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October 07, 2010 at 10:48 AM EDT

After last week’s somewhat schmaltzy and much-anticipated kissy episode, it was nice for Modern Family to get back its goofy roots. Tonight’s storyline revolved around the aftermath of an earthquake, with each Family member reacting differently to his or her “almost-death” experience. Gloria turned to God, Jay and Manny turned to golf, Phil ran from Claire, and Cam and Mitchell, well, they turned to the fabulous Nathan Lane, who played the brunch-throwing power gay, Pepper Salzman. Great name, great cameo. In fact it was such a great part, I only wish they had used Lane more. (Here’s hoping the writers sprinkle some more party-planning Pepper into the mix before too long.)

Every character had hilarious moments tonight, especially Manny, who expressed doubt about the fate of his soul, talked about sex-Ed class, and hyperventilated. That kid certainly steals the show. Speaking of kids, I feel like Phil and Claire’s brood is underrated. Every week they get better and better, and infinitely more sarcastic – playing off like their own little comedy troop. And Claire had a good night, too, bonding with the plumber; Julie Bowen even got to show off her physical comedy chops by falling down the stairs – a move that was subtle, but also had me in stitches.

And now, let’s recount the best lines of the evening!

“You’re never alone when you have books.” –Alex, who I love more after every episode

“Yo yo yo, what’s the hot topic on The View today, ladies.” –Phil, when the women in his family were fighting

“I’m like Shirley Temple and that black guy.” –Phil

“Oh good, you’re back. I needed you to settle a spat between our blacksmith and our chimney sweep” –Mitchell to Cameron, who was dressed in a cape costume

“One date. It was the ’90s, we’d just lost Princess Di. I was at sea.” –Cam, responding to Mitchell’s jealousy over Nathan Lane’s Pepper

“Oh, Pepper has done the impossible, he’s made two gay men hate brunch.” –Mitchell

NEXT: More great zingers from “Earthquake.”

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Parents just don’t understand… and neither do kids or spouses in this hit ensemble comedy
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