It’s Manny’s birthday and the gangs all here. Manny looks adorable in his suit. He’s about to start a speech, when he admits that this family gathering almost didn’t happen… Thirty minutes earlier: every one is running late for the party. Claire rushes her family to get ready, Cam is walking too slowly through the mall for Mitch’s taste and Jay accuses Gloria of always being late. Luke forgets to put on shoes, Cam wants Mitch to stop and smell the roses and Gloria can’t find her keys. Claire tries to rush Phil along, but Phil is busy registering them for “family camp,” their annual tradition of spending a week every summer competing in childhood games against other families. Claire is clearly still resentful for losing in Color War on what Phil calls, “Team Blueser.” Phil, on the other hand, was a proud member of winning Team White, whose slogan, “If you ain’t white, you ain’t right” makes for an awkward encounter with a black cab driver. In the midst of this nostalgic tension, Phil and Claire decide to take separate cars to Manny’s party so that they can race. Even though Luke volunteers to go with Phil, he ends up with Claire and the girls ride with their father. Jay presents his present to Manny, who is already fully dressed in his birthday suit. It’s a BB gun, and when Manny asks Jay if this is really an appropriate gift for a preteen, Jay harmlessly tells Manny that he was born old and never had a real childhood. Naturally, Manny panics. Meanwhile, Phil drives recklessly in a frenzy to beat Claire. When Alex nervously points out that he missed a stop sign, he says, “I’ll stop twice on the way back.” Claire and Luke are cruising, luckily catching every green light while driving safely. Haley and Alex wonder why Phil is going crazy on the road. He reminds them that if they win, whenever their mother tries to correct them on something, they will be able to triumphantly scream in reminder, “Manny’s birthday!” Instead, he loses control of the wheel and crashes. Luke tells Claire that when she told them that she and Phil were “splitting up” for the car ride, he thought she meant divorce. Claire profusely apologizes, realizing the trauma this must have caused him. She slowly realizes the true meaning of this mistake and suddenly asks, “Luke, why did you say you’d go with your dad?” On the side of the road, Phil changes his popped tire, encouraging the girls to help because it will be great practice for family camp. The girls panic—they secretly despise family camp. Cam and Mitchell are still in the mall looking for a present for Manny, incredibly behind Mitch’s schedule. Cam is acting very laid back, encouraging Mitch to relax and enjoy his life while Mitch becomes more and more frustrated at Cam’s chill attitude. Cam tries to reunite a very old man and woman who are having trouble hearing each other across the mall. While Gloria continues to look for her keys, Manny tries to recapture his childhood by making prank calls for the first time. Jay tells Gloria that she “needs a system” for keeping track of things, and Gloria goes crazier and crazier with frustration. Manny mixes sodas together to test out tastes. Jay finds Gloria’s keys in his coat pocket and hides them in Gloria’s purse so that she doesn’t know he had them the entire time he was criticizing her. Mitch stays with the old man while Cam tries to find the man’s lost love. Cam convinces Mitch they have to take the time out of their day to help these poor old people just trying to stay together. The old man drops Mitch’s phone and it breaks, so Cam brings the lady up the escalator while Mitch brings the old man down. It takes awhile, but when the gay couple has finally united the old couple, Mitch tries to hurry Cam along, claiming they’re running out of time. With a sideways glance at the old couple, Cam sarcastically retorts, “We’re running out of time? Sensitive.” Cam then adjusts his focus to the old couple—imploring them to hold on to their love in hard times! The woman responds, “What about his wife?” Pulled over in the car, Claire asks Luke if he chose Phil because Phil is funny. Luke agrees and adds, “but you’re nice.” Phil encourages Haley and Alex to confide in him, as he calls his car, “the cone of trust.” The girls admit they don’t want to go to family camp. Phil starts to cry, so Haley cries, which makes Alex cries. Everyone in the car is hysterically sobbing. Claire tells Luke he can’t have two fun parents. Jay tells Gloria to look in her purse again, and she does, but pretends not to find anything. Manny floats in the pool on an inflatable mattress he got two years ago for his birthday. Gloria confronts Jay and tells him she knows he put the keys in her purse. She then calls Jay a stupid little boy, Manny a sad old man, and shoots Manny’s float with his new BB gun. Cam angrily admits that Mitch was right and he was wrong for wanting to help adulterers. Cam claims, however, that it wasn’t about the old people. It was “about being spontaneous,” which Mitch is apparently incapable of. Suddenly, in the middle of the mall, a “flash mob” breaks out (a giant group of people who randomly converge in a public place to do a choreographed dance). In Cam’s excitement, you almost expect him to join in. Major twist of the episode: it is Mitch who’s a part of the flash mob! He excitedly jumps in and dances perfectly in time with the rest of the mob. Apparently, he had been practicing with the group every night after work because when his closeted coworker asked him to join along, he had no choice but to say “hellz yes.” He calls it his “love letter to Cam.” Cam, however, is clearly disappointed he didn’t know, as he awkwardly tries to repeat the moves on the sideline. When Mitch finishes and runs over to see Cam’s happy surprise at his partner’s spontaneity, Cam’s pissed. Luke tries to convince Claire that she really is fun, but Claire knows better. Instead, she tries to prove herself by recommitting to the race to restaurant. She takes off at top speed. Finally on the road, Gloria freaks out at Jay for lying about the keys, wildly punching him and shrilly shrieking. Also in the car, Cam dramatically tells Mitch that he “cheated on me with choreography.” Still pulled over, Alex inspires Phil to reenter the race and he too takes off with a determination to win. In one of the only suspenseful moments of Modern Family you will ever see, both parents speed recklessly to the restaurant. Tensions are high as they veer back and forth with vigor—no one, including the audience, knows who will win. They both screech to a halt at the same time, however—in fact, at the same time too as Gloria and Jay and Cam and Mitch. Both Claire and Phil narrowly escape a major accident with the other half of their family. When they come out of their cars to ask if anyone is hurt, Cam bitterly announces to Mitch, “I am!” Finally in the restaurant, they share a sentimental moment in honor of Manny, and everyone makes up. Back at the house, Manny goes back to being the old soul that he is (reading the newspaper on the couch) and Jay tries to hide the keys once again, but Gloria breaks out the BB gun for the third time and tries to shoot the keys in his hands. Tonight’s episode was much faster paced than most and also contained the added element of the flashback. It was a new look for Modern Family, but still the same old hilarious.
Original Author: Lucy Goss