has had an uneven third season thus far, falling into predictable paths for throwaway laughs and crafting plots that really go nowhere. (Like what was the point of last week’s trophy competition between Cam and Mitchell?) But the show finally cast off the doldrums with this week’s “Egg Drop,” a fast-paced, zany episode that had the Pritchett and Dunphy clans involved in various hi-jinks—and not just for cheap laughs.
The title refers to Manny’s and Luke’s school project: Build a contraption that will protect an egg from a single-story fall. Poor Luke (not the sharpest knife in the drawer) is cracking eggs throughout the house, his experiments failing exponentially with each retake. In one hilarious scene, with his mom Claire only half-listening, he says that maybe he could be the egg protector. She then realizes what that means and looks up to see Luke laying on the second-floor banister with older sister Haley sticking the egg in his mouth, believing he could sustain that fall and save the egg. The boy needs help, and not just with the egg drop project.
Though initially Jay doesn’t show an interest in Manny’s project, suggesting it could be used for breakfast instead, his competitive spirit kicks in when Manny mentions that Claire will probably help Luke with his container. Jay even calls Claire to egg her on (sorry, we couldn’t resist). The two adults basically take over their kids’ projects, challenging each other to a showdown at the school.
At the egg drop, while Claire and Jay are testing out their projects, Manny finally ‘fesses up: he and Luke tricked their parents into doing their projects by manipulating their competitive side. Claire and Jay realize their mistake (for now) and get all sappy and huggy at the end of the episode. Like true life, many of us just need reassurance from Mom and Dad to make things all right.
Meanwhile, Phil is busy prepping for a big real estate seminar he’s giving for his new firm and recruits Haley and Gloria to help him with audience control and special effects. He especially needs Gloria to ask a planted question after he finishes going through his five Keys to Success (KEYp your cool, KEYp informed, legwork, etc.). There is a sixth key! Working with Dunphy’s new real estate firm.
As he instructs: “Fire the confetti cannons, drop the banner…autographs…autographs…autographs…and we’re done.”
This is an important event for Phil, but he makes two mistakes: 1) relying on his not-so-reliable first-born and 2) allowing Gloria and Haley to step out to get their hair and nails done at a nearby salon after rehearsal.
They, of course, run late because their car gets towed from the front of the salon. Gloria and Haley miss Phil’s entire seminar, and while we feel terrible for Phil, we get to see the comedic genius of Ty Burrell at work. Because he’s the only one there to run all the special effects, he does his own introduction, fires his own cannons and asks his own planted questions. We finally see Phil get pissed at the end, and Gloria says that means they are a true family. Was it just us, or was it a little icky to see Phil’s little crush on Gloria manifest itself a little too much in those hugs at the end?
And finally, Mitchell and Cameron have a meaningful story: They begin interviews with surrogate moms. Cam warns Mitch about being overly critical because they want to get on the mom’s good side. Mitchell bites his tongue when the woman rearranges the furniture in the house for better feng shui, but also does song and dance for her. Literally. The duo perform Elton John’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” at the mother’s request. She compliments Mitchell’s singing, but channels American Idol’s Randy Jackson when she tells Cam she was a little “pitchy.” But she thinks they’d be the perfect parents to her unborn child and the trio begins to celebrate.
Unfortunately, Cam’s still stinging from the critique, so he sets out to prove he can sing. He serenades her with Chicago’s “If You Leave me Now.” The ballad proves to be a bad choice, especially with the chorus “Uh no baby please don’t go…” The mom decides to keep the baby. Along with Phil’s seminar presentation, Cam’s solo performance is one of the evening’s winners.
The episode was written by Paul Corrigan and Brad Walsh, the writers responsible for “Dude Ranch” at the beginning of the season. These two episodes have been standouts in the Modern Family collection, engaging all of the characters in meaningful ways. This week, we saw that Gloria’s notion that real families need to be able to scream, get angry and lie to each other rings true for the Modern Family.