Episode 18: The Name
By: Carlos Uribe
The Middle is a show about the Heck family, an average family in Indiana.
What's in a name? It is a name that can help to define who you are. Take Brick. Frankie and Mike thought that giving him that name would make him cool but they got a quirky and weird kid instead. This is ironic but it also fits his odd name. Sue gets really hung up on her middle name this episode. Her full name is Sue Sue Heck. This was due to a typo that the hospital made when she was born that her parents never got around to fixing. It's a sign of their laziness, procrastination, and how they just like to sit in the television all day rather than taking care of stuff. When Sue's sister comes to visit, she basically convinces Frankie to allow Sue to change her middle name. Sue is excited as she searches for the perfect name. She eventually settles on Lily because it means Sue in French. Only that is until she realizes that's not really a change at all as her name will still technically be Sue Sue. She freaks out but she doesn't have any time to change it. When the lady at the court states that Sue Sue is an original name she had never come across before, Sue immediately stops the name change from happening. Why? She liked the idea of having an original name. It made her stand out. What's Sue's character known for? Always wanting to stand out and rarely succeeding. Keeping her name so that it's original is a way for Sue to take a victory. It's a pretty great plot that had some good laughs but I liked how it made sense with the character.
So why did Frankie's mom come to visit? It's finals time at schools! This means that Frankie has a final in her dentistry class but she doesn't have a lot of time to study because she's an adult and a mother. She has a lot of errand to runs and her kids take up a huge chunk of her time. Her sister comes to visit to allow Frankie to concentrate on studying. It's a nice gesture but it doesn't work because Frankie's sister turns out to be very demanding. She doesn't just force Frankie to give permission to Sue to change her name but she starts to try and organize Frankie's household. It gets to the point where Frankie isn't getting a lot of studying done because her sister refuses to leave her alone. This leads to a huge fight where Frankie's sister reveals the real reason she came down to help. She might have been wanting to help her sister study but it was also take a break from her own life. Her little perfect daughter is turning out be a rotten one who talks back and doesn't respect her. She needed to help Frankie as much as Frankie needed her. It's a nice moment that allows the sisters to bond. The plot isn't completely resolved as we don't find out how Frankie did on her test. We don't even get to the point where she takes it. It looks like this is going to have to be resolved in the second part because this episode is actually a first-parter.
The final major plot had to do with Axl. It's really with him where the two-parter makes a lot of sense. He's been dating Cassidy for a while now and it's gotten to be pretty serious. It's time to introduce an obstacle to that relationship. It comes in the form of Cliff, her former boyfriend. Cliff is basically everything that Axl isn't. He's smart, he reads books, the parents are more into him, he's great at building houses, and he has a car. Axl pretends to be cool with the whole situation until he starts to get the idea that Cliff might be making a move to get back with Cassidy. When he tries to address his concerns with Mike, he calms down because he realizes that he's being silly. After all, Axl was the one who basically allowed Cliff to re-enter Cassidy's life. The cliff-hanger of the episode is that Axl finds out that he might have been correct all along when he sees the two holding hands and leaving her house. He might just be reading the situation wrong but his attempts to be the bigger man might have sabotaged his relationship.
The Name is a solid and good episode of the Middle. It was funny and it had some pretty good plots but it didn't feel like it was building up for a cliff-hanger. It simply felt odd and unexpected-maybe even a bit forced. What made it feel even stranger is how most of the plots resolved themselves. Sue kept her name, Frankie and her sister resolved their dispute, and Brick...built a bridge or whatever. The only dangling plot threads is Frankie's final and Axl's girlfriend problems. The problem with two-parters is that they can be hard to stand on their own. The Name is able to do that but it's cheapened by the ending.