Lots of people took a fall tonight on Modern Family’s penultimate episode of the season, “See You Next Fall.” And once again, this family is at its best when everyone comes to together for special occasions. You know, to celebrate and support one another…and make fun of each other, sulk at each other, and generally makes fools of themselves. So, with Alex’s middle school graduation upon them, I expected nothing less than sheer chaos—and was not disappointed.
Yes, it was a special day for the middle Dunphy child—who happens to be a personal favorite of mine. Alex was graduating as valedictorian; she even beat the ultra gifted Sanjay Patel, whose robot attacked him (also, great call back to Sanjay!). Phil may be dense some most of the time, but he could still tell that Claire was headed toward a total motherly meltdown over “losing” her next child to the teenage wasteland that is high school (and you can’t blame her too much—she experienced the transformation in Hayley years earlier). Claire tried excessively hard to bond with her beloved Alex for these last few moments, but Alex brushed her off to rehearse her speech and to head to the ceremony early with her sister. Meanwhile, Phil desperately needed Claire to hurry up and have her meltdown sooner rather than later so that he could still find out “what happens in Vegas” for a scheduled getaway with his college [male cheerleader] buddies.
The entire family, sans the Dunphy sisters, meet up at Jay and Gloria’s for a little pre-ceremony celebration. But, of course there are plenty of other misunderstandings and tensions to work through. Cam is pissed that Mitchell completely laughed at him falling fully clothed into little Lily’s kiddie pool. And Gloria and Manny are concerned over Jay’s drooping eye. Jay tries to hide his condition out of embarrassment—since it was a bad reaction to Botox—but the truth eventually comes out, just as Cam tries to come out into the backyard and walks right into the sliding door. Now the entire Pritchett clan doubles over in laughter. The crew is finally ready to head over to the school, but there is just one more problem: the finicky gate from earlier in the episode keeps them and their cars trapped inside the driveway with no way out.
In a hysterical nod to his cheerleading days, Phil does a nicely executed lift with Claire to get her over the fence, and the two take off on a double bicycle to make the five mile trek. When they encounter bike trouble, the two share a great scene where Claire finally has her meltdown—and even Phil too—over the fleeting time that is making their children grow up too quickly. Then, in true Phil fashion, he uses his minimal Spanish to hitch them a ride with gardeners, who speak perfect English by the way.
Over at the ceremony, Hayley confronts Alex about her speech, which the former considers to be social suicide. Alex wanted to essentially tell off the entire student body on behalf of all the smart, witty and not-as-popular girls out there. But Hayley thinks she should go with trivial song quotes and keep it light. Their sisterly moment gets more real, however, when Hayley confides in her sister that even “popular girls” like herself have their share of problems too—everyone has “stuff.” I feel like a broken record saying this, but I have loved the Hayley-Alex relationship development this season. These sisters may have their disagreements, but they really do balance one another so well—and deep down you can tell they only pretend that they don’t like hanging out together. Alex is inspired enough to modify her speech and send a good message: everyone, from the nerds to the popular kids to the drama geeks, all have their stuff to deal with…so how about we all just “Don’t stop believing” and “Get this party started!”
“See You Next Fall” really went for the physical comedy, and these actors are up (or down) for the task:
- “And in this corner, finishing first in her class, delivering the commencement address…Weighing in at…what do you weigh? (Oh Phil, tsk tsk…asking his teen daughter how much she weighs)
- “My clicker won’t work” (Jay) …”My heart’s fine!!”
- “I’m hear for you…until 2pm tomorrow” (Phil is there for his Mama Bear, kind of)
- “Not now—I think I’m moving the ball with my head” (Luke may not graduate in 2 years with Manny)
- “Like the ladies use for their wrinkles???” (Gloria’s understanding of Botox)
- The knowing smile on Phil’s face when he first thinks Claire is finally having her meltdown over the broken gate
- “McGayver” (Jay’s name for Mr. Fix-It Cam)
- “We don’t have time to build a rocket, buddy” (Phil knows what his son is thinking without having to ask)
- Manny offering Jay his Phantom of the Opera mask to cover his disfigurement
- Claire and Phil falling down the hill at the school and Cam laughing at their misfortune
- “Seriously?” (Alex’s reaction after the crowd loves her corny speech)
- “OMG she’s back!” (Just as Claire and Phil think they have lost Alex to the popular dark side, Hayley is willing to spend a little time with them).
“See You Next Fall” really felt like a season finale—even the title of the episode did. But, fortunately for us, we still get one more week of our favorite Modern Family before summer hiatus.