With Christmas upon them, Frankie decides to avoid the usual shenanigans by skipping church. Why show up embarrassingly late and get stuck watching the service on a TV in the overflow room when they can stay home and watch a service from their couch? Perfect plan, right? What could possibly go wrong?
This is a very self-contained episode. Everyone’s in the house together (until the last few minutes at least), and there aren’t any recurring guest stars, despite the obvious opportunity to bring Frankie or Mike’s families in. I don’t mind this exactly, but I will say that the ep took awhile to pick up steam. We had Frankie trying to keep everyone together watching church TV, which was fine. We had Brick and Axl arguing over Frankie’s Christmas present, also fine. But come on. We all know the show didn’t really get going until Sue’s desire to share the family Christmas photo online led to all the family photos being lost.
In case anyone missed it before, Frankie isn’t good with computers. Unplugging a computer over and over when you’ve already lost valuable stuff? I’m no expert myself, but I’m going to guess that’s probably not the best idea. Which, of course, makes it funny. Frankie frantically asking what a Cloud is and if they have it and where it is. Don’t worry, Frankie. It’s like that one guy said in that trailer for that movie I didn’t see. Nobody understands the Cloud.
Again, the Brick and Axl stuff is fine, but Frankie’s breakdown is absolutely the highlight of the show. Seeing a grown woman reduced to a crying, screaming mess when she thinks that all traces of her family history are gone? Shouldn’t be funny. Funny anyway? No doubt.
I also liked the unusually high number of references to previous episodes. We don’t see very much of that on this show. Here, we got callbacks to Planet Nowhere, Brick’s favorite book series, and the focus of that convention he went to a season or so ago. We got reminded of the time Frankie lost the car. And, my personal favorite, the time Brick wrote one really awesome sentence before giving up on his dreams to be a writer. There were probably more references to past seasons, those were just the ones I caught after realizing there was a theme here.
Eventually, perhaps through a Christmas miracle, things work out as best they can. Mike does a seriously sweet thing to get Frankie feeling better, and the Hecks end up sitting in the church nursery. The lesson here seems to be, don’t mess with tradition. Even if your tradition is kind of broken and messy already. Don’t rock the boat, it’ll only make things worse.
Also, there’s that shot we’ve seen in promos all week where Frankie slams the door on unsuspecting carolers. Don’t care if we saw it already, still funny.