Malcolm must help an awful old woman (Florence Stanley) in the neighborhood with whatever she wants of him because he breaks her arm trying to get his ball back when it accidentally ends up in her front yard, and she responds by grabbing Malcolm's hair and the ball. He ends up taking her car on a joy ride after she passes out from mixing alcohol with her medication, but is caught by Lois. Francis' friend, Richie, is sent to the military academy. Meanwhile, Reese tries to convince (and force) Dewey to use a regular backpack instead of a purse.
In the cold opening, Malcolm and Hal are playing chess and Hal is told by Malcolm he has checkmated him, he excitedly runs off to tell Lois. Malcolm doesn't mind helping his dad win at chess since he lets him win at basketball.
The episode begins by Reese showing neighborhood kids, including Malcolm and Dewey, a game that Reese made up similar to baseball where you get bonus points for hitting cars or fire hydrants or a "Google" then he tells Malcolm he's first up to bat. Malcolm states although Reese cannot pass math he has invented over 50 fun games. The ball from this game ends up in the yard of a feared elderly woman named Mrs. Griffin. Malcolm isn't afraid and says he'll be in and out since she has no right to keep all their balls, Reese and Dewey agree. Malcolm climbs over the fence into the yard to retrieve the ball, but is quickly caught by Mrs. Griffin who tugs on his hair and gives him a choice between the ball or his hair. As the others run away Malcolm responds by pushing her and breaking her arm.
While Malcolm is being reprimanded by his parents at home for breaking Mrs. Griffin's arm for a ball, Reese confirms that he did it to avoid having to deal with Mrs. Griffin's unpleasantness himself. Lois states Malcolm is now responsible for helping her every day after school until her arm heals.
Malcolm wonders if Mrs. Griffin is really so cruel and hopes she could be similar to having a pleasant grandmother. However immediately upon arriving Mrs. Griffin tells him to fill up a jar with his urine to ensure she doesn't have a druggie in her house. Mrs. Griffin proves to be outstandingly unpleasant, racist, and hoards things such as newspapers, cats and rubber bands. She bombards Malcolm with questions about his nationality, and calls him stupid for being unable to identify a "rubber band jar". She is also a heavy drinker, even drinking with her medication. When Malcolm attempts to leave at 4:30 she lectures him about how her arm won't magically stop being broken at a specific time and wonders what he thinks she'll do for dinner. Malcolm questions why she doesn't just order takeout but she refuses to give her money to Mexicans.
Meanwhile, at the recommendation of Lois, Francis' friend Richie is now a student at the military school Francis attends. Richie is not accustomed to the "military lifestyle". He does not cut his hair or dress in uniform. Commandant Spangler not only allows this, but provides Richie with special privileges. It is later revealed that Commandant Spangler is doing this to make the other cadets jealous of Richie so that they would take a disliking to him and turn against him. Francis explains this to Richie, but Richie dismisses it as Francis being jealous. Richie gets beat up by Eric, Finley and the other cadets, while Francis watches on smug.
Meanwhile, Dewey kicks his backpack home and winds up kicking it into the path of a lawnmower. He tells his mom he needs a new one. Lois notices that Dewey has a tendency to mysteriously destroy his previous backpacks. Hence, she tells him she's not buying him a new one and to pick out an old one from the closet. Dewey adopts an old purse belonging to Lois as his new bag. Reese is concerned that he will be beat up. So he tries to convince Dewey to use a backpack instead. It's met with a resounding refusal from him because it was Lois who gave him the purse that he could use. Dewey doesn't care if Reese finds it embarrassing, he will continue to use the purse as his bag. Reese throws rocks at him claiming how he is trying to help him.
Later Reese even goes so far as to buy a backpack for him but Dewey isn't interested. Reese gives him a hypothetical situation where there are three kids and one has a purse, he tells him that a "kid with a purse" is an invitation to be beaten over a fat kid since the fat kid will always be fat whereas the person with a purse may not wear it again. Dewey continues to use the purse.
In the kitchen, Reese tells Hal about it but Hal is convinced it is merely a phase that Dewey will eventually grow out of. Secretly he has been jealous of Lois and her purse since women get so much space and men have the squeeze everything into a wallet. He supports Dewey and commends him for being a trailblazer in the hopes of it maybe rubbing off on other men.
Later on, Mrs. Griffin is unconscious as a result of mixing medication with alcohol. Malcolm and his friends take advantage of this by taking a joyride in her car, but are caught by Lois. After pulling over he states that he is dead, Dabney says now he'll never get into a good college now that he's committed a felony, Eraserhead claims his mother will kill him and Lloyd claims they should put an end to it all and drive the car off of a cliff akin to "Thelma and Louise" with Dabney questioning why all of Lloyd's solutions end in a group suicide. Malcolm tells them to calm down and she only saw him and they don't have to worry. Before he can finish all his friends willingly abandon him and escape to avoid getting in trouble themselves, Malcolm asks Stevie if he would like a hand. Stevie tells him to pop the trunk.
When Lois arrives demanding Malcolm to get his stuff and take him home to face proper punishment, Mrs. Griffin wakes up in time to stop it. She covers for him by lying to Lois that it was no joyride for her because she was unconscious in the backseat of her car. Lois is shocked by this confession and asks her to explain. Mrs. Griffin claimed that she made a mistake in accidentally mixing up her medication pills with alcohol (instead of drinking water with it) and Malcolm got very worried about her. He and his friends were trying to help get her inside her car so they can take her to the hospital. When Mrs. Griffin passed out from the attempt, it forced him to put her in the back seat and they drove off. Malcolm's friends kept vigilance on her by keeping their heads down and making sure she was all right while he drove her to the hospital to get proper treatment from there. She convinces Lois that she mistaken it as him taking her car out for a joyride when it was really an emergency drive there. She tells Malcolm that the next time there is an emergency involving Mrs. Griffin again, he should at least call paramedics for her or his mother so she could've helped him in that emergency. Mrs. Griffin also states, falsely, that Malcolm has offered to help her in the mornings as well as the afternoon. While mortified at first, Malcolm realizes it's better caring for Griffin than having to face Lois' wrath had things turned out differently.
Lois was ready to ground Malcolm but once she sees how much he will continue to suffer under Mrs. Griffin, she concludes he's already being punished enough. She decides to leave him to his work since he won't be coming home for dinner. Mrs. Griffin tells him that his burglary won't go unpunished and her old bones will heal slowly, Malcolm now realizes he is now in for months worth of torture.
Reese is walking home from school and returns the backpack he was going to give to Dewey back to a boy he stole it from, he then sees Dewey being confronted by a group of bullies, he claims he did all that he could to warn him and being beaten by them is for his own good and he will learn the consequences about using feminine items. Dewey is insulted by one boy but he claims it is a bookbag after stating he is a girl for having a purse Dewey hits him with it causing them to run off and reveals that he kept a brick in his purse because he saw it coming. Reese is impressed by his little brothers hidden genius and they happily walk home together.
- When Mrs. Griffin asks Malcolm what his cultural background is, Malcolm replied "I really don't know." This was done because the creators of the show wanted to keep the cultural backgrounds of the main cast as ambiguous and unknown as possible. This lack of a last name for Malcolm's family is meant to perpetuate this.
- Malcolm again mentions his grandmother. Ida Welker would make her debut in "The Grandparents".
- This is the first episode to air in 2001.
- Dewey shreds his backpack here on this fake road on the premises of the CBS Studio Center. Later in the episode, he would walk past the same spot again wearing Lois' purse. It's also the location where Malcolm drives past his Mum while joy-riding. This private location would later be reused several times over the course of MitM, next time in Hal Quits.
- Malcolm and Mrs. Griffin drive down this bit of Chandler Blvd, Valley Village, CA 91607 in their first driving scene together.
- One part of Malcolm's joy-riding happens on this bit of Colfax Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
- Another bit happens on this bit of Chandler Blvd, Valley Village, CA 91607.
- Their joy-ride ends here.
- Hal has a minor role this episode.
- Bryan Cranston As Hal
- Jane Kaczmarek As Lois
- Christopher Masterson As Francis
- Justin Berfield As Reese
- Frankie Muniz As Malcolm
- Erik Per Sullivan As Dewey Wilkerson
- Evan Matthew Cohen As Lloyd
- Kyle Sullivan As Dabney Hooper
- Craig Lamar Taylor As Stevie Kanarban
- Will Jennings As Eraserhead
- Kasan Butcher As Joe
- Eric Nenninger As Eric Hansen
- Drew Powell As Drew
- Todd Giebenhain As Richie
- Daniel Von Bargen As Commandant Edwin Spangler
- Florence Stanley As Mrs. Griffin
- Ricky Stark As Kid #1
- Brandon DE Paul As Kid #2
- During the car scenes, the scenery in the background doesn't match the following shots when panning between the character's speaking. Later, it also appears that Malcolm is driving down a one way street before the next shot shows his mom passing him on his left.