In the opening segment, Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) explains that every 17.4 dinners, his family actually has a pleasant meal together, but that pleasant feeling is threatened when Reese (Justin Berfield), playfully but unwisely, threatens to fling a spoonful of mashed potatoes at Lois (Jane Kaczmarek). At school, Caroline (Catherine Lloyd Burns) holds Malcolm after class, to express her desire to "connect on a deeper level." She offers a sympathetic ear, which just makes Malcolm uncomfortable. Francis (Christopher Kennedy Masterson) is babysitting for the weekend while Lois and Hal (Bryan Cranston) go out of town for a wedding. "Just remember," Lois warns the boys, "Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan) will tell us everything you did." Malcolm has reason to believe that if Francis does a good job babysitting, he'll get to come back home from military school permanently. Malcolm convinces Reese (Justin Berfield) and Dewey to behave themselves, but doesn't tell Francis about their plan, knowing that he doesn't respond well to being told what to do. But when Francis invites some friends over and they trash the house, Malcolm reveals what he thinks is going on. The four boys frantically whip the house back into shape. Just when it seems like all is well, a shelf collapses on Malcolm's head, necessitating a visit to the emergency room, where Malcolm finds himself in need of "a sympathetic ear."
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