Traffic Jam is the first episode of Season 2 of Malcolm in the Middle and the seventeenth episode overall of the show.


After being banned from the water park (because of rule violations, including sneaking alcohol and Reese and Malcolm fighting), the family gets stuck in a traffic jam in the desert, caused by a car wreck right in front of them. At the military academy, Francis bets fellow cadets that he can eat 100 Quacks, but gets very sick in the process. Dewey has a long adventure returning home after getting lost from his babysitter.


Malcolm recaps what happened at the Wavetown USA, Water Park. Due to the violations involving both him and Reese fighting and also his parents sneaking in alcohol in a suntan lotion, the Wilkersons are banned for life from there, a tradition they always end up observing. Hal tries to talk the security guard out of it, but he's sent on his way. Lois on the other hand, punishes the boys and tells them never to ask for anything from her again. Then, she tells them that she should've given birth to chimps so that way she could've expected that kind of behavior. Malcolm admits jealousy of Dewey because he got to stay home and play with the babysitter. Meanwhile, Dewey is on a farm asking a scarecrow for help, because he got lost after chasing a balloon and then a paper bag.

On the road home Hal tries to keep the lane for himself while a silver car wants to pass him. Lois tells him to be courteous and let him pass. Hal refuses and hits the brakes angering her. Lois tells him that the owner may have a gun and just let him pass before they get into an accident. He eventually relents, but soon after the same car gets into an accident and the family is stuck for hours.

Elsewhere, Dewey seeks help from a lady whom had found him on her fields to get him home, but he annoys her and she goes into a store to buy cigarettes. Soon after a carjacker steals a car with Dewey inside of it. The carjacker bonds with him for a while before leaving him with a bunch of illegal immigrants.

At Marlin Academy, Francis gets into a heated argument with Eric because of the Quacks expanding. He decides to take up the challenge to prove him wrong by attempting to eat 100 Quacks. Along the way, Francis gets sick and this proves Eric right about the Quacks expanding because they're marshmallows.

Back on the road, Lois is frustrated by the workers because they're not doing anything to hasten the clean-up from the accident. Reese is in a heated conflict with the ice cream truck owner because he won't give them free ice cream. Malcolm falls in love with Jessica, who ironically is from Canada. Hal feeling guilty about what happened tells a highway patrol officer about it and touches him. The highway officer administers him a DUI (driving under the influence) test and makes Hal say the alphabet backwards while touching is nose.

Dewey gets help from everyone else and finally finds himself home as his family arrives. Lois asks him what happened to Mrs. White. Dewey tells her about the babysitter having to go away, not admitting that she had a heart attack and that the ambulance had to pick her up. Lois is upset and thinks he got rid of another babysitter like Malcolm and Reese did as he continues to tells her of his own adventure.


[Outside Wavetown USA's waterpark entrance.]
Malcolm:[first lines] Ok, here's the thing about my family. We don't go on a lot of outings together, but when we do, there's a little thing we always ends up observing.
(Hal is talking to a security guard, after his family is banned from the Wavetown USA's waterpark)
Hal: When you say "lifetime ban", I mean, who's lifetime are you talking about?
(Lois is seen dragging Malcolm and Reese by the ear, while the security guard sends Hal on his way out to the parking lot for the rule violations the family has incurred. This includes Hal and Lois sneaking alcohol in a suntan lotion, along with the boys fighting)
Lois:[punishing Malcolm and Reese] Don't you ever ask me for anything ever again. I should've just given birth to chimps, then at least I know to expect this kind of behavior.
Malcolm: Believe it or not, I actually envy Dewey. He got to stay home and play with the babysitter.
[Lois continues dragging Malcolm along with Reese to the family car.]

Lois: Hal, stop swerving.
Hal: This darn Silver Toyota's been tailgating me for the last three miles.
Lois: Just pull over and let him pass.
Hal: Oh, flashing the brights. It's gonna be like that, huh?
(Hal slams on the breaks, in order to anger the car behind him. The car starts honking at him.)
Hal: Ha!
Lois: Good Lord, Hal! He could have a gun! Just let him pass!
Hal: All right, Silver Toyota, you win this round!
Hal: Go ahead, get there two seconds sooner! That guy is just an accident waiting to happen.
(The Silver Toyota gets into a huge accident with a truck)

(Dewey is in the car with a lady, who is becoming very tired and annoyed with his questions)
Dewey: What time is it now?
Lady: It's still 4:00. You have to wait at least a minute for the time to change, dear.
Dewey: What time is it in China?
Lady: Well, sweetie, I think they're a good 20 hour-
Dewey: Do you speak Chinese?
Lady: Well, no, I-
Dewey: Is Chinatown in China?
Lady: Honey! If you want an answer to a question, you have to first wait-
Dewey: What does this toe do?
Lady: You know what? I need to buy a pack of cigarettes ... for the first time in 20 years.

Hal: Think about it, Lois. I stopped to tie my shoe in the parking lot. If I hadn't done that, we would've been on the road 20 seconds sooner. I would have been 200 yards ahead of where I was, and then I would have been the Silver Toyota.
Lois: And if you hadn't rented "Body Heat", we never would have had Dewey. It's all an intricate tapestry, Hal.

(Malcolm and Jessica try to trespass over the roped off area)
Sheriff: Hey, hey, hey! Where do you think you're going, young lady?
Jessica: It's okay. My dad's an investigator for the D.O.T. Oh, there he is. (To one of the workers) Hi, Daddy!
(The worker is slightly put off, and then awkwardly waves to her)
Sheriff: Okay.
(Malcolm and Jessica enter the site)
Malcolm: Whoa, your dad's a crash investigator?
Jessica: Here's a little secret, Malcolm. Whenever you want something, everybody's your dad. (to another worker) Hi daddy!
(A black guy is seen awkwardly waves back at her)

(Francis is attempting to eat 100 Candy Quacks. He's stuffing his face with them and the gang counts them as he goes along.)
Gang: Sixty-one! Sixty-two! Sixty-three! (disgusted) Sixty-two! Sixty-one! (excited) Sixty-two! Sixty-three!

Jessica: Malcolm, you have got to check out this view.
Malcolm: Ow! I hate pricker bushes! What fruit are they trying to protect anyway? Do you see anything on here worth protecting? What are we doing up here?
Jessica: Just enjoying the sights. (Reese is seen furiously jumping on the ice cream truck) And check out that crazy lady. (Lois is seen screaming inaudibly at the roadside phone)

Jessica: So, tell me about this gifted class.
Malcolm: It's horrible. I'm surrounded by Krelboynes. I have to do twice as much homework as anyone else in my grade. I have to take all these college prep classes-
Jessica: Oh, what a nightmare. If you're not careful, you might get a full scholarship to Harvard.
Malcolm: You don't understand.
Jessica: Malcolm, you've been bellyaching non-stop for an hour and a half. Seriously, all you do is bitch.
Malcolm: I happen to bitch the perfect amount for someone in my situation. Today is the perfect example. Look at this mess. What's good about this?
Jessica: Well ... if it weren't for this ... we never would have met.
(Jessica puts her arms on Malcolm's shoulders in a romantic kind of way, but then pushes him down the hill)
Malcolm (asiding): How could I not the this coming, this girl's incredible!

(Francis is lying on the ground from an overside of Candy Quacks)
Eric: Ha! Looks like the human body can only accept 96 Quacks! Check and mate!
Other Cadet: Come on, Francis, just 4 more! You can do it!
Francis: Can't ... Quacks ... dying!
Finley: Hey, no one said he has to eat all the Quacks. They just have to be inside his body, right?
(Francis grabs the last four quacks and instantly eats them all)

(Dewey gets dropped off at home by a gang of bikers)
Biker: See you, kid.
(The bikers all drive off)
Dewey: Bye, Santa!


  • This episode directly continues the events of the previous season's finale episode, Water Park.
  • Dewey was seen talking to a scarecrow. He asks it for help going back home and says that he helped that other girl from the movie get home. This was a reference to The Wizard of Oz and how in the movie, Dorothy went back home, with the help of a live scarecrow.
  • Candy Quacks are a parody on Peeps.
  • Lois reveals that the reason Dewey was born was because Hal rented the movie Body Heat. An 1981 erotic movie starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner.
  • Hal is administered a DUI test for the first time.


  • In almost every shot of the traffic jam outside, the directions that that shadows are going in always change drastically between shots. This is most likely because all of these scenes were inconsistently filmed at different times of the day.
  • In the scene where the thief gets into the car, a stand holding a bunch of snacks is seen next to him. In the second scene with him, the stand is completely gone.
  • In the shot where the thief takes a sharp turn into a dirt road, Dewey and the plants in the backseat are not visible in the backseat of the car. Most likely because this stunt would have been too dangerous to perform with the child in the car.
  • When Lois is trying to make the crane work, the face of the Sheriff is seen coming up to her for a brief second before they change shots. In the next shot, the Sheriff is seen fairly far away from the crane, before he really walks up to her.
  • In the last scene of the traffic jam, Malcolm is seen raving about how much fun he had in the accident. During his rant, the screen cuts to Lois, and in the background, Malcolm's face is seen, not talking or showing any expression, and just staring out the window, despite his voice being heard.