The Middle – First Half of Season 8 – Callbacks and Continuity

I’m back early this season with my post about the callbacks and continuity of The Middle. The first half of season 8 is over and because we have to wait for new episodes (the season continues on Jan 3rd, 8/7c on ABC), I finished this post so you have something to do while you wait 🙂 At the end of the season, I will update this post with the remaining 14 episodes.

Beware of spoilers.

  1. The Core Group
  • Frankie tells Mike that the neighbor’s baby is already scared of him when he’s lurking out the window to see if Sue is already home. This is the baby of the new neighbors, who moved in in The Lanai (7.21). She was still pregnant at the time though.
  • The cousin clothes are back! We first hear about the cousin’s box in The Legacy (2.19) and later in The Award (5.14) and Brick mentioned it as well last season in Crushed (7.19).
  • Sue comes back from Dollywood where she worked all summer. She got this job in A Very Donahue Vacation (7.18).
  • Brick is still using Sue’s room. She gave him the room as a gift in Not Mother’s Day (7.22).
  • Just like last season, we see Li’l Rivals diaper boxes around the house, from Mike’s business that he started in Risky Business (7.04).
  • Of course we finally get to meet April, Axl’s love if his life, we heard about her at the end of The Show Must Go On (7.24).
  • Not only Axl’s relationship is explored, we also see Cindy back and Jeremy, the guy Sue has been dating since last season. We first saw him in Birds of a Feather (7.12) and later in Crushed (7.19) and Survey Says… (7.20).
  • Brick finally has a new backpack to replace the pizza bag. He first started using the pizza bag in Unbraceable You (6.01) and has been using it in season 6 and 7.
  • Cindy is irritated that the Hecks are not serving shrimp for dinner. We found out about her love for shrimp in Halloween V (6.05).
  1. A Tough Pill To Swallow
  • Frankie mentions buying dog treats. Even though we don’t see Doris, we know she’s still alive. Doris came to live with the Hecks in Hecks On A Train (6.12).
  • In The Core Group (8.01) we see that Sue has doubts about Jeremy and in this episode that’s explored further.
  • Mike sells his half of the diaper business to pay Sue’s tuition. He started the diaper business last season with Rusty in Risky Business (7.04).
  1. Halloween VII: The Heckoning
  • Brick has the haircut ‘Vintage Brick’ again, instead of the bangs we first saw in The Core Group (8.01).
  • The familiar lines “Hi I’m April” and “First door on the left” (talking about the bathroom) are back in this episode. We first heard them in The Core Group (8.01).
  • Brick is still sleeping in Sue’s room and Sue’s is still crashing in Axl’s room. This has been going on since Not Mother’s Day (7.22), but after this episode, they switch rooms again.
  • Frankie doesn’t want her magazines with the royal family to get ruined. We first hear about her love for the royal family in The Royal Wedding (2.20).
  • Brick mentions the Ferguson baby, who stayed at the Heck house the first month of his life after he and Brick got switched up at the hospital. The story is explained in A Birthday Story (2.07).
  • Sue is still wearing her retainer, ever since she got her braces off in Unbraceable You (6.01).
  • Brick makes another hole in the wall of Sue’s bedroom. It’s the third hole throughout the run of the show. The first time was in The Big Chill (2.12) and the second in The Safe (4.07).
  • Brick mentions the cousin clothes again, which are first introduced in The Legacy (2.19).
  • Brick finally gets his own chair after sitting in a lawn chair since Siblings (1.09). It’s the longest running joke on the show and the chair is mentioned or seen in every season, in a lot of episodes.
  1. True Grit
  • “Our place doesn’t even have a roof and it looks better than this” refers to the Winnebago, part of the roof burnt in The Lanai (7.21).
  • Axl wants to know where Sue hid the fudge she got from their grandma. We know that Grandma Pat makes fudge for the family every Christmas, like in A Simple Christmas (2.10) and The Christmas Wall (6.09).
  • Axl eats some of Sue’s chocolate, but it has almonds in it which he doesn’t like. We find that out in Birds of a Feather (7.12).
  • Sue mentions her breakup with Darrin, something that happened in The Answer (6.14).
  • Sue’s no cut acapella group is trying to break up with Jeremy for her. She became part of the group in The Shirt (7.03).
  • Axl mentions the Boss Co Break Up Service, something he, Sean and Darrin came up with in Valentine’s Day IV (4.15).
  • Sue finally breaks up with Jeremy, something she has been thinking about since The Core Group (8.01).
  • When picking up Brick from the party, Mike assumes that he must have had a good night because Brick is still wearing both his shoes. This refers to Major Anxiety (6.03) when he came home from a party, only wearing one shoe.
  1. Roadkill
  • Mike and Frankie forget Brick’s birthday again, like in Steaming Pile Of Guilt (6.15).
  • Sue is still thinking about majoring in theater, something she started thinking about after she came back from Dollywood in The Core Group (8.01).
  • Brick takes one of Frankie’s nightstand cookies, we have seen those before, for example in The Loneliest Locker (6.02).
  • The polyurethane cow that Brick kills in this episode has been in earlier episodes like Pilot (1.01), The 100th (5.04) and Siblings and Sombreros (6.19).
  • Frankie accidentally lets it slip out that Mike sold his diaper business to pay for Sue’s tuition in A Tough Pill To Swallow (8.02), after she was too late applying for financial aid.
  • Sue mentions that Mike told Axl what to major in. This happened in Major Anxiety (6.03).
  • Brick says he has a motive for killing the polyurethane cow: he lost the slogan contest (‘Orson, the heartland’s hidden gem’) in The 100th (5.04).
  • Sue is majoring in Hospitality and Hotel Management, something East Indy is known for. In Steaming Pile Of Guilt (6.15) Weird Ashley mentions that she is studying the same thing and that East Indiana State has a good program.
  1. Thanksgiving VIII
  • Sean’ s hippie phase, that we first learned about in Homecoming II: Tailgate (7.07) and came back throughout the 7th season, is finally over. Frankie talked him into taking the MCATs in A Very Donahue Vacation (7.18) and now he is waiting to hear back from med schools to find out if he got in.
  • Frankie takes the quilt out of the oven so that Nancy can use it for her Thanksgiving dish. Storing the quilt in the oven has been a running gag on the show ever since we first saw it in Errand Boy (2.08).
  • Sue is back working at Spudsy’s, where she has been working on and off ever since she got the job there in The Potato (5.03).
  • The hole in the wall Brack made in Halloween VII: The Heckoning (8.03) is still there.
  • We’ve heard April say “Hi, I’m April” before in The Core Group (8.01) and in Halloween VII: The Heckoning (8.03).
  • Axl is making a salad for Thanksgiving dinner at April’s parents. This is something that he does very well, as Brick mentions in The Bachelor (4.19).
  • Axl mentions the Hecks’ two previous Thanksgivings: they weren’t together last year in Thanksgiving VII (7.08) because they all had other things to do and the year before that they weren’t home either, but went to King’s Feast in Thanksgiving VI (6.07).
  1. Look Who’s Not Talking
  • This is a continuing story after the cliffhanger in Thanksgiving VIII (8.06). This is the second cliffhanger on The Middle, after Darrin’s proposal to Sue in Valentine’s Day VI (6.13) and Sue’s answer to his proposal in The Answer (6.14).
  • After moving out of their crappy dorm room in True Grit (8.04), Sue and Lexie now live in temporary housing until they find a new place to live.
  • Axl still has the hole in the roof of his Winnebago, ever since the fire in The Lanai (7.21).
  • Dr. Fulton talks about his ex-girlfriend Shelly again. He has been mentioning her since he started his sessions with Brick’s as a school therapist in Life Skills (4.11).
  1. Trip and Fall
  • The storyline around Axl/April and the family that started in Thanksgiving VIII (8.06) and continued in Look Who’s Not Talking (8.07) still hasn’t been resolved.
  • The guy who drove Sue home in The Man Hunt (7.16) is back in this episode.
  • Rita says she’s still scarred from what Frankie did to her last Halloween in Halloween VI: Tick Tock Death (7.06).
  • Sue tells the story of when she twerked after drinking a sip of spiked lemonade. She also told this story (and we saw a clip of it) in Hungry Games (5.13).
  • Mike forgets to take the quilt out of the oven when he’s baking cupcakes. We first saw that the Hecks store the quilt in the oven in Errand Boy (2.08).
  • This is not really a callback, but more an observation. This is the first episode ever where Frankie and Mike are not in a scene together.
  1. A Very Marry Christmas
  • We see the neighbors again who moved in in The Lanai (7.21), including the newborn baby.
  • Brick says Frankie is probably not home because she didn’t fake call in sick, like she tried to do in Trip and Fall (8.08).
  • Axl finally comes back home, after not talking to his parents since Thanksgiving VIII (8.06).
  • Frankie says she thought Axl only wanted to help set up the Christmas village so that he could put the town people in compromising positions, something he always does. We first saw this in The Christmas Wall (6.09).
  • Frankie mentions the inflatable footbath again, a gift Mike gave her in Mother’s Day (1.22).
  • We haven’t seen him use it a lot, but Mike is riding the motorcycle he bought in The Shirt (7.03).
  • Frankie talks about the text she sent Axl with the dirty carrot in Look Who’s Not Talking (8.07).
  • Frankie once again talks about that she’s ‘the boy mom’, like she did in Thanksgiving VIII (8.06), meaning that she has no say in anything, like what she can wear to Axl and April’s wedding if they would ever get married.
  • You can see the Christmas tree with the pink top the Hecks bought in The Christmas Wall (6.09).
  • The episode ends with the Hecks’ Christmas photo that they took in Thanksgiving VIII (8.06).

Consistencies throughout the first half of the season:

The Middle had some great continuing storylines in the first half of the season:

  • We hear about or see Sue’s crappy dorm room in the first few episodes of the season, until she moves out in True Grit (8.04). She and Lexie got the room after the dorm lottery in The Lanai (7.21).
  • Of course Axl’s relationship for April is a thing that continues in almost every episode of season 8 that we’ve seen so far. Frankie dislikes her more and more after every episode. The last 4 episodes that we saw before the winter break are all one big storyline leading to Axl and April getting married in Trip and Fall (8.08), the family’s reaction to that and finally the annulment in A Very Marry Christmas (8.09).
  • Doris the dog is mentioned multiple times in the first half of the season. She has not been on screen, but we can assume that she’s still alive (the Hecks buy dog food and we see a dog basket laying around).

This is what I have for you so far. I hope you come back in May to check out the callbacks of the second half of the season!

If you want to read more, you can check out my reviews about The Middle here. You can find some interviews there as well. Also check out my posts about the callbacks of season 6 and season 7!

Happy Holidays!


6 thoughts on “The Middle – First Half of Season 8 – Callbacks and Continuity

  1. Sue-Sue Heck says:

    Wow! Fantastic job. And nice catch on Frankie and Mike not having even one scene together in Trip and Fall (I thought Mike’s storyline in that was hilarious and it was great to see the quarry guys again.)

    Thanks for compiling all this info. I’ll check out your other posts about The Middle, as well.

    Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

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