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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 6.11 - The Day We Almost Died


crazyforkate

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Is it possible? Can we take this title as a sign of hope? Can it be that Modern Family might finally become...

...edgy?

Let us investigate.

The Dunphys, plus Manny, are going out for pancakes. Chaos reigns in the crowded vehicle. I imagine Phil is just going to drive them off a cliff to get some quiet. In fact, it's pretty close - he gets distracted and almost hits a dump truck, only saved by a drastic swerve. I have to say, kudos to the stunt drivers. Everyone sits in stunned silence, except Luke, who hadn't noticed.

This causes some kind of weird "I-almost-died-so-I'm-going-all-Stepford-on-your-asses" effect on Claire, who shows up to Mitchell's office and actually hugs him. She wails about her near-death for about ten more minutes, ruining Mitchell's day. Mitchell, of course, is highly weirded out. Even worse, she has decided to live life to the fullest, bad news for everyone around. She even manages to get her brother out of his law office for the day. They wind up roller skating under an underpass while Claire continues to be a touchy-feely hippie. Mitchell is still confused.

Mitchell goes tumbling down the road on his roller skates, emerging with no tie and no wallet (he claims he's been mugged). Claire has the audacity to tell him not to "sweat the small stuff" as he frantically tries to cancel his bank cards. Finally, Mitchell gives her a piece of his mind. Claire decides to continue her saccharine campaign nonetheless.

Ashamed at his distraction, Luke has realized that he misses too much of life as it is, and decides to start fulfilling his bucket list. Meanwhile, Haley and Alex have chosen this moment to put their long-simmering hostility aside. Or at least try. Starting with makeovers. Ohhh boy.

In the next scene, Alex looks like a nightmare, Haley is unsympathetic to her plight, and Alex just about to tear her a new one when she exclaims over how much fun they had. Feeling charitable, Alex decides to teach her some judo. It goes about as well as the makeover. And it turns out Haley wasn't concerned for Alex during the near-crash at all - she was talking about her phone. Salt, meet wound. Oh, and Luke built a jet pack.

Claire comes home to find Alex going Incredible Hulk on her sister and Luke about to leap to his death. She is still as sunny as ever. But what happened to Phil?

We'll have to wait to find out, because the story switches to Manny. At the time of the crash, he was worried about his mother, who had her phone stolen the day before. Wait, why is everyone getting mugged this week? Did it happen to one of the writers or something? After the near-crash, he walks home to find Gloria reporting the theft to the police. The incident apparently threw Manny into a Bergman film, as he waxes philosophical about the nature of life. Gloria wails about his safety, Jay instantly blames Phil (to be fair, it's blame well-placed - eyes on the ROAD, buddy). Manny just keeps Bergmaning. His mother decides to take him out for ice cream. The only problem is, he's developed a phobia of riding in a car. Jay compounds this by asking him to drive. Manny decides never to drive again. (As someone who is also slightly driving-phobic, I sympathize.) Gloria and Jay get into the same argument they have every week: "You're coddling Manny!" "No I'm not!" "When I was a kid [insert tough story here]..."

Manny sucks at driving, predictably, and Jay finally gives in. Just then, Gloria spots the phone thief running down the street. Manny to the rescue! He takes off like a bat out of hell - and of course, it emerges that Gloria only pretended to see him. The boy is cured. Unfortunately, the experience leaves Jay with a sudden phobia of riding in cars.

Finally, finally we go to Phil. Right before the incident, he had just learned that he lost a listing to longtime enemy Gil Thorpe. He calmly takes over while everyone freaks out, and indeed seems just fine for a while after. Mostly, he's thinking about playing racquetball with Cam. On the way to the court, though, Phil finds an excuse to pull up at the stolen listing to check things out. He strongly implies to the couple seeing the house that Gil is an incompetent boob, even inventing a malpractice attorney and an exorcism priest. It gets downright creepy and aggressive. A horrified Cam cannot believe that this is his goofy brother-in-law. And takes him around town to fight all his battles for him. To his shock, he suddenly realizes he finds Phil sexy.

...well, that was a twist.

The muscle shirt definitely helps.

Finally, Phil and Cam go out for a wild adventure, though not the kind Cam would like. Instead, they buy an alpaca. I think it's an alpaca. Dammit, I'm twenty-three and can't tell the difference between an alpaca and a llama. Also, this was totally mentioned in another episode, wasn't it?

Fed up with the South American domesticated mammal, Cam walks out, thankful that he at least has a sane partner like Mitchell (who is currently whizzing by on roller skates).

Claire, still in Stepford mode, barely notices the alpaca. (The second one who has belonged to the Dunphys - Jolene II.) The girls are fighting, and Luke is bucket-listing. Phil gives a speech about finally taking control of his life. Unfortunately, during this inspiring speech, he knocks over a glass of milk - and begins to sob about how he almost lost his entire family. The Dunphys are happy, Manny can drive, Cam is no longer having emotional affairs, and Jolene II is presumably headed to the glue factory.

Tag scene - we see Mitchell's day, including almost getting run over by Manny and returning to his faithless husband. He finishes by sneezing in Cameron's face.

Well, that was a lot of fun. I've been praying for Modern Family to shake things up, they did, and it worked splendidly. Sure, some plots landed better than others (or stayed, blessedly, asides), but each one had some clever moments and real character development. Standouts include Superhero Phil and Smitten Cam, as well as Mitchell on his dumb rollerskates. While every character was included, they each had something to do and weren't forced into a boring subplot for the sake of subplots. All in all, this week was a step up, and a great start to the new year. They should almost get into terrible accidents every week!

 

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