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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 5.24 - The Wedding (Part Two)




Well, they've got us folks. Left with an explosive cliffhanger just as Cam and Mitch are about to walk down the aisle, it's time to see the thrilling conclusion. Will  wedding bells ring, or will this party get burned out?

We get a "previously on". Deedee's not coming, Mitch is not speaking to his dad, Cam's parents are breaking up. Immediately, we return to where the show left off, as firefighters tell the wedding guests that they have to evacuate. Mitch pleads that they wait a little, to which the firefighter calls him out for being a fucking idiot. I concur. As someone who grew up in a climate similar to Southern California and was once escorted from her home by the military as the hillside went up in flame, I can say this - when there's a fire, you get out, no matter how special the day. Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, the firefighter is as big a dumbass as the grooms, and gives them thirty minutes to get through the wedding after Pepper intervenes. ("I'm a big fan - I have all your calendars.") Oh, wow, is this episode going to be in real time? Will it end on another cliffhanger as a wall of flame approaches? God, I hope so. They launch into a sped-up wedding (sadly not accompanied by the Benny Hill theme), which hits another snag when Sal's water breaks. She continues to insist that she's not in labor, and is in fact "barely pregnant". Fortunately, she manages to convince her boyfriend of four months that it's a miracle, because "I love you so much I can't wait to have our baby." As she's taken away, she tells him that sometimes premature babies are born black. This episode is stuffed with good one-liners already.

Stuck without an officiant, the grooms begin to panic. Phil Dunphy to the rescue! Turns out he's one of those "internet ministers" so prevalent in modern sitcoms. In fact, he's been hinting about this to Cam and Mitch all year, though they've tactfully shied away. Today, they gratefully accept him. Pepper comes running in to tell them that a) the winds have shifted and they have to leave, and B) he's found another location. Unbelievably, the couple continues to question this. Pepper gives them a biting takedown. Despite my qualms with Pepper as a character, I have to say that Nathan Lane absolutely kills it. "Its chief selling point is IT'S NOT ABOUT TO BECOME A KILN!"

They dash to the shuttles - er, school buses, it was the best Pepper could come up with - and we go through the opening credits. Yeah, we're already five hundred words in, something tells me this episode's going to be eventful.

Claire notices that part of her dress is fragile, which will inevitably mean a wardrobe malfunction in fifteen minutes. Gloria and Jay argue about the Tuckers' breakup. Gloria told Barb to express her own feelings for once, while Jay told Merle how happy he was with his second wife. Naturally, each blames the other for  what happened. However, they can definitely agree that they have to keep it from Cam, at least until the wedding's over.

Jay takes Mitchell aside and asks how he's doing. In fact, he tries to reconcile right there, though Mitch points out that this is probably not the time and place. In an attempt to comfort his son about the situation, he accidentally implies that the fire is God's judgment raining down upon them. Jay and the PP, one and the same, dontcha know.

While everyone hurries to the buses, Phil gives Manny and Luke a demo of his marryin' skills, placing them under the arch while he does so. And just like Maeby and George Michael from Arrested Development, Manny and Luke wind up as accidentally-married-underage-relatives. Alex, of course, captures it all on film.

On the bus, Jay winds up seated next to Barb, who is strangely non-responsive. At first I wonder if she'll keel over dead, but no, she just got hold of Jay's flask and is three sheets to the wind. Yes - Barb is tonight's "that guy at the wedding". Haley's frantically texting Andy, and though she pretends to be contemptuous of his romantic ways, you know what she's really thinking. Alex figures it out, and thinks it's hilarious. Phil struggles to write the wedding ceremony. Finding all the traditional ceremonies boring, he decides to throw in a magic trick. There is no way this will not go catastrophically wrong. Meanwhile, a few seats aways, Luke and Manny bicker - just like an old married couple, har de har har. Alex snickers at her dumbass siblings. Lily complains about the bus ride. Claire tells her that it's the happiest day of her dads' lives.

Meanwhile, Pepper drives the happy couple in his own car. Unfortunately, he brought a crate of butterflies to release at the ceremony, and they've escaped. Cue mass panic, especially from Mitchell, who is scared of all flying things. The party drives on, with the bus dragging the wedding arch all the way.

Though the place is lovely - and suddenly available due to a tragic ending for a previously scheduled wedding - the group is in a shambles. Half the string quartet has been called up to fight the fire, the lights aren't working. Barb is drunk and over-familiar, Merle is surly. Manny and Luke continue to be fake-married, with Joe taking the place of a baby. Claire seems to be the only one who has it together, but even she has a huge pollen stain on her dress. Oh, Jesus, hold some flowers in front of it and get on with the show.

Haley ditches the wedding entirely to chase after Andy, whose plane continues to be delayed. Upon hearing about the fire, he compliments her on her "smokin' dress", and I'm relieved that this joke happened before anyone got to "flaming". In his wholesome (and occasionally not-so-wholesome) way, he has totally fallen for her, probably because he ate too much pie. Before she heads back to the party, Haley tells him that he shouldn't go back to his girlfriend - because he deserves better.

At the wedding, Phil gets Claire to practice his planned magic trick, which is iffy at best. Gloria tries to convince Merle to stick with Barb, describing his lonely future without her. Pepper signals that it's go time, and the wedding begins for the second time. We get some cute flirting from Cam and Mitch, which is a rarity on this show. Cam wonders if, with all the obstacles they've faced, maybe some heavenly authority doesn't want them to get married. Mitchell dismisses this just as the original wedding party comes running in demanding to use the space. Time for Plan C.

This turns out to be Cam and Mitchell's house, which is impossibly cramped for such an occasion. Cam continues to wildly misinterpret minor incidents as apocalyptic signs. Gloria tries to persuade the Tuckers to reconcile. Haley continues to message Andy. Alex advises her to be careful with him. Speaking from experience, she knows how bad it feels for a dork to have a broken heart. Claire takes Phil into the bathroom, intending to convince him to give up his increasingly pathetic magic tricks, but she somehow doesn't have the heart. Grudgingly, she gives her blessing for any and all magic. Unfortunately, Phil accidentally knocks her into the shower, turning it on and destroying her beautiful dress.

Andy calls Haley, just to make sure that she wasn't talking about them when she said what she did. Haley tearfully assures him that she wasn't. They have a sad goodbye which totally breaks my heart a little, shut up you guys. It breaks even further when the camera reveals that Andy was in a taxi in front of Cam and Mitchell's house.

Luke and Manny perform the traditional "Just Married" vandalism on Cam and Mitch's car. As they stand beside it, Alex gleefully continues to film. Jay has a loud and conspicuous conversation with his ex-wife over the phone. The Tuckers listen in. The wedding begins in a shambles. We are now down to one quartet member, Lily is frazzled, Claire looks like a disaster, the caterer is gone, the arch is practically in splinters, and worst of all, Jay is standing outside talking on the phone, missing the entire thing. Cam suggests they go and get him, but Mitchell is fed up and wants to keep going. They start down the aisle, but neither of their hearts are in it. They decide to call it off. However, just as they're about to announce, Jay steps in, telling them they shouldn't do it. That is, they shouldn't do it this way - he has a much better idea.

Cut to Cam and Mitchell's real wedding, smack in the middle of Jay's stuffy old-boy's club golf course. And to top it all off, he even offers to walk his son down the aisle. That'll do, Jay. That'll do.

Gloria goes to Mitchell's other side, the Tuckers follow with Cam, and as Claire narrates about her joy in seeing her little brother marry this great guy, the wedding finally begins. Phil refrains from stupid magic tricks. The wedding goes off without a hitch, the grooms share a great big kiss, and everyone onscreen and off is in tears. We find out that Claire's narration is from her toast to the couple. The episode ends as they begin their first dance, looking as happy as can be.

The tag scene features Manny and the Dunphy kids, plus Lily, who's with them while her dads are on their honeymoon. Alex asks if she misses them. Looking over at the bickering Luke and Manny, Lily comments that it's like they never left.

So I have to say, even though they used every cliche in the book, it really was a great episode. Full of funny moments and genuinely touching scenes - including the unexpected and poignant heartbreak between Haley and Andy - it married off Cam and Mitch with all the joy you'd hope for. It's been a long time coming, both on the show and in its real-world subtext. Put together, it was hard to stay dry-eyed. Fortunately, the episode had a good number of laughs, and especially one-liners, to ground things a little. Call me sentimental, but this turned out to be a fantastic end to an up-and-down season. Join me in September to see what next year will bring.

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