The Middle (S08E16) “Swing and a Miss”

Review: After a long losing streak, Mike hires the high school coach Tink Babbit to help out with the quarry’s softball team. This finally leads to some wins for the team, but when Mike hurts his back, Tink benches him. The team continues to win and the chances for Mike to return to the starting lineup get smaller and smaller until Tink announces that she’s leaving the quarry to work for another company. Things get back to normal and Mike even hits a homerun in his first game back on the team, against Coach Babbit.

Meanwhile, Frankie tries to find out what happened to one of the Hecks that makes Nancy say that Frankie should be really proud. None of the kids know what she is talking about and Mike also has no idea what could be it, so when the school calls and tells them that Brick made the National Honor Society, Mike and Frankie are surprised. Confronting Brick on why he didn’t tell them about it, he says that he didn’t mention it because he thought they wouldn’t want to go to the ceremony anyway. And when it turns out that they actually can’t come to the ceremony, Brick doesn’t really care either. In the end Frankie and Mike do come through though, showing up at the ceremony and even outdoing Nancy Donahue by bringing food.

Lexie spends spring break at the Hecks, instead of the Bahamas and Sue notices that she’s very interested in Axl’s whereabouts. The real reason for Lexie’s visit comes forward soon enough when she confesses to Sue that she likes Axl. Sue, being Sue of course gives her best friend her blessing and so Lexie tries to impress Axl all week. However, the Heck house starts to take its toll on her and it gets harder for Lexie to flirt with Axl, the longer her stay.

After spring break, Sue accidentally tells Axl about Lexie’s crush on him, and while he says he isn’t interested, he goes to the same party as Lexie that night to talk to her, only to run into Devin Levin. To be continued…

This episode actually had three pretty simple storylines, but it made me happy, not only because of the amazing amount of callbacks, but also because of the heartwarming ending to Brick’s story. He usually never gets a win and it was nice to see how much Frankie cares (sometimes). I also loved seeing Coach Babbit back. I think she’s a great character and it was fun to see her interact with Mike and the other quarry guys (who are also great returning characters on the show). The surprise appearance by Devin was a nice touch to the episode as well. I’ve really been enjoying the ongoing storyline of Axl’s love life this season and I’m looking forward to see what will happen next week, especially now that Devin is back.

The next episode of The Middle airs Tuesday 3/14 at 8/7c on ABC.

Rating: 9/10

Patricia Heaton just finished a Facebook Live interview with the New York Times. Check it out here: