Welcome back, Modern Family viewers! We were jolted back into the new year last night with a scene of Phil at the doctor’s office. He’s tender under the arms and the doctor needs to run some tests! Nooooo Phil is the backbone of this family/TV show and without him it will collapse into grief/unoriginal characters!
When he receives a missed call from his doctor, who’s now on a flight to London, Phil’s freakout commences, resulting in a few fun reveals that he’s in the room staring lovingly at Haley and Luke while they’re studying or playing video games. It’s compounded by the revelation that he’s suddenly out of the “lifetime supply” of razor blades that he won on a game show 15 years ago (yes, we get a flashback; yes, it includes multiple tosses of Phil’s 80s hair). And Gloria had a bad-omen dream about a meadow full of staircases and black mice, or something! Luckily, Phil’s able to maintain a clear head as long as Claire isn’t worried.
At Gloria and Jay’s place, Benjamin Bratt returns as Manny’s dad Javier and promptly wrecks Jay and Manny’s plans to go golfing (and wear a dope Matt-Damon-in-Bagger-Vance inspired outfit) with an invitation to the dumb racetrack. Once there, Manny is (surprise, surprise) torn between his biological dad and his stepdad. Will he bet according to Javier’s alleged ability to “see into the soul of a horse,” or with Jay’s pragmatic information-is-king strategy? Bet on your own horse, Manny! Bet on Miranda’s Miracle! Run on your own track, like the wild stallion you are!
And over in Competitive Boyfriend Town (weird that they chose to name their house that! Oh well!), Mitch displays his new environmental law Oscar on the mantle, prompting Cam to display his own giant fish medal for catching giant fish, prompting Mitchell to be kinda condescending and jealous, prompting Cam to be hurt, prompting me to fall asleep. Thankfully, the sourness is cut short by Mitch coming to his senses (after his similarity to Alex reminds him that he is a grownup), and he digs up all of Cam’s old trophies to display. Or, he tries to, until he drops them and Cam sees him kicking at a mouse, thinking he’s kicking the trophies. Comic misunderstandings!
At the racetrack, Jay finally bets on the right horse, and launches into a long and loud takedown of Javier’s soulful betting strategy. And then finds out his horse was disqualified. Whoops. His talking head admission that he’s a little jealous of the Manny-Javier bio-connection was very sweet though.
By the end of the episode, the whole family has gotten wind of Phil’s dwindling odds to live and arrived at the house. Including Javier. Their freaking out freaks out Claire, which freaks out the already freaked-out Phil. It’s mass hysteria! I think this is how the Salem Witch Hunts happened. Of course, the doctor calls back and nothing’s wrong - he just wanted real estate advice. Phil lives to name his fists another day!
By far the best part of the episode? The casual fact that Luke has an 80-year-old friend he invites over for gaming. Honorable mention goes to the totally unnecessary rage with which Jay shouts “I can’t believe I bought a coffee cake for this.” I CAN’T BELIEVE IT EITHER! Until next week, amigos.