Against Axl's wishes, Frankie insists on having the entire Heck family along for the ride as they drive to his college to move him into his dorm. But the short drive turns into an eternity when Sue freaks out after discovering that Frankie forgot to fax in her essay to be a candidate for Junior Peer Leadership Advisor, and Brick proves once again that he can't be trusted when he keeps losing his new cell phone.
The first day of school is upon the Heck family, and Sue finds herself feeling a sense of freedom she's never felt before with Axl not around to make her campus life miserable. But Brick, who is beginning middle school and afraid of getting a swirlie, avoids the bathroom at all costs. Meanwhile, Frankie becomes jealous of Mike when she discovers that Axl calls and returns his texts but won't do the same for her; and Sue's feelings for Darrin surface once again when Mike calls him over to help fix the air conditioner.
After Frankie and Mike are forced to return the church van when it's discovered that their car has been repaired, Sue - who has been driving the other car - begins to freak out because she'll have to start taking the bus again. But when her parents tell her that she could get her own car if she got a job, Sue ends up working as a potato girl at a local mall eatery. Meanwhile, Frankie and Mike are called into Brick's principal's office and are informed that he has not attended any of his classes - and much to the family's dismay, Axl begins to spend his nights back home when he becomes fed up with having to deal with his horrible college roommate.
Marking the 100th episode milestone of "The Middle," the citizens of Orson, Indiana celebrate the Orsontennial - the town's 100th anniversary. During this momentous event, Frankie and Mike find themselves begrudgingly trying to drive a giant cow float in the parade; Axl, Sean and Darrin resurrect Boss Co. and attempt to make some big bucks by setting up a VIP area to view the festivities; Sue, still crushing on Darrin, tries to make him jealous by pretending to be dating Brad again; and Brick tries to earn himself a place in Orson history by entering a contest to come up with the town's new motto, which will be used for the next 100 years.
As Halloween approaches, Sue holds a séance during a sleepover with her fellow Wrestlerettes and swears that she's seen the ghost of Christopher Columbus and one of his ships; Axl finds himself being hazed by the football team and not allowed to enter his own Halloween party that's being thrown in his dorm room; and the family tries in vain to give Brick advice on how to ask out a girl he likes to go with him to a Halloween dance.
Frankie is upset over constantly being made fun of by her family and finds some solace in the unconditional love she gets from a rescued dog. Frankie and Mike are stunned when Sue makes the high school volleyball team -- but, as always, there's a catch, and when Axl discovers that he is failing three of his four college classes, he calls on Brick to help him with his studies.
Thanksgiving finds the Heck family in turmoil when Axl tries to figure out the perfect time to tell his parents that he dropped three out of his four college classes. Frankie's dad, Tag, admits to Mike that he lost a lot of money gambling online and won't be able to take his wife Pat on a planned cruise. Sue is hiding a shocking secret from her discount shopping excursion with Frankie, Dr. Goodwin and Uncle Rusty's wife and kids show up unannounced for Thanksgiving dinner, and Brick goes to extreme measures to have lime green jello salad during the feast.
When Frankie's sister asks her to house-sit, Frankie and Mike jump at the opportunity to have a romantic, kid-free weekend in an upscale home. But technology might just trump romance when they find themselves having a difficult time navigating all of the computerized gadgets in the house. Meanwhile, Sue, who has been left in charge of watching over Brick while the parents are away, finds the Heck house being invaded by the bratty neighborhood Glossner kids, and Axl takes a road trip with Darrin and Sean in an attempt to drive to Vassar and reconnect with his ex-girlfriend Cassidy.
When Axl comes home from college for Christmas vacation but would rather spend time with his friends over family, he and Frankie must come up with a time management agreement that will satisfy both of them, Meanwhile, Sue's severe allergic reaction to the Christmas tree threatens to ruin her holiday, and after it's discovered that Brick lied to the school about his Christmas wrapping paper sales, he finds himself running a mini Ponzi scheme in an attempt to pay back the debt.
Frankie and Mike become concerned about Brick when he starts expressing a host of irrational fears spawned by a constant stream of news alerts showing up on his refurbished iPad. Meanwhile, Sue is both disgusted and intrigued when Derrick Glossner continues to surprise her with spontaneous kisses, and when Darrin attempts his own spinoff of Boss Co, Axl and Sean successfully shut down the new operation but end up having to finish the difficult job that their competition had started.
The ultimate prank battle is on between brother and sister when Sue discovers that Axl stole the high school's Thundering Hens mascot head over a year ago, forcing Sue to wear an embarrassing chicken head in her role as the school mascot. Meanwhile, a friendless Dr. Goodwin tries to make friends with a reluctant Frankie and invites her to accompany him to after-work social gatherings, Frankie agrees to attempt to find her dog Colin Firth's owner if Mike tries - and fails - to make friends with him; and Brick tries to muster some interest in a recommended book on Debbie Reynolds.
With the bus drivers on strike, Principal Barker asks the parents to form carpools to get the kids to and from school. But with time management not being one of Frankie's strong suits, her carpool kids find themselves facing the possibility of being on the receiving end of some tardy slips - which could ruin their chances of being invited to the "No Tardy Party." Meanwhile, Axl hits the books and becomes an expert in Astronomy - a class he's not even taking - in order to tutor a hot student, and when Mike receives two IU basketball tickets, he tries to find someone to accompany him to the game, not realizing that Sue really wants to go with him.
Excited and hungry over receiving a squatter's coupon at an all-you-can-eat buffet, the Hecks head off to church with the intent of hitting the restaurant immediately after the service. But much to their dismay, they find themselves being counseled by guest minister Reverend Deveaux when a family squabble takes place during the sermon, and with all of their pent up issues, they may never get out in time to attend their grand feast.
Frankie discovers via a local blog that the quarry is presenting Mike with an award during a dinner for his 20 years of dedicated service. But Mike, not thinking it's that big of a deal, doesn't want to attend. Meanwhile, after being sat on in class by a guy who didn't know she was even in the chair, Sue attempts to put together a plan to get the students more connected with each other. Having imbibed a bit too much at a party the night before, Axl tries to track down the mystery girl who left a message on his phone, and Brick thinks he's totally styling in a purple suit and bolo tie that he found in his cousins' hand-me-down box.
After being forced by his work to take a paid vacation, Mike tries to relax but finds his alone time being invaded by Brick, who wants to cash in and implement all of the personal gift coupons he has given his dad for Father's Day and birthdays over the years. Meanwhile, Frankie is livid when she discovers that Axl has been hanging out at the Donahues for the past few days and didn't let her know that he was even in town, and Sue is horrified when she discovers that someone has given her service at Spudsy Malone's a bad review online and overreacts in her efforts to better please the customers.
Frankie is gobsmacked when she is handcuffed, arrested and taken to the police station. But when she discovers that her arrest was over an unreturned library book, she sets her sights on the only person she suspects to be the real guilty party - Brick. Meanwhile, Sue doesn't know how to express her feelings of disdain to Reverend TimTom over his new partner and girlfriend, Reverend Tammy, and Axl and Cassidy reunite during Spring Break but find themselves mostly kissing and not talking to one another.
After bumping into some old acquaintances on a walk around the neighborhood, Frankie and Mike realize that they are more interesting and charming with them than they are with each other and search for a way to remedy the situation. Meanwhile, Sue ends up with multiple dates to the prom because she is too nice to turn down any of the boys who asked her, and Brick enlists Axl's aid in preparing an "outside the box" book report.
After being goaded by his friend Bill Norwood into taking an assistant coaching position on the girls soccer team that Sue is now a member of, Bill has to back out of his duties due to work, and Mike becomes the new head coach but discovers that the girls care more about their various personal issues then the game itself. Meanwhile, after discovering that a mysteriously hideous smell in the house is emanating from Brick, Frankie must attempt to introduce her pungent son to better hygiene, and Axl is completely perplexed by a picture Cassidy painted for him as to whether it means they are still together as a couple or broken up.
Frankie pleads with a mean and unyielding Rita Glossner to take down her wind chimes, whose noise is driving the Heck family crazy. Meanwhile, Axl and Hutch find a ratty, old couch abandoned on the street and try to figure out a way to retrieve it, instead of complaining to a pretzel manufacturer for skimping on the salt, Brick instead commits himself to coming up with a new pretzel snack idea for the company, and Sue informs the family that she and Darrin are dating again.
With high school graduation less than two years away, Sue finds herself becoming super stressed out when she hunkers down and frantically tries to earn a scholarship to help pay for college. Meanwhile, upon figuring out that business is down because she forgot to send out all of Dr. Goodwin's dental appointment reminder cards, Frankie tries to find a way to secretly send them out without her boss finding out. After Mike misinterprets a situation and scolds a girl for picking on Brick, Brick demands that Mike formally apologize, and Axl and his football buddy, Hutch, eat the Hecks out of house and home in order it try to bulk up so that they are big enough to be picked again to play on the team next year.
Feeling that her mind has been turned into Swiss cheese over the kids' never ending demanding requests of her, Frankie sets up office hours in which they can only voice their needs between 5:00-6:00 p.m. Meanwhile, an overprotective Mike keeps a stern eye on Darrin to make sure he doesn't take advantage of Sue, and Brick invites his surprising new friends over to the house for a book club meeting.
Sue is determined to win herself a car and enters Ehlert Motors 'Hands on a Hard Body' contest, in which the last person whose hands never leave the car wins. Meanwhile, Mike and his perpetually down-on-his-luck brother Rusty, find time to bond again when they take a road trip to Chicago with Brick to attend his Spelling Bee, and Frankie has to travel to Axl's college dorm to help him locate a missing desk or risk losing her $200 deposit.
While Sue counts down the days until the Hecks depart on their road trip to Walt Disney World (she won the trip in a "Hands on a Hard Body" contest), Brick begs his parents to take a detour to North Carolina so he can meet his online girlfriend, and Axl anxiously awaits the posting of his final grades as a college freshman.
The Hecks arrive at Walt Disney World and a good time may not be had for all when a series of misfortunes threaten to put a damper on their trip.