Tutoring Reese is the nineteenth episode of season two of Malcolm in the Middle.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Reese is getting bad grades in school, and so Malcolm is forced to tutor him, he eventually learns the real reason behind it. Meanwhile, Francis comes back to visit home again and quickly gets himself kicked out of the house for refusing to fix the roof of the house.

Plot[edit | edit source]

The opening scene before the opening credit sequence shows Hal smoking a lit cigar in the garage, using a shop vac to hide the fumes of tobacco so Lois does not find out. Lois calls out to Hal looking for him; in a panic, he puts the cigar down the vacuum's hose to hide the evidence. When Lois comes in, she asks Hal if he is sneaking out to smoke again. Hal tries to hide this by saying he is vacuuming in the garage adding that if he wanted to smoke a cigar then he would do it out in the open like a responsible adult instead of sneaking around. At that, the vacuum starts making funny sounds and exhaling smoke, then it stops functioning. Lois tells him: "That was our third shop vac, that is our last shop vac." before leaving the garage.

The episode begins in the kitchen and Lois ordering Francis to re-shingle the roof because Hal has a fear of heights, even from two feet up. Francis finds it unfair at being immediately put to work after coming home from school the previous day and asks why Lois doesn't she just put a choke chain around his neck and make him sleep in the garage before storming out of the kitchen. Malcolm, Reese and Dewey are all eating cereal while listening in to the fight. Malcolm claims that Lois has entered a "level 4 rage" and the only way to avoid it is to make no sudden movements or make no eye contact at any costs. Reese's spoon accidentally clatters on his bowl, and Lois tells him on how just because he hid his parent-teacher interview note, it does not mean it isn't going to happen. Reese claims his teacher Mr. Woodward is out to get him, but Lois then reminds him he has thought every teacher since kindergarten has had it out for him. Malcolm accidentally sniffs and Lois turns her attention to him, Malcolm immediately grabs the cereal box to avoid Lois' rage, leaving Dewey vulnerable. Malcolm and Dewey fight over it, but are spared when Hal walks into the kitchen to heat up a toaster pastry and Lois asks him about a clogged drain. He avoids Lois' question by pointing at a milk ring on the table.

At the parent-teacher interview, Mr Woodward explains to Lois and Hal about Reese's focus is diffuse, his initiative is waning, and that it is preventing his complete skills that will lead him to passing. Lois does not really understand his vocabulary and asks to be more clear, Mr Woodward reveals to Hal and Lois that Reese is flunking almost every subject, and his recommendation is for him to be transferred into the school's remedial class. Hal and Lois are strongly against that decision and assures Mr. Woodward that they will make sure Reese buckles down and get back on track with his studies, Mr Woodward is pleased with their level of commitment to Reese's situation.

At home, Lois makes Malcolm tutors Reese every night to improve his lousy grades, and that she has zero tolerance on any misconduct. When Malcolm protests that it's unfair that he is being punished for Reese's actions, Lois claims he should blame God for giving him a giant brain. Francis comments on how their mother finally found the courage to speak her mind. When Lois asks why he isn't fixing the roof, he explains that it is 40 degrees and freezing out, with a chance of rain – which is why Lois is telling him to fix it before then. Francis tells off Lois for purchasing cheap, unreliable shingles, blaming them for being the cause of the constant leaking; Lois then states that as long as Francis is staying in the house, he must do what she says. Francis decides to stand up to himself and he gives a speech about how she has always dictated what she's wanted, how she's "the boss of the world" and how everyone is sick of it. The end result is Lois kicking him out of the house for defying her rules. Francis explains everything to a homeless man at a bus stop, adding that it was totally worth it. The homeless man offers Francis a warm and comfortable place located near the bus station to stay for a while; but just as Francis is about accept the offer, Richie pulls up in his car and offers Francis to stay at his house. Francis accepts Richie's offer instead and goes with him.

As a subplot, Dewey finds a house fly after playing with some coloring books, which he names Tony. In the boy's bedroom, Malcolm tells Reese he does not like Mom's orders either, but that they should get through it he best way they can. Malcolm pulls out a completely wet and folded textbook which Reese threw at a duck. He then looks for Reese's math book and Reese replies which half of it does he want. Malcolm then suggests start with geography but Reese says he does not take it because has a horrible grade in it.

Richie brings Francis to the basement of his parent's house which smells of dirty laundry, mildew, and a dead rat Richie shot. Richie gives Francis a pool raft to use as a bed which requires air to be blown into it. They then sit on the couch and turn on the TV to watch a porno movie.

Malcolm is holding up a math book to help with a problem Reese is trying to solve, but whenever he feels like he has the answer, he go back to trying to solve it. Malcolm gets upset and asks Reese to use his brain and that he has to carry the tenths and that the tenths have to go somewhere, Reese then says the answer "4.2" and he starts understanding. In the kitchen, while Lois is going over some bills, she hears hammering on the roof, she goes outside and sees Hal trying to re-shingle the roof himself. Lois tells him that it is Francis' responsibility and Hal cannot keep covering for him. Hal states that it's not about Francis, but about himself. Suddenly, a leaf touches Hal and he freaks out.

Meanwhile, Malcolm is looking over an essay that Reese wrote himself, he states that he spent two days working on it, and how he went back to a paragraph to re-write it which he never would've done prior. Malcolm is amazed by it, and believes that it is work that gets him a C-. Malcolm congratulates Reese for his hard work and truly says that it it the best work he has ever seen him do. Unfortunately, the essay comes back with an F, which infuriates Lois. Malcolm tries to tell her that he looked over it and that the grade given doesn't match the paper's quality, but she doesn't believe him. Reese tells her that he and Malcolm have been working 4 hours a night, but Lois now instructs the boys to double up and study 8 hours a night in order for Reese's grades to go up, and forces them back to their room. Just as she closes their door, Hal slides off the roof with his legs dangling, with him proclaiming that he is okay.

At Richie's house, Francis is bundled up because the basement's window is left open, letting in the cold wind. Francis tells himself he does not need heat because he has justice on his side, and that his mother Lois will give in. As Richie is clipping his toenails on the TV stand, Francis asks if he could do it in the bathroom, but Richie says that one one is going in there for at least six hours. Francis then suggests Richie do it over a wastebasket and asks him to cut down on the porn. But Richie responds b that when it ends he'll put on another one. Francis insists to stop with the pornography, Richie tells him it is a documentary. Just then, Richie's toenail flies out as it is clipped and lands in Francis' right eye.

The next day at school, Malcolm tells Reese to focus because his next test starts in two hours. Reese is worried that he won't pass because the test contains 30 true-false questions and five essays. Dabney, Lloyd, and Stevie drop by and they tease Reese at how a "B" is required to prevent him from getting put in the remedial class. When Reese agrees with Stevie's comment on how he himself is an idiot, Lloyd says that the only way he can pass the test is if someone else takes it for him. Reese says he cannot be put in the school's remedial class because all of the kids hold onto each other's belts as they pass through the cafeteria. Malcolm starts thinking about what Lloyd said and that someone else should take the test. Reese is against that because it's wrong and they'd be punished for it by Lois. Malcolm tells Reese that they are out of options, and that they have four other brilliant minds who devise a plan; at first, Dabney refuses to go along and threatens to inform the vice-principal about it, but Lloyd then extorts him by threatening to tell everyone he still sleeps with an Elmo blanket, after which Dabney then agrees to help out with the plan. In the classroom, Dabney and Lloyd barge in with a VCR television telling Mr Woodward that he asked for one, in the television's stand. Malcolm -- who's hiding in the rolling stand -- sneaks in Reese's test off his desk and puts an exact copy of it, after which Dabney and Lloyd quickly take the VCR television out of the classroom. Malcolm is in the hallway writing down all the answers on Reese's real test, the bell rings and a passing period begins. Mr Woodward comes out of the classroom with all of the student's tests. Lloyd and Dabney push Stevie towards Mr Woodward causing him to drop all of the tests that will be graded, Malcolm quickly sneaks in Reese's real test and takes the fake one back. Mr. Woodward asks if Stevie is okay, with Stevie only response being "Way to go, Hot Rod". Some time later, when Mr. Woodward passes out the graded tests, Reese is stunned to see that he got another "F".

In Richie's basement, Francis is struggling to keep warm; he also is wearing a patch over his right eye from the toenail. He gets up and goes over the hole in the wall to grab some insulation to put in his sweatshirt; in doing so, he finds the dead rat that Richie mentioned earlier.

Dewey is arguing with his fly Tony about who's cartoons it is, but quickly makes up with him. In the kitchen, when Lois asks Malcolm and Reese about the history test, they tell her they have not gotten it back yet. Lois tells them they better pray for a "B" and gives them their lunches. As Hal comes into the kitchen, Lois tells him she believes Francis is making a point by cutting himself off from all contact and until he is ready to apologize for going against her on fixing the roof, there is no reason for him to call. Hal leaves with Francis' lunch.

At lunch, Malcolm and his Krelboyne friends are looking over Reese's test and find it very troubling. Dabney becomes paranoid thinking Mr. Woodward knew of their plot, but Malcolm reassures Dabney he has no knowledge about their plan, and leaves to go talk Mr. Woodward. Malcolm finds Mr. Woodward in his classroom, he says to him that the answers on Reese's recent test weren't as bad, and asks if there is any way he can review it again. Mr. Woodward insists that Reese's test deserves the "F". Malcolm tries to persuade him to look at it again, but Mr. Woodward interrupts Malcolm by saying he cannot waste anymore time focusing on Reese's academics, it is unfair to the rest of the students in the class. Mr. Woodward then starts talking about how throughout his life, he has dealt with kids who behave exactly the same way as Reese and that as a child, he was bullied by one who broke his jaw, which resulted in him being ridiculed for having to wear dental headgear for the rest of his childhood. Malcolm realizes from this that Mr. Woodward really is out to get Reese and has been unfairly and deliberately flunking him and trying to get him put into the remedial class out of bias against him for being a bully. When he informs his brother, Reese admits that he was just using it as an excuse before. He wants to bust Mr. Woodward for his unfair treatment, but Malcolm tells them that they can't, or else Lois will find out that they cheated and then they'll be in trouble. As the two lament over how hopeless the situation appears to be, the students from the remedial class pass through.

Meanwhile, Francis is still staying in Richie's basement and it has started raining. Richie is cooking burgers over a trash can fire. Hal arrives to give Francis some food and Francis, glad to see him, tells him that he has a plan to win the argument over Lois, but Hal refuses to listen to it. He tells Francis to stop putting him in the middle of every argument, and that the real problem is that he and Lois are exactly alike; they're both stubborn and unwilling to drop every argument. He insincerely congratulates Francis with his current living situation, before giving him his bagged lunch and leaving the basement. Richie admits that Hal is right and at times he can be idiotic; he then throws the canister of lighter fluid into the lit trash can fire, and realizes too late he created a flaming explosion.

Later, Malcolm enters the Wilkerson house with Dewey, who leaves with his fly Tony. Mr. Woodward is in the kitchen speaking with Hal and Lois; he gives them a document that, once signed, will place Reese in the remedial class. Before Hal and Lois can sign it, Malcolm tells them that Reese did not deserve an "F" on his test, and that Reese's teacher truly is out to get him. Mr. Woodward keeps telling him that the test is what it is; when Malcolm shows him one of the test's questions and states it to be a correct answer. When Mr. Woodward says it was only a partial answer and tells them what a complete answer requires, Malcolm recites the rest of the answer that Reese's teacher didn't bother to read and tells him it is "exactly what {I} wrote". Lois hears the "I wrote" part, and despite Malcolm's attempts to cover up his blunder, realizes that that her cheated for Reese. She is furious at this at first, but then immediately realizes that Mr. Woodward put an "F" on something Malcolm wrote. She takes her fury on Mr. Woodward about how Reese was inadvertently telling the truth the whole time and can't wait to see him fired for abusing the power he held as a teacher. When Mr. Woodward informs Lois that Malcolm will be expelled if the school finds out about him taking Reese's test for him, Lois sees this as a threat and tells him that Malcolm's knowledge will guarantee his future no matter what, and that Reese is the one who needs all the help he can get. Mr. Woodward does not believe that any mother could ever have such disregards for her own son, especially one who achieves like Malcolm. Suddenly, Francis then appears at the window cold, filthy, injured, hungry, crying and begging to come home; he promises to will fix the roof, paint the house, or do anything to be inside and warm again. Mr. Woodward is horrified and accepts his defeat, and then arranges a deal to prevent himself from getting fired.

In the end, Dewey sets his fly Tony free by taking him out the bedroom window to prevent Lois from swatting him. Malcolm, Reese, Francis, and Mr. Woodward are all re-shingling the roof of the house; Malcolm and Reese are doing so as punishment for their cheating, while Mr. Woodward is forced to help due to Lois blackmailing him with proof of him sabotaging Reese's grades for a personal vendetta, which would result in him being fired should the school ever find out. Malcolm claims it is cold, filthy and dangerous but thinks that him and Reese got off easy, and if they all pitch in, they should be done in a week.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • In the scene where Francis bangs on the window, Malcolm is briefly seen portrayed by a different actor.
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