Charity is the fifth episodeof the third season of Malcolm in the Middle, which was broadcast on December 2, 2001.

Summary[edit | edit source]

When Lois forces the boys into community service to build character, they choose to help out at a church, where they quickly go from trading their own stuff to stealing merchandise and creating a black market.

Meanwhile, Francis finally reaches his destination in Alaska only to learn that his new job isn't the easy money-making opportunity he thought.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Cold Open

In the opening, Hal barges into the bathroom telling Lois to get out of the shower as he is late for work. Lois refuses to cut her shower short just because Hal cannot get up in the morning, Hal states that he could if nobody turned off is snooze alarm, Lois complains that the alarm clock went off every six minutes for a hour. Hal is trying to get into the shower, Lois does not let him in and tells him he will get his shower when she is finished. Hal and Lois keep yanking on the shower curtain until they're both silent. Hal makes a phone call to his work from bed claiming that he has a fever and a scratchy throat.

Actual Episode

Reese, Malcolm, and Dewey are in the living room, Reese is surfing through channels hoping to find something entertaining. Malcolm swipes the remote from Reese and takes his turn surfing the channels. Lois comes in to tell the boys that she has volunteered them into doing some charity service to build character, she gives them a choice: Helping a local church to give to the needy or go to a Senior Citizen's home or doing both. Reese tries to choose to help old people at a Senior Citizen home, but Malcolm talks him out of it by mentioning how cranky they are with their demands and how much work is required. They choose to help out poor people instead.

Meanwhile, Francis finally reaches his destination in Alaska. He meets his new boss, Lavernia, who rules the logging camp with an iron fist. Lavernia gives him a broom... it turns out Francis hasn't got a job as a logger like he was led to believe but instead he is to serve the loggers with their every need, being warned not to steal, not to back-talk, and not to socialize with the Eskimos. Francis leaves to start sweeping in the kitchen, there he reunites with his friend Eric. He starts crying loudly while hugging Francis, Francis continues sweeping to Lavernia's orders.

The boys are sorting donated items at a church, Reese decides to trade up with a better shirt. Soon the boys go from trading their stuff to opening a black market deal with their classmates. They start selling the items for more than the church was charging for them, giving the price value to the church while keeping the difference for themselves.

At the logging camp, Eric is in his bunk bed, not moving. Francis complains about how he spent 10 hours of scouring deep fat fryers with a 20-minute break to remove the ticks from the sled dogs and asks what is wrong with that woman. Eric tells him that her name is Lavernia, who controls every facet of your life on the logging camp, she finds out what your weakness is, then she gets inside your head, and starts working it until she makes you hate yourself. His bunk-mate comments on how women are mysterious and full of wolves just like the woods. Francis tells Eric to pull himself together, reminding him they're making good money. Eric tells him that they aren't, and tells him about her ledger book: Lavernia charges everyone for everything and deducts it from their pay, food, rent, aprons, etc. Eric's first check was for $6.00. The power goes out in their cabin, Francis tells him they cannot sit in the dark, Eric's bunk-mate tells him this isn't the dark, he asks Francis if he ever spent the night in a caribou's dead body, Eric asks who the old man is, Eric tells him he is his best friend, he continues crying.

Although Malcolm, Reese and Dewey now have a ton of money and great stuff, they can't delude themselves to the fact they're stealing from the church and agree this is one of the worst things they've ever done and need to stop. They decide to tell Hal, who naturally is furious and reprimands them for it. They attempt to make the trip back to the church to return the stuff they had taken and apologize. However, when his car breaks down due to his mistake in not taking it to the shop to get it fixed, the others ponder what to do. Dewey claims that it's God punishing them for their business. Hal points out it it's not God, but rather the family car breaking down on them. He had wished God had tried to help him along in his career and get him a promotion once in a while. Malcolm wisely reminds Hal that the street is the same route that Lois uses to get home from Lucky Aide and she gets off in less than 10 minutes. He also mentions that if she sees the stolen stuff that they took from the church, she will be angry at them. Hal tries to bribe locals to help him and the boys take back the stuff to the church. When the police arrive and arrest him for theft and solicitation, Hal and the boys have an epiphany about their own actions.

Meanwhile, Francis convinces Eric to take a stand against Lavernia by reminding him of how Spangler reigned hell on them back at Marlin. They sneak into her locked snack shop to find her debt book and plans to steal it. That way when the book is exposed to the loggers and on national TV., Lavernia's business will be ruined and she'll likely face legal problems along with her arrest. However, Francis accidentally locks them inside after removing the piece of duct tape from the door's latch bolt used to keep the door unlocked. At the end of the episode where he and Eric spend the rest of their evening in the snack shop enjoying all of the food and beer.

After being released from police station, Hal calls Lois from the bus station to inform her that he and the boys will likely be going away for a while (obviously skipping town). She convinces him to come home and they'll discuss their actions. When Hal and the boys come home expecting Lois to be enraged for the scheme and the arrest, but she is surprisingly pleasant. The boys soon see why when they go into their room and finds that Lois has donated every single thing they own to charity with the exception of two changes of clothes and a bedsheet. The boys don't mind, since Lois isn't angry and their consciences are clear.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • 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[edit | edit source]

Recurring[edit | edit source]

  • Eric Nenniger as Eric
  • Brenda Wehle as Lavernia
  • Sandy Ward as Pete
  • Craig Lamar Taylor as Stevie
  • Evan Matthew Cohen as Lloyd
  • Kyle Sullivan as Dabney

Cameos[edit | edit source]

  • Bette Ray as Mrs. Potts
  • Richard Goss as Dave
  • Terry Woodberry as Bill
  • Marsha Kramer as Toni
  • Randy Thompson as Cop

Quotes[edit | edit source]

[Upon realizing the boys stole an air tank.]
Hal: You stole air?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU BOYS?! Do you ever stop and think about the consequences of anything you do. Do you realize the shame you could bring upon our entire family. Do you?!

Reese:[scared out of helping old people] Poor people. We want poor people.
Francis arrives at the logging camp
Francis: "Hi, I'm Francis Mr. Price said I should see you.
[Lavernia gives him a dead eye stare]
Francis: "Whoo! I can't believe how cold it is up here. Of course it is Alaska, but still you'd think they could dome the place of put tunnels in between the buildings."
[Lavernia continues to give him the stare]
Francis: "So you must know my buddy Eric Hansen? He's the one who set up the logging job for me."
*silence*
Francis: "Do you give out the axes? 'Cause I'm a lefty, if that makes any difference."
*Lavernia gives him a broom*
Francis: "What's that?"
Lavernia: "It's a broom, genius. Now grab an apron, sweep out my pantry, and quit staring at my bosom."
Francis: "No, you don't understand. Um' I came up here to work as a logger."
Lavernia: "Let me tell you a little something about loggers. They're filthy, drunken, lowlife swine, and you are their slave. You will feed them, do their laundry, and clean out their privies. You don't steal, you don't back-talk, and you don't socialize with the Eskimos."
Francis: "Okay..."
Lavernia: "What'd I say about back talk?!"
  • Francis leaves into the kitchen*

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • First appearance of Lavernia.
  • Malcolm taps upon his religious beliefs in this episode, saying that "All he knows about God is that he's an all-knowing, all-powerful being. Kind of like mom, but invisible." His beliefs would soon change, as he would then classify himself as a "hopeful agnostic" in the episode Malcolm Dates a Family.
  • Malcolm claims that stealing money and items from the church is possibly the worst thing he, Reese and Dewey have ever done, however the series finale reveals that the "Nuclear Option" was the worst thing they ever did (tricking Lois into thinking she had breast cancer in order for her to ignore their horrible report cards). Thus this episode contains the second worst offense ever committed by the Wilkerson brothers.
  • This episode marks the first time Hal's been arrested on his own. The arrests that will follow occur in Garage Sale, Reese Joins the Army: Part 1 and in Malcolm Defends Reese
  • The spot Hal's car breaks down is located at 12069 Ventura Place, Studio City, CA 91604. Incidentally, this is the same spot where Lois was arrested in Traffic Ticket.[1]
  • This is the first time Lavernia's debt book is shown. The next time it's mentioned is in Hal Coaches and in Cliques
  • The song that is heard when Eric and Francis are in Lavernia's snack shop is "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • Originally, Francis arrives in Mamu and heads to the wrong lodging. Due to a mistaken identity, he is instead hired as a logger and adverting his kitchen work fate at Lavernia's lodging.

References[edit | edit source]

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