What’s Lizzie to do now that she’s about to graduate middle school and has made a move on her best friend? Who knows! We’ve got eleven episodes to slog through now, and they have no significance to the overarching narrative at all.
Lizzie, Gordo and Miranda are in the courtyard, AND YES I SAID MIRANDA! MIRANDA IS BACK! Boy, her absence was incredibly noticeable these past few episodes. They didn’t even have the decency to space them out more – we got four straight episodes without her. The school is welcoming back Miss Dew, who in “Dear Lizzie” was the subject of a few cracks about her absence that seemed like non sequiters. It turns out that was all set up in this episode, which was filmed 20th according to the clapperboard in the blooper reel.
This one was written by Bob Thomas, who only wrote two episodes for the show (this one and “Best Dressed for Much Less.”). I checked on who wrote it because Miranda’s whole thing is yelling at inappropriate times this episode, which isn’t consistent with the rest of the series.
Shoutout to commenter K. for pointing out recently that Bob Thomas is Jake Thomas’s dad! And Miss Dew is played by his mom! I had no idea. I guess that the surname Thomas was so common as to not raise any flags for me. Bob Thomas did like a tweet I posted once, so he’s all right by me.
Miss Dew, who’s apparently an art teacher, seems to have been on sabbatical after some kind of nervous breakdown. She announces a school “mural of togetherness” on the courtyard wall. Miranda yells, “GO, MISS DEW!” to encourage her and yells “HA HA HA” when she tries to tell a joke. I’m honestly just so happy to see Miranda again that I don’t care what she’s doing. This is a minor quibble, but Lizzie specifically said in “Jack of All Trades” that she always gives teachers a pity laugh, but here Miranda supplies the pity laugh and Lizzie just does this:
The next morning, Jo announces plans to paint the front door to reflect their family’s personality. She changes the door color every scene and someone shits on her choice every scene.
A pipe bursts in Matt’s room and Sam says Matt will need to move into Lizzie’s room until it’s fixed. That’s not ideal, but keep in mind Lizzie’s room is the size of two or three rooms put together.
At school, the trio tries to plan where to put their handprints, but apparently each space has already been claimed by different cliques. Kate shuns them from the cheerleading section and Tudgeman disqualifies them from the geek section by testing them on whether they know “Jar-Jar Binks’s middle name.” I can’t believe this is the second episode where loving Jar-Jar Binks was the standard for geekiness.
Lizzie makes the very forced connection that there’s “no room for me on the wall and no room for me at home” because Matt is moving into her room. She says they shared a room when she was five and it sucked then too, and we get a frankly amazing shot of a five year old who’s really over some bullshit.
Miss Dew runs around getting very afraid of things like the fire drill bell. She’s supposed to be a funny character, but she’s also pretty sad and I feel bad for her.
Sam moves Matt’s bed into Lizzie’s room – which, again, is feasible because it’s an enormous space – and Lizzie act like she’s been forced to sleep in an actual doghouse. A contractor charges the McGuires lots of money to fix the pipe and is unreasonable, which is the source of lots of “jokes” for the rest of the episode. I think I actually laugh at this show every three to five episodes.
We get a sequence of the McGuire kids tormenting each other that is legitimately infuriating to watch. Matt wants it cold but Lizzie wants it hot! Lizzie wants a white noise machine on but Matt wants it off! Matt wants a nightlight but Lizzie doesn’t! And so on and so on for what feels like hours. Enjoyably, Sam gets to be a mean dad for the first time and howls at his terrible children to shut the fuck up. It’s such a relief.
The next morning, Sam and Jo are both exhausted because their kids’ squabbling kept them up all night. Honestly, they should really ship Matt off to boarding school and put Lizzie in counseling for her anger issues. Both kids are terrors.
There’s a weird scene of an art class where everyone practices making handprints, which seems like a wildly unnecessary waste of class time for a middle school. Besides, isn’t Lizzie taking drama as her elective this year?
The trio runs around trying to get into different cliques but are rejected by jocks and cheerleaders and chased down by the chess club after Miranda decided to scream encouragement during a chess match.
Of course, the extremely cool drama kids shun them as well. Drama kids: the cream of the crop, in this school, somehow.
The kids get home to find that Sam has taken all of their stuff and put it into the garage. They have to sleep on sleeping bags on the wood floors until they learn to cooperate. I’m not sure if this is the best tactic, but it’s an interesting change to see Sam care about parenting. Jo thinks so too, because as soon as the kids leave she says, “That’s very forceful of you! I like it. Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” and the camera cuts away, presumably so they can fuck.
That night the children are understandably miserable, so they decide to pretend to get along to get their stuff back. Sam comes in and they launch into the most over-the-top act, with Matt going so far as to sweetly call him “Father.” Sam, an idiot, falls for it.
The next day, they keep it up, speaking to each other in a stiff, formal way and referring to each other as “Elizabeth” and “Matthew.” When they leave for school, Jo points out that their kids don’t normally speak like that and Sam is gobsmacked.
Lizzie tells Gordo and Miranda that it’s not actually that hard to get along with Matt and they are family, after all. I don’t really buy that she learned that lesson that quickly.
It’s time for everyone to put their prints on the wall of togetherness, so they go outside and watch everyone split up into groups. They all realize that it doesn’t matter if they fit into other cliques because they’ve formed their own group and it’s all they need.
Jo finds the perfect color for the front door. I think it’s fitting!
Say what you will about the McGuires, they are nothing if not white.
The trio revisits the mural to find their prints and can’t. Lizzie realizes that it doesn’t matter whose handprints went with what clique in the end.
Man! This was a better finale than the finale! Lizzie learned to get along with Matt and realized that her place in the school hierarchy didn’t matter as long as she had her friends. It shows maturity and growth on Lizzie’s part and sums up the experience of her life in middle school. It’s much more touching (and exceedingly better written) than the manufactured melodrama of “Bye, Bye Hillridge Junior High.” I wonder if this was ever pitched as a possible finale. The wall of togetherness could easily be a graduating class project. All it needs is some Lizzie/Gordo resolution and it would be a neat way to tie up the series. Somehow I don’t think it was, though, as it was filmed right around the middle of the season and is clearly supposed to come before “Dear Lizzie” to introduce Miss Dew. It’s a shame.
Notable fashion moments: Lizzie wears a cameo pendant in her hair for some reason.
She also rewears an exact outfit she wore in “Lizzie in the Middle!”
It was fugly then and it’s fugly now, even though she switches out the necklace for a very similar necklace.
Miranda’s triumphant return is marked by a very, very, very England-centric outfit.
She’s wearing a red, white and blue sparkly belt buckle too, but I can’t tell if it’s also UK-tastic or a random bit of American swag.
Other interesting tidbits: