Dylan needs a place to stay, Mitch needs a client, Gloria needs advice, and Luke needs a girlfriend — all of which is easier said than done.
There must have been something in the closets air this week, as each family member got a bit overheated and overeager to take care of some easily solvable problems. Is Manny not getting enough locker-decorating love from his cheerleader? Gloria better go decorate it herself with a homemade “Sexy Manny” sign! Is a girl maybe, possibly, no-really-could-she-actually-be interested in Luke? He and Manny better go to Caltech and find out themselves! Is Jay’s rival Closets Closets Closets Closets nemesis poaching Mitch away from his own family? Jay better go take out his, uhhh… his “deal”….! Gross.
Anyway, it was a little too much overreaction and too little laugh-out-loud moments. But still — for every freakout tonight, there was a resolution. Some were sweet, like Luke comforting a heartbroken Alex. Some were messy, like Claire taking the fall and kicking squatter Dylan out of the house. And some couldn’t be helped, like Cam and the baby otter he had been rooting for until nature stepped in the way. With the family all tangled up this week, we’ve got a couple of different groupings this episode, but as usual, we’ll start with…
Phil has always been intent on being the Cool DadTM, from his early days of thinking “WTF” meant “Why The Face.” But when Haley asks to let Dylan — or as Phil calls him, “Vitamin D” — crash in the Dunphys’ basement, he can’t bring himself to allow the pair to dilly-dally around the house, especially after finding Haley with a V-neck-shirtless Dylan in bed downstairs. To remedy this, Phil — or as Dylan calls him, “Philibuster” — asks Claire to tag along when they confront the two. Claire, realizing Phil just wants her to play the bad guy, refuses to comply. She’s cooler than cold now; she’s frigid. And so, Claire tosses the problem back into Phil’s lap…
…and taunts him, trying to provoke him into kicking Dylan out. But just when he’s about to — the lovebirds have gotten into an annoying habit of curling up under a blanket next to Phil on the couch — he takes a half-measure and tells them to, oh let’s see, pretty please just sneak around behind his and Claire’s back so they don’t have to see their PDA? Claire, horrified, shuts it down, accepting her position as the Uncool MomTM. Well played, Phil, but Claire’s the one who gets things done.
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Luke, Manny, and Alex
These three had their own misadventure this week. During an innocent FaceTime session in which Alex asks Luke for relationship advice (c’mon, Alex, that’s a rookie mistake), typical teenager Luke focuses his attention instead on Alex’s dorm-mate in the background, who changes and then flirts with Luke on camera. (Does Alex not see her own screen when she’s FaceTiming?) Naturally, Luke grabs onto this slight flirtation and convinces Manny to come with him to the beautiful dream land of women he just discovered, known as…college.
When the pair arrive, they barely say hello to Alex before chasing down the girl Luke talked to for less than 10 seconds. With some coaxing by Manny (and a series of awkward jokes by Luke), the girls decide they’ll kiss them that night. Luke’s thrilled, but on his way to finding gum in Alex’s room, Alex reveals she and Sanjay finally talked — and their relationship is over. They’re one of the 86 percent of high school couples who break up, after all, and though Luke at first seems unconcerned about his older sister’s troubles, he decides to stay with Alex so she’s not heartbroken and alone. Giving up a chance to kiss college girls? That’s the ultimate sacrifice for a boy young man like Luke.
NEXT: What’s Jay’s deal?
Gloria and Cam
This pair ended up bonding over the trials of parenting this week — Gloria over Manny, Cam over a baby otter and Lily’s store-brand cereal — after Gloria discovers that Carly, the cheerleader assigned to decorate Manny’s locker, hasn’t been doing her full duty. Gloria is worried she’s the one who hasn’t done enough for Manny and is prepared to both stare down Carly and go all out with the streamers and locker-decorating herself, but Cam says she’s becoming a doting mother and that “overcoming adversity” is something Manny has to learn in high school. Besides, the mother otter on this live-otter cam he’s been obsessed with lately is fine with not being a doting parent.
Yet, after the baby otter dies, Cam realizes that doting does matter — sometimes. He goes ahead and decorates Manny’s locker himself, and it’s only after Gloria tries to thank a befuddled Carly that Cam reveals it was his handiwork. Turns out both were right in the end — Cam was all for leaving things alone at first, and technically, Manny never did a thing to get his locker decorated. And Gloria was right to put in effort to help her son — that locker by Cam looks gorgeous.
Mitch and Jay
The titular Closet Case comes from this duo’s shenanigans. When Mitch gets an offer to be the lawyer of Closets Closets Closets Closets (no really, as Mitch emphasizes, the last word is always “closets,” but I’ll just call this CCCC for short), he doesn’t hesitate to take it, even though Earl, the owner of CCCC, is Jay’s sworn furniture-business enemy after a falling out three decades ago. Following a tense first meeting, Earl warms up to Mitch, and it seems like these two households (both alike in dignity?) might be able to put their differences aside for the first time in a long time.
And then this happens:
So forget the dignity, Earl and quadruple-C. Mitch and Jay break into Earl’s office to show them how they feel, and just as Jay’s about to go with the plan to rub his — uh oh — “deal” on Earl’s desk and send him a picture of the deed, Earl enters, and a brawl between the former best friends breaks out. Luckily, no “deal” ever has to be, well, taken out. Unluckily, I will never be able to read the title Deal or No Deal the same way.
Neither will Mitch, it seems, but Mitch at least managed to get something out of the office scuffle: the Rolodex of valuable contacts that once belonged to Jay before Evil Earl took it away. He gives it to Jay, and the two are back on the same side. And that really is a huge…thing.
Line of the Night: “This is exactly how things started out when I found out my father wasn’t really in space.” —Dylan, after Phil tells him and Haley to sit down at the dining room table so he and Claire can talk to them about something important. Look, I actually want to hear more about the epic saga of Dylan’s not-actually-in-space father. Is that awful of me? (Honorable Mention: Everything involving the “deal.” Look at Modern Family, of all shows, slipping in those d-word jokes!)
Family MVP: Claire, because she really was ice cold in turning Phil’s cowardice against him even if, in the end, she had to be the bad guy again. (Plus, that tag with Alex coming home was sweet — despite the run-in with Dylan — because of the shot of her running into Claire’s arms.) Claire got the job done; just look at her wily glance at a stiff Phil in this scene: