The Middle 6×12 ‘Hecks on a Train’ : Life is fleeting

It was bound to happen soon, Aunt Edie has died, and the Hecks hop a train to South Dakota to bury her next to her husband. Axl thinks he killed her, Sue thinks she’ll never get into college, and Brick helps steal some beer. So, just another family trip.

First let me say that the best shot of the entire show happened about two seconds into it, when Edie’s dog is shown with his little oxygen mask. It’s somewhere between horrible and endearing, and I probably shouldn’t have laughed, but I did. It was also fun seeing the depths of Edie’s alcoholism, how everything she owned functioned as a portable bar.

Axl surprised me here. When he gave Sue a mini lecture about family and missing Edie, I thought he had some kind of angle. Turns out he actually was upset. He’d been telling teachers that Edie had died for years, whenever he needed an extension on a test or paper. Therefore, he viewed her death as karmic retribution for his lies. Well, if karma didn’t kick in until Edie was ninety-six, I’m thinking the karma gods weren’t too mad.

Brick makes a friend, which is always fun, as he has absolutely no idea how to make friends. His strategy of just agreeing with whatever the other person says may or may not be a tactic I’ve used on past boyfriends.

Source: CBS

Source: CBS

Sue accidentally sends in her college application essay, complete with a glaring typo. Come on, Sue. You’re going to college. You should know that you write these things out in Word first. Axl flips out when he realizes she’s applied to his school. He whines and throws a fit, and that’s when I lost my sympathy for him. It also led to one of my favorite bits of the show, when Mike pleasantly tells Axl to get over himself, that Sue will go to whatever school she wants, and that he’ll just have to live with it. It was a great Dad moment for Mike, reminding us how much he cares about Sue’s happiness.

And then there’s Frankie’s happiness. She’s mad at Mike because he won’t comfort her during her time of grieving. And because when she fell on the train, he finished loading up on condiments instead of helping her up. Which, let’s be real, that’s pretty bad.

Frankie accuses Mike of not being a nurturer, like this is news to anyone. His attempts to prove her wrong are both painful and funny. This all leads to the best part of the episode, when the train leaves without Frankie, and she realizes that none of the family noticed her missing. Again, pretty bad, and I’d be pissed too.

Then they reach South Dakota, and Frankie realizes Mike’s not so bad after all. He’s handled all the funeral arrangements days in advance, without telling her. He’s not a nurturer in the typical sense, but he absolutely does care for her feelings. He just, you know, has to do it in quiet secrecy.

This was a sweet moment for the couple, and then for the family as a whole as they celebrated Edie’s life. I do wonder why this episode came about now, since I don’t think the actress passed away for real. Especially since there wasn’t any mention of it in the credits. IMDB says Edie hasn’t actually been on the show since 2012, so maybe she’s just retired and got a late sendoff. Either way, this was a sweet/sad episode that paid fitting tribute to the beloved Aunt Edie.

Nicolette Schneider

is a lit geek, a comic geek, and a certified TV fanatic. She often prefers fictional people over real ones. When she does make friends with regular humans, she likes the ones who give her access to their Netflix accounts. She loves words and hopes to one day make money stringing them together. Until then, read those words for free on

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