Malcolm in the Middle Wiki

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.


Continuing from the previous episode, Malcolm recaps what happened at the Wave Town USA, Water Park. Due to the violations involving both him and Reese fighting, Hal sneaking in alcohol in a suntan lotion and Lois physically abusing her boys by smacking them, the Wilkersons are permanently banned from there, a tradition they always end up observing.

Hal asks the security guard whose lifetime he means when he says lifetime ban, but the security guard informs Hal that him and his family are never allowed in Wave Town USA again as he's sent on his way. Lois angrily drags Malcolm and Reese by the ears and tells them to never to ask for anything from her again. Lois mentions that she should've given birth to chimps so that way she could've expected that kind of behavior. Malcolm briefly gets away and admits he is actually envious of Dewey because he got to stay home and play with the babysitter. Lois comes back and drags him to the car so the family can go home. Meanwhile, Dewey is on a farm asking a scarecrow for help, because he got lost after chasing a balloon and then a paper bag. He assumes that he could help him since he helped the girl in “The Wizard of Oz” movie and if the scarecrow could come to life and help him he'd really appreciate it. After realizing it's not, Dewey leaves saying "Thanks anyway."

On the road home, Malcolm and Reese are suffering from the heat inside the van since it is 110 degrees in the van due to it having no air conditioning and that the family has to run the heater so that the radiator doesn't boil over. Hal tries to keep the lane for himself while a silver Toyota wants to pass him. Lois tells him to be courteous and let him pass. Hal refuses after the driver flips him off and hits the brakes angering Lois. Lois tells him that the driver may have a gun and if he keeps up this kind of behavior, they could be shot dead. She warns Hal to 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 has been found by a lady whom had found him in the cornfield who vows to get him home to his parents who must be worried sick. But he annoys her by repeatedly singing “A, B, C, D” she tries telling him that E comes next but Dewey is already aware and continues singing the same song.

At Marlin Academy, Francis gets into a heated argument with Eric and Joe after assuming that he could eat 100 Quacks. Joe argues against it because the marshmallow would expand in his stomach and he wouldn’t get past 50. Francis argues back that the marshmallows would dissolve not expand and that he’d never get full. An annoyed Eric stands up and tells them to shut up since he is sick of hearing about how Francis can eat or do 100 things.

A large traffic jam is formed after a semi-truck tips over and blocks off the entire road with the silver Toyota in the ditch with the driver DOA. Reese and Malcolm wander through the road with Reese in awe of the accident after seeing the truck jackknife and a wheel fly through the air he claims that an explosion would've been nice but you can't have everything. Malcolm reminds Reese that now they're stuck in the blistering heat with no food and no air conditioning, despite this Malcolm claims it could be much worse, he could've been the unfortunate driver of the silver Toyota.

Hal stares in shock at the accident site while Lois asks a sheriff why he can't open a lane so the cars can go. The sheriff states they have to wait for a crane to arrive before they can even consider opening the road to traffic. Lois claims that if they moved the police cars there would be enough room to pass on the shoulder and how stupid it is, the sheriff tells her not to call a police officer stupid, Lois is in disbelief that is now considered a law.

Back at Marlin Academy, Francis tells Eric how in his freshman year he ate seven pounds of grapes in one sitting and he knows what his body is capable of. Eric argues back that grapes are different than the pure sucrose in Quacks. Joe brings up that the human pancreas can increase its insulin production by 5%. Eric denounces that a human pancreas can produce enough insulin to fill a swimming pool but it’s useless if your adrenal gland can’t distribute it into your bloodstream fast enough. Francis concludes that their argument is pointless and decides to take up the challenge to prove him wrong by attempting to eat 100 Quacks.

Lois is in disbelief that the construction workers are just talking when they should be working and yells at them to do their job. She asks Hal if he's even listening, but he realizes how it could've been him who was killed in the accident. Lois states it could've been all of them but Hal saw the accident and saw that the car was sliced right through the driver seat which would've killed him alone and Lois and the boys would’ve walked away without a scratch.

Malcolm wonders what the point is wandering aimlessly through traffic Reese claims it's to find cool stuff on the road as he finds a sock that smells like gasoline he then sees an ice cream truck.

The ice cream truck owner Clyde tells the kids to go away and there is no ice cream in the truck. A girl named Erin looks in the window and tells everyone he's lying and there's plenty of ice cream inside. but he says the ice cream inside isn't for sale and it's against the law for him to sell it in the middle of traffic. Reese calls him for his senseless act and that he could make money and please children and that he is pure evil. Clyde decides that since the kids aren't willing to discuss it sensibly, he locks himself inside the truck. Malcolm tells Reese there's nothing he can do but Reese runs at the truck and rams the door to no avail. A girl named Jessica comments on Reese's stupidity and Malcolm agrees after introducing each other Jessica invites him to go check out the crash site.

Dewey, proceeds to annoy the lady with random questions including what time it is, if Chinatown is in China and what one of his toes does. Fed up she decides to go into a store to buy a pack of cigarettes for the first time in 20 years, Dewey asks her to get grape juice. Soon after though a carjacker stealing a rack of snacks steals the car with Dewey inside of it.

Back on the road, Lois is at a phone on the side of the road as Hal tells her that he stopped to tie his shoe in the parking lot and if he hadn't done that he would've been the silver Toyota, Lois also reminds Hal that if he had never rented the movie "Body Heat" they never would've had Dewey and that its all an intricate tapestry of intertwined events. Lois speaks to the operator who informs her the line is only to be used for emergency roadside assistance and he is unable to connect her to a private line. Lois says she needs to call her babysitter and to put his supervisor on, the operator tries disguising his voice to sound like the supervisor but Lois sees through it and tells him he can't do this. The operator smugly retaliates by informing her he is about to be replaced by a machine so he can do whatever he damn well pleases.

At the ice cream truck, Reese and the rest of the kids stare angrily at Clyde from outside. Clyde has the audacity to eat an ice cream bar in front of the kids while turning on the trucks chime just to further spite them.

Dewey and the carjacker bond for a while since it’s hard for him to make friends since he constantly moves around and he acts out on impulse. After seeing the police continue to pursue him he tells Dewey he’ll need to drop him off with a bunch of illegal immigrants while he continues to evade the cops. Shortly after Dewey and the immigrants leave on a pickup truck.

At Marlin Academy, Francis continues eating the Quacks after briefly regurgitating a few much to the other cadets disgust.

As Malcolm and Jessica climb up one of the hills Malcolm questions why pricker bushes have to be so prickly since there is no fruit worth protecting on them and asked why Jessica wanted to come up to the top of the hill. Jessica tells him she wanted to enjoy the sights, such as Reese jumping up and down on the roof of the ice cream truck and a crazy lady which is Lois screaming in anger at the call box. When Jessica asks about the gifted class he’s in, Malcolm explains how horrible it is being surrounded by Krelboynes, having to do twice as much homework as anyone else in his grade and being forced to take college prep classes. Jessica sarcastically claims it to be a nightmare and if he’s not careful he might get a full scholarship to Harvard. Malcolm says she doesn’t understand before Jessica informs him he’s been bellyaching nonstop for an hour and a half and all he does is bitch. Malcolm says he does the appropriate amount of bitching for someone in his situation and that today is the perfect example and asks her to name a good thing that has come from the traffic jam. Jessica reminds him if it wasn’t for the traffic jam they wouldn’t have met. She then puts her and, on his shoulder, and pushes him down the hill. Malcolm grabs onto a small tree and wonders how he didn’t see it coming and how Jessica is incredible before the tree comes unrooted and he rolls down into a pricker bush.

Hal feeling guilty about what happened tells a highway patrol officer about it and how he must go home at night knowing he has helped make the world a better place with his job in law enforcement and asks if he knows how special he is by touches him. The highway officer then administers him a DUI test and makes Hal say the alphabet backwards while touching his nose.

At the crash site Lois asks a worker that they’ve been waiting all afternoon for a crane which has finally arrived along with its operator. The worker states that they’re not allowed to begin clearing the road until the investigators sign off on the accident report. Lois informs him they must’ve been done hours ago but he says that is a whole other department that isn’t his job to know. A fuming Lois orders him to start the crane, but he only states that she has no authority over him whatsoever.

Back at the ice cream truck, Reese attempts to break into the truck using a crowbar until he is caught by a large man named Mr. Wells. Clyde comes out to see the commotion and Reese says he just wanted ice cream but Clyde tells him he doesn’t deserve ice cream, Reese retaliates that he doesn’t deserve to be an ice cream man before stomping on Mr. Wells foot and running away while he chases after him. Clyde calls out to Reese not to mess with him since he was a surgeon in his country. However upon getting back in the truck he gasps in shock when he sees that while he was outside distracted with Reese, the other kids snuck inside the truck and stole all the ice cream from the freezer.

Back at Marlin Academy, Francis lies on the floor sick from eating 96 Quacks, Joe tries to make him finish since he only needs to eat 4 more, but Francis refuses since he is queasy and dying. Eric tells Francis he’s proven him right that the human body can’t accept 100 Quacks. Joe then realizes no one ever said anything about Francis eating all the Quacks they just need to be inside his body. Upon realizing what Joe is insinuating Francis grabs the last 4 Quacks and swallows them. Everyone cheers for him with Joe telling him that it was more impressive than another cadet named Davis doing 1000 sit-ups. Upon hearing this Eric raises another dispute over it and how doing that many sit-ups is begging for a double hernia, Joe tells Eric that his close-minded thinking is what stops him from recognizing true greatness. As all the other cadets leave the room a nauseous Francis let’s out a large belch.

Reese hands out ice cream to all of the kids who helped out in the plan before handing a box of treats to Mr. Wells who was revealed to be in on their plan the whole time, Mr. Wells states that since Clyde hoarded ice cream to himself while the rest of them overheated that he left them no other choice.

At the crash site, Lois is trying to operate the crane herself to no avail. The sheriff tells her to come out of the crane but she tells him to order the road crew to move the crane. The sheriff asks her to come out so they can talk rationally, but Lois tells him not to patronize her. The sheriff decides to be blunt and says that Lois is a control freak and he’s dealt with them before but the traffic jam is out of her control and she can’t boss it around or yell at it and expect it to listen. Lois argues back until the sheriff sternly confirms that it will end when it ends and she just needs to live with it. Lois angrily leaves the site as the road crew mock her until she finds a dog locked in a truck. She yells out asking who’s dog it is since it is locked in the truck with no air and 90 degree weather. When no one speaks up Lois takes a rock and smashes the window of the truck. Lois tells the dog not to worry but the dog turns vicious after being frightened from Lois smashing the window and sees her as an intruder before jumping out the window and attacking her.

Hal finds a pigeon stuck in a 6 pack ring and although he was hoping rather to deliver a baby in a taxicab he absolves to help it since a life is a life. Unfortunately immediately after freeing the pigeon the vicious dog that Lois released catches the pigeon and rips it apart. After witnessing it Hal awkwardly walks away.

Jessica takes Malcolm back to her car to bandage his injuries. Malcolm commends her on having a working first aid kit and that they used to before his brother ate all the Band-Aids. He suggests that they hang out sometime until he sees her license plate is from Nova Scotia, Canada. Jessica tells him how they're on summer vacation. In the background Reese is chased by the same vicious dog and must drop all the ice cream he stole to get away from the dog. Malcolm is upset about how far away she lives and wonders why she didn’t tell him. Jessica chose not to tell him because then he would’ve spent the whole day grousing. Malcolm knew that meeting a smart, funny girl was too good to be true but Jessica reassures him that it's okay to enjoy something even for a little while. Just then a horn sounds signifying the accident has been cleared and the traffic jam is over. Lois angrily orders Malcolm and Reese back to their minivan as Malcolm says goodbye to Jessica.

Lois tells Hal to just pull out but Hal absolves to wait his turn patiently and he is no longer going to be complacent. Jessica calls out to Malcolm from her car in an attempt to give him her phone number so they can stay in touch but in the middle of handing it off the dog grabs it and rips it up, Jessica simply shrugs since they are now left out of touch for life. As the family rides back home in silence all upset over their endeavors ending in failure, Malcolm enthusiastically realizes how fun in the traffic jam was and had no idea how enjoyable they could be and wonders when they can go on another road trip.

Dewey continues travelling with the immigrants, then a prom limousine and a rock band tour bus and finally finds himself home after being dropped off by a group of Hell’s Angels with Dewey believing one of them was Santa. After they leave his family arrives home. 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 and wonders what’s wrong with them as he continues to tells her of his own adventure.


[Outside Wave town USA's water park entrance.]
Malcolm:[first lines] Okay, 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 tradition we always ends up observing.
(Hal is talking to a security guard, after his family is banned from the Wave town USA's water park)
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 lights. It's gonna be like that, huh?
(Hal slams on the brakes, 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 6:00. 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 nicely dressed up man is seen awkwardly waves back at her. The cops relent to let her and Malcolm pass)

(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: 61! 62! 63! (disgusted) 62! 61! (excited) 62! 63!

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 (abiding): How could I not see that coming, this girl's incredible!

(Francis is lying on the ground from an override 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 continues directly from the events of the previous season's finale episode, Water Park. This is the first episode that follows the trend of having a B-story be an important part of the plot. The later episodes that will follow are Emancipation, Humilithon, Day Care, Reese Joins the Army: Part 2, Reese Comes Home and College Recruiters.
  • The crash site was shot on this spot on Soledad Canyon Road between Acton and Ravenna.[1]
  • Dewey talks to a scarecrow, asking it for help going back home, like how he helped a girl from a movie get home. The movie he refers to is The Wizard of Oz in which a scarecrow comes to life to help Dorothy return to Kansas.
  • Candy Quacks are a parody of Peeps.
  • The shop where the farmer lady needs to buy cigarettes is the same shop that BeeBee stole goods from in Francis escapes. It is the Village Market on 11653 Moorpark St, North Hollywood, CA 91602.[1]
  • Lois reveals that the reason Dewey was born was because Hal rented the movie Body Heat, a 1981 erotic movie starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner.
  • Hal is administered a DUI test for the first time, but only because he was annoying the police officer and not for being suspected of being drunk.
  • At the end of the episode, Dewey is dropped back at home by a group of Hell's Angels, whereas previous script versions originally mentioned that he was to be dropped home by the Oscar Mayer Wiener Mobile.
    • Dewey referred to one of them as Santa.
  • The family earned their first on-screen lifetime ban from a public place at Wavetown USA. The next time they'll be banned in a public place is in Dinner Out and their last on-screen ban is in Forwards Backwards.
    • In Buseys Run Away, the family will be banned from another public place off screen due to Malcolm and Reese's fireworks prank gone awry.
    • In Lois Battles Jamie, Jamie earned an on-screen lifetime ban from Gymboree for beating up the other kids and adding to the list of places the boys had gotten the Wilkersons banned from.
    • In Casino, Hal was banned from the Casino for using Malcolm who’s underage to help him cheat by helping him count cards.
    • Francis is the only Wilkerson who has never been banned anywhere in the series.
    • Dewey has been banned twice. The first time against his will in Dinner Out and the 2nd time in Evacuation.
  • Dewey is seen playing a Sega Dreamcast during the scene where he's on the bus.
  • Despite Malcolm being upset that Jessica is from Canada, Malcolm does visit Canada in Victor's Other Family. He, however, never takes the opportunity to find her, likely because he never gotten to keep her phone number.


  • In almost every shot of the traffic jam outside, the directions that shadows are going in always change drastically between shots. This is most likely because these scenes were filmed out of sequence throughout 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.
  • In the shot where Reese is jumping on top of the Ice Cream truck trying to break in, there is a railroad track in the background. That railroad track is never there in any of the other shots of the traffic jam in this episode.
  • 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.
  • Before Francis started the challenge to eat one hundred quacks, he was shown eating one. That means that he actually consumed one hundred and one quacks during the episode and only had to consume ninety-nine once the challenge began.


Malcolm in the Middle episodes
Season 1 PilotRed DressHome Alone 4ShameMalcolm BabysitsSleepoverFrancis EscapesKrelboyne PicnicLois VS EvilStock Car RacesFuneralCheerleaderRollerskatesThe Bots and the BeesSmundayWater Park
Season 2 Traffic JamHalloween ApproximatelyLois' BirthdayDinner OutCasinoConventionRobberyTherapyHigh School PlayBullyOld Mrs. OldKrelboyne GirlNew NeighborsHal QuitsThe GrandparentsTraffic TicketSurgeryReese CooksTutoring ReeseBowlingMalcolm vs. ReeseMini-BikeCarnivalEvacuationFlashback
Season 3 HouseboatEmancipationBook ClubMalcolm's GirlfriendCharityHealth ScareChristmasPokerReese's JobLois' MakeoverCompany Picnic (1)Company Picnic (2)Reese DrivesCynthia's BackHal's BirthdayHal CoachesDewey's DogPoker 2Clip ShowJury DutyCliquesMonkey
Season 4 ZooHumilithonFamily ReunionStupid GirlForwards BackwardsForbidden GirlfriendMalcolm Holds His TongueBoys At RanchGrandma SuesIf Boys Were GirlsLong DriveKicked OutStereo StoreHal's FriendGarage SaleAcademic OctathalonClip Show #2Reese's PartyFuture MalcolmBaby Part 1Baby Part 2Day Care
Season 5 VegasWatching The BabyGoodbye KittyThanksgivingMalcolm Films ReeseMalcolm's JobChristmas TreesBlock PartyDirty MagazineHot TubIda's BoyfriendSoftballLois' SisterMalcolm Dates a FamilyReese's ApartmentMalcolm Visits CollegePolly in the MiddleDewey's Special ClassExperimentVictor's Other FamilyReese Joins the Army: Part 1Reese Joins the Army: Part 2
Season 6 Reese Comes HomeBuseys Run AwayStandeePearl HarborKitty's BackHal's Christmas GiftHal SleepwalksLois Battles JamieMalcolm's CarBillboardDewey's OperaLiving WillTiki LoungeIda Loses a LegChad's SleepoverNo MotorcyclesButterfliesIda's DanceMotivational SpeakerStiltsBuseys Take A HostageMrs. Tri-County
Season 7 Burning ManHealth InsuranceReese vs. StevieHalloweenJessica Stays OverSecret BoyfriendBlackoutArmy BuddyMalcolm Defends ReeseMalcolm's MoneyBride of IdaCollege RecruitersMonoHal GrievesA.ALois Strikes BackHal's DentistBomb ShelterStevie in the HospitalCattle CourtMorpGraduation