Emancipation is the second episode of the third season of Malcolm in the Middle, which was broadcast on November 14, 2001.


Summary[edit | edit source]

Francis comes home a final time before heading out to join Eric in Alaska, but Lois has absolutely no intention of speaking to him since he quit school.

Meanwhile, Malcolm's new teacher (Chris Eigeman), a former Krelboyne student, sets up a new ranking system, causing the students to suffer a breakdown and increased paranoia, turning them against each other, until Malcolm develops up a scheme.

Plot[edit | edit source]

Francis is seen packing his stuff in his former dorm room that he shared with Eric when Spangler appears in front of him. He mentions that as of 1400 hours and according to the Alabama Legal Code, he is officially emancipated and considered an adult who no longer attends Marlin Academy. Francis asks Spangler if he wants to see the documents again. Spangler says that he doesn't need to see them and believes everything is in order. He reveals that in all his years of teaching at Marlin Academy, before Francis came along, he was bored, uninspired, and came very close to retiring. But thanks to Francis' insolence, rebellion and stupidity, he has a purpose in life in trying to discipline other cadets and thanks him for it. He affectionately presents a ceremonial sword in recognition to Francis, who then accidentally cuts off his right hand. Later, Spangler is typing on his typewriter with two hooked hands.

Malcolm and his Krelboyne friends begin the first day of their new school year, Malcolm states that he usually dreads the first day of school, but because of Lois' rampage about Francis getting emancipated, it is actually a relief to be out of the house. Reese is now attending North High School, he is peeking over the stone wall, Malcolm asks if he should be at his high school since it started a half hour ago, Reese states that if he's on time on the first day, the teachers are going to expect it every day. He is introduced to the Krelboynes' new bully, Gus, by Dabney. Reese tells him about his trade as a bully and mentions if he locks his wrists correctly, Gus can gain better leverage over them. He takes Reese's advice and locks his wrists for better leverage.

The Krelboyne students have gotten their hands on the personal file of their new teacher Lionel Herkabe, who is a former Krelboyne, they are relieved to have someone who knows and understands the pain they are given. Malcolm learns that his Alma mater was Princeton and Harvard business school and ponders why he is teaching rather than something else, Lloyd says that he quit a government "think-tank" to start a website causing he net worth to drop from $20 million to $137. Everyone gets into their seats as their new teacher approaches the classroom, Mr. Herkabe goes to his desk and notices the gifts left on it, he looks at his decaf soy-latte given by Dabney and he immediately knows his lack of affection and understands that he will be seeking it from him, he tells him to look elsewhere, this leaves Dabney disappointed. Mr. Herkabe tells the class that he has tried the same attempts, he has had the same experience, with many people praising him and saying how easy it is to be him, but he claims it to be bullshit, much to the shock of the students. He then tells them upfront that such decisions will lead them to divorce and $14 million in debt and he will not allow his students to fall into that trap that society has set. Despite not having a teaching certificate from a two-year community college like the other faculty members he was forced to say hello to that morning in the teachers lounge, he is going to muddle through it with his double-doctorate from Harvard, he immediately hands his students a test and gives them 20 minutes to complete it despite the test containing 6 essay questions.

Francis comes home a final time before heading out to join Eric in Alaska. After the lady drops him off at home, she asks about how sure he is about going to Alaska, she heard it's supposed to be a hole, Francis knows for a fact that cruise ships have a route there. The lady tells him that they only stay there for six weeks in the summer season and asks him if he knows that it becomes dark for the rest of the year, Francis responds with stating that he does not having to justify himself to her or anyone, one of the reasons why he got himself emancipated. Francis leaves the car to walk up to the Wilkerson house, the lady wishes him luck, Francis points out that he gave his family a week to think about his decision. He confidentially walks to the house, only to regret everything he did and be introduced to an enraged Hal who comes out chasing after him. Francis drops his bag, runs for it and gives out a girly scream of terror as Hal shouts at him for quitting military school and 3 years worth of the money wasted. A neighbor watches on as he chases Francis up a tree. Hal bites on his leg and grabs hold of his belt before falling out. After calming down, he talks to Francis and tells him about maximizing his options and that he could've waited until he got his diploma upon graduation first, and then be able to do what he wants with his life. Francis apologizes for using a violent move entitled "The Closer" but Hal is fine telling Francis about how "the nards are fair game". Francis hopes that he understands how big the opportunity was to pass up, Hal warns him he is not the one Francis has to worry about, when Hal tells Lois that Francis has something to say to her, she comments on how she didn't know that the Henderson family painted their house and closes the door in Francis' face, making her case clear that since he quit Marlin Academy, she now refuses to acknowledge he exists and he's not allowed in the house again as a result. This ends up being an argument between Hal and Lois.

The next morning, Mr. Herkabe, informs the class that they all received As on their tests. However, because they are the gifted class, he believes the grades are meaningless and introduces a ranking system that categorizes how high they are in the class based on their grade (with Malcolm at number 1). The only thing is the knowledge itself, and there is no prize for being number 1, just the fact that someone is or is not number 1. Dabney raises his hand and Herkabe refers to him as "Number 5" Dabney attempts to correct him but Herkabe is adamant causing him to forget his question. At recess, the Krelboynes sit together and Stevie says that Herkabe is a jerk, Lloyd claims that if he ever acts like him they need to kill him, but Dabney claims they're not doing anymore death pacts. They question what their futures hold based on the new ranking system, Malcolm tells them not to worry, the ranks can only affect them if they allow it; the numbers don't mean anything. Lloyd busts Kevin for studying, Kevin fights back claiming his textbook just fell open to the page. The others don't believe him and realize he's trying to get an upper hand to rise in the ranks. The others make excuses, Dabney claims he isn't hungry and Lloyd says he left his recess stuff in his locker before everyone except Malcolm leaves the table to study up.

Meanwhile at home, Reese comes back to tell Dewey how awesome it can be in high school: an entire room is for detention, you get mixed with juniors and seniors (who have disciplinary records), it is inspiring. Reese notices Dewey is staring at something out the window, Francis is still outside, eating out of the bird feeder. Lois comes into the boy's room infuriated over a pair of Reese's shoes being left out in the living room, Reese sincerely apologizes in a polite manner, but Lois chastises him on how he doesn't care about them. He repeats his apology, but Lois says that she doesn't buy it. She takes a laundry basket, collects all the shoes in the boy's closet, and sets up a sign-in/sign-out system similar to a library. before leaving, Lois tells him to clean up the toys that she dumped onto the floor. When Malcolm comes home from school, he is informed of her sudden rash behavior by Reese and Dewey. He immediately deduces that Lois is taking her anger out of them because of Francis' actions in emancipating himself and leaving Marlin Academy had enraged her. Because of it, she's become more meaner to the boys for mild offenses and Malcolm sees how immature their eldest brother really is.

At night, the boys let Francis into their bedroom. Once he's inside, they aren't happy to see him as Reese punches him in the stomach in anger. Francis recoils and asks what gives. Reese immediately berates him for screwing up big time by emancipating himself from school and divorcing the family. Francis fights back by justifying that Lois really left him no choice because she wanted him to remain in Marlin. He pokes Reese in the eyes in retaliation for being punched in the stomach. While angered, Malcolm wisely explains to Francis that Lois is taking her anger out on them because of his actions in leaving Marlin Academy and emancipating himself. He realizes that his brothers are bearing the brunt of her wrath since he emancipated himself. Malcolm admits that they have done bad things to her, but abandonment is something they would never do. Francis tells his brothers that he's sorry for putting them through this and he isn't abandoning anyone, he's just going to Alaska. Malcolm tells Francis that the trip to Alaska would take him 5,000 miles. This surprises him because he didn't take into account in the preparations that he needs to take including food, money, sleeping quarters and the distances he needs to take. Francis tells them that he isn't doing this to hurt anybody, he is doing it because it is his best chance to prove himself to Lois that she's wrong and that he wants his own life. Dewey begs him to reconsider knowing how angry she is with him, but he refuses. Francis wants to make a lot of money in Alaska being a logger and help support the family. Malcolm tells him off to try explaining it to Lois. Francis explains that he's trying to, but she's giving him the silent treatment and being immature. Annoyed, Malcolm points out that it's not Lois that's being immature in giving him the silent treatment. He mentions that it's Francis that's being immature for refusing to understand how hurt she is with him for willingly abandoning his chance at a successful future and because of him, she's taking her anger out on the younger boys. Realizing that he isn't understanding how they feel and that she is extremely angered at him for throwing away 3 years of Marlin Academy, the boys head back to their beds. He asks if he can get a pillow for the night, Malcolm reluctantly tosses one on the floor for him.

The next day, Kevin is giving a report about Moby Dick, but every time he tries, he gets his name bumped down on the board, decreasing his rank. Lloyd tries to help his statement, but also gets bumped down. Dabney makes his attempt at the summary, but to no avail because Mr. Herakabe has moved his name down to the bottom before he can digress. Afterwards, Mr. Herkabe announces that Principal Littledove is going to pay a visit to the class for an evaluation, he thinks he will be very pleased with the knowledge of his students although he wont understand it, before asking the class who'd like to do some Bernoulli equations, all of them raise their hands.

At lunch, Malcolm finds his classmates studying intensively, he reminds them not to let the numbers pressure them, Dabney addresses him as "Number One", Malcolm tells him that everyone has a real name, Lloyd is so under pressure, that he cannot remember his name. Malcolm tells them that school used to be the place where they felt truly happy, and that Herkabe has taken that happiness away from them. Malcolm then devises a plan that the class now has the choice that people have had for centuries, they can choose to fail. Stevie wonders if he means tanking the test later that day, but Malcolm says they're not tanking it, they're nuking it. By getting every answer wrong, no punctuation, no complete sentences, and using No. 3 pencils, his Krelboyne friends agree to this as zeros cannot be ranked in any way; therefore, Herkabe will have no choice but to discard his absurd ranking system, giving the class their freedom. However the rest of the class betrays Malcolm and all do the test properly, letting Malcolm flunk the test on his own to ensure he loses the top spot. Herkabe expresses his disappointment to Malcolm who received an F on his test, while everyone else did well, Herkabe puts Malcolm's name at the bottom of the list. Malcolm is angry and upset over his friends betrayal.

Malcolm is forced to stay after class as everyone apologizes to Malcolm for not going forward with his plan to fail the test as they leave the classroom, Dabney makes an excuse his hand wouldn't let him, but Stevie regrets nothing. Herkabe claims his plan was a "bold gambit" but deduces that the lemmings didn't follow him off the cliff. He lectures him on how time in the real world can make him realize that he has no chance fighting against the system, Herkabe claims to be the system. After he leaves, Malcolm thinks of another idea to win against the ranking board.

At the parking lot in front of Lucky Aide, Lois sees the tire on her car have been sabotaged, so she opens the trunk to get the car jack. Francis appears and explains he only let out the air so that he can explain his intentions on why he emancipated himself. However, Lois is still giving him the silent treatment, she even drives away with the radio at full volume and running a red light. Francis calls her out for being immature in not listening to him. Lois' refusal to talk to him makes it clear to him that she will never forgive him for his actions and it's better that he leaves now.

At school, everyone is handing in their recent assignments, Malcolm hands in a heavy study of irrigation techniques of pre-Roman society and how they led to the advancement of Western civilization by spreading through the Egyptians, the Carthaginians and basically facts about the entire ancient world. Herkabe is very pleased with the extra work that Malcolm has put into the paper while everyone else did the absolute bare minimum, moving Malcolm up to the number 12 position. This indicates that Malcolm had found a way to successfully break Herkabe's ranking system, everyone else sees this as a competition.

Malcolm continues to study excessively and invest more time into his school projects in contrast with everybody else's efforts which gets him closer to being back on the top of the board. When the Krelboynes arrive at the library to study, Malcolm has already beaten them there and read through a large number of books, he corrects an incorrect math equation of Stevie's in front of Herkabe and stirs Lloyd's model solar system lexity in a beaker of chemicals causing it to malfunction. The rest of the class tries taking out large quantities of books to beat Malcolm but they are unsuccessful as Malcolm has now risen past number 1.

On the day of the principal's visit Malcolm's rank has risen to "one-to-the-Eleventh", Mr Herkabe believes that his perspective on motivation and congratulates his class. However, the overwhelming quantity of stress has reached the other student's breaking points as apart from Malcolm they are all dressed in suits and dresses. Herkabe senses this and suggests they all rest. Malcolm shares that he can count to a million by prime numbers without breaking. This drives the group insane and causing them to undergo a mental breakdown believing they are all stupid. Everyone leaves the classroom stripping their clothes off with Dabney pulling down his pants and claiming that he is "zero-to-the-zero-ith", the class all strip down to their underwear and run around in circles, rock back and forth, roll around in mud, and intentionally hurt themselves. Lloyd and Dabney claim themselves to be nothing rolling in the mud. Herkabe is embarrassed by this, Malcolm claims it to be quite a show for his first week at the school. However, Malcolm tells him that he was right that you can't beat the system, but you sure can break it. This implies that Herkabe is going to be in serious trouble with Littledove and be blamed for stressing the class out.

At the house, Francis packs the his bags and puts it in the back of the cab, he says his farewell to his brothers and promises to write to them once he arrives in Alaska. Dewey tells him that he can stay in his castle if all else fails.

In the kitchen, Hal tries to convince Lois to talk to Francis before he leaves for Alaska. She refuses and continues the silent treatment by ironing clothes. Hal takes the iron away from Lois and that Francis is going far away and she's not going to see him in a very long time and all Francis wants is to talk. She still continues to ignore him, mentioning that Hal shouldn't try to convince her at all. Lois points out that she is still angry with Francis because he wasted 3 years worth of the money they spent in his tuition at Marlin Academy and trying to get him to change his behavior. Hal mentions that he understands her anger with him, but he mentions that she making a big mistake in leaving things as they are. He also mentions that there are moments in life that you just do not get to repeat. Hal reveals that if Lois doesn't talk to Francis now, she will regret it for the rest of her life. She remains silent about this, takes back the iron and goes back to ironing the clothes. Lois tells Hal that her decision to remain silent to Francis is clear that she will never forgive him for his actions in embarrassing her by quitting school and going to Alaska. To her, it's better that he leaves now and never come back. Realizing that she's lost to him and will never listen, Hal tells her off by metaphorically claiming he has lost a son because of her. In turn, he gained a stubborn, childish wife as a new baby for him to deal with. He leaves for the front yard to bid Francis farewell. Lois tries to maintain the silent treatment and finish ironing clothes. However, her conscience weighs heavily on her and makes her realize that maybe she was being unfair to Francis.

Outside in the front yard, Hal is bidding Francis farewell when Lois appears in front of him wanting to talk now. The two immediately get into a serious argument over everything: he tells her off that he's is going to Alaska and she's going to be left without a son for treating him horribly. Lois yells at Francis that he deserved it because she is angered over how many sacrifices were made with the latter being nothing but pain. His leaving school against her wishes was the last straw that lead to him being given him the silent treatment. Francis defends himself pointing out that he was very unhappy at Marlin Academy for 3 years and points out that she should never wasted the money for the tuition in the first place. Lois points out that it was part of her plans for Francis' future. He thanks her for making his life a living hell. Lois points out that he's been a problem since he was born and that she wants him out of their lives. Francis says her problems are over now since he's leaving. Hal ushers the boys inside the house as the argument wages on between Francis and Lois. Francis gets inside the cab and leaves for Alaska as Lois continues to shout at him to come back and finish this argument right now.

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]

Cameos[edit | edit source]

  • Mary Pat Gleason as Woman
  • Victor Z Isaac as Kevin
  • Bryan Burke as Gus
  • Kristin Quick as Flora Mayesh (uncredited)

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • This episode marked the first time that a cold opener was related to the plot of the episode, which deviates from the norm. The later episodes that did the same were Humilithon, Day Care, Reese Joins the Army: Part 2 and in Reese Comes Home
  • Malcolm, Stevie and their friends begin the Eighth Grade in this episode.
  • This episode directly continues the events of the episode Houseboat, but only focuses on Francis' story arc.
    • This episode also reveals that Lois had big plans for Francis' future. Because he emancipated himself and quit school, her plans will likely not happen for him.
  • Francis lets the air out of Lois' tire on the parking lot of what used to be the Lucky Aids set.[1]
  • Statute 614 of the Alabama Legal Code that was mentioned in the cold opening is most likely referred to as the Alabama Code § 26-1-1 where a minor above the age of 18 can petition the juvenile court to get emancipated under specific circumstances. In Francis' case, he is still 17 at the time of emancipation and given the fact that he forged his parent's signatures on a legal document given to him by a corrupt lawyer, this could have resulted in either probation or community service as a consequence.
  • Francis accidentally cuts off Commandant Spangler's other hand, giving him a second hook hand.
  • Following the disappearance of Caroline Miller, former Krelboyne Lionel Herkabe becomes their new teacher, making his first appearance in the series. Also, Kevin replaces the role of Eraserhead as one of the Krelboynes in Malcolm's friend circle.
    • The reason Caroline Miller was dropped was because the actress, Catherine Lloyd Burns, has refused to reprise her role in the 3rd season. This may have to do with the disagreement that Burns had with the producers in wanting to make her a more cynical and darker character. They had planned for Caroline to take her anger out on the Krelboynes due to the model rocket experiment mishap from High School Play in how they nearly endangered her and her baby girl.
    • Lionel Herkabe was originally supposed to be a good character who becomes concerned over how his ex-girlfriend, Caroline, treats the Krelboynes with her totalitarian behavior and has her reported to the principal.
  • List of Krelboyne rankings at the start of the competition:
    • Malcolm 99.999823
    • Stevie 99.999549
    • Katherine 99.999432
    • Lloyd 99.998963
    • Dabney 99.998401
    • Della 99.998126
    • Kevin 98.999981
    • Maggie 98.999962
    • Tyler 98.999942
    • Henrietta 98.999942
    • Alysoun 98.999910
    • Ngan 98.999910
    • Milo 98.999822
    • Nathaniel 98.999821
      Flora Mayesh.jpg
    • (Although Flora Mayesh is in the class, her name does not appear in the rankings. It may be possible that she and Mr. Herkabe have an intimate relationship that prevents him from subjecting her to the ranking list humiliation.)
    • However although there were 14 names on the board and 14 students in the class, there were 9 male names on the board and only 8 male students to the 6 female students, so Flora's name should've replaced one of the boys on the board.
  • On the original airing of this episode, Lois says to Francis, "you've been nothing but a problem since the day you were born." This was removed from all future broadcasts. However, that exact same line was used word for word in the episode "Hal's Birthday."
  • This is the 2nd time that Malcolm, Reese and Dewey did nothing wrong and are being blamed by Lois. The first time is in Red Dress. However in this episode, the boys are very angered at Francis because his dropping out of Marlin Academy meant that they're taking the brunt of Lois' wrath.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

[Hal runs out of the house and Francis drops the bag, running. He screams like a little girl as Hal advances on him]
Reese: Oh, you ungrateful son of a bitch!

References[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.