Modern Family “Virgin Territory” Review

There were so many little story lines running through tonight’s episode of Modern Family that it was somewhat difficult to determine which one was supposed to be the primary plot line. The name of the episode, “Virgin Territory,” would imply that the big story of the night was Phil finding out about Haley’s big secret, but all the other plot lines received almost as much attention.

As if answering my questions from last week about Luke’s simmering resentment for Lily, a chunk of tonight’s episode was dedicated to explaining Luke’s issues. Formerly the youngest kid in the family, Luke felt that he had been usurped by Lily and her irresistible cuteness.

Luke and Manny set a trap for Lily which was astonishingly well built. I doubted that they could have actually put together a Rube Goldberg machine of that caliber, but seeing Cam fall into their trap was worth the temporary suspension of disbelief.

After that plan failed, Manny and Luke tried to regroup and rethink their strategy. It wasn’t long before they were distracted by the next great challenge: a girl. Luke, being the more diabolical of the two, convinced Manny to take Cam’s car out on the slowest joy ride you could imagine. The look on Manny’s face as he rolled by that lemonade stand with his hip hop music blaring was downright hilarious. It only got better as he did a reverse drive by with the same music only wearing a new warped expression on his face.

Their adventures in underage driving convinced them to give up the cute life and turn over a new leaf as bad boys. We’ll see where that takes them.

Cam used his fall as an opportunity to get everyone out of the house and hunt down his precious burp sealed Pack-N-Store container that he had loaned Claire. I was laughing out loud watching that final scene with Cam was splayed out on Claire’s floor, one foot through a drawer and kitchenware scattered everywhere. He offered no explanation for what he had been doing and although he seemed to be in pain, he addressed Claire with a perfectly casual deadpan, “Um… this had a lid.” His body might have been in pain, but he reclaimed his pride… sort of.

Jay and Mitch had been dealing with a case of a faked hole in one. That supposed hole in one had been a source of pride for Jay and he felt guilty holding on to the nickname “Ace” when he realized he didn’t deserve it. After spending a couple minutes with his golf buddies, Jay decided that every guy was entitled to one tall tale. He would keep that imaginary hole in one. Of course, Mitch came in at the wrong moment and in an attempt to defend his dad, blurted out the truth.

Mitch has a bad habit of not being able to simply say “I’m sorry.” He ran himself in circles trying to legitimize his flub without first apologizing to Jay. He even tried to pin the blame on Jay’s poor memory and lack of interest as a father. Often the conflicts in their adult father-son relationship stem from Mitch’s premature defensiveness combined with Jay’s difficulty in communicating. In reality, Jay knows Mitch more than Mitch gives him credit for. Jay just hasn’t quite figured out how to let Mitch know.

Gloria continued to try and break into Claire’s world by joining her at “yoga.” After Gloria’s constant pestering, Claire finally broke down and let Gloria in on her stress relief secret – target practice.

Meanwhile, Phil and the girls were on their way to the “My Sweet Companion” doll store to spend absurd amounts of money on Lily’s broken doll. A friend of mine recently filled me in on her adventures at the “American Girl Place,” so I was able to appreciate all the “My Sweet Companion” gags that probably would have gone over my head otherwise.

I loved that Phil’s gut reaction to the surprising news about Haley wasn’t anger or disappointment. He only appeared to be stunned by the truth that his little girl had suddenly grown up and was no longer a little girl. Alex coming over and asking for a doll was unexpected, but cute, and it was probably exactly what Phil wanted to hear from his second daughter at that moment.

Rather than having all these stories end up in one place like they normally do on Modern Family, the whole gang started off together at brunch and the stories split off from there. It was a nice twist on the normal formula, but it may have contributed to the episode feeling rather hectic. Typically, when Modern Family throws this many story lines into an episode, they engulf one another as the plots progress until we’re down to one or two major plot lines that wrap up at the end. In tonight’s Modern Family, we had a handful of stories that needed to wrap up at the end and despite the rushed pacing, they pulled it off.