When we left our Modern Fam fam in season 7, each family unit was headed out on separate trips. Phil and Claire’s clan to NYC, Jay and Gloria’s to Mexico, and Cam and Mitch’s to Missouri. That sentence also doubles as a ranking of how those trips went: from good to disastrous.
The Dunphys really loved their trip to New York. Phil and Claire set off for home in the car, thinking they’ll enjoy a leisurely road trip, while Haley, Alex, and Luke are flying back. But once they part, both the kids and the parents decide to secretly stay longer in the Big Apple. After all, Phil and Claire never took a carriage ride through Central Park! (It’s a bummer that we don’t get to see this actually take place. I can just imagine Phil bonding with the horse.) Actually, there could have been a lot more scenes of the Dunphys being tourists. It’s a missed opportunity, especially given how funny the New York scene was in last season’s finale, when a too-trusting Phil asked a stranger for a photo of the family and hands over his phone, which is immediately stolen. We do, however, get to see Haley, Alex, and Luke at the Statue of Liberty, and Luke and Haley think her torch is a paintbrush.
Meanwhile Cam, Mitch, and Lily’s stay in Missouri turns into a disaster. Cam’s grandma is dying. The Tucker family is dressed in black, and Cam is wearing mourning overalls. We all know that Mitch is low-key a terrible person, and he doesn’t handle the delicate situation with very much grace (he turns on the blender to make a smoothie during a solemn family moment). Lily, however, seems to fit right in with Cam’s side of the family: She’s already talking with a country accent. When Mitch reluctantly takes a turn sitting with comatose Grandma, she suddenly grabs his hair, prompting him to yell “Let go!” Maybe not the best choice of words for a woman on her deathbed. She suddenly dies, and the whole family thinks Mitch made it happen.
Meanwhile Gloria, Jay, Manny, and Joe are visiting Mexico for a family wedding, and who shows up? Gloria’s crazy sister Sonia. (Remember last season when she tried to steal Jay away from Gloria?) She seems to be acting sane… so far. Jay mentions Gloria’s hot sauce business to Sonia, which makes Gloria mad and she announces that they have to leave, stat.
So the Dunphy kids and parents managed to make it through their extended New York vacations without finding each other out, and they had a lot of fun. Success. Mexico was fine until Gloria got mad and cut it short. And Missouri was a catastrophe.
NEXT: Sometimes vacations follow you home [pagebreak]
Everyone’s trips end, and the whole gang goes to the Pritchett house for Father’s Day. But we haven’t seen the last of Sonia in this episode. She follows them back and kidnaps Manny to trade for Gloria’s hot sauce business. Gloria has a hilariously blasé reaction: “It’s just a kidnap. It’s normal in my family.” Eventually, Gloria and Sonia talk about what’s really bothering them: daddy issues. They both had a habit of competing for their father’s love. Jay isn’t thrilled to learn about this. It gets worse though: The sisters bring in a painting of their father. He looks exactly like Jay. And this is all happening on Father’s Day. Poor Jay. Let’s hope Gloria doesn’t want to hang that picture up.
Anyway, it seems that Gloria is done with the hot sauce business: a clever end to that subplot. Mitch tries to talk to Claire about being scapegoated for Grandma Tucker’s death, and we learn a fun thing about Claire: She does a weird smiling thing whenever she talks about death to avoid coping with it. Mitch berates her to stop acting weird so he can finish talking about his thing. These siblings are truly peas in a pod.
The Dunphys all try to act natural when they see each other, to hilarious effect:
Claire: Just act normal.
Of course, the beans are eventually spilled, but it ends up being no big deal. After all, Phil and Claire can’t really be mad at Haley, Alex, and Luke if they did the exact same thing themselves. We learn that Jay is a sausage connoisseur, which is very on brand for him, but his family doesn’t appreciate hand-selected sausage meal. Jay just can’t catch a break today.