Major Changes is the fourth episode of season three.
Frankie has a meltdown and forces the family to make significant changes to their lifestyle. But just as she puts these changes into effect, she leaves them to spend a some time relaxing with her mother.
Pam Staggs is going on the Wheel! Pam Staggs, by the way, is a girl Frankie knows from high school. And the "Wheel" is code for Wheel of Fortune. Frankie has always been envious of Pam. She was a cheerleader and her family had Pong before anyone else. There's no way Frankie wants to miss seeing her on the Wheel. If she could only get Mr. Ehlert to wrap up his story so she can get home before Vanna reveals her first letter.
As for the Heck kids, Brick is obsessed with a catalog that allows you to get Chicago food delivered direct from the Windy City. Axl has been working his hat all summer to have its look atop his head arrive at the optimum level of awesomeness. And Sue has been monopolizing her mom's shower forcing Frankie to lather up over the kitchen sink.
Frankie makes it home in time to see her show. She's very hungry, so she starts inhaling the last remnants of a bag of chips that was tucked under a throw pillow. Sue informs her mom that the chip bag served as a repository for a certain grooming activity performed by her number one son. She screams, "You just ate Axl's toenails!"
The Heck house is typically in a state of disarray. It's been a constant source of frustration for Frankie. But the toenail incident has propelled things to a new level of grossness. The fact that Pam Staggs just won a million bucks on the Wheel adds fuel to Frankie's major meltdown. She packs a few things in a plastic bag and heads out the door. Before she leaves, Frankie promises that major changes are on the way.
Frankie ends up going to see her mom, Pat (guest star Marsha Mason), for a little TLC. There's no place like home when you're feeling low. Frankie vents about the fact that pretty Pam Staggs will soon be driving around in a new Ford Fiesta while she continues to belly-up to the toenail buffet.
Back home, Mike wants the kids to think about what caused their mom to flee. He also wants them to ponder what changes can be made as they all adjust to life without Frankie, who doesn't look to be heading home anytime soon. That's fine. Mike will just go up and get her while the kids stay home bickering about which one of them actually drove their mom away.
The kids ultimately decide they do need to make major changes—like cleaning up the house. But if cleaning isn't the major change their mom wanted, then they'd being doing lots of work for no reason. So it's probably best to do nothing.
A heart-to-heart chat with Pat has Frankie seeing that every mom has that moment where they just want to skip out to a Holiday Inn where they can watch all three Smokey and the Bandit flicks in one night. At least, that's what happened to Pat. She tells Frankie that she'll end up having more good moments than toenail moments.
A short time later, Mike pulls up to the house to bring Frankie home. Too bad he just honks instead of actually getting out of the car. Hey, it was a long drive! Mike tells Frankie that you power through the problems and that Pam Staggs has nothing on her. He says, "You're a thousand times prettier than she is." Just like that, Frankie is ready to come home.
When the kids find out their parents are on their way, they do a super-quick cleanup of the house. And by cleanup, we mean they toss anything and everything into the backyard. In the end, the family does manage to engage in some minor changes. For example, Axl no longer leaves his dirty shoes on the kitchen counter. Now he keeps them on the stove. That's progress.