Episode 8: Thanksgiving IV
By: Carlos Uribe
The Middle is a show about the Heck family, an average family in Indiana.
Let it be known that this was an episode where good things happen to Axl Heck. He's surprised to learn at the bginning of the episode that not only has his foot healed, but he can play at the Championship game. This gives him a chance to save his remaining football scholarship as a college recruiter will be there. There are two obstacles to this. The first is that Cassidy has turned his brain on and he has started to think. The second is that he likes Cassidy herself. Let's talk about the first obstacle. Thinking depresses him in the epsiode and it gets in the actual way when he's playing the game. He's making fumbles and not being the football player that he used to be. He's so busy doubting whether he should even be on the football field that he can't concentrate on the game. It isn't until Sue tells him to stop thinking that he is able to turn the game around. He scores two more touchdowns and leads his team to victory. This secures his scholarship at East Indy. This in itself would be a good enough week for Axl Heck. It means that he gets to go to college without having too worry so much about paying for it. It allows Mike and Frankie not worry so much about how they're going to get their son through college payments.
The second obstacle is Cassidy herself. Axl likes Cassidy. He genuinely does. He's sad when she's not happy that his foot has recovered and that he'll be going back to playing football games. His dad encourages him to not let fear get in his way and he goes to Cassidy to ask her to come to the football game and tells her that he likes her. She doesn't want to go to the game because she's going to be spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriend. This helps to depress Axl. He does get his happy ending when Cassidy meets him after the game and reveals she watched it. She had broken up with her boyfriend because she admitted that she liked someone else. That someone else being Axl. The two make out and they're going to be dating now. This was the only way this plot could have really gone so it's nice that the show isn't going to be dragging it out. It also just fits the entire moment of that act: Axl wins the game, secures his scholarship, and gets the girl. This might just be the beginning of a love story that lasts.
While good things are happening to Axl, Sue is worried when someone steals the head of her chicken mascot. She thinks that she lost the head at first before a rival school reveals that they're the ones who took the head. Sue is determined to get the chicken head back. She and Brad go to the school in an attempt to get the football team to give it back but Brad only ends up with a bleeding nose after he gets punched. During Thanksgiving dinner, Sue asks some vistiting marines if they'd be willing to steal the head for her. It's clear that to Sue this head is life and death. She simply can't show up to the championship game without the mascot head. They don't get the head back in time for the game and she's forced to wear a bear head instead. It's a great visual gag that the episode is able to easily use for comedy. There's nothing like watching her tell Axl that he shouldn't think while she's wairing two different sets of costumes.
Frankie is dealing with her home situation. She has two seperate plots. The first is to invite some marines to come over. Mike thinks this is a terrible idea because their home is a mess and because the family drama can get a bit much at times. This is all to largely set up the joke that the marines are willing to go through war but they're not willing to stay for pie. The second plot involves her parents. They are bickering more than normal and Frankie wants them to be happy again. She tries to remind them that they love each other. At first she's subtle but she eventually just screams the story of their first date to them. This seems to have worked as the old couple is shown to be friendly on their ride back home. The first plot was a bit inconsiquential but the second one held more stakes as it seemed like Frankie's parents were growing apart. It's the second one that gave the emotional core for Frankie for the episode.
The Middle had a pretty great Thanksgiving episode. Frankie had to deal with many domestic situations, some of her own creation, while Sue worried about a missing chicken head. This really was Axl's week. His entire injured foot plot comes to an end and his arc with Cassidy moves forward at a surprising speed. All of these plots were pretty funny and this episode joins the ranks of classic The Middle holiday episode.s
Brick also really gets into a book about the making of the feature film “Love Story” but he doesn't want to see the film itself.