Recap – Modern Family 1.17 “Truth Be Told”

Did you miss last week’s episode of Modern Family, “Fears?” Read the recap here.

“Truth Be Told” opens with the Dunphy clan in their kitchen and Claire running through the family’s schedule for the day. Alex has a cello lesson at 11:00, and Junior Congress at 2:00. “Doesn’t she also have ‘No Boys at Forever?'” Haley inquires. “Don’t you have an eating disorder you need to attend to?” Alex replies. Phil notes that his plans are to meet his ex-girlfriend Denise (played by Judy Greer), who is in town selling cosmetics. Haley thinks her dad dating a woman is gross. “Thanks,” Claire says with an I’m-still-in-the-room tone. “Oh yeah, I had plenty of fun in my time. Then I met your Mom!” Phil tells his kids. “And thank you,” a helpless Claire remarks. Alex asks her father, “So, she’s like a door-to-door salesman?” “If it was you, then it would be a dork-to-dork salesman,” remarks Luke. Luke!! No one can believe the zinger that came from the youngest Dunphy. “Wow,” is all Claire can muster. “Let’s get you to your lesson,” she tells Alex. “You mean to her second lesson because she just got schoooooled,” Luke taunts as he throws his hands in the air. Luke! Again!! (Check out Haley’s face here behind Luke. It is absolutely hysterical!) Alex, for maybe the first time in her life, is struck speechless.

Manny is in a different mood: utter depression. It seems he was unsuccessful in securing a role in the school play that was written for him to play: Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. If not getting the role wasn’t enough of an indignity, Rod Jackson was cast! “What does he know form suffering?” Job, I mean Manny, wonders. Well, Jay has purchased Manny something to cheer him up: an inspirational poster that says, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to cheer-up Jay’s stepson. Fortunately, Jay’s biological son is in a better mood. Mitchell and Cameron are packing up supplies to take Lily to the park to feed the ducks. Although Cameron insists the ducks can’t tell the difference, Mitchell makes sure they don’t bring wheat bread to feed them, because the ducks don’t like it. Cameron loves animals. In fact, growing up on a farm, the animals were like his brothers and sisters. “Delicious brothers and sisters?” Mitchell asks his partner of his life on a commercial cattle farm. “Well, it was life on a farm, they know what they’re getting into,” Cameron responds regarding the livestock. With the supplies gathered and Lily looking adorable in a duck hat, the family is walking out the door when Mitchell’s phone rings. Cameron, knowing it is Mitchell’s office, insists he ignore the call. He has to answer the call, Mitchell explains, although this happens every Saturday. While Mitchell answers the call, Jay is hanging the framed poster in Manny’s room. Jay is obviously not a handyman, as when he steps away from his work, the poster falls, crashes through the tank on the desk below, and kills Manny’s turtle.

Via speakerphone in his car, Mitchell speaks to Cameron, who has gone ahead to the park with their daughter. Mitchell is livid that he has to go into the office, again, and miss spending time with his family. Stopped at a red light, Mitchell rips his into boss to Cameron. Unfortunately for Mitchell, he has his window open. So does the car stopped at the light next to him. That car, of course, contains his boss behind the wheel. Although he is unsure whether his boss heard him, Mitchell is understandably mortified. Back at the Dunphy home, Claire returns from picking up the kids, and finds Phil on the computer, laptop in hand. She asks if he knows when and where he’s meeting up with Denise, to which he reports he is still waiting to hear from her via Facebook. Phil and Denise are connected on Facebook? Yup, she’s one of his 447 friends. Phil is obviously very popular, “Everyone wants a slice!” he tries to impress upon his wife. Right then, Denise instant messages Phil to suggest they meet at the fancy French restaurant in town. Claire is clearly suspicious of the fact that Phil’s recently divorced ex-girlfriend wants to go out for an expensive dinner at an intimate French restaurant. Phil insists the meet-up is nothing like Claire is imagining. He even offers Claire the opportunity to read the messages he and Denise have exchanged. In a deep, sultry voice, Claire reads the messages. “Hi Phil, how’s it going?” “I’m happy to know your neck feels better.” Phil repeats the questions in a friendly voice to show Claire she is overreacting, but she doesn’t want to hear it. Fine, instead of the restaurant, Phil will invite Denise over to the house for drinks. Claire agrees so she can prove she is right that Denise wants Phil, and storms off. Phil accepts the challenge, and notes that he kind of likes Claire’s “sexy voice.”

Mitchell is in his car and talking to Cameron via the speakerphone again. When he stops, it is at the same intersection Mitchell encountered his boss, but no Cameron is in the spot the boss was. They are going to see if Cameron can hear Mitchell talking at the same level he was earlier. When someone behind Cameron honks at him, Cameron waves him on. “Go around! We’re recreating a faux pas!” The men run the experiment, with Mitchell noting that since there was traffic, “I sort of had to shout.” “You had to what?” Cameron asks. “Shout,” repeats Mitchell. “A little bit louder now,” Cameron responds. “Shout.” “A little bit louder now.” “Shout!!” “Hey-hey-ay-ee-ay-ee!” Cameron sings (and I almost spit out the water I was drinking). This is not a joking matter — Cameron could obviously hear Mitchell, so Mitchell’s boss surely did as well. Mitchell is “screwed.”

So is Jay. Having killed the turtle, Shel Turtlestein, he now has to tell Manny about the chelonicide. Jay, however, creates a story that a raccoon broke into Manny’s room, grabbed Shel by the neck, and flung him around until he was dead. Under the retelling of the demise of the turtle, Jay is shown staging a crime scene to match the story. Manny asks if he can see the body. When he does, Manny notes that he learned in school that raccoons are nocturnal. They are, Jay states; the raccoon must have been up for a midnight snack. Manny has to quickly leave because the emotions are too much for him. Gloria is not so easily fooled, however, “I’m Colombian. I know a fake crime scene when I see one.” Jay admits he was responsible, but he’s been in this situation before. He didn’t lie to Mitchell when he killed Mitchell’s bird, Flyza Minelli, and Mitchell never forgave him. Upon remembering the name of the bird, Jay wonders, “How did I not know that kid was gay?” Later, Manny approaches Jay with another fishy detail: raccoons have five toes on each foot, but the tracks left in Manny’s room only had four toes each. When his excuse that maybe the raccoon lost one toe on each foot in a fight, Jay notes that maybe Manny is coming up with these wild theories because he needs closure. To help, they will have a memorial for Shel Turtlestein.

All three Dunphy children are in the girls’ room when Alex decides it’s time to exact revenge on her brother. She tells Luke that he is really adopted, and that Denise is his real mother. Luke freaks and rushes out of the room. “Just because he called you a dork-to-dork salesman?” Haley asks. “The empire strikes back,” replies her sister. Denise arrives at the house, and after an awkward handshake/hug between she and Claire, Denise tells Claire that she is more beautiful than all of the pictures Phil posts of her. Denise’s boyfriend loves the pictures, especially the beach ones. Lastly, Denise has some of her company’s face cream for Claire. Not that she needs it, but it’s a limited edition, so she figured she’d give one to Claire for hosting her. When Denise is introduced to the kids, Denise remarks that she had really curly hair like Luke’s when she was a kid. The frightened/confused look on the boy’s face speaks volumes. Moving into the family room, Denise comments that Phil used to be the best breakdancer. Phil humbly agrees, noting that his breakdancing name was Ozone. “Ozone? That is dead-ass funny. I’m definitely calling you that,” Haley warns. “Thank you,” Phil responds, taking his daughter’s comment sincerely. Denise continues her flattery, saying that the kids are so cute, adding in a humorous whisper “I could take Luke home with me!” “Be my guest,” Claire plays along. “NO! I like it here!” Luke worriedly yells before running out of the room. Alex’s work is done here. Denise asks if she can use the bathroom, and when she leaves, Claire apologizes to Phil that she had Denise figured all wrong. When did Claire become so cynical and judgmental before meeting someone? “I first noticed it seven yea…you’re not!” Phil clumsily answers. Denise returns saying she can’t quite find the right room, and asks Phil for help. Away from Claire, Denise sets her plan in motion. “OK, how’re we going to do this?” she asks. “I thought I’d just point at the door…,” Phil starts explaining the way to the bathroom. “Here’s a key to my hotel room,” Denise interjects, shoving the key card into Phil’s hand, before running off. Phil is left behind in one of his most common states: bewilderment.

Mitchell is at the office, with his boss in the break room. He makes light of seeing each other at the intersection to see if the boss heard what he said, claiming any comments were about Cameron’s boss. Mitchell’s boss doesn’t seem to know what Mitchell is talking about. He has more important things to talk about. They have a lot of work to do, so Mitchell is going to have to come in on Sunday. When Mitchell says, no, he’s going to be with his family, the boss gives him an ultimatum: come to work tomorrow, or never come back to the office again. Mitchell, slowly takes off his ID badge, and puts it around the boss’ neck: he quits! As Mitchell makes his way to the elevator, he turns around. He actually needs the ID to get the elevator to go down to the lobby, and freedom!

At the Shel Turltestein Memorial, Manny rises to speak before the gathered crowd of Jay and a mourning shroud-clad Gloria (note the photo of Shel — he lived from “Nov. – March” Hilarious!). He begins, but he can’t continue without crying. Gloria insists that Jay get up to finish Manny’s tribute. Jay finishes, but Manny has something to say. Shel’s death is his fault — Manny left his window open and a bag of chips by Shel’s tank. Gloria asks Jay if he has anything to say to Manny. “Yeah, Shel forgives you.” Back at the Dunphy home, Denise is showing Phil and Claire pictures of Phil in the old days. Denise loves pictures (even those of Phil with a jheri curl), especially the one she took today. She shows Phil one on her phone, from which he recoils upon seeing it. Meeting his worried eyes, Denise bites at the air toward him. Alone in the kitchen, Phil tells Claire that she was right about Denise. “She wants me,” Phil tells her. “To do what?” Claire earnestly asks. “It! ME!” Phil exclaims. “She bit the air right in front of me!” Claire says he’s crazy and leaves the kitchen to find a corkscrew. Denise enters and lays it on thick with Phil, every time . She starts to unbelt his pants and slap his butt. “I still have my cheerleader outfit,” she coyly tells him. “So do I, but this can’t happen,” Phil tells her. “Why are you wussing out?,” Denise prods. “I never wussed in!” Phil pleads. Denise angrily leaves the kitchen, asking “How many other women have you led on?” “Now, I don’t know,” Phil replies. Claire finds one of Denise’s pictures and notices one in which he was wearing a cast on his arm. When Phil and Claire started dating, he had broken his arm. Did Denise and Claire overlap? Phil admits they did. Seeing that Claire is peeved, Denise says that Claire should kick him out. Maybe he’ll appreciate Claire if he spends a night at a hotel. Like the Radisson. By the airport. Denise, finally leaves.

Mitchell returns home and tells Cameron he quit his job. He’s a new, empowered man. A man that even drops his tie on the floor! Mitchell wants to be home to be with Cameron and Lily. Cameron is excited, and wants to celebrate. Mitchell says Cameron can go back to teaching music, and Mitchell can take a few months off and be with Lily and watch her do her “firsts.” The men watch their daughter intently, but Mitchell begins to panic that she’s not doing anything right now. He starts having a true panic attack, which makes Cameron begin to panic. Mitchell just quit his job! How will they pay their mortgage? “I’m used to nice things. What are we going to do?” Cameron worries. Mitchell decides he is going to do what he does best, “lie, grovel and debase myself until I get what I want. I’m a lawyer!” Cameron says no; he just wants Mitchell to be happy. They will figure it out.

Back at Jay’s house, Jay is having trouble getting comfortable in bed. “Hard to sleep on a bed of lies, huh, Jay?” Gloria asks. Jay gives up, and goes to Manny’s room. His stepson is ready for him and throws a spotlight onto Jay. When asked why he is up, Manny responds that he’s waiting for the truth. Jay admits that he killed Shel, and he lied about it because things have been so good between he and Manny, he didn’t want to mess it up. Manny eventually understands. Further, since they’re confessing things at the moment, Manny wonders if Jay knows how the scratch got on Jay’s car. Oh, Jay knows. It was a raccoon.

In the episode tag, Jay and Gloria are over at Mitchell and Cameron’s. Jay tells his son that the best thing he ever did was quit a miserable job he once had. Jay has a gift for Mitchell: another inspirational poster. In fact, Jay gave Mitchell the exact same poster when Mitchell’s snake, Zsa Zsa Gaboa, died. “Oh, that’s adorable,” Cameron says as the couple move into the kitchen. Gloria leans over to Jay and says, “You really didn’t know he was gay?”

Commentary

I thought this was the funniest episode of Modern Family in a long time, maybe since “Fizbo.” There were a number of times I laughed, heartily, out loud. From Phil and Denise’s physical comedy, to the stunned silence at Luke’s “burns” on Alex, to Mitchell and Cameron’s hysteria, all of the ways a sit-com could be funny were present in this episode. I mean, some of these lines were absolutely hysterical (“recreating a faux pas,” “I’m used to nice things,” “your second lesson because you just got schooled!”), and that’s really the most important part of any sit-com. If I had anything to criticize, it felt like a couple stories just ended without any resolution. Specifically, the Alex/Luke plot and how Claire and Phil resolved their tension went missing. In fact, there was no summarizing voiceover at the end. When the final act went to black, I was actually thrown off because the voiceover was missing. I know I’ve complained a bit about how the typical Modern Family ending can be a bit too sentimental, but I actually missed it here! I do like that the series is still playing with the formula of the show, I was just a bit thrown not having it there. Not necessarily a bad thing, just unexpected. All in all, though, I thought “Truth Be Told” hit major highs.

What did you think? Were you laughing as hard as I was? Did you notice the lack of voiceover? Did you feel some of the plots were unfinished, too? Please leave your thoughts, comments and favorite moments down below. Also be sure to check out the photos for next week’s episode, “Starry Night,” and TVOvermind.com for all of your TV needs and news. Until next week, I’m off to complete my set of coffee mugs.

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