It's Halloween on "The Middle" this week, which means Frankie's dragging Mike to a neighborhood costume party. The problem? A mix of stodgy and too-cool-for-school, Mike refuses to dress up and look like an idiot.
Axl and his buddies, meanwhile, are planning to drive a bunch of dates out to a haunted house, hoping to cash in on their fear, lending a shoulder to cry on and cozy up to.
Finally, Sue -- who's wearing her cross-country hoodie and lavender jeans for a sixth consecutive episode -- failed to nab a date for the school's Halloween dance, and is now forced to attend the holy hayride at the church's Halloween bash.
"Whenever there's an exciting event for kids, the church always offers an 'alternative,'" Frankie explains to us, as we cut to a flashback of a bunch of flat-toned kids counting down to midnight at the church New Year's Eve Party. (The clock they're all looking at reads 8 p.m.)
As they prepare for the party, Frankie shows some frustration with Mike, and his party pooperdum: "Fine. Wear the same two boring shirts until you die."
"That's the plan," he replies.
With Frankie as a hippie, and Mike wearing blue jeans and a signature red, plaid button-down, the two prepare to take young Brick trick-or-treating. Holding down the Heck household to hand out the candy are two geriatric, senile aunts.
But everyone's having a hard time figuring out young Brick's costume -- he's decked out in grey-and-brown, turn-of-the-twentieth-century coats and hat.
"He's Shirley Temple!" squawks one aunt.
"I'll give you a hint," Brick says in precocious Scottish affectation. "I died from bayonet wounds during the Great War."
He's Charles MacKenzie, Scottish sergeant from World War I, Brick tells the bewildered adults.
As the Sarge sets off with his parents, we see Axl driving his friends and dates, but got lost along the way: "The tweet said to turn left..."
One of the girls starts worrying, recounting an old story about how a bunch of teens got lost on this very road, and ended up getting mutilated.
Back in the neighborhood, no one recognizes Brick's obscure costume, as he's mistaken for a Catholic school girl and Groundskeeper Wilie. As he's going door to door, Mike, the "Halloween narc," intercepts two teen boys who are carrying a huge bag of toilet paper and paper towels. When he arrives at the Halloween party with Frankie, he's spotted with some paper towels, causing one neighbor to think he's the Brawny guy. Frankie gets upset at her husband when he, the only adult who isn't dressed in (an intentional) costume, refuses to dance to some pumping tunes, causing her to leave in a huff.
At the church bash, Sue reunites with the hokey, guitar-strumming Reverend Tim Tom, who gave Sue a self-esteem boost last season (i.e., he remembered her name).
"You know what's even scarier than Halloween?" he asks the crowd. "Being a teen in this crazy world!"
When he starts playing his guitar, Sue's the only one who doesn't manage to scrape up a dance partner, so Tim Tom assigns her tambourine duty. True to form, Sue takes to the task awkwardly, failing to stay on beat.
"You know who else hit a rough patch?" Tim Tom says, trying to cheer up Sue. "Jesus. Three days later, he was rockin' it resurrection style."
And later, on the holy/haunted hayride, Sue meets a swell boy who gives her her first kiss.
So, as Sue and Brick find acceptance (an elderly gentleman recognizes Brick's costume reference, and the two share history repartee over candy in his backyard), Axl's plan blew up in his face, as he and his friends look like big 'fraidy cats when they attempt to push the car out of a pot hole on the supposedly haunted dirt road.
And Frankie's still PO'd at Mike: "Both of The Situations were dancing!" You just stood there like a maypole."
"We have different definitions of fun," he reasons. "You think it's fun for adults to bob for apples and swine flu. I'm right."
Just when Frankie's about to give up hope, Mike surprises her -- he TP's a nearby house with his confiscated paper cache. Giddily, Frankie joins in.
But when they return home, they see toilet paper festooned on their own house. The aunts got drunk and fell asleep: "Strange... not one trick-or-treater this year," one slurs.
"No wonder," the other says, looking around the yard. "It snowed."