Burn Victim is the 11th episode of Season 3 of My Name Is Earl, and the 58th episode overall. After helping the Warden out with numerous tasks, Earl has discovered that his sentence has been reduced to six months left in prison. However, the Warden is now faced in a major dilemma and needs Earl's help. He promises Earl six months off his sentence if he will help him start a program that will mediate a situation of an inmate, John the Artist, who was in for running a meth lab that eventually burned his parent's house down. The inmate agrees to comply if Earl would throw a prison prom, because he missed his in high school. Earl turns to Joy to help plan the prom and soon discovers it will cost him the rest of the money he had left from his lottery winnings.
Earl's been spending a lot of time helping out the Warden in exchange for time off his sentence, and now he only has about six months left. The Warden confesses that he screwed himself at one of his wife's press conferences, when a tricky reporter tricked him into claiming that he had set up a reconciliation program. If Earl can figure this one out, the Warden will give him a certificate good for six months off his sentence.
Earl searches for just the right inmate to initiate the program, and settles on baby-faced first offender John the Artist, in prison for burning down his parents' home when his meth lab caught fire. Earl asks John to sit down with his parents, which will hopefully lead to an apology and a big hug. John doesn't think his parents will go for it, but if they do, he's in.
Earl sends Joy and Darnell to meet with John's parents, but they don't have much love for their son since he burned up all their possessions. Darnell tells them about last year when Mr. Turtle knocked over a candle and caused a fire in the trailer. They couldn't be in the same room for months, but eventually they talked things over, and now their relationship is stronger than ever. John's parents relent, and agree to meet with their son.
The reconciliation gets underway, but John thinks his parents are supposed to apologize to him. They should also thank him, because the fire was the only time there was any warmth in their house. John's a monster because they ignored him his whole life. He leaves in a fury, and the Warden gives Earl a week to fix things. Earl points out that saying you're sorry and meaning it are two different things, but John's still pissed at his parents because they wouldn't let him go to his prom when he was too stoned to drive.
Since Earl will earn his freedom if John says he's sorry, John wants something big, too, like a prom, or an aircraft carrier. Since the state doesn't have a navy, the Warden uses some of his wife's stationary to get 50 female inmates shipped in for a prison prom. Earl enlists Joy's help, only to realize that a prom is expensive. Joy points out that he still has $24,000 in lottery winnings. Realizing that the prom is his ticket to freedom, Earl signs the check for an underwater wonderland prom with all the trimmings despite the fact it will leave him broke.
The big prom night finally arrives and it's magical. The Warden crowns Earl Prom King, but he relinquishes his throne to John, because without him, the prom never would have happened. The Warden brings back John's parents for another stab at reconciliation. He shows up in his crown, claiming that everyone loves the Prom King except for them because they're fat failures that don't know how to love.
Earl runs after John, who claims that his parents treated him like crap, so now he treats everyone like crap and it's their fault, not his. Something inside of Earl snaps. All he wants to do is make John suffer, so he lights all the paintings in John's cell on fire. John shows up to fight, but Earl knocks him down, claiming that since John treated him like crap, taking away his freedom and his money, now Earl treats everyone else like crap.
Earl's not proud of himself for burning John's paintings. But as John sifts through the ashes, he realizes that he should blame himself for what he did to his parents, and has to make it right. He paints their wedding picture, and then several other family photos that burned in the house fire, and finally John and his family have the best reconciliation they could have hoped for, pleasing the Warden.
The Warden congratulates Earl on his understanding of the criminal mind - he's like some kind of scumbag whisperer. He puts the last six month certificate in Earl's file, wondering what he's going to do without Earl to cover his ass. Earl guesses the Warden will find that out tomorrow, and leaves, sending the Warden into a panic. He begins shredding Earl's certificates.
- Prison sign seen in this episode:
- - Honk if you know someone on death row.
- Earl's prison prom photo continues the running joke of Earl's eyes being closed.
- "Ring Of Fire" by Johnny Cash
- "I'm Free (To Do What I Want)" by The Rolling Stones
- "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" by Will Smith
- "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
- "Pictures Of Matchstick Men" by Status Quo
- Warden: They're really doing the work, as my marriage counselor likes to say.
- Reporter: You and the governor are in marriage counseling?
- Warden: Don't tell anybody. She's pretty sensitive about it, partly because of her sex addiction.
- Reporter: The governor has a sex addiction?
- Warden: How do you know all this stuff?
- Earl: Sure are a lot of people in here for aggravated assault. Isn't everybody who commits assault kind of aggravated?
- Randy: Not necessarily. Remember when I hugged that baby duck to death?
- Joy: I made a prom in a prison happen. I bet this is what it feels like to be Oprah.
- Jason Lee as Earl Hickey
- Ethan Suplee as Randy Hickey
- Jaime Pressly as Joy Turner
- Nadine Velazquez as Catalina
- Eddie Steeples as Darnell Turner
- Shawn Hatosy as John the Artist
- Dee Wallace as Governor Katherine Hazelwood
- Connie Ray as Mrs. Clevenger
- Bobby Wolfe as Throat Scar Inmate
- Michael Bailey Smith as Skinhead #1
- David Wells
- Barry Wiggins