Cam and Mitch, while shopping for glitter, are invited to a protest by some friends who don't think they're political enough, or that they don't care about potatoes? Anyway, Cam and Mitch have kind of lost their political interest in the years since they adopted Lily, so they are eager to regain their Gay Cred - even if it means giving up their favourite burgers. Opening credits.
Alex is dismayed to learn that her archrival, Sanjay, are co-valedictorians. The Dunphys are happy for both of them, but Alex, Sanjay and Sanjay's parents are not nearly as gracious. The principal (a spot-on portrayal of an educator terrified of the Almighty Parent) explains that their GPAs are tied to the thousandth of a decimal, so they couldn't make a decision. Phil tries to put a bright face on it ("this is literally a win-win"), but everyone in the room shoots him down. Sanjay's dad suggests that they find some kind of tiebreaker. As it turns out, only one grade in the entire school has not been determined...cut to a very confused Cam.
Meanwhile, Gloria is studying for her citizenship test, even though I could have sworn this show described her as a citizen before. However, since the path to US Citizenship is truly labyrinthine, I'll give them a pass on this one. Anyway, she's pretty comfortable with the answers, though she's getting a bit tired of Jay's jokes about it- as well as the skimpy America-themed clothes he buys her. Javier comes back from a Dad day with Manny. He chooses this moment to chide Gloria for abandoning her roots and turning her back on Colombia. She in turn calls him out for being an idiot deadbeat - but his comments still get to her, especially when she realizes she's forgetting basic Spanish words. Like, even stuff Jay knows.
Cam determines that the two kids have the same gym grade, but happened to miss the day of the mile run. The setup is clear - they will literally race to be valedictorian. (I don't want to live in a world where gym class is something that determines your future. Gross.) Phil and Claire wonder why they can't just be grateful about what they have, and for the first time this season I agree with them. Sanjay's parents, though, are enormous dicks and make fun of the Dunphys' intellectual deficit, as compared to their beloved spawn. I imagine Sanjay will drop out in his first semester and become a stoner. Anyway, they get into a dumb one-upmanship contest and soon the Dunphys are just as on board with the race. See, this is why I'm scared of becoming a parent, because of turning intoÂ thoseÂ parents.
Sanjay's parents also wonder whether Alex's uncle is sufficiently impartial to oversee this race, but he asssures them that his highly advanced training is essential. The race is on.
But first of all, Cam and Mitch have to go to their half-assed protest, withÂ Father Ted-worthy signs like "Stop doing what you're doing" and "SHAME".
However, they're surprised to learn that no one is there. It turns out their politically committed friends are notorious for bailing on their causes. They go inside and ask the hostess, who tells them that there were no protests today, and offers them a table. They compromise with a booth away from the window.
Alex goes into truly obsessive treadmill training, determined to win the right to give a speech everyone else will forget in five minutes anyway. What is it with stupid competitive parents and their equally dim-witted children? None of this matters, kid. She's determined to win, but so exhausted that she collapses. You can't benefit from your valedictory speech if you don't live to deliver it, dumbass.
Jay notices that the house is suddenly full of Colombian food and music. He advises Gloria not to let her ex-husband get to her. He has also brought more American presents, such as Scotch and Kobe steaks. Will there be a joke about cooking it in a melting pot? Undoubtedly. See, I can write for this show too. Anyway, Jay goes on about America blah blah blah and freedom blah blah blah because no other country has it blah blah blah and Jay, I know you mean well, but this is why the rest of the world has a permanent eye-roll going on about you guys. Manny, however, thinks he's concerned with more pragmatic issues, such as waiting a long time at Customs whenever they return from vacation. Gloria's outraged, even though Jay never said this and Manny is pretty obviously just speculating. Can no one on this show comprehend basic human speech?
Alex answers the door only to find Sanjay, who has also been training and has comeÂ by to tell her thanks for being a worthy opponent. She admits she feels the same way - and in a way, they'll miss each other. Sanjay admits that he likes her "Like Pierre Curie liked Marie Curie", and raise your hands, how many of you totally saw this coming? Regardless, it's still sweet in an awkward way. While Alex is still staring stunned, he runs away in embarrassment.
Phil and Claire still have their eyes on the prize, but Luke is more in favour of tripping up Sanjay. Alex tells them what just happened. Claire and Phil assume that it's a psychological ploy. Alex is soon brought to their side, and decides not to "fall for it". Oh my god you guys this is going to be so tragic I can't watch poor Sanjay. If these are modern families, then modern families really are the worst.
Gloria puts on her skimpy clothes and an attempt at a Southern accent, serving Jay steak and NASCAR. She's still mad about the customs thing, even though shit like that is why half the people upgrade from residency to citizenship in the first place. Currently, she doesn't want to move forward. Jay is completely weirded out, though he likes the shorts.
Cam and Mitch finish their burgers and agree that they are still morally okay, through some incredibly convoluted reasoning. They walk out of the restaurant (wait for it) straight into a crowd of protestors. Like right-wingers at an abortion clinic, they leave the business they just benefited from and slip into the crowd to decry it. (The issue at hand, by the way, involves a SuperPAC that doesn't want to provide insurance for same-sex partners - something C&M didn't know until they joined the protest.)
At that moment, though, the restaurant helpfully returns their cell phone and doggy bag. Everyone in the protest stares in shock. When C&M try to justify their purchase, everyone shuts them down immediately. You go, protestors. However, C&M do make the valid point that it's hard to boycott every business on the planet.
Gloria angrily chops celery. Jay apologizes, but she is not having it. He admits that it all kind of goes back to Javier - they share a nationality, and he was hoping that if she and became American, it would establish them more strongly as a couple and a family - as illustrated by things like waiting in separate airport lines. Manny agrees. So Gloria agrees she'll become a citizen. In an interview, Manny says that he's just hoping his mom will become a citizen before Jay kicks the bucket, otherwise they'll owe a lot of estate taxes.
The kids prepare for the race while all four idiot parents cheer them on and I schedule a tubal ligation posthaste. However, Sanjay refuses to run. Alex stops a few steps into the race and asks him what's going on (more hooting from the parents). He tells her his feelings are genuine, and he doesn't want to compete anymore. She admits she kinda likes him too. They get all ooey-gooey about each other. While all the parents minus Phil freak out, the two star-crossed lovers kiss. Awww. Even Claire gives in, though Phil wonders if they might not dial it back a bit. The principal declares them co-valedictorians and makes it pretty clear this was a total waste of time. The kids immediately begin to compete about who's the better kisser, a question only answered with more demonstrations.
A voiceover narrates about America-the-land-of-diversity. Cam and Mitch are happy with their principles. The voice turns out to come from a customs line in an airport (I have literally never seen an American airport that does something like that). The customs officer is stunned that Gloria and Jay are married. Jay concludes that it's a great country.
Tag scene - Gloria takes the citizenship test. It consists of two questions that almost anyone who knows of America's existence could answer, and the answer to one of them (the colour of the flag's stars) is literally right in front of Gloria. Naturally, she passes with 100%. Her reaction is something along the lines of "All that studying for THAT?!" Finally, the official asks her a third question, which Gloria can't answer. No take-backsies.
(Here's a sad admission - I'd probably to better on the US citizenship test than the Canadian. Shame.)
Anyway, this episode was actually pretty strong. Alex's story was a sharp skewering of modern parents with a funny twist. Gloria FINALLY got a good story, navigating the complexities of national identity (even if that one did resort to the occasional cheap shot). I also enjoyed the nature of protest, as explored by half-assed Cam and Mitch. No one really bombed this week, is all I'm saying. As this season draws to a close, some of these episodes are really improving in calibre.
...oh, no, this means they'll get another fucking Emmy, right?