The Bee is the sixteenth episode of season one.
Brick shows considerable talent in his school's spelling bee, and Mike decides to train him for the regional bee. The family gets set to go on a road trip to Chicago for the regional bee when they realize that they forgot one thing—Sue's birthday!
Frankie gets promoted to Customer Relations Supervisor down at Ehlert Motors. That means she gets to write birthday cards to all the cars they’ve sold over the past 10 years. You heard us right. She’s sending cards to hatchbacks. All this busy work means that Mike will have to pinch hit for her as a volunteer in Brick’s class.
Mike’s not all that jazzed about reading time with the kiddies, but the class visit ends on a high note when he finds out Brick won the school-wide spelling bee. If he wins at a few more competitions, he’ll take part in the Scripp’s Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.
Sue has been making random remarks about any special plans in the works for Saturday. She wonders if Frankie might be making her favorite dinner. And if there’s a chance she could have some friends spend the night. Frankie puts the kibosh on the sleepover idea. Sue takes the news in stride. She winks and promises to think of something else. She’s acting very peculiar.
Brick’s not all that excited about competing in more spelling bees, but Mike is busting at the seams. He coaches his youngest son relentlessly. Brick is a natural. He dusts the competition at the Orson County Bee which means he can go to Chicago to compete in the Midwest Regionals. After that, he’s off to our nation’s capitol.
When Mike and Frankie return home to share the news of Brick’s victory with the rest of the family, they find a dejected Sue sitting at the dining room table. She’s holding a balloon and there’s a small piece of cake sitting on a plate. As Sue sings the most depressing rendition of “Happy Birthday” ever heard in Indiana, her parents suddenly realize they forgot her big day.
In order to make it up to Sue, Frankie offers to celebrate her birthday next weekend in Chicago, which just happens to be the location of Brick’s next spelling bee. Sue’s no fool. She knows her folks are trying to pass of Brick’s trip as her birthday bash. Frankie then says her real present is that she’s in charge of the whole trip. Every decision that’s made must come from Sue. That’ll work!
The long car ride is filled with sing-along songs by Sue. She picks the Colonial Diner as a spot to stop and eat. The sign said their food is “revolutionary!” Unfortunately, the chicken pot pie tastes like it was made in 1776. After the meal, Sue wants to stop to see the world’s largest oak tree stump. It’s the Eighth Wonder of Muncie! But this particular wonder isn’t all that wondrous. Maybe the hotel Sue picks out will be a nice place to regroup. Nah, it’s a dump. And the TV doesn’t work either.
As the family sleeps, Sue can be heard crying. Mike tells her to stop so she doesn’t wake up Brick. This leads Frankie to accuse Mike of wanting to win the spelling bee, not Brick. She may have a point. Mike does want to win, but he also wants to make sure his daughter knows that he’s sorry they missed her birthday. The next morning, he drives 10 miles down the road to get Sue some donut holes, as he knows that they are her favorite. Actually, they’re Brick’s favorite. Sue likes waffles. But it’s the thought that counts.
The family finally arrives at the Spelling Bee. While all the other kids are pacing nervously, all Brick can think about is a pancake house Sue told him about. Apparently, they make the pancakes right at your table. This nonchalant attitude makes Mike realize that Brick could care less about the Spelling Bee. And that could give him the edge he needs to win it all. Let the spelling begin!
The words come fast and furious and the disqualification dings from the judges are swift and decisive. But Brick is on fire and makes it down to the final two. The word is: Chiaroscurist. Brick says, “C-H-I-A-R-O-S-C-U-R-I-S-T. Then he bows his head and whispers one more “T.” DING! Brick is out of the competition.
Brick is upset that he lost, but not because he won’t get a trophy. He really wanted to go to Washington, DC. This road trip was a lot of fun and he really wanted to go on another. At least they can still enjoy the ride home. They’ll even stop to see the world’s biggest ball of paint on the way. Sounds like F-U-N!