Synopsis and review of Baby, Part 2

Written by Petch

"Previously on 'Malcolm In The Middle'!" an agitated Bryan Cranston voice-over barks, launching into a minute-long montage of re-cap clips from "Baby, Part 1." That's another first for the series--a cold open which has no newly-filmed shots. Then the narrative picks up right where it left off, and "Baby, Part 2" hits the pavement in fifth gear and racing.

At home, Abe and the poker buddies assist Lois to the couch, awaiting Hal's return so he can take her to the hospital. Craig happens to show up and immediately presumes to take charge of the situation--if you count jumping onto the internet to "Google"-search the word "baby" as taking charge. Ida is still frumping about, mercilessly goading Francis and Piama. And Hal is nowhere to be found.

That's because after a forty-five minute detention in the security office at the bridal expo, he manages to crash the mini-van and sustain a slight neck injury. At the hospital he is doped up against his will. The beleagured Hal dreams of breaking free from the gurney and racing home on foot to help Lois, culminating in a cleverly-executed fantasy sequence with a bizarro punchline featuring a Sumo wrestler, an umbrella and various animals; there, I've already done it an injustice by trying to describe it. Suffice to say that Michael Borkow's teleplay taps into the font of weird, abstract dreams, especially those you have after eating too much unhealthy food.

Resigned to giving birth at home for the third time, Lois is carried back to the bedroom. Lloyd stops by, wanting to borrow Malcolm's school notes, and is insinuated into the scenario. Some of the biggest laughs come from his non-chalantly selfish requests as Lois' labor gradually intensifies. The bigotted Ida continues to insult the black men who have kindly offered their time and assistance, until Steve's patience snaps and he plays to Ida's prejudice, waving his hands and crying "Booga-booga!" Ida's horrified shriek and bolting from the scene are priceless.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Malcolm, Reese and Dewey are stuck with nothing to do and, feeling somewhat guilty for the turn of events, decide to participate in a baby-care class for new parents. They ace such sports as diaper-changing and tub time, but then they reflect upon their own childhoods and realize that most of the exacting baby-care disciplines they are being taught were never visited upon them by Hal and Lois when they were babies themselves. Nonetheless, they resolve to be the "best big brothers ever." Wow, what combustible raw material for Season Five we've got on our hands.

Hal eventually escapes the gurney for real but is still hopped up on the medication, so he euphorically bumbles about the hospital ward before mistaking an elderly woman in her bed for his own wife. With Jane Kaczmarek standing in for his "mind's eye" perception, he apologizes to "Lois" for being absent during the birth, while she assures him that it's all right, the baby's fine, and that he was with her in spirit anyway. They embrace. It's a uniquely touching scene which ends in a rude awakening once Hal realizes whom he's really soul-kissing.

The baby can wait no longer, and it further comes to light that in the confusion, no one has actually called the paramedics. Ida continues to be a nuisance until Piama constructs a brilliant scheme to deploy the old bat to sister Susan's homestead, involving an invented terminal illness Ida is suffering and the need to make amends with Susan before her fictitiously impending death. The ploy works, and Ida, not realizing why she's been invited, leaves out for Susan's. Good timing, too, as Lois desperately implores the harried Francis to deliver the newborn. He balks at first but finally agrees. A short while later, the cries of a newborn are heard. "So is it a boy or a girl?" Abe asks from outside the room. The reply is drowned out by the sirens of the tardily-summoned paramedics who have finally arrived.

The final scene has Hal and the boys reunited with Lois and their youngest. Still no mention of the baby's gender, but Lois announces that they've named the kid Jamie. "It fits," Dewey asserts. It's a nice, warm and humorous scene that harkens back to the conclusion of Season Two's closer Flashback. And summarily, "Baby, Part 2" makes a perfect finale for the fourth season. Too bad they had to ruin a good thing by making the gawky, added-on outing Day Care the actual season finale.

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