The Middle (S07E21) “The Lanai”

Review: This week’s episode starts with Frankie, very happy with her new patio (or lanai, if you like to be fancy) that Mike and his two employees, Jim and Dave, built. When Brick points out that Jim and Dave only helped building the patio because Mike is there boss, Mike tries everything to convince him that they are also his friends. But as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that they really are only his employees, especially when Mike invites them to hang out, but they’d rather go drink a beer at a bar. This is kind of a sad ending, but I think The Middle is good at keeping it realistic like that.

Meanwhile, Frankie tries to enjoy the patio, but can’t because of the loud new neighbor kids. She tries multiple times to ‘subtly’ tell the new neighbor, Dierdre, that the kids are ruining her patio, but fails. After a few days, Frankie’s had enough and snaps at Dierdre, but softens up when the neighbor explains that they’ve never had a backyard. After hearing this, Frankie decides to just go with it and enjoy how much fun the kids have.

At East Indy, Axl and Hutch start selling grilled cheese sandwiches made by Kenny. Business is going great, until Kenny quits because Axl and Hutch have ‘commercialized his art’. They need to find ways to keep business going when Hutch’s sandwiches aren’t as good as Kenny’s, so they expand the menu, and survive until the end of the day. They’ve made quite a bit of cash and even though their RV got damaged because of a fire, their business was a success.

Sue and Lexie are hoping to draw a good number in the dorm lottery, so they will have a nice room next year. Against all odds, they draw a number that will give them one of the best rooms on campus. But when they hear that one of the current tenants, Amber, has chronic fatigue syndrome, Sue and Lexie switch lottery numbers and let the current tenants stay in the good room. They feel good about themselves, until they see Amber play volleyball. When Sue and Lexie confront the girls later (in a very un-Sue like way), it turns out it wasn’t Amber that was playing volleyball, but her twin sister. This storyline was too sitcom-y for my taste. It does however give plenty of new opportunities for storylines about their dorm room next year.

It has been a long time since The Middle has delivered an episode that disappointed like this. For me it was definitely the season’s worst. There were four small storylines and it was hard for me to really get into any of them. They all kind of stayed on the surface and were not developed much deeper, like we usually see with at least one storyline per episode.

But hey, like Frankie narrated at the end: “Sometimes you just gotta take the negatives, and turn them into positives”: I liked the storyline of Axl most. I think it’s great that Kenny is getting bigger parts in storylines now and that his character develops. It would be fun to see him a lot more next year!

Anyway, let’s just hope that this episode was a just a fluke and that The Middle will be back at full strength in this week’s episode!

Rating: 7/10

I want a neighbor to throw me cookies.

Or give me vodka.