The series finale of Malcolm in the Middle came on tonight and I have to say I was very impressed.
Malcolm in the middle was a show that was hinged on the suffering of Malcolm. Be it his social alienation at school or his brutal torture by his elder siblings. Malcolm’s life has been a series of laughable misfortunes at the hand of fate all task mastered by his strict drill sergeant harpy of a mother. Tonight, as the show took a bow, you discovered why that was. Malcolm, for all his whining and self pity is being groomed to be the next President of the United States. His mother, for all her discipline and strength had his life planned down to the minutia with a sense for detail that Malcolm himself could be proud of.
They even planned to see Dewey live a life of reckless monetary privilege. The family, held together by their misery and the hope that Malcolm for all his genius will finally make something, not only of himself but of the world. Reece is a lost cause, for all his malaise and violence his dream job is as the janitor at his high school. The eldest son Francis is stuck in a cubicle despite a life of mischief and free spirit roaming. His life of roaming from situation to situation and job to job brought him to the point where he loved the stability of soul drenching work. He has gleefully become his father and he is proud to wear the mantle. This last subplot was deftly handled as most Francis asides were, neatly packed away in the corners of the larger narrative.
And it all closed perfectly. Malcolm’s life was spelled out and looked neat and packaged beneath a layer of refuse that is his life. Forged in the mess of human existence he shall rise as a pearl to lead the unwashed masses in a way that only one humbled by strife can understand. And it all makes sense. It was one of those episodes built on the strength of the human spirit. Malcolm confronted with the clarity of his fate could not argue with the reality that in the end his mother was right and she always has been.
The show always worked for this reason, when Malcolm, in all his intelligence and planning could not ignore the grim reality that his mother was always right and no matter how hard he fought this brilliant truth he always ended up a better person for it. One of my favorite episodes is when Lois, the mother, visits Hal’s family and is treated sourly as an outcast and has a breakdown where she cries on the floor. The boys, who should enjoy this felling of their ersatz jailer, instead become invigorated to protect their mother. They channel their dangerous pranks into one big blast that shocks Hal’s family and has them banished. I always loved the teamwork and control they could invoke to protect one another. No mater how mean or physically hurtful they could be to one another they would come together whenever there was any outside threat.
I bid you adieu Malcolm, Reese, Francis, & Dewey, your time was harsh and unforgiving, and it was well worth it.