Mitch and Cam are up late swapping out the sheets of paper you put on kitchen shelves to keep the dishes nice and disease-free. Hearing the term “shelf-paper” makes me realize for the first time that the Modern Family staff definitely has a huge board populated with the most domestic things imaginable. Gotta catch ‘em all.
Elizabeth Banks, Effie Trinket herself, is back as Mitch and Cam’s gal pal Sal. She’s ready to put her 2009 self behind her and make the kind of commitment to another human that she pledged long ago to alcohol. By getting married. Probably. The topic of gay marriage gets its second or third blink-and-miss-it nod of the year, the case closed with a quick “hashtag: politics,” from Mitch, whose familiarity with Twitter was a secret to me.
Next up, #Gloriabreastfeedingjoke. An episode of mammary mania is just what the doctor ordered, providing the doctor is Seth MacFarlane on the week he opened the Oscars with a song called “We Saw Your Boobs.” A perturbed Gloria calls Fulgenio Joe “your baby” in dialogue with Jay. Is there a worse thing than couples doing that? Your daughter acted up at school. Your son is eating rocks. Your kid is dismantling my life. C’mon, people. We’re all in this together.
Mama Dunphy, suspecting her eldest has rounded the dark side of the moon and is ready to return to Planet Claire — where workout clothes are the only attire — nervously hits Haley up for a big date. All systems go. Mom will pick up daughter at the front door at seven.
Manny has been artistically commemorating the female form prolifically and professionally enough for the school janitor to take a few samples home for the ol’ personal collection.
Phil and Luke have a truly weird exchange. "What are you hiding?" "Porn??" "Don't lie to me!" Oh, Luke’s … trying to send a Facebook message to a girl he thinks is out of his league? Call me old-fashioned, but something about a kid telling his dad he’s porning it up instead of admitting he likes a girl doesn’t compute. Luke contracts Phil as his sweet-talking ghostwriter. What’s the haps, indeed. (And I know we've spoken about Dunphian décor recently, but Luke's room is a little professional for a fellow of his age, no? Get some tape and tacks, man. Lose the frame collection. More teenager, less museum curator.)
Cam and Mitch are desperate for Sal to settle down and be old like them. Saturday Game Night needs some joiners to stabilize its viability as a concept. Sal might not be their candidate. Something about how much she loves licking the inside of a random bartender's mouth. We’ll see. Sal says “take a whiz”; everyone thinks of Leslie Knope and the fabled whiz palace.
Manny is stoic in his ability not to display (or even feel?) top-notch ickiness at his mom suggesting her body inspired his art. It’s actually all about the new Delgado-Pritchett Estate hire, Daliya. "She was my muse! Toss in a body that doesn't quit, and I think we got a soul mate," Manny confides. He and Sal could co-host a symposium, Smokin’ Hot = Super Mate.
Cologned to the bones, Luke greets his mall restaurant date with the exact anxiousness Claire was recently spotted approaching her daughter with. Luke has the bonus of inheriting his father’s expertise at nonsense verbal vomit.
Now we know where Alex has been all season: playing cello in Electric Light Dorkestra (!!!!), probably touring the world. Haley bails on her mom-date, only to come back. Hmmm.
Phil's in a tough spot, deflecting flirtations from his son’s date’s foxy mom. "I just wanna make sure,” Phil says, “because you unbuttoned a button and I love my wife." Imagining Phil's thought process is just my favorite thing. (Second favorite, actually — imagining all the foolishness Phil gets up to alone, all the godawful stand-up comedy routines he compiles and practices in private, is my favorite.) Things get weird. They exchange breast gropes. Things stay weird.
Manny’s in the middle of his greatest romantic caper yet. He’s slinging pizza, tiramisu, and menus that double as love poems. His mom walks into a candle-dotted atmosphere not unlike a Madonna video. Manny loses again.
Sal is ready to marry her handsome man who possibly does not have speaking powers. Wait — okay, he does. His mouth does move, sounds do come out. He has problems making out with strangers just like Sal. Aww!
The episode saves the best for last, giving us some of the briefest yet most fantastic Lily screentime per any episode in recent memory. The girl has the attitude down to a science. "I don't like you." "I'll get over it."
Closing thought-storm: Is this season going anywhere? We’re past the two thirds mark and I’m wondering if there’s an overarching thread pulling together these weekly installments of great comedy/shabby stereotype comedy/tender moments. Mitch and Cam decided early on to table (or scrap?) the idea of adopting a second child. Haley Goes to College was a bust. Jay and Gloria’s baby arrived and is now … just alive, basically. ("People are like 'What's your baby like?' I don't know — she's a fucking baby!" quoth Louis C.K.) Mitch, Cam, Phil, and Claire went in on a house-flipping scheme together; a few months later, nada. Just trying to figure out what to expect, if the big-picture plot items are going to come hammering down for the final handful of episodes or if they’re gone for good and we’re just kind of cruising around having fun. Either way. Just let me know.