As I know I've said a thousand times before, episodes of shows like this one generally work really well when they have a unifying theme. This week, it was a big football game. Honestly, this episode was one of those ones that had me shrugging at the end of it. There were things I liked, things I didn't like, and most of it just chilled out somewhere in the middle. So, despite the fact that I like plots with unifying events, this one is sorta... "meh" to me.
Let us begin.
Cam is very excited for the upcoming football game because if he wins, he'll have won more games in his first year than any coach at the school. As the team gets ready to play, Cam asks Luke to be the announcer because the normal guy is out sick. Just before the game, Cam and the team learn that their opposition's coach has just died, and that they are playing in his honor. Despite this, Cam is still determined to win. It's a close game, and at the very end it's up to Manny to make a final kick to win the game. He makes it, sealing their victory, but later in a conversation with Cam, Manny reveals that he meant to miss the point. Cam tells Manny it's okay to feel competitive and be proud of winning sometimes.
Good: Manny being Manny. God I love that kid. And I thought Cam's message at the end was pretty solid. Bad: At the same time, Cam didn't seem to learn any lessons of his own, as he was more excited that he won the game than that his team did.
While at the game, Alex is constantly ignored by all of her classmates, who basically act like she doesn't exist. Haley runs into Dylan, and the two of them have fun making out and hanging out like old times. However, when they try to make plans, they realize that they've both got their own lives now. Dylan is training to be a nurse. At the end of the episode, Haley does something nice for Alex - she alters graffiti that Dylan had written so that instead of saying "Haley Dunphy do me," it says "Alex Dunphy do me." Alex is secretly very pleased that someone would write this, and she immediately jumps on the gossip mill to generate rumors about her ex-boyfriend writing it.
Good: I love every moment when we see Haley being a good older sister to Alex. It just really warms my heart. Also it was nice to see Dylan again, and see that he's actually making something of his life. Bad: A little bit too heavy handed with the "Alex has no friends" thing. All the kids at school not knowing who she is? Eh... maybe a bit much.
Meanwhile, Phil is desperately trying to sell a house, because as the end of the month approaches he's afraid that this will be the first month in his career where he doesn't sell anything. Although he keeps up his optimism for most of the day, his heart finally fails him with Claire reminds Phil that there is no 31st day in the month, meaning that this was Phil's last chance to sell a house, and he failed. Throughout the episode, Phil also tries to get his family enthusiastic about life as well, but they mostly ignore him. At the last second, Charlie (Mitchell's boss) asks Phil if he can help him buy a house, so Phil manages to succeed after all.
Good: I liked to see Phil;s unwavering enthusiasm tested a little bit, because it added a bit of a challenge for the character. Bad: He wins anyway. It would have been more interesting if he had failed.
Claire is getting annoyed with Jay's constant interference at work, since she doesn't want to be labeled as the boss's daughter. While checking out the warehouse, Claire accidentally gets stuck in a prototype closet. Jay, watching on the security feed, calls Claire and jokingly asks her if she could use any help, to which Claire, unaware she is being watched, replies no. Eventually Claire manages to climb out the top of the closet, but she ends up knocking over a ton of the stuff in the warehouse in the process. At the game, Jay and Claire talk, and manage to strike a balance between father and daughter, and boss and employee.
Good: Claire getting stuck in the closet was a real laugh. I also just in general enjoy the working dynamic between Jay and Claire, as they continue to struggle with their relationship in the workplace. Bad: Nothing, really. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mitch is having his own problems at work. He has been offered a better job, but this means he has to quit his current one. His boss, Charlie, is really needy and Mitch just can't bring himself to quit. Part of the reason is that Mitch has daddy issues, which he projects onto any authority figure he comes across. However, eventually he gets up the nerve and quits. Charlie is upset, but later meets Phil in order to buy a house (he had been living on a boat), so all seems well.
Good: Mitch is funny, Charlie is funny, and I liked the daddy issue thing. Bad: Nope! All good.
Since Cam and Mitch are both going to the football game, it's up to Gloria to drop off Lily at school. Gloria gives Lily some advice about going after the boy she likes, and unfortunately Lily takes this a bit too literally, and hunts the boy down at school. Later, Gloria picks Lily up and tries to rectify the situation.
Good: Gloria always makes me laugh. Bad: I just wasn't a fan of the premise for this one. It wasn't horrendous or anything, but the little girl playing Lily does not have the acting dexterity to pull some of this stuff off, first of all. Secondly, I think Lily is a relatively smart cookie, so she probably should have been able to figure out that her behavior wasn't what Gloria had in mind.
Did I get them all? Whew. Remember at the beginning of this episode when I said that everything was framed by the football game? Well, not so much, actually. In reality, this episode felt a little bit disjointed. Not terribly so, but just enough that I was never quite settled within the narrative. That being said, there were still some good moments along the way.