Several things come to a close in this episode. The infamous Year of Sue, Sue’s high school career as a whole, and the show’s sixth season. I’ve been expecting the usual quirky hijinks for weeks now. What I didn’t anticipate? Being so genuinely touched by the proceedings.
Sue’s graduation is finally upon us, but the days leading up to it aren’t great. Her yearbook pictures aren’t what she expected, her work founding Wrestlerettes isn’t even acknowledged (not like that’s new), and the one time in her life she breaks a school rule, it costs her the only award, the only form of legitimate recognition, she was due to receive. As so often happens to this sweet, lovable girl, life just kicks her in the teeth.
Axl’s home for the summer, but panics when he sees pictures of Devin in Idaho with other guys, and realizes she may be dating new people. He goes to Brick and Sue for advice, and they both use the word damn. Significant to the overall story, maybe not. But to me, definitely. These characters don’t swear. Ever. In any form. And they both did so in the space of a few minutes. I’m sorry, but that’s a thing that just doesn’t happen. Our little Hecks are growing up.
Brick is so smart that his principal wants him to skip a grade, meaning he’d be in high school a year early. When he learns this, he immediately hijacks Sue’s graduation party, much to her consternation. He also wears a Batman costume for a minute, which was great.
Greater still, Axl choosing to be there for Sue’s graduation instead of going to Idaho to proclaim his love for Devin. Axl isn’t normally the most selfless guy, so we know that cost him. Yet we and he were both rewarded when Devin showed up unexpectedly, killing any doubts about the seriousness of their relationship. She drove 28 hours to be with him for two days, three max. That’s legit devotion right there.
Sue’s graduation ceremony though. Her thinking that no one cared about her, and then getting her yearbook signed by literally every student in class. That was such a big moment, because we’ve shared her frustration for four years, her not being recognized, being called by the wrong name, never quite fitting in. But she did matter. Her positivity affected literally her entire graduating class. Her classmates were right; we should all strive to be a bit more like Sue, to not give up, to stay positive. And that message was delivered in a very poignant way. And the montage of Sue’s greatest hits, so to speak? Yeah, awesome montage. Just awesome.
The graduation party. Did you see how nice that yard looked, how nice everything looked? It’s been a running gag since season one, the Hecks don’t have nice things. So how much effort did Frankie and Mike put into making that night special for Sue? A lot.
I’ve been a little disenchanted with the show lately, but this episode reminded me why I’ve watched for so long. That last scene of the whole family surrounding Sue as she prepares for the next chapter in her life? Again, I was genuinely impacted. It wasn’t cloyingly sentimental, but it showed how much the Hecks love each other, and why the audience should still love them.
After stumbling the last few weeks, The Middle goes out on a heartfelt high note. See you in September, Hecks.