The family wind up stuck at the Pritchett house when a storm causes a power outage
Credit: Peter Hopper Stone/ABC
Mitch and Cam, Modern Family

Only Modern Family could turn an average — okay, above-average — storm and a power outage into a bottle episode that included a dysfunctional birthday party, a comedy of errors, and, most surprisingly, a quiet moment between two characters who would never have been willing to share a moment like that in any other circumstance. With the entire family gathered under one roof (Jay and Gloria’s, that is), unexpected combos appeared everywhere, from clown Cam scaring Phil to Phil and Jay bonding silently over whiskey and thoughts that went better unspoken. In other words, there were some watershed (pardon the pun) and not-so-watershed parts to a packed episode, which culminated in the…

Lesson of the Week

Three (or more) isn’t always a crowd. Oh, and 8-year-old brats shouldn’t dictate what you do. Everybody had something they wanted to achieve this week, with the main obstacle being, well, the fact that they had no power unless they showed up at the Pritchetts’. Alex needed to finish her math problem, Phil needed to prove he could be just as manly as Jay in a storm, Gloria needed Claire (and others’) help to convince Manny to go on a field trip that may or may not involve skinny dipping (gasp!), Alex needed Andy to show more affection, Cam and Mitch needed to throw the perfect birthday party for Lily so that Ashley W., the most popular girl she knew, would be impressed, and Joe… er, Joe just needed whatever he needed to stop crying.

Yeah, it’s a lot — but the episode did a solid job of not making it seem like a lot. Lily’s party took center stage for most of the first half, as Cam and Mitch tried their best to satisfy Ashley W. This wasn’t easy: Ashley disliked both chunky peanut butter and princess dresses, and even an emergency radio didn’t help matters. Finally, Lily realized it’s not all about making one of her guests happy — it’s about making them all happy. And so, she plunges into the pool in her clothes outside in the rain (ballsy move, girl!) and makes the best of a wet situation.

And then there was Andy and Haley, both of whom think they’re, heh, hot stuff. Haley just wants to get as physical as possible, but Andy takes a step back, hoping the two of them can connect emotionally and ensure a good relationship before things move forward. Haley winds up angry that he barely touches her — until he admits what he’s up to, and the two make up (and make out) in the rain. Aww.

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Also worthy of an aww: Jay and Phil. Phil spends most of the night trying to play fixer-upper, first “fixing” Alex’s laptop by frying it, then recruiting Luke to help him fix a leak in the ceiling until Luke gets hit by lightning, and after that, attempting to open a valve in the pool to let the water drain — until this time, it’s Lily who does it for him. He thinks he really is useless, until he gets a pep talk from Gloria and in the garage, he encounters Jay, who, this entire time, has tried to get the house all set up in the power outage so he could go and meet his old Navy buddies at a local Irish bar. As Jay reminisces about how he and the men in his unit had vowed to always gather at the nearest Irish pub to remember the ones who leave them, Phil quietly brings him a chair, some booze, and finally, in a very Phil-like touch, some St. Patrick’s Day decor. It’s sweet (if oddly punctuated by the ad for The Real O’Neals right over the shamrocks) and unexpectedly touching in one of the few moments this season that captured why Modern Family has succeeded: It’s painted characters to a point that it can successfully craft a high jinks-free, powerful moment like this.

Most Unexpected Combo

Claire and Manny. The show mined the most out of the awkwardness of Claire accidentally seeing Manny’s, er, privates, and “unexpected” really is the only way to put it. It’s good the two had a frank conversation about it — and about Manny’s body confidence — but there’s a reason why Claire and Manny barely spend time together. Gloria pushing Claire to talk to Manny about his body image just felt like a bit much.

Family MVP

Phil. I know, I know, I keep awarding Phil all the awards, but he’s so earnest and so hardworking, it’s important to praise the guy even when he fails. He tried his hardest to patch up the house and Alex’s computer, and though he kept getting knocked down, nothing stopped him. That’s admirable — especially for a guy so afraid of clowns he fainted at the sight of himself dressed as one.

That said, Claire also gets my vote, simply for grabbing the glass of wine, no questions asked, after her conversation with Manny:

You go, Claire.


Luke. Honestly, Luke taking advantage of being hit by lightning to trick Alex was nothing short of genius. Seriously! I can’t believe Luke thought to go through his selfies, spot the missing formula Alex needed in one of his photo’s backgrounds, and spin a tale to confuse her.

Funniest Phil Line

“Waving a metal shovel around in an electrical storm can have a downside.” Phil, if you wanted Luke not to get hit by lightning, maybe you shouldn’t drag him outside to hold something metal in the first place? But you know what, the funniest “line” wasn’t a line at all: It all goes back to that scene with Jay and the shamrock decoration. That’s the perfect punchline, better than anything Phil uttered this week.

Snarkiest Lily Moment

“You know what? Shut up, Ashley.” Yes! You take down that 8-year-old, Lily!

Best Out-of-Context Screencap

Did Everything Turn Out Okay?

Totally! We never got to see the power turn back on at everyone’s residences, but it’s probably safe to say that everyone made it home safe… eventually. Phil gained Jay’s respect — at least for a scene — while Lily became the coolest girl (over Ashley W.!), Claire and Manny smoothed things over, and Andy and Haley got to have another cinematic moment in the rain. It’s safe to say this weather disaster was, well, the perfect storm.

Episode Recaps

Mitch and Cam, Modern Family
Modern Family

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

  • TV Show
  • 10
  • Wednesdays at 09:00 PM
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