The Middle (S08E21) “Clear and Present Danger”
Review: After Cindy, who can be a real badass, helps Brick out with a bully, he is determined “to get some of those ‘muscles’” he’s read about, so he won’t have to rely on his girlfriend anymore. He goes to Axl for help, who tries to show him how to work out but he is not the athlete he used to be. Since Axl isn’t really able to help him, Brick comes up with a plan himself by lifting books instead of weights to make himself stronger. He helps out an insecure Axl as well and tells him that it’s okay that he is declining physically, because he hasn’t yet peaked mentally and Brick starts helping Axl to get his brains into shape.
Meanwhile, it’s Mike’s birthday, but as we know Mike, he’s not the kind of guy that actually wants to celebrate it. However, Sue is preparing a gift for her dad while Frankie is searching the house for the graduation present she bought Axl months ago. When she finally finds it, she realizes that the shoe care kit wasn’t as symbolic and great as she first thought. So she decides to just give it to Mike for his birthday, who reacts the way we knew he would.
Things aren’t going much better with Sue’s gift for Mike, which is a video of family and friends sharing their favorite Mike moments. After a bit of a struggle she finally gets the family to participate and even though their contributions aren’t all that great, she makes a great (and funny) montage of all the different clips. However, Mike isn’t happy with the present because he doesn’t like the idea of people thinking about him.
After Frankie tells him that he hurt Sue’s feelings by walking away from the video, Mike thanks her for the gift and apologizes for not appreciating it at first. But Sue tells him that she doesn’t mind the way he reacted because that’s just the way he is. Mike starts telling Sue about his family and that they never celebrated holidays or birthdays. He even talks about the death of his mom as an example of how his family never really expressed any emotions and opens up to Sue about his mom, how she died and who she was, something he had never really done before.
This final scene between Mike and Sue was perfect. Their chemistry in the scenes they have together is always very sweet and the way Mike opened up to Sue was unexpected. I think it is one of the most emotional scenes The Middle has ever had. I guess Sue was right when she said “There is definitely going to be some softening after this video”…
That last scene was my favorite part of the episode (and one of my favorite scenes of the whole show), but the episode had a lot of other great moments as well. Sue’s video for Mike was hilarious, I would actually love to see the whole thing, but I guess we’ll have to do with the few minutes we got. I also really enjoyed Frankie’s ways to try to find Axl’s present and Brick and Axl’s storyline had a lot of really great moments of physical comedy.
The episode as a whole worked perfectly, every storyline was explored well. The performances by the entire cast were amazing, but the obvious MVP was Neil Flynn for that final scene. Just give him all the awards.
The Middle is back Tuesday March 9th at 8/7c on ABC.