Usually the holidays are a time for savoring moments with family and pondering the larger questions of life, but on Modern Family, everything operates on its own schedule. See: The birth of Christ happening on December 16th. Previously we reveled in answering the question: “What Would Phil Dunphy Do?” but now, we — and everyone else in his life — were forced to ponder the horrible, terrible, soul-crushing idea of a world without Phil Dunphy. Hint: rhyming is forbidden and there are no Apple products within a 50-mile radius. We understand if you want to throw the covers over your eyes now. Who’s going to teach us the art of the tightrope walk?
In an effort to subconsciously deter this horror from occurring, and perhaps become the first real estate agent to live forever, Phil went for a yearly physical. And like the other well-adjusted, paranoid, hypochondriacs of the world, he did what the rest of us do during our routine doctor visits: lie about our non-existent exercise regimen, downplay our alcohol intake — in the spirit of sharing — and assume the words “a couple of tests” mean we should start checking out cemetery plots. I’m surprised to say Phil does not still go to a pediatrician, and his grown-up doctor was as thorough and by-the-book as they come. At the M.D.’s suggestion, the ticklish Dunphy patriarch agreed to get a weird, tender upper arm spot checked out — it was probably nothing — yet the idea planted a seed of dread not even the debonaire likes of Clive Bixby could ignore. Throw in the fact that Doc Reliable gave Dunphy a follow-up call on a Saturday, Gloria was visited by Colombian Death, known as a black mouse, and a lifetime supply of twin-blade razors suddenly ran out, and the lights in Phil’s head slowly began to dim. But not before we got to relive his brief run-in with fame, as a contestant on Smarty Pants, where the mathematical equivalent of ∏ is not as important as the ingredients to a delicious-sounding dessert.
Phil’s medical conundrum was not the only thing to test one’s faith. While he spent what were believed to be his last waking hours soaking up his children’s wonder, save for Alex — we’ll give her a trophy for failing to complain — Manny prepped for a (step) father-son day at the golf course, Bagger Vance costumes optional. The impending plans were almost derailed by the arrival of his frequently absent dad Javier (played by an even more dreamy-looking Benjamin Bratt than we remember. Happy 2012!). After revealing a past indiscretion which led poor little Manny to hang out with Daddy Dependable at an adult entertainment facility known as The Petting Zoo — in Dillon, Texas? — Gloria was adamant that Jay chaperone this impromptu reunion, leading the threesome to a slightly awkward and competitive day at the racetrack. Because all boys need to have the important “talk” about when to go all in, and when to hold.
NEXT: Mitchell and Alex continue to bond, while Phil gets “The Call”