The Middle: Season 4, Episode 10: Life Skills, Review

Axel continues to develop as a brother and a human being.

After a month long holiday hiatus, the Heck family returns to our screens with their relatable struggles and sibling angst to finish out Season 4 and teach viewers a few life skills.

When a tree branch falls on the Hecks’ car and shatters the windshield, the Heck parents contact their insurance agency and rely on their “Act of God” plan to pay off the damages. When their claim is rejected due to “lack of tree care,” Frankie’s temper tantrum lands them back at home without an insurance check or a windshield. Through their own act of God, the church graciously saves the day by letting Frankie use the church van for a few weeks.

The brotherly love between Brick and Axel has been growing over the course of the season, but when Sue and Axel find themselves partners in a project for their life skills class the sibling tension returns. The brother-sister duo are opposites in every aspect of life, including schoolwork strategies. Sue is eager to finish their work right away, while Axel relies on procrastination, and Sue, to get the project done the night before it’s due.

Sue first tries to be hard on Axel and refuses to do the project alone, but her love of good grades gets the best of her. A finished paper, project, poster and presentation are sitting by the front door days before the due date courtesy of Sue Heck and no thanks to Axel.

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Moments before their presentation, Sue and Axel are outside of the classroom with their presentation bag, waiting for their turn to present. But when Sue checks the poster, she finds that it isn’t their model of an Italian restaurant, but a drawn on basketball backboard and dozens of crumpled up paper balls in the bag. During Sue’s emotional breakdown, Axel puts his life skills into use and begins calling in favors. After getting himself called out of class and their presentation time switched to the last spot, Axel runs around the school using his various contacts to put together a great presentation moments before its due, surprising the teacher, Sue and himself. 

Brick is in his own world in this episode, as usual. But what is unusual is that the teachers and therapists at the school are starting to care. The Heck parents have agreed to send Brick to sessions with the school therapist in an effort to help Brick make more friends. But when the eye contact and conversation scripts don’t seem to be doing the trick, Brick convinces the therapist that he has no need for friends his own age. The two strike up a deal; the therapist can keep counseling Brick only if the counseling time slots are during Brick’s Gym class. The deal begins a new friendship for Brick, plus he doesn’t have to sweat as much.

Axel’s character has been growing drastically throughout this season, as we watch him grow up during his senior year of high school. In this episode he saved Sue’s grade and the same compassion was seen in “Twenty Years” when he re-wrote an ending to the book that he ruined for Brick. There will be a lot more character growth for Axel as we watch him finish out high school and continue on to college. 

Memorable Quotes: 
“School Sue is even more annoying than home Sue” – Axl Heck 
“I also rated you on the sibling scale and guess what? You’re a bummer brother. So, yeah….”-Sue Heck
Brick’s Whisper Word: “ittttttt”