Season 3, Episode 20
The Last Walt
Tonight’s Modern Family was lighter on the comedy but stronger on the sentimentality. There were some deep issues at play, from mortality and loss to acceptance and love. There were still some laughs; just not the usual string of one-liners.
Making (and Taking) Memories
Phil and Claire must break the sad news to Luke that their elderly neighbor, Walt, has died. Phil wants to concoct an elaborately long illness to break the news very slowly, while Claire can’t help having awkward morbid smiles—but Luke actually takes the news very well. Make that too well. Phil and Claire get concerned that he is not expressing his emotions and then worry he has become a looter when they catch him taking Walt’s TV set. While Claire sets out to ‘break’ her son, Phil thinks about his own mortality and the memories he will leave with his children. This causes him to realize that he is lacking in the ‘special memory’ department with his middle child, Alex. Since this is Phil, poor Alex is in for a long day of special memory making. Since this is Modern Family, every attempt goes awry and the result is a father-daughter puking session after they eat too much of the ‘world’s best’ food. But Phil ends up getting what he really wanted: a memorable day with a daughter who appreciates and loves him. And Claire realizes that Luke will love and miss Walt in his own special way—with Walt’s TV in his room.
Mr. & Mr.
Over at the Pritchett-Tucker household, it is a showdown between two strong patriarchs: Cam’s country-cowboy dad and Jay. These two men can’t stand one another, so when Cam’s father Merle is in town for a visit, a family dinner is agreed to with some reluctance. It makes perfect sense that Merle and Jay don’t get along: because they are so similar! Each one loves his son and has come to accept their children being gay, but they still struggle with it from time to time and tend to cope by projecting the more feminine role onto their son’s partner. Once Jay and Merle each realize that they do the same thing, they actually have something that bonds them. I could actually see a solid friendship forming between these two.
You have to give Hayley creativity points. She may not be studious like her sister, but the girl has excellent manipulative smarts. When Hayley realizes that Jay and Gloria will be tied up at Mitch and Cam’s for dinner, she orchestrates a plan to have a pool party at Jay’s complete with a chaperone—her uncle! Well, since Manny is technically her uncle through marriage, she thinks her plan is a solid one. I wish that more was done with this story, but there wasn’t much time. Claire is way too smart and on top of her children’s schemes to hear “my uncle will chaperone” and not be suspicious; but I guess I will chalk it up to her preoccupation with the Luke-Walt situation. However, as anyone could have told Hayley, Manny would totally be a super strict chaperone—in fact, he is likely more strict than her actual Uncles Mitch or Cam. So, Hayley got to have her party…but she also got a real chaperone.
What did you think of this episode? Will Walt’s death have a lasting impression, or will it soon be forgotten?