Hal Grieves, is the 14th episode of Season 7 and the 143th episode overall on Malcolm in the Middle. It was directed by Christopher Kennedy Masterson and written by Eric Kaplan. The episode premiered on February 26, 2006.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Hal gets a devastating phone call that his father has died, but because he never knew his father well and the way he and the rest of his relatives mistreat Lois over the years, he does not shed a tear. So instead of caring about his father's recent death, his biggest concern is that his sons will feel the same way when he dies. So he makes sure they will love him forever, by spoiling them with buying unnecessary and overpriced things, letting them miss school, having the break the rules, etc.

Plot[edit | edit source]

The Wilkerson family is fussing over a bunch of coupons for pizza, while Hal is on the phone with the restaurant. Due to them being a very poor family, they are unable to order what they want from the restaurant, without using a bunch of coupons. This leads to a ton of confusion and so they haggle with the guy on the phone and try to make some kind of over complicated compromise. Another person calls them on the phone while this is happening and when Hal addresses it, he hears that his father, has died, much to his shock.

A few days later the family returns from the funeral but nobody is affected because none of them knew really knew Hal's father that well (the most upset is Reese, but that's only because his grandfather lost all his money before he died). Even Hal is completely indifferent to his death, simply sitting down to watch TV. This concerns with Lois, who is pretty thrown off by the fact that he doesn't care about this. She asks Hal why he is so laid-back with the fact that his own father has just died and he says that it was because his father was very uninvolved in his life and he never had any memories of him or reasons to like him or even care about his existence. She tries to convince him that he has at least some negative emotions for his death, but she finds nothing. That night, Hal has a dream where he's dead and at his open casket funeral. He dreams that Malcolm, Reese, and Dewey are at his funeral and they care for his death just as little as he did to his father. His dream gets taken to extremes when the boys start making fun of him, drawing on his face and manipulating his body, just making a bunch of jokes about him and not even remembering who it was that died. He wakes up from his dream and he takes this dream as a message, saying that he needs to make sure that he doesn't do to his boys that his father did to him. He decides to spend way more time with his children, having tons of fun and making good memories in order to leave a good impression of him on them so that they will miss him when he dies.

The next day, he comes into the boys' room and he lets them skip school (unbeknownst to Lois) and they have a great day of fun around the house. The same happens the following day as Hal takes them to the mall, buying every single overpriced, meaningless thing that they boys want and letting them all have a bunch of fun. Lois is entirely unaware of what they were doing, as she is too worried about Hal's attitude towards his loss. At the end of the day, Hal asks the boys if they would miss them if he died, and they all raise their hands, excitedly. Malcolm starts to get suspicious when he asks this. The next day, Hal again takes them on another crazy adventure, doing a ton of fun stuff instead of going to school and Malcolm figures out exactly what's going on. He explains it to Dewey and Reese, however they decided to full advantage of it and get everything they can out of Hal. The next day, Reese and Dewey act like they don't remember a single thing about what Hal did to them yesterday and pretend to lose care in their father. Hal freaks out and only tries even harder to make them remember them, by putting them up to even more fun and exciting (and expensive) shenanigans. Malcolm realizes that using their father's grief to score gifts is wrong and refuses to continue letting himself do this to his dad. He goes to school and tries ignoring the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Lois is still working on getting Hal to feel sad about his father, so she invites Abe over to help. He thinks that a phone call from Leonard Nimoy, a cast member of Star Trek: the Original Series will cheer him up. Lois and Abe briefly talk to Nimoy, but Lois hangs up when he asks if she'll be the one paying for the call. When Hal realizes that Malcolm is not enjoying anything that he's doing, he sees this as one of his kids starting to not care about him and so he keeps trying to do something about it. Malcolm doesn't want to mention that he knows what's going on, and tries to stop him by just telling him to, which of course, doesn't work. When Hal tells him that he'll be getting him a new car, Malcolm's resolve crumbles and he is overjoyed. Lois attempts to book herself and Hal a nice hotel room to give him a break, but finds her credit card has been maxed out. Instantly realizing what's happened, Lois storms into the boys room and finds Reese and Dewey with the expensive stuff Hal bought them. They tell her Hal is out right now buying Malcolm a car.

Malcolm and Hal go to the dealership. Although Malcolm knows that what he's doing is wrong, he just can't stop himself and tries to justify what he's doing but fails. When Hal is asked by the salesman to sign the contract, he starts to remember things about his father. He remembers that although they were minor and didn't have any significance, he had some good memories of his father. Malcolm and the salesman keep pressuring him to sign the contract, but Hal loses control and starts to cry. Malcolm feels really guilty at this point and tells Hal he doesn't have to buy his love... but if he wants to then that's fine, as he guides Hal's hand to the dotted line. Just as Hal begins to sign, Lois finally turns up and puts an end to it. She comforts Hal while making it clear to Malcolm that he'll suffer for what he tried to do.

The next day, George Takei turns up at the house to see Hal. Dewey makes him wait outside.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Bryan Cranston was nominated for an Emmy for an outstanding performance in this episode.
  • Hal's father, Walter Wilkerson dies in this episode.
    • This marks the second time a grandfather of the Wilkerson family has died. The first was the death of the maternal grandfather, Victor Welker prior to the episode Christmas.
  • Leonard Nimoy and George Takei make guest appearances in this episode, with Leonard's voice being heard over the phone and George Takei showing up at the door at the end of the episode.
  • Malcolm's need for having a car in this episode is revisited (Malcolm's Car).
  • While talking to Lois, Abe mentions his calls to Agent Mulder that helped him overcome his personal anxieties. This is a reference to the widely acclaimed TV show The X-Files which was, during the original airing of Malcolm in the middle, broadcast right after Malcolm. He also mentions that the truth was "right in here" while pointing at his heart. This references to a key element of the opening sequence of The X-Files which stated that "the truth is out there".
  • The car Hal nearly buys for Malcolm is a Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 Roadster.
  • This is the only episode of the series directed by Christopher Kennedy Masterson.
    • Although he directed the episode, his character did not actually appear.
    • Francis was originally supposed to appear and is upset with his family once more that no one told him about a relative's death like last time. Lois tries to point out that it's not his concern, but he and Piama both disagrees. The three get into an argument over it. Francis becomes concerned over Hal's overspending, asking him to stop and talk to a professional. He refuses, believing Francis doesn't love him at all.
    • Francis talks to Malcolm and he shares the same concerns. He also has to try and stop their brothers from taking advantage of Hal in his depressed state.
  • Jamie has a non-speaking cameo in this episode, with his only appearance being seen, coming home after going to Walter's funeral.
  • Come on Feel the Noize by Quiet Riot plays during the montage of Hal and the boys partying.
  • Originally Malcolm stops Hal from buying the expensive car by taking the pen away from him. He tells Hal that he still loves him regardless of everything that had happened and doesn't want a new car if this means sacrificing his father's well being over it. Malcolm mentions that he would rather save up his own money to get one for himself later on. He mentions that Francis came to him concerned over Hal's recent behavior because Reese and Dewey are taking advantage of him in buying them expensive gifts and that Lois knows about the missing money from her credit cards. Malcolm points out that he is genuinely worried about his father because he's not dealing with his issues in not grieving for Walter(Hal's dad and the boys' grandfather)'s death properly. Malcolm tells him that he needs to come to terms with his issues and seek help at once. Only then Hal realizes that he is right and had gone overboard with the spending spree. Lois arrives thinking Malcolm is encouraging him with the purchase. However, Francis and Piama both disagree with this assessment. Hal turns around to face Lois and reveals that Malcolm talked some sense into him. He admits that he hadn't been dealing with his issues and confesses that he misses his father so much. While Lois comforts Hal, she tells Malcolm that she's proud of him for doing the right thing and stopping his father.
  • The original ending was to have both Leonard Nimoy and George Takei talk to Hal over his issues. Malcolm mentions that while he was grounded by Lois, he got off with a lighter punishment due to him having stopped his father. He stops for a moment as Lois escorts a scared Reese and Dewey dolled up in dresses, make up and wigs into her car. After watching her drive off, Malcolm explained that his brothers received the worst of Lois' punishment because they did nothing to stop Hal from overspending on gifts that were unnecessary. As punishment for stealing her money, she forces Reese and Dewey to embarrass themselves at Lucky Aide by dancing like little girls to pay her back. According to Malcolm, if she catches them trying to escape from her or even cheat her out of her money: Lois will increase the punishment further and thus motivating his brothers to do as she says.
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