May 13th, 2015, 9PM, ABC
Alex is forced to celebrate her senior ditch day (and thus wreck her perfect attendance record) by Phil, Luke and Haley, who first lie to her about Luke being sick to get her in the car, then try to take her to Magic Mountain. But an unexpected detour to an old theatre that Phil literally built with his own two hands shakes things up, and he enlists the kids in wrenching out some cement footprints the children left in cement when the foundation was laid years ago. This sparks up a fight between Alex and Haley, who start to feel the gap widening between the two of them as Alex is so concerned with making college plans that she’s not interested in hanging out with the family. Meanwhile, Claire gets a job offer from a major hotel chain and Jay gives her mixed signals as to whether or not she should move on from his closet company – he tells her encouraging things about the other job’s benefits while indulging in sentimental feelings about Claire’s moving on…or so Claire thinks. Once she finds out the truth she’s less than willing to listen to his side, but her dad just might have sentimental feelings about her after all. And Gloria takes advantage of Manny’s foggy state of mind after his wisdom teeth are pulled to convince him to break up with his girlfriend Kylie, a miniature of Gloria’s pushiness, smothering and stylishness. And lastly Cam and Mitch worry that Lily lacks empathy for others and try to figure out if it’s Mitch’s sternness or Cam’s emotional outbursts that have hardened her heart.
< Though this episode has some cringeworthy jokes and moments, the majority of it focuses on that awkward yet inevitable moment every parent faces – the day when their child (or in Haley’s case, sibling) grows up and leave the nest. Even better, it manages to do so with a note of tenderness that’s been missing from the show for most of the season. For Alex it’s about cutting ties without losing contact with her roots, and letting her sister know she’ll still be here for her when she finds people more her speed to hang out with; Claire, meanwhile, has to figure out if the ties that bind her to her dad’s life work are as strong as they seem, Gloria has to let go of her son’s hand and let him make his own dating choices (and Manny has to realize that his lifelong status as a mama’s boy is impacting his lovelife) and Mitch and Cam must figure out if their daughter is secretly inhabiting a nasty case of sociopathy. The stories blend with a fresh sense of deftness, and ultimately end up harmonizing in a lovely final scene complete with Claire voiceover.
The strongest storyline belongs to Alex and Haley, providing some heart-tugging moments of sisterly togetherness. The final scene between the girls is beautifully thought out and constructed and plays over an interesting bit of shadowplay enacted by Phil and Luke. Next best: Mitch and Cam, rebounding from episodes of terrible to odd storytelling to deliver an actually funny arc that’s ably abetted by Aubrey Anderson-Emon’s excellent comedic timing. Claire and Jay’s storyline has a nice touch of sentimentality but it struggles to find the right note of humor and is uplifted by the last two scenes. The Gloria and Manny storyline plays as generally creepy, but at least the show acknowledges that, and tries to subvert it by giving Manny a great moment of clarity near the end of the episode. The end result is one of the best episodes of the entire season, just the right mix of loving detail and buffoonish humor.
Ultimately, the story is this: the Dunphy kids are growing up, slowly but surely. How many more years we have with them and how long we’ll get to watch them develop depends on the kindness of the Nielsen Gods – and so far they seem to be smiling on Modern Family.
- “Oh look, her name is actually Yu!” *cringe*. That Ike and Tina Turner joke wasn’t much better.
- Jobs offered to Claire: senior vice president in charge of promotions
- Alex and Haley should’ve known something was up when Claire didn’t jump in the car with them.
- ”Hey, don’t get blood in my eggs!” I love Lily so much.
- Before Phil was in real estate, he was in construction. The building was built back when the girls were kids and Luke was a baby.
- “And your little heads were stuck together like the cutest teepee ever!”
- Phil admits to accidentally dropping Luke on his head when he was a baby in this episode.
- Mitch always cries at the Bridges of Madison County.
- ”I have a balloon budget, but nobody ever laughs!”
- Next Week: Phil is stuck in Seattle on a business trip and is forced to attend Alex’s graduation party through Skype and a robotic servo (how much money did Skype give ABC this season?). Meanwhile, Claire fusses over getting Alex the perfect graduation gift, Jay stresses over telling Gloria he’s sick of her cousin - whose visit has outlasted its welcome, the tension between Haley and Andy comes to a head when he brings Beth to the party and Mitch, fired from his job at the nonprofit, tries not to admit to Cam he’s unemployed in “American Skyper,” the season six finale.
Flat out the best episode of the season, dinged for a few flaws but otherwise well done