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Modern Family Recap: Death to Snippy

"I'm sorry, is it a vasecto-you or a vasecto-me?" Phil asks Claire. When he's nervous — like on the day of his big operation to prevent any more Dunphys — Phil reverts strictly to pun-based humor. He's in no mood for goofiness.

Claire and Phil admitting they have needs and wants other than their roles as parents — they're jealous of the childless Rosses, not pitying them or trying to solve their "problem"! in America! on TV! — is an encouraging place for the episode to start. The Dunphys make a smooth comedy team. Phil: "As long as we don't have another baby, that life is ours in five years, when Luke goes off to college." Claire: "Or somewhere." (Hang on, though — is "Jay and Gloria's Little Accident" going to be Claire's pet name for the actual baby, or is that a fetus-only deal?)

College girl Haley, secereted away from the family high jinks, is relegated to a Skype and speakerphone presence for now. "Are you going goth?" she asks a transitioning Alex. "You still sleep with a stuffed panda." Alex's "this family needs a dumbass-ectomy" enrages Luke and Haley equally.

In an important development, we get to see Larry the big white cat. Did Mitchell and Cameron get that guy when he was a kitten and he's the fastest-growing cat ever invented, or did Lily buckle and settle for an older cat in lieu of a younger brother? Either way: Good cat. A-plus.

Cam's Propecia habit is not up for discussion or even acknowledgment, really. But while we're thinking about Cam's hair, we've got to flash back to his mustache days for a moment. "Please remember my tone, not my words," he tells a frustrating adoption agency employee in the pre-Lily era. Mitchell's last attempt to suggest that Cam consider distracting himself by going back to work ignites some fireworks that are joyful to watch. "Think I sit around all day? Well I'm not sittin' now," Cam fumes at Mitch, yanking a surprise packed suitcase from the closet. Bingo.

It's a good thing Jay and Gloria didn't discuss whether they want to learn the sex of the baby before their doctor's appointment, 'cause, drama! Jay learns the hard way that Jaws references don't fly at all times in all circles. "I saw it but I don't remember a scene with a hubcap and a pregnant woman," the staid doc tells Jay. It's all worth it for the "we're gonna need a bigger belt" joke, though.

Mitch is putting in those couple of hours of iPad gaming all offices seem to have mandated since the advent of the device and its little bro the iPhone, but he'll gladly feign being busy to avoid another workday lunch with bored househusband Cam. Oh, you're here, Cam? Just let me finish cutting up this Post-it and stapling it. Ugh, slammed today, really. He pencils in some time to go meet a man named Joe Jeoux.

Claire's "post-post office traumatic stress disorder" line flops with Haley ("stop smiling, it's not that clever," she tells her mom over the phone; "nailed it," votes Phil). All Claire's kids have to treat her like garbage — building to a "you ruin my life!!!" detonation from Alex — so they can remember how much they appreciate her by the end. The parental hero's journey. (Claire might need the love, too — left to her own devices as a stand-alone adult, she does things like e-mail her friends to tell them she lucked into a crazy sweet stretch of green lights driving on Jefferson the other night.)

What are the chances all-star students Alex and Manny are skipping school on the same day? "(A) it's hooky, and (B) don't ever pull me out of school to play hockey," Manny tells his mom, who's treating the stressed little guy to some pizza. He's grumpy because the school music teacher got sacked, and Manny had been studiously buttering the guy up to nab the starring role in Oliver! "It's not all over," Gloria eyerolls before reassuring Manny he'll find a new music teacher to put butter on.

When Manny opens up to tell his swelling mother she's not only pregnant, but she looks exactly like she is, she seethes. "I hope that this new one has some good manners!" Her clothes start busting apart ("your shirt couldn't take it anymore!" Manny cries), art imitating life. Maternity clothes are purchased, and Modern Family has succesfully woven a new parable about acceptance.

Phil's not nervous about his vasectomy. "I'm totally pumped, pumped-pumped-pumped, pump up in the jam in my pumped-up kicks, pumpty dumpty, pumpelstiltskin," he rattles, because Phil's picture of someone not nervous for a vasectomy is someone who's psyched for one. His anxiety works him into a fever state, and he hasn't even been considering the loss of his carefully maintained macho image — he's just been worried the operation's going to be painful. Jay's down for a rare heart-to-heart and admits he gets scared, too; in fact, he's scared for Gloria to have a girl. "Give me a break, that's not a thing — you'd just rather have a boy, everyone would rather have a boy," says Phil, father of two daughters, one boy. Anyone in doubt Manny's getting a little sister? 

Cam, whose new paisely-party shirt matches the curtains, is finally ready to get indignant about all the things he does for the house, like grocery shopping and shopping for food. It builds to the revelations of his secret homemaking project, his Norman Bates's mother moment: a besequinned, hand-stitched Lycra mermaid costume for Larry the cat. Eight weeks of life spent on that bad boy. That's about as rocky as rock bottom gets, so Cam lands a job as the music teacher at Manny's school.

Claire, in full view of her children's appreciation of her again, remembers what a great feeling the hubris euphoria of childrearing can be and staves off Phil's snip for another five years. Maybe they'll give the parenting thing one more go-round. If Jay and Gloria are doing it, sure, why not?