The Middle (S08E02) “A Tough Pill To Swallow”

Review: This week Axl and Sue are both back for a new school year, and while Axl runs into some problems with his roommates, Sue might not even be a student at East Indy anymore…
But let’s first get Brick’s storyline of this week out of the way. Frankie needs Brick to swallow a pill for his ear infection, something he has never done before. Frankie tries to get him to take the pill several times, which makes for some great facial expressions by Atticus Shaffer, but she fails. When Frankie tells Brick that he should really be able to just take the pill because that makes him an adult, Brick points out that, as an adult, Frankie should be able to parallel park. So they make a deal: she’ll parallel park the car, as long as he takes his medicine. Parking the car doesn’t go as well as it should because Frankie hits another car, but hey because of it, Brick does finally swallow his pill.
Axl’s love for April is  influencing his friendship with Hutch when he constantly takes the Winnebago to drive it to Orson to see her, which makes Hutch late to his classes. To make sure he can’t just leave for Orson, Hutch takes apart the RV, which causes a huge fight between them. Later Hutch tells him that his problem is that he just really doesn’t like it that they don’t spend a lot of time together anymore, especially now that they’re in their senior year. Axl apologizes and the two best friends hug it out on the football field.
Then off to the biggest storyline of the episode. During her first day of class, Sue finds out that she is not registered anymore as a student at East Indy because she forgot to renew her financial aid package (despite the best efforts of Lou the Renew Raccoon). Mike and Sue go to the bursar to figure out a way to fix it, but Mike’s hilarious charm offensive doesn’t work. The only way for Sue to get back into college would be if they pay for the whole year’s tuition. Of course, knowing the Heck’s situation, this is impossible because they don’t have that kind of money. So it seems like Sue is going to be kicked out of college for this year. She’s packing her stuff in her room to go back home, but then she receives an email that she is accepted back for the school year. Sue has no idea how this could have happened (and I really wonder if/when she will figure it out!), but later Mike reveals to Frankie that he sold his share of the diaper business to be able to pay the year’s tuition.
Where a typical sitcom might have solved things for Sue by letting the bursar come through for her, The Middle is not afraid to add drama to their comedy and solve the problem like this. I think the ending was something that totally fits The Middle, a show where things don’t always have a happy ending. It was really unexpected, so kudos to the writers that they still come up with great, unpredictable storylines after 8(!!) seasons.
A great episode with great storylines. It was nice to see Hutch, Kenny and Lexie back this week, but the MVP of this episode was definitely Neil Flynn. I loved the interaction between Mike and the bursar and that last scene where he tells Frankie that he sold his half of the business was really good. We don’t get to see Mike’s sensitive side very often, but when we do, it’s always great when he shows how much he really cares.
Rating: 9.5/10
I love Mike.