The Middle 3.08 “Heck’s Best Thing” Recap

This week, Axl is the one impressing everyone, and Sue and Brick are the ones getting in trouble. This was a great episode for Axl’s character.

The recruiter we saw earlier in the season from East Indiana State shows up at Axl’s football game and wants to schedule a time to come to his house for an interview. Axl tells his parents, and they are so excited that they might finally get some money back on their kids. They might just be able to retire in their early 90s now. After the news, Axl proceeds to eat popcorn pieces off his chest. Frankie and Mike are understandably worried about the interview and decide they’ll have to put on a big show.

In preparation, they send Sue and Brick to borrow a fancy chip platter from Aunt Edie. She gives them a bunch of other crap too, but the best part is that she puts it all in one of those personal belongings bags from the hospital.

Frankie and Mike talk to Axl about the upcoming interview, but he’s upset that they don’t trust him. They give him a list of stuff not to do: don’t pretend to kill yourself in any way, don’t lick food off your body, don’t call the recruiter “broskie,” don’t say “lame” or “uck” or “God.” If he doesn’t know what to say, let them do the talking. Axl freaks out and says he’ll be ready for the interview on Thursday. The interview is Wednesday.

Sue and Brick open their bag of goodies from Aunt Edie. There are many vintage lighters inside, including a Jesus lighter. There’s also an “ancient” cell phone from the 90s. It rings. Sue answers it, and it’s a solicitor for a political candidate. Sue is so excited to have a phone, but Brick wants it too and tells Sue that she’s getting Frankie’s old phone for her birthday. That’s three months away though, and she needs something in the meantime. “What would Jesus lighter say?” They think he would say that they should share, so that’s what they decide to do. To see if the phone has texting capabilities, Brick sends a text to his mom’s phone, which Frankie interprets as “help.” She freaks out and goes to Aunt Edie’s house, thinking she’s in trouble. Apparently Brick didn’t type “help” at all, he typed “kelp.” That’s normal. For Brick.

Frankie returns from Aunt Edie’s house with another bag of crap. Aunt Edie was fine and doesn’t remember texting. Sue and Brick are out of the woods and continue making calls. Brick calls a number on a missing pet poster, just because he’s concerned.

The recruiter shows up at the house, and Frankie and Mike answer the door. They say Axl is probably studying, practicing football or reading the bible. Axl comes to the door and looks like a perfect prep. He’s way more articulate than his parents and invites the recruiter into the house. When the recruiter asks what makes Axl well-rounded, Frankie and Mike ramble things about Africa and future thinking about future goals about his future college. Yikes. Axl takes over and handles it perfectly, saying that although he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his future, East Indiana State is a great school and he thinks that if you try your best, you end up doing something you love. Then he continues, with the best line: “Now, I know my grades are not the best, and I’m really working to improve them so they’re more on par, vis-a-vis, my athletics.”

As soon as the recruiter leaves, Axl strips down and starts eating chips while Frankie and Mike freak out over why they’ve never seen Axl act so charming. Frankie assumed that the friend who said he was polite and the teacher who said he was a pleasure were lying. Frankie accuses Axl of not ever bringing his best for them. Axl turns it around and says they never bring their best either. Frankie never makes dip and lemonade for him. Axl is the winner for best line of the week: “The color of the pot is black, vis-a-vis, the kettle.”

Brick and Sue receive a warning on their phone that they have exceeded their monthly text plan (by 742 texts–they were only allowed one) and a $68.34 overage fee will be added to the next bill. Uh oh–Frankie pays Aunt Edie’s bills. They go to the phone store with a jar of change, a vintage bird lighter and offer to turn in their phone to pay off the charges. Instead, the sales rep convinces them to trade in instead: they can get a second phone with a 2-year family plan. It’s a done deal.

Frankie decides that she is going to be the ‘tiny ember that ignites the fire of change.’She’s going to bring her best to her family. She makes a home-cooked meal and makes an effort to have meaningful conversations at the dinner table. Axl says his brain is turned off after school. Sue and Brick are texting under the table. She tries to talk to Mike about his day, but it’s all coming across as a bit creepy. Everyone retreats to the living room and Frankie follows them: ‘I tried to be a tiny ember, but you people just stomped me right out!’

Mike tries to calm Frankie down, and she tells him that she once saw their neighbors ballroom dancing in their living room. Mike suggests something between how they normally act and ballroom dancing: how about bowling? Frankie likes the idea, and they set up a date.

Sue and Brick feel extremely guilty over the phone situation, especially because Frankie said she was going to send Aunt Edie to a home because she doesn’t remember texting anyone. Brick was seduced by rollover minutes (whisper: “rollover minutes”). Sue and Brick both get a text: ‘Meet me in the kitchen. Mom’She knows what they did, and punishes them by sending them over to Aunt Edie’s house every weekend to help her out. Sue, of course, is perfectly sweet while helping her aunt count change at the grocery checkout.

When the whole family is back on the couch, acting like their old selves, Frankie decides to cancel the bowling date because she’s more comfy in her sweats. Good choice. Part of the joy of having a family is not having to bring your best to them every day.

Since this was Axl’s show for best lines, here’s a final one from this episode. To his parents: “Duh. I know how to behave in situations.”


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