Malcolm must help an awful old woman (Florence Stanley) in the neighborhood with whatever she wants of him because he breaks her arm trying to get his ball back when it accidentally ends up in her front yard, and she responds by grabbing Malcolm's hair and the ball. He ends up taking her car on a joy ride after she passes out from mixing alcohol with her medication, but is caught by Lois. Francis' friend, Richie, is sent to the military academy. Meanwhile, Reese tries to convince (and force) Dewey to use a regular backpack instead of a purse.
The episode begins by showing neighborhood kids, including Malcolm, Reese, and Dewey, playing a game that Reese made up. The ball from this game ends up in the yard of a feared elderly woman named Mrs. Griffin. Malcolm climbs the fence into the yard to retrieve the ball, but is caught by Mrs. Griffin. Malcolm responds by pushing her and breaking her arm, and is now responsible for helping her every day after school until her arm heals.
Mrs. Griffin is outstandingly unpleasant, racist, and hoards things such as newspapers and rubber bands. She bombards Malcolm with questions about his nationality, and calls him stupid for being unable to identify a "rubber band jar". She is also a heavy drinker, even drinking with her medication.
Meanwhile, at the recommendation of Lois, Francis' friend Richie is now a student at the military school Francis attends. Richie is not accustomed to the "military lifestyle". He does not cut his hair or dress in uniform. Commandant Spangler not only allows this, but provides Richie with special privileges. It is later revealed that Commandant Spangler is doing this to make the other cadets jealous of Richie so that they would take a disliking to him and turn against him. Francis explains this to Richie, but Richie dismisses it as Francis being jealous. Richie gets beat up.
Dewey, who has a tendency to mysteriously destroy backpacks, adopts an old purse instead. Reese is concerned that Dewey will be beat up, so he tries to convince Dewey to use a backpack instead, even going so far as to buy a backpack for him. Dewey continues to use the purse, and when confronted by his peers, hits them with it and reveals that he keeps a brick in his purse.
Later on, Mrs. Griffin is unconscious as a result of mixing medication with alcohol. Malcolm and his friends take advantage of this by taking a joyride in her car, but are caught by Lois. When she arrives demanding Malcolm to get his stuff and take him home to face proper punishment, Mrs. Griffin wakes up and covers for him by lying to Lois that it was no joyride for her. Lois is shocked by this because and asks her to explain. Mrs. Griffin claimed that she made a mistake in mixing up her medication pills and Malcolm got worried about her. He was trying to get her in her car so he can take her to the hospital and she passed out, forcing him to put her in the back seat. Lois tells Malcolm that the next time there is an emergency involving Mrs. Griffin again, he should at least call paramedics or her. Mrs. Griffin also states, falsely, that Malcolm has offered to help her in the mornings as well as the afternoon. While mortified at first, Malcolm realizes it's better caring for Griffin than having to face Lois' wrath had things turned out differently.
- This the first episode to air in 2001.
- When Mrs. Griffin asks Malcolm what his cultural background is, Malcolm replied "I honestly don't know." This was done because the creators of the show wanted to keep the cultural backgrounds of the main cast as ambiguous and unknown as possible.
- Malcolm again mentions his grandmother, before Ida Welker would make her debut in "The Grandparents".