Synopsis and review of Reese vs. Stevie

Written by Petch

All hail Alex Reid, ace writer of such Malcolm In The Middle gems as the award winning Bowling episode, as well as Watching The Baby, Hal's Christmas Gift and now this one. And despite series creator Linwood Boomer's agenda to sequester himself into a mere advisor role, here he is directing again. Good on both of them. I'll not beat around the bush; "Reese Vs. Stevie" is a primo episode.

We start out with a beleagured Hal, wondering whose cigarette butt is lying on the garage floor. It's not Reese, though. It's Dewey, who has found his dad's long-stashed hordes of "just in case" ciggies and has developed a smoking habit of his own. Recognizing his own complicity in keeping the contraband on the premises, Hal offers his son a counter-proposal: he'll quit drinking coffee if Dewey will quit smoking. The agreement occurs, then is expectedly shattered. By whom? Both, of course. Both have a problem. How to solve it?

All the while, Stevie has been outlining to Malcolm his dad's plan of enrolling him in the Norvet Institute which integrates robotics for handicapped persons. That doesn't stop Reese from casually inciting Stevie to a fight. This time, though, they both mean it. The ne'er-back-down Stevie is nervous about the upcoming fight, but Reese, hoping to level the playing field, immerses himself into a vat of ice water to deaden his legs and "cripple" him. Yet at the moment of engagement, Stevie appears in a robotic suit of metal, much like Sigourney Weaver's character in Aliens. Long story made short, Stevie makes quick work of the incapacitated Reese.

Lois has been concerned about the baby Jamie, who still has yet to utter a word. She deduces that no one spends enough time talking to him, so she takes it upon herself to bombard him with endless anecdotes about her day and each action she's taking as she prepares dinner, washes dishes or whatever. It's not long before Lois' prattlings are really self-therapy for herself, and she finally declares to Jamie that he's welcome to begin talking at his own convenience, not hers. Once she's out of earshot, he delivers his first line of dialogue in the series. Check the Quotes page for this episode if you'd like to know the line. Moreover, since the Jamie character is now a speaking role, he has a credit during the end titles (twins James and Lukas Rodriguez play the tot).

Hal and Dewey have had no luck in breaking the other, habit-wise. When Dewey catches a crazed Hal lighting a cigarette of his own, he has his own epiphany. Up comes the steaming mug to Dewey's lips, and he begins to drink the coffee that torments Hal, who can only puff in the tar and nicotine that Dewey craves. Both incite the other with tantalizing ad-worthy slogans until the fiasco is busted by Lois, who puts the quietus on the affair. And ironically, Malcolm, who has mostly remained detached from all conflicts herein, now has the joyless task of managing the injured Reese's bedpan.

"Reese Vs. Stevie" is a somewhat deceptive title; that conflict takes a backseat, while the Hal/Dewey storyline is the main focus. Regardless, it's a flawless episode that just might find itself numbered among the Malcolm classics. Many thanks to Alex Reid and Linwood Boomer. A job well done!

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