Boys At Ranch is the eighth episode of the fourth season of Malcolm in the Middle. It aired on January 12, 2003.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Hal and the boys go to Francis's dude ranch for a weekend. When the boys do their usual antics (this time with ATV's), they are punished Lois-style by Francis. This sets Reese and Malcolm on a quest of getting the Francis they know back. Dewey bonds with Gretchen by cleaning numerous parts of the ranch, while Hal and Otto get drunk and lost in the desert.

Summary[edit | edit source]

It is an exciting weekend for the boys as Hal is driving them to the Grotto to visit Francis (exciting because they get to see Francis and leave Lois behind for the weekend). Upon arriving, they encounter an obsequious Otto and Gretchen who are so honored to be visited by Francis's family that they make the staff line up for inspection. After this is done with, they meet up with an illness-feigning Piama (until Malcolm informs her that Lois didn't come along) before going out to meet Francis, who makes an impressive entrance riding a horse. It soon becomes clear, however, that he is not the mischievous older brother he once was but has become responsible and hard-working since his new employment began. When Malcolm, Reese and Dewey trick Hal into signing a permission slip to ride three-wheeled ATV's--which they naturally destroy--Francis is furious and orders them confined to their room. He is also angry with Hal for signing the permission slip without reading it, and Hal is left astounded by the change in Francis' personality.


The following day, Malcolm and Reese break away from the ranch and use one of Hal's credit cards to purchase contraband fireworks. Gretchen, who was initially angry with Dewey for breaking one of her prized figurines, bonds with him as she teaches him the masochistic joys of housecleaning. Hal goes with Otto on a horse-ride into the desert, where they get sauced on Schnapps, fire pistols into the night sky, scare away their horses and end up stranded. Hal admits to Otto that he feels like a failure as Francis's father, as he tried everything to get his oldest son straightened out but it just took a couple of months under Otto to turn him into an adult. Otto reassures Hal that Francis already had all of his responsible qualities when he arrived.

An angry handwritten note prompts Francis to meet Malcolm and Reese at a remote part of the ranch. Although he resists their taunts to light the fuse of the elaborate fireworks arrangement, his younger brothers remind him of his earlier miscreant ways. Despite his protests that he's married and a responsible citizen now, he inadvertently lights the fuse anyway. The final conflagration literally turns the night into day. And the punchline is that there will be rewards instead of consequences, as the lost and drunken Hal and Otto presume the fireworks to be a sign from Francis signalling the way back to the ranch.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

Malcolm: "I'm really going to miss my girlfriend Nikki. But then again, it's two days without Mom. I've been in the car since 6:00."

Piama: (feigning illness) "I'm fighting a terrible cold. I'll probably be in bed all weekend." Malcolm: "Mom didn't come." Piama: (suddenly fine) "Well, we'll just have to enjoy ourselves without her. Come on!"

Reese: "Hey, what are you doing? I brought some stuff I wanted to burn!"

Malcolm: "'All Terrain.' I wonder if that actually means all terrain." Reese: "They couldn't say it if it wasn't true."

Francis: “I Pacifically Told You Guys Stay Away From Those ATV’s! What The Hell Were You Thinking?”

Hal: "They don't think, Francis. They never have. The only thing their heads are good for is to plug up their necks!"

Otto: (pointing to Dewey) "I blame ze oldest one! Ze others follow him like sheep!”

Francis: “I Thought I Can Trust You Guys To Be Your Own For A Few Minutes But Obviously I Was Wrong You Are Still The Same Stupid Reckless Idiots That You’ve Always Been! That Means That You Will Confined To Your Room Until Further Notice!”

Malcolm: "I don't believe it. You've turned into Mom." Francis: "Yeah? Well, sometimes Mom's right." Reese: "You take that back!"

Gretchen: (crying) "You promised me you would leave it alone, but it vas just....(agonized squeak) a lie."

Malcolm: "'Sometimes Mom's right?' Why didn't he just throw acid in our faces? You know, I'd actually prefer that." Reese: "I can't believe he yelled at us right in front of that French guy."

Gretchen: (happily) "You know vhat your Tante Gretchen does vhen she feels bad? She vorks. She vorks herself to ze point where her body screams in pain and her soul begs for mercy!" Dewey: "Why?" Gretchen: "It's ze best form of penance. Vhen my fingers are raw and my back is racked vith crippling pain, I feel all better!"

Otto: "Scout doesn't pick up on anything. Unless you're secretly gay."

Eddie: "Boys, I'd like to introduce you to the Komodo 3000."

Gretchen: "I just remembered vhen I vas nine. My uncle gave me a Pfennig to put in ze vishing vell. But I threw a pebble in ze vell and I kept ze Pfennig. I am pure evil!" Dewey: "I once put a garden slug in Reese's sandwich. And he ate it."

Hal: (drunk, firing a pistol) "Oh, great. Something scared off the horses!"

Francis: "Okay, and now you're smiling, which means in about two seconds I'm going to look like a jackass."

Piama: (indicating note from boys) "I'm afraid it starts off a little antagonistic." Francis: (reading) "Is that last word 'lick' or 'wipe?'" Piama: "I think you're safe either way."

Otto: "How far do you think we've gone?" Hal: "Well, judging by that rock formation over there, about twelve feet."

Otto: "If I am such a genius, how come zat I am drunk and lost in ze desert vith a bullet in my ass ?!?"

Dewey: "I kind of feel like I'm floating." Gretchen: "Vell, zat's probably ze ammonia."

Hal: "I'll tell you what that is. That is Francis showing us that way home! I told you he'd get us out of this!"

Francis: "Did it say when our vision would come back?" Reese: "Box said two days." Francis: "Totally worth it."

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This is the first episode in which Francis punishes his brothers.
  • This is the first episode that Lois doesn't appear in.
  • This is the first episode where Malcolm, Reese and Dewey visit the ranch and meet Otto and Gretchen.
  • Otto says they have a cousin Heinrich. In Malcolm's Car, Reese blackmails someone named Heinrich into giving them money.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

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