Living Will is the twelfth episode of season six of Malcolm in the Middle.
Plot[edit | edit source]
As executor of a neighbor's living will, Hal must decide to keep him on life support or pull the plug. Meanwhile, Craig asks the boys for help in fighting his estranged father to avoid having to take over his chain of successful gyms.
Summary[edit | edit source]
At breakfast, Hal finds it difficult to choose between cereals and eggs. Lois decides he's going to have cereal, which he's happy with. She then asks Hal why he always had a hard time with decisions. This problem stems from Hal's childhood to which he explains from flashback. His mother is asking him whether he wants a petting zoo or a clown for his birthday party. Hal requests both and then witnesses a snake attacking the clown. Since then, he's been afraid of making decisions on his own because he believes he will always make the wrong choices and will have to live with the consequences of it. Thus, Hal reveals that he always deferred to Lois and lets her make the decisions for him. To him, it's easier since she is assertive and knows how to make choices.
Craig drops by the house to pick up Lois, but he wants to see the boys for a minute. He tells them that he's being bullied and needs some lessons in dirty fighting from the family that's legendary for it. At first Reese doesn't want to give away his best secrets, but when Craig starts to cry, they agree to help him.
Hal gets a visit from a lawyer with amazing news. Mr. Edelman, who lives down the street, has appointed Hal as executor of his living will. There are some family issues and all the other neighbors are friends. Hal's the only who can be impartial. Mr. Edelman is in a coma and Hal has to decide whether to pull the plug or not.
The boys offer Craig some fighting tips. He falls for all of their tricks and collapses crying. Then Malcolm suggests that he should use his anger for the bully. The transformation in Craig is remarkable. Hal visits Mr. Edelman in hospital and sees how different family members want him to do different things. It makes his decision more difficult.
Craig has arranged to meet his bully in the backyard of Malcolm, Reese and Dewey. To their surprise, the pest is none other than his father, Vic Feldspar, a fitness guru. He wants Craig to take over his chain of gymnasiums. Craig's refusal is the cause of all the fighting. He mentions that can't stand the constant humiliation from his father.
Hal tries to solve his problem by building a decision tree, filling the kitchen with paper. When Dewey points out that pulling the plug doesn't necessarily mean that the man will die, he has to start all over again. That night, Hal and Lois invite Craig and his father over for dinner. Again they notice how often Vic Feldspar expresses his disappointment in Craig. Craig shows his disappointment with his dad for coming back in his life even when he told him to stay out of it.
When the doctors demand that Hal makes a decision because they need the hospital room, something strange happens to Hal. He suffers from psychosomatic paralysis(Hysterical Conversion Disorder). The top part of his body is paralyzed, making it impossible for him to speak. Hence, this forces Lois to pick Hal up from the hospital. After bringing him home, she tells the boys about the doctor's assessment and that he may be like this for a while. Malcolm, Reese and Dewey are concerned about his condition. When Hal begins to squirm from the stress, Lois gently taps his head to calm him down. Dewey mentions that his right foot petting her left leg is his way of thanking her.
The next day at Lucky Aide, Craig demands that Vic leave him alone because he has already said no countless of times when he tried to ask him to take over his gyms. He mentioned that he likes his life as it is and his father's appearance is stressing him out. Craig also thinks Vic is ruining things for him by trying to force himself back into his life. His father tries a last strategy to convince Craig. He tells him his late mother was also a fitness freak and she would be embarrassed by her son's physical condition. Craig agrees to join his father's business. Malcolm sees past Vic's lies and decides to use it against him.
After a few days, Lois gets fed up believing Hal is taking the easy way out by pretending to suffer from Hysterical Conversion Disorder to avoid making this decision on Mr. Edelman. She points out that the neighbors are getting concerned with his strange behavior and he needs to make a decision now. Hal still refuses and continues to be paralyzed. The next day, Lois reprimands Reese for letting Jamie hit him with rubber hammers. He mentions if he tries to move their father away, Jamie stars crying. After ordering Reese to take him for a walk, Lois decides enough is enough. She tells Hal that he is very good at making decisions. The only reason he acts like he's not is because of his fears that he will make the wrong choice and she understands his fears very well. Lois remind Hal that he did make a very difficult decision once back in their youth: he decided to marry her against everybody else's wishes. She mentioned that their friends and families were against the choice because they all thought her sister, Susan, was the better choice of wife for him. To them, she was high class and talented who would've helped him along in his career choice. However, Lois knew Hal saw something in her that he never saw in her sister. He finally snaps out of it and returns to normal. Hal admitted it was a no brainier to him. He mentioned that both his family and Lois' own parents thought he was insane for choosing her over Susan. However, Hal knew that deep down marrying her sister would've been a big mistake on his part because he would've missed out on the only woman who understood him much better than anyone else. Lois knew she was that woman who understood him the best. Hal mentions that Susan was insane and would never had the patience to deal with his indecision like she would
Vic and Craig get ready to leave when Malcolm notices a picture of Craig's mother in Vic's luggage. He presents it to Craig, revealing his mother was apparently a rather obese woman. He can't understand where the photograph comes from as he thought all photos of her were destroyed in the twister that took her life. Vic finally admits that she didn't die from the twister and fabricated the story to hide his own pain along with discouraging Craig from trying to find her. He mentioned that Craig's mother had been unhappy in their marriage and was having an affair with the baker from the pie shop. When Vic found out about it, he demanded she stop seeing the baker and remain in the marriage with him. She refused by divorcing him and continuing her affair her lover by running off with him. A few days later, Vic also revealed that his mother sued him for full custody of Craig because she felt like he deserved better than to stay with a man who would force him to run his successful gyms when he's older. He mentioned that she lost her case as the judge ruled against her for the affair with the baker. The terms stipulated that either his mother gives up her lover and return to the marriage with Vic or she never sees Craig again. She reluctantly gave up her rights to stay with the baker as she was unhappy in her marriage to him. Craig feels betrayed after realizing that his mother cared about him to try and gain custody of him so he can live his own life as he chooses. He tells Vic off that he's a horrible father to him for lying to him about her. Craig has decided to stay in his present life and job with his friends. Although upset with his son's choice to say in his present life, Vic finally respects Craig's decision and leaves.
In the final scene Lois congratulates Hal on the decision he made regarding Mr. Edelman. It was a stroke of genius. Once he knew Edelman was a bird lover, Hal said, it was easy. And he got everything from Radio Shack, except for the hat. What Hal did is not revealed.
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]
- Tom Kopache as Vic Feldspar
- John Ducey as Peter Rubin
- Michael McShane as Dr. Phelps
- Elyse Murto as Sharon Wilkerson
- Dean Bates as young Hal
- Kerry Carney as a nurse
- Michelle Spears as Tracy
- Steve Sheridan as Nick
Quotes[edit | edit source]
- [Lois has just picked up a paralyzed Hal from the hospital and brought him home, concerning the boys.]
- Malcolm: What's wrong with him?
- Lois: The doctors call it Hysterical Conversion Disorder. It's psychosomatic. Apparently he's paralyzed from the waist up.
- Malcolm: The waist up?!
- [Lois is frustrated as Hal moves around, clearly in distress]
- Reese: Dad, what is it?
- [Lois taps his head and he immediately calms down. He begins petting her leg with his foot.]
- Dewey: I think he's thanking you.
- [Hal continues pretending to have Hysterical Conversion Disorder as he continues using his feet and rips off sheets of toilet paper]
- Lois: It's been four days, Hal. I tried to be patient, but this has gone one long enough. You have to snap out of it. Look I admit you've been resourceful and you've learned to do so many things. And the sex has been interesting.
- [She walks in as Hal is now using his feet to put toothpaste on his to his toothbrush]
- Lois: But you can't go on living like this. Don't think I don't know what this is all about. You're trying to avoid making this decision. This isn't going to work and frankly this is beneath you. It's the coward's way out, Hal. You don't think I don't like a paralyzed vacation. Everyone waiting on me hand and foot. You know what? It doesn't work that way. You can't keep making up ridiculous illnesses to get out of what you don't want to do.
- [sees Hal pulling out a long thread of dental floss to floss his teeth]
- Lois: Oh for God's sake. Do you have any idea how insane you're acting? I'm just glad your boys aren't here to see this.
- [sees Hal raise his feet to floss his teeth]'
- Lois: Oh Hal, you changed Jamie's diapers with those feet.
- [she leaves disgusted]
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Craig's family is explored, introducing us to his father, Vic Feldspar and his unnamed mother.
- It's also revealed that his mother is alive and had an affair with the baker from the pie shop. Vic was apparently upset by this because she divorced him without warning.
- It was also revealed that Craig's mother had apparently hated Vic because of his selfish behavior in bullying and trying to force him to take over his gyms, which she thinks is unfair on his part
- Hal says that he is afraid of clowns and snakes, but does not know why. Through a flashback we find out it is due to the fact that at one of his birthday parties a clown was being strangled by a snake.
- This episode also reveals why Hal had a hard time making decisions on his own and often deferred to Lois in making them. Due to his own fears that he will always choose wrong, Hal prefers to avoid making decisions on his own. Due to his belief in Lois, he feels that she is more capable in making decisions on her own
- This was the fourth time that Susan was mentioned, along with how much Hal's family, Victor and Ida disapproved of him marry Lois.
- This was also the first time that Hal and Lois' own friends were included in the disapproval.
- Hal finally confessed that he didn't regret marrying Lois against their families wishes because unlike Susan, she was the only woman that understood him better.
- Craig says he is a level 14 Elf Cleric. This is most likely a reference to the very popular fantasy adventure role playing game Dungeons and Dragons. D&D was created by the legendary Gary Gygax, and is now in its global 5th edition. It has spawned countless games (both pen and paper and computer) and books, a cartoon, and a movie. It is extremely popular among the 'nerdy' sci-fi fanatics, of which Craig is a fine example.
- In Forwards Backwards, Bob(one of Dean's friends) mentions that Craig is a level 45 Dungeon Master.
- Sharon Wilkerson, Hal's mother, makes her first on-screen appearance in this episode, though she's only seen from behind, in a brief flashback.
- The lawyer is conveniently interrupted before he can say Hal's last name- maintaining the series rule of never saying it.
- Malcolm does not aside in this episode.
- Craig mentions having a cat, despite it being killed off earlier in the series. It is unknown if this is Jellybean from earlier in the series or if Craig got another cat.