Two words: flash mob. For me, this episode really kicked it up a notch when a flash mob broke out at the shopping center and Mitch—of all people—was a part of it. And then, the show surprised me yet again with Mitch’s sweet explanation for his participation. But, I am getting ahead of myself. Overall, a solid episode, but it is hard to truly judge this show because even its weaker episodes have strong elements. I would say that this episode had a fewer quantity of laughs for me overall, but the laughs it delivered well were done really well.
The main plot driver in tonight’s episode, “Manny Get Your Gun,” is the fact that our favorite man-child (I mean, his name is Manny) is having a birthday. When Jay gives him a BB gun before heading to the restaurant and casually remarks that Manny has always been older than his years, this really strikes a nerve with Manny. He has a flash realization that he never appreciated his childhood nor acted like a true child (that’s why we love you Manny!). This was a great and believable freak-out for Manny to have—if anyone is capable of a mini-life crisis, it’s him. Manny immediately starts checking things off a childhood bucket list, from making a horribly unoriginal prank call to “Seymour Butts” and mixing three kinds of soda, to trying to use several past Christmas gifts he always thought were too childish (um, that inflatable island raft for the pool is awesome—why did he never invite some of his lady friends over for some virgin daiquiris and a pool party before?). The storyline I was bored with was Gloria and Jay arguing over her lost car keys, but I get that they needed to be delayed in getting to the restaurant and so that Manny had time to do all these “childish” things.
The Dunphy household also had some childish behavior, but by parents Phil and Claire. After arguing about whose route gets to the restaurant faster, Claire and Phil agree to split up (into two cars that is, not a divorce like poor Luke thinks). Phil gets the girls and Claire gets Luke. This storyline had a strong beginning and a strong end…but the majority of the car conversation was just OK for me. For example, I liked the backstory on family camp when we learned that Claire was on the losing “Blueser” team and Phil was on the winning White team (complete with racist t-shirt: if it ain’t white, it ain’t right!). And, I liked it again toward the end of the family race when self-conscious Hayley and Alex admitted to dear old dad that they wanted nothing to do with family camp anymore.
But now for my favorite story of the night (as often is the case): Mitch, Cam and the flash mob surprise. Mitchell was rushing Cam around the shopping center to get a gift for Manny. The best part of this set-up was that we the audience and Cam thought it was just Mitch being Mitch and running things the Pritchett way—on a tight schedule. This did not sit well with Cam, who is more inclined to be spontaneous. When Cam stopped to help an old man call out to an old lady walking away, he made them both go to extreme lengths to connect this elderly duo. I wasn’t sure where I expected this incident to go—I kind of thought that perhaps the old man had dementia and we were going to learn that the old lady didn’t even know him after all of that work to get them together. Then, the ultimate surprise was on me (and Cameron!) when that incident turned out to be the prelude to a much bigger act…the real reason Mitch was rushing Cam that day was because a flash mob was about to perform, and Mitch was a part of it! I loved the look on Cam’s face when Mitch joined in, and I loved Cam trying to pick up the dance moves on the sidelines. Then I loved that Mitch explained he decided to take the time to learn the dance and participate because he viewed it as a love letter to Cam. And finally, I loved that—after that truly sweet explanation—Cam was pissed as hell that Mitchell “cheated on him with choreography.” Yes, I used the word ‘loved’ a lot just now. But everything about this flash mob story was awesome, and so pop culturally relevant too!
All branches of the family ended up colliding (almost literally in their cars) at the restaurant. And the adults were all still in the middle of their various feuds and behaving like sulking children at the table. It was Manny’s speech about Luke’s childhood innocence, plus the fact that he learned today he can still act childlike the way the adults in his life were behaving—that got everyone out of their funk.
Taking a lesson from the birthday boy, let’s look fondly through the eyes of a child at some of the best lines from tonight (that I didn’t already cover above):
- “Come on Luke” (Luke to himself, upon forgetting his shoes). Followed moments later by Phil saying the same thing to himself for the same reason.
- “You don’t win the Dirty Dancing competition and not go back to defend your crown” – Phil explaining why they must return to Family Camp this year.
- This year at family camp, Phil predicts “total white domination” (and perhaps another unfortunate t-shirt slogan?)
- “What are you doing?” (Jay); “Turning back the clock” (Manny, while mixing three kinds of sodas)
- Since they are in “the cone of trust” (i.e. Phil’s car), he asks his daughters for the truth about what is bothering them: “What is it—boys, your bodies are changing, eggs?”
- Gloria shooting (with Manny’s BB Gun) the inflatable island raft so Manny will go to his party and yelling “I could have taken off your shirt!”
- Anyone hurt? (Jay to the family right after their cars almost crash); “I am” (melodramatic Cam)
What was your favorite part? And what would you give Manny for a birthday gift?