Review: If there’s one thing the Hecks are good at, it’s floating special events. We’ve seen it before with anniversaries, and most recently with Thanksgiving. But this time it’s Frankie’s birthday that’s been floated, but it’s not just her birthday, it’s her 50th! The episode starts with another one of The Middle’s great car scenes in which Frankie makes Mike realize that maybe he should do something for her birthday, because highway pizza just isn’t a great present. He decides to throw her a surprise party, and involves Axl and Brick in the preparation of it. Sue isn’t informed about the party because Mike knows she will be blowing the surprise, but she’s busy at college anyway, trying to find her sock that got lost in the laundry.
One day before the party, Mike finally tells Sue about it and she almost ‘pocket-knifes’ the situation when Frankie calls her, but she plays it (Sue-)cool. Sue tells her mom that she won’t come home this weekend because she has to study, but her stressed voice makes Frankie drive up to East Indy the next day to bring her cookies and hot cocoa. When Frankie can’t find or get in touch with Sue, who is in Orson for the party, she calls Mike to tell her their daughter is missing. Mike can’t convince her to “just come home”, but can get her to try and call Sue one more time. When Frankie calls Sue, everything seems to be fine, and Frankie decides to go home. Unfortunately, she can’t leave campus because it has started snowing. When she calls Sue to tell her that she will be staying the night, Sue finally breaks and tells her she’s at home. That’s when Mike realizes that the party is never going to work like this. He video calls Frankie, and shows her the party. Frankie, of course is very surprised to see all their friends and even though she wasn’t there, she still calls it one of her top 5 birthdays.
I also really loved Brick’s smaller storyline. Coach Babbitt tries to turn him into an athlete, which leads to some hilarious scenes, where he licks a football, gets hit in the head by several other balls, and tries out fencing. Atticus Shaffer really did some great work in these scenes!
The episode was great!! The party may not have turned out the way it should have, but you’ve got to give Mike credit for organizing it. He should’ve included Sue in the party planning though because it really looked like only guys had been planning it, with lack of decorations and not even a birthday cake (thank god for Nancy Donahue, who frosted a phone book…). I really loved Bill Norwood in this episode, his attempts to get to eat the sub were hilarious. I also loved Sue’s anxiety over not wanting to blow the surprise. The squealing of her voice was just very funny every time! Happy 50th birthday Frankie! 🙂