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Worldly Distractions: Modern Family 6.19 - Grill, Interrupted




I feel from the title that this is going to be a Phil showcase. And I can always get behind a Phil Dunphy extravaganza. So let's see what they have to show us.

Phil gets a phone call that Jay's grill was delivered, and he has been enlisted to help keep it a surprise. Lots of jokes about his pathetic crush on Gloria. Alex gets much more momentous news - she's in at CalTech, I assume so she can conveniently live at home next season, though there is no child on television who needs to leave home more than this one. (On the bright side, maybe we'll get a cross-network mashup with The Big Bang Theory?)

In fact, Alex seems strangely subdued about it, despite her parents' congratulations. Claire thinks it's because she didn't gush enough upon hearing the news. She decides to spend the day making a big deal out of it, as Phil would, because he is a "born cheerleader". Phil takes great offence to this - cheerleading is harder than it looks, you guys. Opening credits. For some reason, it's the old credits, with baby Lily and no Joe. Huh?

Oh, yeah, so apparently the grill is for Jay's birthday, because Mitchell is grumbling about getting him a present. Cam finds out that his uncle Cyrus (whom he has never heard of) just died and left them a bunch of money. Scam? Totally. Still, they're delighted. Tey decide to buy the "upstairs unit" in their house, which is the first I've ever heard of this but solves the mystery of how they afford that place on some rather iffy income. However, the two are at odds abut how to spend the rest of it - after all, Cam is the type to buy Lily faux mink coats and claim she's dressing up as Eva Gabor.

Jay is test-driving a fancy red convertible for the weekend, which Manny Lampshades as an old man cliche. He promises he won't buy it, though. Meanwhile, Gloria thinks that Luke has been into the tequila and vows to catch him at it this time. A fully recovered Andy is nervous about seeing Haley for the first time since the hospital. He now knows about Haley's feelings, and can't stop thinking about her. They're going to have a Serious Talk. You go, Andy.

Jay is underwhelmed by his grill, since he already has one. As you can imagine, Phil's spirit is crushed. However, he bravely tries to explain the grill's virtues. Jay insists that the machine is too complex for him. Phil tries to demonstrate, but only winds up burning himself.

Meanwhile, Gloria and Manny chew out Luke for being sloppy and a sneaky drinker. However, Manny turns out to be on Luke's side. Claire is ridiculously effusive about Alex's acceptance, bringing in Mitch to shower some praise. The two siblings reminisce about their rebellious youth, which is mostly a figment of their imaginations. We also learn that both their homes were purchased on Jay's down payments, which are still unpaid loans decades later. Well, that's one mystery cleared up. They decide to offer to pay their dad back, but not actually do so, since heaven forbid they alter their precious standard of living.

Jay arrives at this moment, so they make the pitch. However, this is slightly undermined because successful forty-something lawyer Mitchell does not know how to write a check. Jay does take the money, though.

Haley and Andy have the world's most awkward chat. Sadly, Haley has brought her new flame, Will, who is a handsome doctor. Andy crumples while pretending not to. He asks Haley for advice on getting Joe to sleep. She suggests that they pretend to go to bed. Together. Might give the kid ideas, you know? Not sure why the spooning is required. Will even walks in, and is perfectly levelheaded about it, because of course he is.

Cam has found himself unable to return the two fur coats he purchased, so he's trying to hatch a harebrained scheme where he sells them on the sly. Manny and Luke try to learn to drink tequila, but since they're like fourteen, they suck at it. However, we do get Luke turning into an instant alcoholic, so I guess that could make a good spinoff.

Phil tries to make the magic grill work, but the chickens wind up being as tough as leather. The rotisserie function also moves about as quickly as a plane propeller, forcing the men to take cover from flying bits of chicken.

Mitchell and Claire flip out because Jay actually bothered to take the money he was owed, and cry over having to be responsible humans. Meanwhile, Claire continues to gush over Alex, which weirds her out. Phil never knew that the down payment came from Jay (wait, so where did you think you got the thousands and thousands of dollars?), which he instantly decides is the cause of his difficult relationship with his father-in-law. I'm sure that's it, Philly.

Andy claims he's totally not jealous of Will while Haley claims she is totally into Will, all while giggling and failing to meet Andy's eyes. Haley's shirt is totally soaked for some reason, so she borrows Andy's. Will, miraculously, manages to come to the correct conclusion again. I guess you do learn things in medical school. However, once Haley is gone, Will confronts Andy...to tell him that since he's good at making Haley laugh, he wants him to help write a witty card.

Manny and Luke are pretty wasted now, and start drunk-calling their ex-girlfriends. Cam tells Mitch he's thought about it and doesn't want the apartment, to which Mitchell agrees suspiciously quickly. Jay barges in at that moment, ruining his son's secret by thanking him for offering to pay the loan back. Turns out he had actually forgotten about it. They start to argue, but then Mitchell notices Lily's fur coat. Ball in your court, Cam.

Phil goes to confront Jay about the down payment, ignoring the Gigantic Nuclear Grill of Death. He hands him a cheque, hoping it will make things square. Jay is genuinely touched. But still bitter about the "somnamourism" incident of years ago. Luke has apparently added speed to his repertoire, judging by the way he's babbling. I fully expect him to do this in a moment:


Gloria tries to put on a show to teach the boys a lesson, claiming that she drank the entire bottle herself and swallowed the worm. Will, brilliant doctor that he is, counsels pickle juice. The boys become convinced they swallowed the worm, and decide to die rather than reveal their secret.

Will heads out on an emergency call, so Haley asks Andy to read her the card Will wrote. Upon hearing the message, Haley concludes that she and Will are moving way too fast, and decides to break up with him. Andy secretly rejoices.

At dinner, a drunken Claire proposes a toast to Alex, who is so not feeling it. Alex is still grumpy. Gloria is pissed at her son and stepgrandson. Alex is still considering going to her safety school, which is presumably with a day's drive of the Dunphy house. Everyone is mad at Phil and Mitch for paying back the down payments, though Cam has a legit grievance, since it was his inheritance. Meanwhile, Jay lives life to the fullest and spends the money on a T-bird. You go, Jay, now drive far far away.

The boys have decided to get rid of the tequila worm by freezing it to death (huh?), and hug it out as they freeze together. Gloria catches them and gives a long lecture on drinking. The humiliation is enough, though.

Alex tries to do some drinking on the sly, but winds up sipping water in Jay's new car. Jay comes out to have a chat, as the only other tolerable person in this family. She confesses that she's worried about being the dumbest person at CalTech and wants to take the easy route. Jay tells her not to back down from a challenge. He declares that if she doesn't take it, she'll regret it her whole life. The school sends me into graduate school-choosing paralysis, so fuck you Al Bundy and your reassuring voice, but it's a touching scene nonetheless.

Meanwhile, the grown-ups are still fighting (Cam in his fur coat), so Jay declares Alex leader of the family and they gossip about their relatives. Righto.

Closing scene - Jay slips his kids a "gift" while telling each of them to keep it a secret from the other, while Luke and Manny shiver from their experience in the worm-killing bath.

I realize posting this six days late is a little ridiculous, but tbh, I really don't care about this show anymore. However, since I'm retiring once this spring's seasons wrap up (I was only in it for Mad Men, really), I guess I might as well keep the string intact. So, this episode? A lot of fun. It was an excellent example of a bottle episode, allowing all the relatives to get together and express themselves. And somehow - with the possible exception of the tequila storyline - everyone had enough time to shine. It had humour and character development, and really, that's all one needs. Wouldn't you agree?


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