'Modern Family' Recap: 'The Big Game'

By Martina Maio,

After a one week hiatus, Modern Family returned with it’s 9th episode entitled “The Big Game.” Despite it’s big title this week’s episode was quite underwhelming. Where I’m usually left cackling and crying, “The Big Game" merely left me with a few giggles and the occasional snort.

While the story lines this season have been consistent and equally strong in each episode, episode nine’s all seemed minor in comparison. The tag starts us off in the Dunphy household. Haley is expressing her stress over an upcoming midterm that she was studying for all night which Alex quips at, and Luke is complaining about being made fun of by the football team for keeping score. Phil provides everyone with some support by stating, “There is no dumb in Dunphy.” The episode continues with it’s somewhat mediocre humor from then on.

In the Pritchett-Tucker household Cam is preparing for a big game, one that if he wins he will hold the record for the most wins in the school’s football history: 3 consecutive games. Cam starts practicing his good luck rituals and runs around the house smacking a football on all of the surfaces. Meanwhile, Mitchell is trying to figure out a way to quit his current job to take up a new offer but is having trouble due to his guilty conscious.

Lily as always, is a comedic genius, she appears alongside Gloria in this episode which is a fun and fiery combination of characters. Mitchell calls Gloria as she is driving Lily to school and says to his daughter, “Good luck with the Patrick situation.” Lily responds like a teenager would, “Dad, you’re embarrassing me!” Lily’s adult-like sassy humor is irresistible. When Gloria asks about Patrick, Lily responds with one of my favorite lines from the episode: “He likes the swings, he sits by the slide, and he can count to 100.” She says this in a dreamy, swooning tone and it just killed me.

Phil is struggling to maintain his usually contagious positive attitude in this episode due to the fact that he hasn’t sold a house all month. When Phil suffers from severe bad luck when staging a house we are provided with a painful but hilarious montage of him climbing through the window, landing in a fish tank, washing his clothes, getting locked out again, it’s just a mess. Throughout this montage, Phil is in voiceover talking about all of the ways he stays positive. “As my favorite red head once sang, the sun will come out tomorrow, that red head of course was Mitchell introducing me to the plucky orphan Annie.” After Phil’s undying efforts to succeed, his clients inform him that they won’t be buying a house. Truthfully, seeing Phil so down, brought me down.

When we finally arrive at the football game, Haley and Alex walk around and Haley realizes just how unpopular Alex really is. I had a glimmer of hope for the direction of the episode when Haley’s ex-boyfriend, and one of my favorite characters Dylan appeared. (I outwardly exclaimed DYLAN!) Dylan explains to Alex and Haley the high school is, “...like my second home, its kind of like I was home-schooled but I wasn’t, I was school-schooled.” Dylan’s wisdom always hits home.

Mitchell’s failed attempt to quit his job by leaving his boss Charlie a letter on his desk, led him to bringing him along to the football game to take his mind off of his recent break up. Cameron is finding it hard to motivate his team of sentimentals who feel guilty beating the opposing team who’s coach passed away the night before. Manny of course is inspiring his teammates to access their softer sides.

Claire and Jay are rarely seen throughout this episode, but are having some issues of their own nevertheless. Claire is feeling some resentment from her co-workers who she thinks treat her different because she is the boss’s daughter. She bluntly instructs Jay to butt out and ends up locked in a closet display and destroying the warehouse organization. Classic Claire.

By the last act of the episode, the family has gathered at the football game. Lily and Gloria arrive arguing because Lily got in trouble at school for aggressively trying to kiss Patrick. Lily sassily tells Gloria, “We aren’t doing this again.”

As Haley and Dylan take a walk down memory lane we think for a minute that they might rekindle their romance. (Which I would LOVE). The two of them start to make out under the bleachers where Dylan so thoughtfully inscribed “HALEY DUNPHY DOME” (which was meant to say “DO ME”). When they try to set up a date, it’s clear that they’ve both moved on to bigger things, (tear).

Things are looking pretty bleak all around for the family as the football team is losing at the end, Phil is feeling his failure, and Mitch still hasn’t gotten the courage to quit. Phil is describing is month of failure as a “cosmic pummeling” when suddenly the team scores using Phil’s play. Simultaneously, Mitchell has quit his job, and his boss Charlie wants to buy a house from Phil. In seconds, life just gets better for Phil.

At the end,we see a sweet moment between Haley and Alex which is always a rare gem. Haley casually brings Alex by the bleachers and where it once read “HALEY DUNPHY DOME”, “ALEX DUNPHY DOME” has replaced it. Alex who trying to hide her low self-esteem throughout the episode, perks up and we’re reminded that Haley does in fact have a heart and cares about her sister.

Manny and Cam share a moment at the end of the game when Manny mopes about winning the game for the team. Manny's morals and guilt fog his celebration but Cam assures him that there's nothing wrong with being a competitor. How sweet.

Though we were rewarded with some heartfelt moments at the end of “The Big Game” it was still a flop in comparison to the series of stunning comedic episodes so far this season. The episode had some quality one liners, but the story lines were primarily weak. The lack of stand out comedy, and emotional resolution was a rarity for the award winning series. Hopefully episode ten turns it around. Better luck next week.

image: ABC


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