February 11th, 2015, 9PM, ABC
Romance – and madness – are in the air this week. Though they have a rough start of it, Claire and Phil manage to resume their Valentine’s Day identities as Juliana and Clive Bixby, but after a wild night at a hotel Claire’s left worrying that Phil’s more attracted to Juliana than to her; Gloria’s seemingly prim, servile and modest - and constantly jealous - sister Sonia visits from Columbia. Jay’s so grateful for Sonia’s help and is so swept away by the giving nature of Valentine’s Day itself that he gives her a gift, and the lonely woman immediately presumes it’s a sign of love. When Gloria twists her ankle and Sonia dolls herself up to take her sister’s place for her Valentine’s meal with Jay, the older man starts wondering if Sonia would do anything – including murder – to replace Gloria in Jay’s life. It’s up to Manny and his obsession with crime to help his step-father figure out if his aunt is just trying to help- or if she’s hiding darker motives. And Mitch and Cam experience an awkward encounter with Anders when they show up for his first anniversary party to discover that Cooper has flown the coop, leaving them to pick up the shattered pieces of their friend’s heart - and sneak the painting they bought as a gift out of the house before Anders can see it, having fallen in love with it themselves. Unfortunately there’s a similarly wrapped gift, a security camera, several gift swaps and an ill mother for them to contend with if they’re to end up with the prize – that is if they want it, when they see what Anders is planning on giving them as a late wedding gift.
Arrows fly all over during this episode, but it’s ultimately a mixed bag from start to finish. The best and most charming plot belongs to Phil and Claire, who come to realize that their sexually exciting encounters as their alter egos don’t compare to the real marriage they have. There’s a very warm and delightful core to that story that makes Phil and Claire seem more endearing than they have in many episodes; who doesn’t hope that someday they’ll have a relationship that involves champagne and sex in a hotel pool after twenty one years of marriage?
The Gloria/Jay/Sonia plot is very, very sitcommy – it’s a drawn-out sexual farce that belongs on an episode of Three’s Company versus Modern Family. Poor Stephanie Beatriz, who is an utter firecracker as Rosa on Brooklyn Nine Nine, is called upon to don a stereotypical accent and play a psychopath; it’s a step down, but proof-positive that she can play another type. The story ends on a big dose of creepiness as Jay enjoys watching his wife and her sister tussle over his head in low-cut gowns.
The Cam/Mitch storyline, sadly, features both characters at their shallow, greedy worst. They’ve been fairly relentlessly unlikable over the past couple of episodes, but in this particular installment makes them look like appearance-obsessed jerks – well, more than they typically are. Consider this plot one of those gummy orange things nobody likes, the Gloria/Jay a chewy and half-stale walnut cluster and Claire and Phil’s the silky cream in the chocolate box that is this episode.
- Claire and Phil’s Clive Bixby (a speaker salesman/spy) and Juliana (sexually-adventurous cuckolder) were first used during the episode “My Funky Valentine” in season one, then revisited in “Bixby’s Back” and “Heart Broken”.
- Anders and Cooper first appeared in .
- Sonia last appeared during Joe’s christening episode, “Fulgencio” , in season 4.
- Phil was in his high school production of the Wiz, which he stole.
- The Dunphy kids don’t appear in this episode, nor does Lily.
- Next Week: Phil suffers from jealousy of his own when Claire takes the only available first class seat on their flight home from a reunion with his college buddies, leaving him in coach, Gloria forces Jay to train Manny in self-defense to equip him with the skills he needs to fend off his cooking-school rival and Mitch, Cam and the rest of their friends throw the ever promiscuous Sal a belated baby shower in “Fight or Flight”!
A mixed episode yields mixed results.