesta, and asks if she can go in their house, get the key to their brand new car, and put the car in the garage. It’s too new to sit outside. Frankie agrees, but once she’s in the car, she falls in love. It’s so new and shiny. So instead of putting it in the Donahue’s garage, she puts it in her own garage and proceeds to occasionally use. It might be grand theft auto, but she deserves something nice. She tells us in a voice over, “Don’t judge. People do meth.”
Although she doesn’t know it, Frankie isn’t the only one using the car. Brick loves playing with the GPS. Axl uses it to pick up fried chicken (and eat it in the car). Mike takes a nap in it. And Sue… well, Sue decides she should practice her turn signals, but somehow ends up reversing the car out of the driveway. She uses Matt’s IPDE method to decide that she’s terrified to drive in reverse, so to get back in the driveway, she’ll have to drive around the block. Like anyone’s first driving experience, it’s terrifying. Sue keeps thinking she’s going to run things over–a ball, a man walking his dog–but she always slams on the brakes well in advance and makes it back home.
After her “near-death experience,” Sue is terrified that anything she says could be the last thing she ever says to anyone. She’s upset that the last thing she said to Matt was “Good ham,” and has decided that she needs to tell him that she loves him. As always with Sue, she decides it quickly and executes it quickly. She finds Matt in the school stairwell, arranges them on the stairs so that he is taller than her, and says the big, “I love you.” Matt is stunned and only says, “Okay,” effectively breaking Sue’s heart.
Driving the new car has given Frankie more confidence than she’s ever had. She takes the car and her new-found energy to the lady who assigns the Super Bowl volunteer tasks. Her enthusiasm gets her a new, unknown assignment close to the stadium.
Back at home, the family is standing outside by the new car when the engine starts. Everyone checks their pockets to see if they accidentally turned it on, and Frankie learns that she hasn’t been the only one using it. Sue says she doesn’t need to be punished, because she’s “already been punished by love.” Poor dramatic Sue. Instead of returning the car, Frankie decides they need a schedule for sharing it. Having one nice thing is making them happier and more considerate. They even have a family sing-along in the car to cheer up heartbroken Sue, which is lovely until Nancy calls mid-song. Her kids are sick, they’re not going to the game, and she’s going to be home to check the mail in 20 minutes. Mike slams on the brakes and all their drinks hit the windshield.
They rush home and start frantically cleaning the car. Frankie says that even when they do get nice things, they “Heck it up” every time. The inside of the car is disgusting: garbage, food, and Brick’s entire library of books in the trunk. Matt shows up in the midst of the cleaning, wanting to talk to Sue, but she refuses. He complains to Mike that Sue has gone into radio silence, but this is not the time for anything other than cleaning. Matt probably uses IPDE again to lock himself and Sue in the car. While the rest of the family is freaking out that they need to clean in there, he explains to Sue that she caught him off guard because he was planning on telling her that he loved her on Valentine’s Day. How cute. It’s the best day ever for Sue.
Matt lets everyone in the car again, and Brick yells that it still smells like gravy (whisper: “gravy”). They’re still cleaning as they back the car into the Donahue’s driveway, and they get out of the car just as Nancy and her husband show up. Frankie awkwardly explains why the car is not the garage: they just brought it out because she thought they might want to enter the house through the garage. Yep, that’s it. Nancy’s husband notices a scratch on the car, and Frankie’s immediate reaction is to blame it on Axl: he drove it. She can’t lie though, and admits that they all used it. She explains that it was so nice and new, and they are so weak and gross. They’ll pay to fix the scratch as long as they don’t hate them. The Donahue’s react in a way that some may call sick: they are happy that the Hecks made the first scratch, because now they don’t have to worry about doing it themselves and fighting about it. After all, what is the point of having a brand new car if you can’t share it with your neighbors? The Donahues are perfect.
At the Super Bowl, Frankie ends up in toilet control. She doesn’t care though: she was part of something special, and she wasn’t going to Heck it up.
Watch The Middle on Wednesdays at 8pm ET on ABC.