The Middle (S09E07) "Thanksgiving IX"

Thanksgiving IX. Can you believe it?! Every time I write down that The Middle is in its 9th season I’m impressed. Before last night we had 8 great Thanksgiving episodes, and the 9th and final one definitely held up to the previous 8.

It’s Thanksgiving Day and Axl just started working at Spudsy’s after he got fired as the school bus driver. This means that all three Heck kids are now working at the potato place Sue’s been working for, for 4(!) years now. But the siblings have a tough decision to make when the manager, Edwin, comes in and tells them that one of the three is fired and that it’s up to them to choose who it will be.

They take this discussion with them in the car when the whole family is on its way to Frankie’s sister Janet for Thanksgiving. Of course, knowing the Hecks, a car trip can never just be easy or smooth for them and also during this ride they bump into some obstacles. It all starts with them risking their lives when they let Brick, who’s now 16 (yes of course they forgot his birthday again) drive the car, but the drama doesn’t end there.

When they arrive at a toll booth, Mike decides to pay extra for the car behind them, just to do something nice for Thanksgiving. However, the family in the next car doesn’t even acknowledge what they did, not even with a wave and this is of course a big deal to the Hecks. When they later come across the car again, it gets even worse when the whole family in the other car (not just the parents, nope the kids too) flips them off for no apparent reason.

Anyway, they continue their trip and stop to get gas. But when Mike wants to pay, his card is declined because of a (apparently not) fraudulent charge he reported to the credit card company earlier. The guy at the gas station can’t help them out and another customer apparently can’t spare 5 bucks. Eventually the kids get enough money together when they find a Spudsy’s close by and get their tip money to pay for the gas. The Hecks are on the road again and basically come to the conclusion that people suck (which is true by the way). And then, as if they haven’t been through enough during this trip, they get stuck in traffic. When they realize they will never make it on time for dinner, Frankie breaks out the Thanksgiving food, resulting in a Thanksgiving tailgate with all the people who are stuck in traffic as well.

Even the ‘toll booth jerks’ participate and things get cleared up between the two families when it turns out that the toll booth guy just kept the extra money the Hecks gave him himself. So the Hecks discover that the world isn’t such a bad place after all.

And to come back to the Spudsy dilemma, Brick is the one that steps up and quits. Axl had already secured his place at Spudsy’s by remembering the ingredients of the potato company’s secret sauce, and Brick realizes that the job means much more to Sue than it does to him so it’s only fair if he would be the one to quit. Not only that, he would probably get fired soon anyway, considering he has been licking all the potatoes…

And with that another great episode of The Middle ends. This is not the first time I’m saying this (I just mentioned it two weeks ago), but long scenes with just the Hecks are the best. Some of the greatest scenes in the whole show have been the scenes where they’re all in the car together, so when I read there would be an episode that would mostly take place in the car, I got very excited. And it definitely lived up to the expectations I had.

Whenever the whole family is in a small space together we get to hear some of the funniest lines and we see some of the greatest facial expressions. It also seems like the cast is genuinely enjoying those kinds of scenes and the acting in them is always great as it was in this episode as well. The scenes were filled with hilarious jokes and great dialogue between the main characters and I really enjoyed the whole episode.

I loved it that everything that happened in this episode was somehow just something that could only happen to the Hecks, but as always everything turns out to be fine in the end: “Maybe there is a lot wrong with the world, but there is a lot right with it too … Maybe the world is just one spontaneous tailgate Thanksgiving away from all getting along.”

I also loved how many callbacks we got. From Frankie’s bruise (again) and the quilt to the trip to Disney and of course the blue, now yellow, bag. And seeing that montage of all the Heck Thanksgivings over the past seasons made me tear up (or cry. Shut up!). I still can’t believe this was the final Thanksgiving episode, but it really was a great one.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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The Middle will be back next week, November 21st at 8/7c on ABC!