We open with Eric struggling to prepare sack lunches for his brood. This doesn't seem complicated, but he is certainly having quite a bit of trouble. He hasn't even tied his tie, and he's wearing his reading glasses to aid his concentration. Simon comes down to brush his teeth in the kitchen sink. Ew.
Eric wonders if everything is okay upstairs. Ruthie has locked herself in the bathroom, meaning no one else can get ready for school. The downside of large families sharing one bathroom.
Eric apparently having given up on the lunches, picks up the newspaper, so that Simon can ask him about a well-placed headline. This one being about the Heaven's Gate cult. Which was actually current in 1997. This isn't gonna be pretty, this show rarely does 'topical' well.
Eric tries to explain about cults, but Simon thinks he's talking about church. Which considering how the Camdens end up running things in Glen Oak seems apt. Eric disagrees with me though. He says that cults isolate members, which the church doesn't do. He goes on to say that the church still has room for people who don't share all their views, unless that person is Mary Seasons 5-11.
Simon's still more interested about the mass suicide thing, and Eric realizes that he's out of his depth, so he decides to encourage Simon to play mind games with his siblings to see if he can figure it out on his own. That couldn't possibly go wrong. (Interestingly, Eric thinks Ruthie should be exempt from the experiment, citing her young age.)
Matt wanders in and Simon oh-so-subtly thinks Matt looks taller. Simon says that he must be shrinking. Matt looks confused. Credits.
Lunch at the high school. Matt, Lucy and Mary are all eating together, like normal teenagers who hang out with siblings at school. Lucy realizes that Eric packed the lunches when she pulls a cork screw out of her paper sack. Seriously. A freaking corkscrew.
Attention is diverted when a friend notes that some girl at another table is clearly headed to the rest room to purge. The girl they gossip about gets a name (Shelby), but friend doesn't. Word is that Shelby is bulimic, because she barely eats anything and rushes to the bathroom after every meal. Except that if I remember 8th grade health class, bulimics tend to binge on large quantities of food, and the throw up. Matt gets bored and leaves. Mary is skeptical as well, but decides to argue with the friend. Lucy comes up with a plan to find out if Shelby is actually bulimic or not. Mary makes indicating that this plan is stupid. She's not wrong.
Scene change. Eric and Mrs. Peacock (yea!) are headed to a retirement home. Mrs. Peacock is upset because Mrs. Hinkle has put her house up for sale, and has moved into this place. Eric pretends to be shocked that Mrs. Peacock stole the official change of address card, but you know he's making mental notes on how better to stalk the community. Mrs. Peacock thinks that her children have forced into the place and thinks she's being held hostage. Hee.
They head to the front desk to see if they can visit Mrs. Hinkle. The desk is unhelpful, honoring Mrs. Hinkle's request that she not be disturb. Clearly they must be evil. Or simply professional. I crack up when Eric tries to use his status as minister to bypass this request, only to be under the guise of respecting their tenant's wishes. Eric asks to leave a note, so the gullible clerk hands him a pad and pen. When Eric hands the note back, he takes the time to note the room number the clerk writes on it. He and Mrs. Peacock sneak down the hallway. Cause Eric respects no one's personal boundaries.
School. Lucy invites Shelby to dinner on the pretense of studying algebra. Shelby accepts the invite. Lucy's friends are impressed that she's going through with her plan. Mary thinks Lucy is an idiot. Lucy tries to spin it like she's being concerned, but Mary says she's just being catty and nosy. Word Mary.
In the Camden's living room, Simon and Ruthie try to convince Matt that he is shrinking by noting that his feet used to reach the floor when sitting on the couch. Matt is confused, then gets frustrated and leaves. Simon and Ruthie dub themselves geniuses. Next.
Kitchen. Lucy and Mary help Annie with dinner. Lucy asks permission to have her friend over. Simon can't reach the glasses and everyone looks at him like he's weird. Mary gets the glass for him.
Living room. Matt goes back to check the couch cushions. Cause he's stupid. Simon and Ruthie are excited that Matt's mind is almost theirs but that doesn't strike me as much of an accomplishment.
Church. Eric is on the phone explaining that he didn't actually get to see Mrs. Hinkle. He's waiting to see if she responds to his note before they bust in on her. Annie wants to know what the next step is if Mrs. Hinkle doesn't call. Annie, have you met your husband? What does he usually do when someone doesn't want to see him?
Mrs. Peacock pages Eric and convinces him to sneak into Mrs. Hinkle's retirement home with her. It's a pretty easy sell.
At the retirement home, Mrs. Peacock is imagining the worst. They knock on her door. Mrs. Hinkle answers, looking perfectly fine. Mrs Peacock tells her it was a nice try. Mrs. Hinkle invites them in. She gives them very plausible explanations about why she's selling her house, but Mrs. Peacock isn't buying it, thinking that Mrs. Hinkle's kids convinced her to move because they wanted the money. Mrs. Hinkle busts them on breaking in. Mrs. Peacock busts her on not telling them the whole story. They leave.
Night at the Camden's. Lucy is claiming that she doesn't have enough self-discipline to be bulimic. So many things wrong with that statement. Mary agrees with me, offering this gem: "You and this conversation have gone way past annoying and into the land of I'm gonna have to kill you if you don't shut up." Hee. I like old school Mary.
Simon is putting lifts in Ruthie's shoes. To make her look taller compared to him. Cause he's playing mind games with his siblings to figure out why people join suicide cults. Annie comes in and asks what they're doing. They explain the situation. Ruthie is creepy. She pretends it makes sense, but refuses to help. Matt overhears. I anticipate more wacky hijinks.
Mrs. Peacock is still whinging about Mrs. Hinkle's move. Eric is trying to calm her down. He tells Mrs. Peacock they have to butt out. I laugh at the hypocrisy. I also laugh when Mrs. Peacock slams her door in Eric's face. Hee. The show needed more of that in the later seasons.
Morning. Eric is complaining that neither Mrs. Peacock or Mrs. Hinkle will talk to him. Eric says a lot that makes me think, pot meet kettle. Especially when he says that it's not okay for Mrs. Peacock to barge in on Mrs. Hinkle everyday until she gives in. Though Eric plans to do that to Mrs. Peacock. Annie suggests he go by Mrs. Hinkle's open house.
Lucy offers Shelby a snack. Shelby asks where the bathroom is.
Lucy proves that she is being catty and nosy by immediately sharing this information with Mary. Annie overhears and wants to know what they're talking about. So Lucy actually tells her. Annie is pretty pissed at her behavior. She tries to bust on Mary, too, but Mary says that she didn't know how to stop it.
Eric arrives at Mrs. Hinkle's open house. He meets her kids. They give the same spiel about why she moved and seem very supportive. Eric's suspicion has been peaked.
Simon and Ruthie are bowling in the hallway. Mary wanders in and asks what's wrong with his pants. She says maybe his legs are shrinking, and Simon looks nervous. Cause he's stupid.
Eric arrives at Mrs. Peacock's house to discuss his suspicions. Her summary of what he's getting at is awesome: "I'm supposed to interupt my day, tag along with you to barge in on my best friend for another chat, just because you said so. Let me get my bag." More Mrs. Peacock, please.
Simon can't reach his clothes. Matt comes in and overacts like Simon is shorter. He believes that Simon is shrinking down to nothingness. Simon now believes that he is shrinking. Cause he's stupid.
Retirement home. Eric suggests that he and Mrs. Peacock should try to be subtle. She agrees and then verbally runs over Mrs. Hinkle when she answers the door. She explains that, "Subtle never really worked" for her. They bust her on lying about her reasons for moving. Mrs. Hinkle admits that her kids are selfish assholes, and are wanting the money from the house sale, as a n early inheritance.
Mrs. Hinkle decides that she doesn't want to sell her house, and notes that the security at her retirement home sucks. Which it does.
Camden's. Simon is whining to Annie about how he's shrinking into nothingness. She figures out that Matt has done something to convince him that he's shrinking. She makes Matt take him to the doctor. Matt is upset that Annie didn't care that Simon was messing with his mind. Annie says that she doubted that Matt would be stupid enough to fall for Simon's tricks. Apparently she doesn't know her children well at all.
Mrs. Hinkle tells her kids that she's not selling and busts her kids for being assholes. Mrs. Peacock offers her pepperspray. They leave. The ladies decide to go for a drink. Eric offers to drive them. Aw.
Dinner. Simon is not shrinking into nothingness. Yea? Shelby is inhaling her food. She excuses herself. Annie follows her. Mary and Lucy look around awkwardly.
Annie asks Shelby if everything's okay. Shelby reveals that she has to brush her teeth after eating to keep her braces clean. She keeps her tooth brush in her pocket, which just seems unsanitary. Her big secret is that her family doesn't have enough to eat, but she'd rather the girls think she has an eating disorder. But I don't understand how a family that can afford orthodontia can't afford food. Annie offers church assistance which is decent of her.
Lucy has learned her lesson about gossip. Aw
Outside. Simon and Matt explain to Eric what happened with the experiment. Eric busts on Matt for messing with Simon's mind. Matt gets it. Everyone agrees no more mind games. Except for when Simon decides to convince Matt that he's going bald. Matt falls for it. Hee.
I half remember a promo for this episode, claiming that it would show how to talk about suicide cults with your children. Except Eric didn't really do that here. Instead he encouraged his son to play mind games with all his siblings. And that just seems like a terrible way to go about it. Unless Eric was secretly hoping to thin the herd.
Ruthie seemed way to excited at the possibility of controling her siblings minds. Sociopath in training that one.
Lucy, you suck. Shut up.
Eric is the worst minister ever. Like it's any of his business if a parishoner sells her house.
Mrs. Peacock is awesome and needs to be used to make fun of the Camdens at every opportunity.
Up next: Matt runs away from home, and thinks look shaky for Mary and Wilson.