Malcolm and his family are on vacation, on their way to a resort/casino on an Indian reservation. In the car Dewey keeps his head in a bucket because he is carsick the whole ride to the resort. Malcolm complains that Francis could not come, Lois mentions to Malcolm that he shouldn't worry; Francis got placed on academic probation and is not to leave Marlin Academy.
Meanwhile at the house, Francis is in the kitchen calling Richie saying that he has the house to himself and that he should call Justin and Circus to throw a party. Unfortunately, Richie informs Francis that they were arrested for attempting to steal a giant inflatable panda from the lot of a car dealership. Francis asks Richie if he could come over to throw the party, but tells him that his family is having an intervention about his habits. Francis feeling disappointed, looks into his backpack, and regrets overspending on pork rinds.
Once they arrive in their room, the boys have a small argument over who gets the roll-away bed and who gets the big bed. Lois' announces to the boys that she is taking a bath, and if anyone needs to use the bathroom it's now or never. The boys ask if they can go swimming at the pool while Hal decides to pop into the casino. Lois reminds Hal he has all weekend to gamble and he should take the boys to the pool, but he has already left. En route to the pool the boys are stopped by a concierge named Edgar and tells them they aren't allowed in the pool without an adult. Malcolm finds the rule ridiculous as they can all swim fine, but they are then told they can't enter the casino to get their father either. Malcolm claims Edgar must be doing it simply because he hates children. Edgar assures him he doesn't make the rules, it's just a happy coincidence. They ask Lois what they should do, and she suggests using their imaginations, and there is dirt, rocks, lizards and an old tire to entertain themselves with, since many children have much less to play with she doesn't want to hear anymore excuses.
Back at home, Francis is making sculptures with the pork rinds he bought. He is on the phone talking to a cadet friend, he says that at Marlin Academy Salisbury steak with cream spinach was for dinner, Francis wants to talk to other cadets but they are in the middle of a game of billiards. Francis allows them to play their game and hangs up just as he has finished making a sombrero made out of pork rinds that he glued together.
The boys go down to the game room beside the casino, where Reese beats Dewey a number of times in Foosball (Dewey claiming it to be unfair since his goalie doesn't have legs). Hal then comes in and explains how blackjack is a complicated game where you have your ups and downs. Malcolm then says it's a shame Hal quit since he counted the cards that came out and he had many options to win.
For a while, Malcolm helps Hal count cards to keeping winning with stacks of chips. Eventually someone notices the cheating, both Hal and Malcolm are taken to the owner's office. Hal apologizes for the inconvenience, and tries to explain that is lack of judgement has blinded him from the fact that he had his mistaken having his underage son count cards at the Blackjack table as a father son bonding activity. Malcolm jumps in and states he isn't good at sports, so he believes that cheating at gambling helps his self esteem making him feel special. The owner says that he and his son cook, then tells Hal that he is banned from the casino. Hal attempts to bribe owner with the $3,000 which he won to reconsider his decision, the owner tells him how very generous of giving him the money, but still bans him.
The next day, in the hotel room, Hal claims that the breakfast buffet was unsatisfying, Lois states her contrary opinion and says it was delightful. Reese feels unwell from it, Malcolm points out that the family takes the phrase "all you can eat" is taken as a personal challenge. Hal looks for another form of recreation to evade having to answer Lois' inquiry on why he is staying away from the casino, after she leaves to gamble alone, Hal shows the boys a brochure about the El Diablo Ghost Town 5 miles away from the resort. Malcolm tries to change Hal's mind and tells him they should go down to the pool, but Hal is dead set on taking them.
Francis is still alone at the house watching a shopping channel auction about a diamond bracelet. He turns off the TV and gets up to go the the bathroom. At the same time, Craig comes into the house to drop off the mail he picked up for Lois. After he does, Craig decides to make some toast while he is still in the house, he goes to Hal and Lois' bedroom. Francis leaves the bathroom and notices the finished bread Craig left in the toaster, he takes it and spreads butter on one slice. Craig comes out from the master bedroom wearing Hal's bathrobe, he finds Francis in the kitchen giving each other a scare. They each ask questions about why they are in the house, Craig says Francis is in trouble and he is telling Lois, Francis says he will tell Lois. They sit at opposite ends of the kitchen table. Craig tells Francis the toast he is eating is his, Francis suggests they split it.
Hal, Malcolm, and Reese are hiking through the desert looking for the ghost town from the brochure, but Hal does not know where he is going.
Lois finds Dewey in the casino, he says that he decided to ditch Hal, Malcolm, and Reese after they left to go to the ghost town because he is afraid that the ghosts will eat him. Lois takes him with her, then stumble upon a wheel, she tries a free spin and wins a Champagne Dreams Package which consists of an entire day of spa treatments and an evening dinner and dance for two people valid for 6 months. Lois says she had to work overtime at the Lucky Aid for 6 months to fund the trip, but she takes the prize. Lois and Dewey are enjoying the amenities of the prize in their hotel room.
Hal, Malcolm, and Reese are sill lost. Hal tries to use the sun as a way of finding directions, but is unsuccessful, Reese spots a fence, Hal says it's a sure sign of civilization. Hal and the boys climb over the fence, with Malcolm skeptical about whether or not they are already in the boundaries of the Indian reservation and are leaving. Hal finds the genius of Malcolm annoying and tells him to think positive thoughts. Hal hears a plane in the sky and tries to get its attention, but fails to do so. As they progress forward, a fallen over sign reads "NO TRESPASSING PROPERTY - U.S. ARMY" unaware of what danger they have gotten themselves into.
At the Wilkerson house, Craig and Francis are sitting on the couch watching TV. Francis is expressing his dismay to Craig, Craig sympathizes with him about how he had spent his own money for nothing, he also tells Francis that he has discovered a way to travel for free through online chat rooms under the username describing him as a gorgeous 18-year-old girl named Debbie. Craig further states that back at his home, his father is so mean and that he is going through some changes and learning about new feelings that his dad doesn't understand. Francis asks about his strategy to acquiring free travel, Craig explains how he does it: he enters the chat room, gets friendly with someone who is lonely, then eventually that person is willing to pay a visit, and because of the scam, Craig has acquired a coach plane ticket to Tampa, Florida without any restrictions. Francis complements him.
Reese complains that he is thirsty, Malcolm berates him for not having any to drink due to Reese using it to write S.O.S. in the sand. Reese believes that he is put in charge of something only to be an idiot for agreeing to it. Hal reassured the boys that they have nothing to worry about ans that he loves them both very much. Reese -- believing he is hallucinating from the heat -- sees a cougar in front of them, Malcolm corrects him and identifies the animal is actually a puma. They realize it isn't a hallucination and that it is about to attack them. The cougar suddenly explodes frightening Hal and the boys even more, they run away. After getting away to safety, Hal learns that Dewey is not with them. Malcolm learns that he stayed back at the hotel. Reese believes that his mind caused the cougar to explode, Malcolm tells Reese that is insane. Hal tries to understand why the puma exploded.
Back at the hotel, Lois and Dewey continue enjoying the spa treatment Lois won from the casino. They are wearing facial masks with cucumber eyes.
At the Wilkerson house, Craig and Francis are playing Scrabble. Francis spells "Mzryc", Craig finds it pleasant him and Francis hanging out on a Saturday. Craig gets a second "Cat" on the board. Craig makes small talk when he mentions how things when he is back home from military school, then he mentions alleged feelings towards Lois which causes a small argument about her control freak behavior, but Craig contrasts his perspective with the basic needs of a parent at home. Francis says he would not know because Lois sent him away to military school. Craig tells him the reason why is because he is a spoiled brat.
Back in the desert, Hal and the boys find a house, they run towards it hoping to find someone to help them with directions. When they knock on the door, there is no response. Hal and the boys barge in but find only mannequins labeled "PROPERTY OF U.S ARMY inside. Malcolm looks down under the table and sees a device, figuring out it is an detonator. They run out of the house, Malcolm now understands that they are on an artillery range which explains why the cougar exploded: it was hit by a shell. The house explodes moments later. Hal, Malcolm, and Reese start running all over the place, looking for a way out only to find that everything they come across is an intended target waiting to be blown up. Meanwhile, Lois and Dewey are enjoying their evening dinner and dance. Hal and the boys eventually end up in a military base explaining their situation to a U.S soldier named Hughes, the soldier tells them that they can easily be detained for national security reasons for trespassing on a highly-classified testing ground. Reese isn't impressed by how the supposed greatest army in the world couldn't even kill the three of them. Malcolm claims the next time his parents decide they can't afford to go on vacation he'll be okay with it.
Lois and Dewey are still in their hotel room, they have finished their evening meal, Dewey asks for dessert and Lois says he can have anything he wants because tonight is special. The room phone rings and Dewey answers. Hal has been given only one phone call to make and he asks Dewey to have Lois come get them, but Dewey hangs up the phone not wanting to stop enjoying a nice time with his mother and says to Lois that it was a wrong number.
Francis arrives back in Alabama, getting off a flight from home, at the gate he finds a guy holding a sign saying "DEBBIE" and thanks him for the free air fare indicating that Craig assisted him despite their feud about Lois' needs.
The episode ends with Hal, Reese, and Malcolm walking all the way back to the resort with Hal telling the boys a story about Dewey being tied to a wooden post in the desert heat, completely covered in honey, even in his eyes. With a million hungry fire ants hoping to survive.
- The movie Craig and Francis are watching in the Wilkerson house is Tarzan The Ape Man from 1934
- When Craig and Francis are playing Scrabble, Francis spells "Mzyrc" which is indeed a military term, only it is not worn by the horse, the rider wears it.
- Last mention of Justin and Circus as they spend the rest of the series incarcerated
- When the concierge refuses the boys to enter the pool, he is correct: children must be at least 16 years old to enter a pool alone, Dewey is well at the age of 9. However, Reese is 13 years of age, and Malcolm is around 12 1/2 years old