Modern Family: The Last Walt

KIP MOONEY: My apologies for not getting last week’s review up. Technical difficulties, and that was totally on me. Anyway, after rumblings I heard this morning from friends and family about this week’s episode not being up to snuff, I was ready for one of the disappointing episodes I’ve come to expect this season. What I learned after watching the episode on the DVR: Don’t listen to your friends about shows you watch regularly.

This week’s episode might not have fired on all cylinders like last week, but it delivered on the two fronts we expect it to: laughs and heart.

Apparently after his voting shenanigans last week, Walt (the marvelous Philip Baker Hall) passed away. (Can I just say that this show needlessly burns through guest stars like crazy, especially this season?) Claire and Phil break the news to Luke, he doesn’t seem the least bit fazed by it.

Claire takes this to mean Luke is just masking his emotions. Phil tries to hang out with Alex more, so he won’t end up like Walt, who never talked to his own daughter. While there was a nice emotional conclusion to each of these stories, both Claire and Phil amped up the less tolerable parts of their personalities to 11. The show really doesn’t have to try this hard.

Over at Mitch and Cam’s house, they welcome Cam’s dad Merle into town, who immediately locks horns with Jay. Merle picks up on Jay’s less-than-friendly vibes while Jay thinks Merle views Mitch as the wife to Cam’s husband. They hash out their differences while putting together a bed frame and have some honest talk about how sometimes they don’t feel 100% on board with their sons being in a relationship. I don’t necessarily want to throw this word around, but that scene was kind of brave, almost as brave as season 2′s smooch between Cam and Mitch.

Finally, there’s a really sloppy party storyline in which Haley throws a pool party at Jay and Gloria’s with her uncle chaperoning. She doesn’t lie to Gloria or Claire per se, but omits that the uncle she’s having chaperone is Manny. When Gloria arrives home and sees what shenanigans are going, she punishes Haley for lying and Manny for being too good a chaperone. “Two birds with one bullet,” she says.

That storyline shouldn’t have been tacked onto this episode, but there was a seed of a good idea there. I’ll miss Philip Baker Hall on this show, but at least we’re still getting good mileage out of our core.

Phil to Claire, who uncontrollably smiles when talking about death: “You look like the Joker.”

Claire: “Yes, Phil, I will do whatever it takes to make sure that after you die, you become a skeleton in a science class at a women’s college.”

Jay: “You know when Mitch was little he karate-chopped a plate-glass window. Seventeen stitches in his arm.”
Gloria: “I love when you tell that story. What Charlie’s Angel was he trying to be again?”

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