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Book Club is the third episode of the third season of Malcolm in the Middle, which was broadcast on November 18, 2001.


Lois attempts to escape the boys' nightly misbehavior by joining a women's book club, but she soon realizes that it's merely an excuse for the women to socialize—and to plot against a wealthy PTA mom who seems to handle her children and all other motherly duties with ease. Meanwhile, Hal struggles to keep the boys in order, and Francis hitches a ride with a trucker who requires that Francis humiliate himself in exchange for the ride.


The opening scene shows Reese collecting clumps of hair all over the house, Malcolm comes in to find Reese gluing it under his armpits. When he asks Reese what he's doing. Reese tells him that showering has become mandatory in his high school's gym class and he doesn't want to get beaten up by his classmates for having no underarm hairs in his armpits.

The episode begins at dinner, and the boys entertain themselves by burping their words. Lois asks Hal to tell the boys to stop, but he does while burping his words too. When Dewey grabs a piece of bread, Reese makes a sound to simulate him breaking wind as he does, sending everyone sans Lois, into hysterics. Having had enough, Lois asks her family if they can have a civilized dinner free of sound effects. Hal agrees and he believes that it isn't asking too much for a nice dinner conversation. After a pause, Lois casually asks Malcolm how school was. He mentions that history class was cool, explaining that the class was only entertaining because a boy named Jimmy Perkins beat up another student named Fred Mason right outside of his classroom. Reese is amazed because Fred is much larger than Jimmy. Lois becomes more annoyed by this conversation due to its violence. When Dewey states how crazy Jimmy is, Hal points out that crazy beats big every time. At this point, Lois decides to clear her plate, and takes it to the sink. However, when she drops her fork and bends over to pick it up, Hal can't resist the opportunity to simulate her breaking wind, sending the boys into laughter again, much to Lois' annoyance. When they realize that she has been angered, the boys immediately leave the dinner table, leaving Hal to face her alone. He sheepishly asks Lois how her day was as she holds her glare at him.

Meanwhile, Francis calls Eric in Alaska, Eric wonders where he is since he was supposed to be at the logging camp two weeks ago. The problem on Francis' end is that no one will give him a ride, then he ran out of money and had to earn more by tarring roofs for a week, also there is a serial killer on the loose in Idaho who looks exactly like him. Eric warns him to get to the Alaska logging camp soon, because they're not going to hold any of the logging jobs for long. Francis then asks Eric if he should take the Provincial Highway 99 or the 27 to Provincial Highway 12, Eric asks him where he is calling from, Francis tells him he is in Bellingham, Washington very close to British Columbia. Eric tells him that he is still 2,000 miles away from Alaska, Francis believes he has to be closer because he just exchanged all of his money for "Alaskan dollars", Eric points out that no such currency exists. Francis calls out to the guy who scammed him.

Lois is reading a book in bed, Hal is scratching his belly. Lois asks Hal to watch the boys next Tuesday night because she has decided to take some time away from her family to join a women's' book club. Hal warns her not to join it, because he joined a vinyl record club and they have hounded him for years. Lois assures him that it is not that kind of a club, it is one where women from school, who are adult. discuss the books they have read. Lois further states that she is the only woman in a house filled with boys, putting up with their habits and attitude, she needs to spend time with women. At PTA meetings, the other women always invite her to go out with them and she never goes because of the boys. Lois needs this for the sake of her sanity. On the other hand, Hal takes out some lint from his belly button. Lois notices that he isn't listening and is concerned that he might object again. Hal gives his opinion on the matter: he believes it is a great idea. He thinks it's about time Lois started doing something that she likes to do. She has a bright and beautiful mind that needs challenging. This brings comfort to Lois knowing Hal has been listening to her.

On Tuesday night, Lois leaves to go to her book club, she has left the phone number for contact on the counter, the dishes are soaking in the sink, and has removed the batteries from the TV remote to put into the smoke detector just for tonight. Hal tells Lois that this is her night to enjoy, there's no need for any worry, even the boys agree with Hal. Lois tells Hal to take the garbage cans out to the curb tonight, Hal reminds her to stop worrying. In the boy's room, they let Lois travel a few blocks away in case it is a trick, Dewey asks what they are talking about. Malcolm tells Dewey that they have some fireworks buried in the backyard, they're going to dig them up while their mom's out of the house. Reese says that a girl named Tracy Hines at his high school is having a party tomorrow night and they were not invited to it, so they will use the fireworks to retaliate. After Lois pulls out of the driveway, and Hal enters the house telling himself that he will do his best not to screw up as Lois deserves a night out, and tries to figure out how to keep the boys under control. Hal then says that his sons are good kids, then he starts telling himself that they are monsters, they'll conflict with Lois' night out and cause her to never trust the men in her family to be on their own, never wanting to have a night out again, Hal being the one at fault. The boys announce they are going out to the backyard, but are stopped by their father who loudly orders them to stay in their room with the door shut, clearly terrified the boys backtrack.

At the book club, all the women are enjoying the food, Lois starts discussing the book she read, but Karen tells her that it isn't mandatory to read the book. Karen states that they all have busy lives, that it should not prevent them from enjoying a relaxing evening every once in a while. Another woman named Julie asks Lois if she ever feels like she needs one night away from the bickering, arguing and the TV blaring and all the stupid little problems that are seemingly impossible to be solved without her. Lois starts realizing that the women just use the book club as an excuse to get together, drink wine, and complain about their families, she decides to roll with it and asks for more wine.

Francis has set out hitch-hiking to Alaska. Then gets picked up by a truck-driver named Roy, Francis tells him he has been walking on the same stretch of road for the past six hours, getting flipped off by the people driving. Roy asks Francis how far he is going, he tells him Mamu, the truck driver says he's going up to Green River and is willing to drive Francis nearly the whole way there. Francis tells Roy that it took him the last three days to get 20 miles and thanks him as he is about to cry, he accepts a canteen of coffee. At first the trucker seems friendly and even helps Francis with some of his mother issues, but soon the trucker is getting Francis to do more and more ridiculous things in order to stay in the warm truck. Francis starts by wearing a red Afro wig.

At home, Hal barged into the room noticing that the boys have not made a sound in a half an hour, he demands an answer. Malcolm tells him nothing is going on, Hal then tells the boys that he expects perfect behavior out of them, and if anything happens he will be on their back. After Hal leaves the boy's room. he believes he has made the message clear to them. But then he second-guesses himself after realizing that frightening them could make them become angry and vengeful, leading them to strike back ten times harder than they originally would have and decides to reward them instead.

Malcolm and Reese grab a shovel from their closet and decide to dig up the fireworks, leaving Dewey to be the lookout. Reese wonders what is wrong with their father, Malcolm assumes it's an issue at work. Reese hopes he's fine, he knows it's a fact that at Hal's age, carrying that amount of tension is not good for you. Hal then enters the room while bowls of ice cream for the boys who immediately hide the shovel.

At this point, Lois and all of the women have inebriated themselves with the wine. She gets into the spirit of things by mentioning how she comes home from a 10-hour shift at Lucky Aide to find Hal and the boys covered in grass and paint. The first thing out of their mouths aren't "How's your day at work?", but rather "Where's Dinner?". The other women continue complaining about their families and work. Julie mentions that society expects too much from them and it's impossible. Then, Karen bring up one particular neighborhood housewife - Lillian Miller - who is so perfect that she makes them all sick. Lois mentions that if it weren't for her, Hal and the boys would be naked, living in trees and eating berries. She and the other moms are annoyed in how little their families appreciate their efforts. Karen mentions that Lillian's family recently surprised her with a trip to Spain, which Lois and the other moms find annoying. That she's always being the wife of a family who appreciates her. Lois mentioned that this morning she noticed a two inch long hair growing on her shoulder and from the stress her boys put her through with their constant fighting. She swears that they don't give her time to put herself together in the morning and Hal's even worse with his ineffective parenting. Karen mentions that Lillian also brought 20 homemade cakes to the school's bake sale, Lois comments that she had one of those cakes and they were delicious. Julie comments on how she is an amazing cook and always stays skinny despite her age of 45. She mentions that impossible to stay that way and it's for younger people. Lois points out that their problems are with Lillian and they should repay her for their misery. In their drunken state, they decide to go over to her house.

On the way to Mamu, Francis has started singing Mademoiselle of Armentieres from Line Renaud with his head sticking out the window, one hand holding onto the red Afro wig and feeling the freezing cold wind. Roy corrects him on one of the song's lyrics, and tells him to start all over. Francis refuses to do so, Roy starts to pull over to the side of the road, Horrified, he obliges, sticks his head back out to start singing the song all over again to Roy's sick pleasure.

Dewey reluctantly thanks Hal for the ice cream, Hal leaves the boy's room and takes the dishes back with him. Reese starts asking what is going on, Malcolm believes that Hal is feeling guilty about something and suggests taking advantage of it. Malcolm has a plan to send Dewey in the kitchen crying about the train set their mom put in the attic, Reese says that she never put a train set in the attic, Malcolm explains that's the point, while their father goes up into the attic to look for it, it will buy them enough time to dig up the fireworks before their mother comes home. Reese agrees to this plan, and tells Dewey to cry, in a whiny sound with a penetrating quality to make it look authentic.

Hal tells himself that he has motivated them to behave, and Lois will be pleased that he can handle them without her around. He then second-guesses himself back-to-back with other smaller renditions of himself start popping up and suggest keeping the boys busy so they don't have time for mischief. Just as the boys leave their room with Dewey crying, Hal decides to get them to do calisthenics with him, which only makes a nauseous Dewey throw up the ice cream, leaving Hal to mop it up admitting to himself it was a stupid idea. He then sees another imaginary smaller version of himself that says it was a good idea poorly executed, who suggests simply locking the boys in the bathroom for the evening and be done with it.

Lois and the other women arrive at Lillian Miller's house, which they resent for being so perfect. Karen decides to stomp on Lillian's flowers and the women stop her. Lois reminds her that they did not come to commit mindless vandalism, but to screw up Lillian's perfect car. That she and the other moms are looking forward when they watch Lillian having to be late for carpool every morning like everyone else. She'd be so humiliated that she wouldn't even get out of bed in the morning and in a year she'd be living in a trailer park with a ceramic donkey on her front lawn. Lois and the other women are heard laughing outside, which alerts Lillian. They walk over to the side and see Lillian in the kitchen wearing pearls while making cookies, and using doilies, Karen smells the delicious cookies and suggests killing her and then eating them. Lois instructs Karen to stand guard while they screw up her car, but Karen lights a trash can on fire and tips it over while laughing hysterically, Lois tells her to settle down and recite the alphabet backwards... which she does successfully, she says that she has done this whenever she's been pulled over by the police. Two of the women find out that Lillian is gone, Lois asks why, suddenly Lillian kicks her door open armed with a pump-action shotgun, everybody runs away.

Francis is upside down in the passenger seat, using his feet to clench Roy's coffee canteen. Francis tells Roy that he finds all of the exercises he's done to be pointless, none of it has bothered him.

Meanwhile, Lois and Karen find themselves hiding from the cops in a dumpster, Lois tells Karen that the patrol car has drove down the same alley 3 times; they know they where they're hiding. Karen comments on how disgusting it is to be wearing open-toed shoes in the dumpster, Lois starts crying about their situation and how all she wanted to do was discuss the wonderful book she read. Karen wonders how Lois found time to read the book when her family sounds so awful and demanding. Lois admits that she was lying, that she made it all up all those awful things about them to fit in with the other moms. Karen tells her to go to their family, she decides to sacrifice herself to be Tasered by the cops so that Lois can get home to her wonderful family.

The boys, by this time, are thoroughly confused by their father, who has left them watching a TV documentary about salt. Reese asks Malcolm to come up with a plan, Malcolm says that with Lois he can predict where she's going with her methods but Hal is operating on an entirely separate plane and he always two steps ahead of them and no matter what he does any form of retaliation will lead to other conflicting methods such as being locked in the bathroom again or getting chased by "the hug monster". Dewey realizes that they putting the salt on French fries in the documentary.

As Hal gets more and more stressed, he starts seeing more smaller versions of his personalities around the house giving him contradictory advice about how to keep the boys out of trouble such as grounding them, cutting off their food supply, giving them love or getting in the car and driving away. Hal freaks out loud when too many miniatures start giving him too much advice by loudly screaming "Shut Up!" causing the boys to stare at him in shock and confusion. Realizing what his stress has done to him, Hal announces he is going to take a relaxing bath. Before doing so, he politely asks Malcolm, Reese and Dewey one last time to behave themselves not for him, but for their mother and if they love her they will behave. After Hal leaves, the boys make a beeline for the backyard to get their fireworks.

Francis is now wearing a stuffed bra, huge ears, flippers, and make-up. Roy is surprised that his entire box of props is empty. Francis admits that despite his skepticism about Roy's trails, he did learn something about himself and about judging other people's decisions and from now on he will be a lot more understanding and humble. Roy asks Francis if he would like to stop at a diner dressed how he is, Francis agrees and suggests to Roy he should write a book about the various ways how people can deal with their stressful situations. Once inside the diner he is soon disgusted when he finds Roy getting ready to enter him into a pageant with two other truck drivers and their hapless victims.

At the house, Malcolm and Reese have dug up the fireworks, Dewey finds the collar to their old dog Fluffy whom Lois claimed that he ran away, Malcolm tells Dewey to get out of the hole. Just as they were preparing to hide them under their beds, Lois comes running into the backyard having managed to get away from the cops. She busts the boys for hiding their fireworks in the backyard and yells at them. Lois tells them off that she can't leave them alone for one hour without them plotting something and claiming next time they'll need to be chained to the floor and they might as well cut off their ears since they don't use them to listen. As she tells Malcolm, Reese and Dewey that they're grounded for hiding fireworks in the backyard, a police helicopter arrives. A pilot flying it orders Lois to lie down on the ground with her hands over her head. She gets on the ground and continues punishing the boys before the police take her to jail for trespassing and vandalism.

In the bathroom, Hal is in the bath tub and mentions that he should get out there because Lois is home and yelling at the boys. A mini version of Hal in a cowboy's outfit advises him to stay put because he will just screw it up and make it worse since Lois will be even more furious at him for failing to keep order in the house. Hal agrees and covers his face up with a wet towel intending to spend the rest of his evening in the bath tub just to avoid his wife's wrath.


  • Jane Kaczmerek as Lois
  • Bryan Cranston as Hal
  • Christopher Kennedy Masterson as Francis
  • Justin Berfield as Reese
  • Erik Per Sullivan as Dewey
  • Frankie Muniz as Malcolm

Guest stars[]


  • Eric Nenninger as Eric


  • Edie McClurg as Julie
  • Amy Farrington Karen
  • Jim O'Heir as Roy
  • Jodi Carlisle as Book Club Lady #1
  • Sharon Omi as Book Club Lady #2
  • Jennifer Echols as Book Club Lady #3
  • Antoinette Byron as Lillian Miller


  • This is the second time that Lois has been arrested. Her first solo arrest was in Traffic Ticket. The arrests that will follow occur in Monkey, Reese Comes Home and Halloween.
  • The 'perfect' house of Lillian Miller is located here on this fake road on the premises of the CBS Studio Center. This private location would later be reused several times over the course of MitM, next time in Malcolm's Girlfriend. [1]
  • Lois hides in a dumpster here on the CBS Studio Center compound.[1]
  • Roy, the truck driver, says he's driving up to Green River. Green River is a stream that's 15 miles long, in the Aleutians East Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. Francis' destination of Mamu, however, is a fictional town which is most likely located outside an unspecified municipality in Northern Alaska.
  • Roy is played by Jim O'Heir who would later go on to portray Jerry Gergich in Parks and Recreation.
  • The song that Francis is singing while sticking his head out the window is Mademoiselle From Armentières by Line Renaud.
  • The book that Lois has been reading for the book club is called "Winds of Ogunquit"
  • This episode reveals that the family had a dog named Fluffy, and that Lois lied to Dewey about him running away from home.
  • In both Kicked Out and Ida Loses a Leg, Hal mentions that Lois can't trust him to be alone in the house to watch the boys thanks to their previous misbehavior in hiding fireworks and his failures to bust them in the act.
  • In Jury Duty, as per the agreement to avoid jail time for vandalizing Lillian Miller's car and other mindless destruction around her house, Lois is to serve jury duty for a stolen motorcycle case.
  • The song used during Lois and the other PTA moms' inebriation is "Get Out Of My Dreams(Get In My Car)" by Billy Ocean.


Lois: [Has just arrived home just in time by jumping over the fence to catch the boys with fireworks] BOYS!!! FIREWORKS!! FIREWORKS!!!
Reese: How did she?!
Malcolm: I don't know.
Lois: You boys are in so much trouble. I can't leave you alone for one second. I guess next time I go out, I'll have to chain you to the floor and tie you in the oven. You don't even pretend to listen. You might as well cut off your ears and throw them in the trash for as long as you use them. You are grounded for the next month!
[a police helicopter approaches Lois]
[An arrested Lois continues punishing the boys as she gets on the ground.]
Lois: While you're being punished, I hope your friends are doing all sorts of fun stuff. BECAUSE YOU WON'T BE DOING ANY OF IT! YOU ARE GONNA SUFFER!
[While hearing Lois yell at her sons for hiding illegal fireworks, Hal is seen in the bathtub and realizes he has to try to talk to the police.]
Hal: I should go out there.
Mini Hal:[In a cowboy outfit] Ah, you'll jut screw it up.
Hal: Good call.
[Hal covers his face with a wet towel intending to spend the rest of the evening hiding in the bathroom and knowing Lois will be super pissed with him in the morning for failing to keep the boys in line.]

Lois: You know ladies, I just realize something. Society isn't the thing that's making us miserable. I mean hell, we're society.
[The women cheered.]
Lois: No. No. Every single one of our problems can be traced back to that tight ass, overachieving, marathon running, master chef: LILLIAN MILLER!
[Lois and the other drunk women walks down to Lillian's house]


  • In this episode, Dewey finds a dog collar for "Fluffy" in the backyard (while his brothers are digging up fireworks) stating his mom said he ran away. This seems to contradict Reese's Job and Dewey's Dog where it is hinted that Dewey hasn't owned a dog before. The only explanation would be Fluffy was actually a cat as they are the only other house pets that wear collars.