Recap – Modern Family 1.23 “Hawaii”

Did you miss last week’s airport terminal-rific episode of Modern Family? Check out a recap here.

“Hawaii” begins with the entire clan disembarking from a van at the Four Seasons Maui Hotel. Mitchell records Cameron getting out of the van holding Lily, but she’s not facing the camera so they try to restage the scene again, but Jay, the last out of the van, thinks three times is enough. Phil remarks that Claire is the prettiest white woman in all of Hawaii. Claire confides to the camera that because she became pregnant with Haley, she and Phil got married quickly at the local courthouse; they never had a real wedding. Back in the hotel lobby, Phil sweeps Claire off her feet and into his arms, but with a little bit of trouble. “God, you’re…solid,” he remarks. Phil is eager to make this vacation the honeymoon they never had, but Claire isn’t so sure. “I’m a mom traveling with my kids. This is not a vacation — it’s a business trip.” Two hotel employees welcome the family to the Four Seasons and place a lei around Manny’s neck. Seeing her son’s wonderment, Gloria asks him what he thinks of Hawaii. “I’m home,” he replies.

Luke is excited (an excitement expressed through his jumping on the bed) that he and Manny are sharing their own room separate from their parents. Manny is excited about the room, too, but for a different reason. “There’s an iron in here. Score!” he exclaims, finding said appliance in the closet. Luke continues his destruction of the room by turning his bag over and dumping his clothes about the room. “Don’t you want to keep the room neat in case we entertain?” Manny queries. Who would they be entertaining, Luke wonders. Well, there were some “lovely tweens by the kids club.” Perhaps they’d like if Manny and Luke sent over some virgin mai tais. “They might be interested in two sophisticated men like us,” Manny says. Enter Luke from the bathroom, shirtless, with a shower cap on his head, and a hair dryer in his hand. “I am a bathroom martian. I am from the nebula of Toilet,” he says in a robot voice. Manny can only shake his head.

By the pool, Jay places a food order: a cheeseburger, but instead of a salad, fried, and instead of fruit, chili fries. Claire is ling by the pool next to Haley who is on her cell phone. Claire asks her to get off the phone and put some sunblock on. She tells Phil that they need to stay on top of the kids at all times, but she notices Phil isn’t paying attention. “Are you watching Gloria in the reflection of my sunglasses?” she asks incredulously. “is she moving in slo-motion, or is my brain doing that?” Phil wonders. Mitchell and Cameron arrive with Lily in tow. They are heading off to see the world’s tallest banyan tree. “Why would you want to do that?” Jay asks. Mitchell tells the camera that, like himself, Cameron is adventurous. They like to explore cities in different countries and get to know the locals. They still have a friend the stay in touch with from Tanzania named Ylunka. They send him all of their old clothes, exemplified by a picture of Ylunka in a “Frankie Say [sic] Relax” t-shirt. They haven’t heard from him in a while; in fact, they think he might be a warlord now (which is confirmed by a second picture of Ylunka toting a machine gun in a “Hillary 2008” t-shirt).

Still at the pool, Gloria asks Jay if he’d like to go to the gym, but he demurs. He then receives a call from his brother during which the two men continuously throw insults at each other, a routine Gloria has never understood, so she heads off for the gym. Jay’s brother tells Jay that he’s now reached the age their father was when he died (63). This gives Jay pause. He eyes his just arrived cheeseburger, fries and chili fries, and decides the gym might not be a bad idea. He scurries off after his wife. Phil tells Claire that he accidentally walked in on a couples massage, and that it seemed really relaxing, at least until the couple noticed him watching. This is all in one of Claire’s ears and out the other. She tells Haley to, again, get off the phone and Luke to pull up his bathing suit. Phil decides to take matters into his own hands and grabs Haley’s phone from her and throws it into the pool (Ty Burrell’s got a good arm. He almost threw the phone clear overthe pool!). Haley shrieks, but the reaction Phil expected of Claire doesn’t come to fruition. Instead of being thankful, Claire just yells at him that the phone was really expensive. No matter, “That was just the beginning. Buckle your seat belt, you’re being wooed,” Phil tells his wife. He then confides to the camera that sometimes male animals, like bears and giraffes, eat their young not because they are hungry, but because they just want to give their wives the honeymoon they never had. Not that he’s condoning eating one’s kids, but that he just understands why giraffes do it. He smiles at Claire, but all she can muster in response is an exasperated, “What?!?”

The next day, Jay wakes up Gloria, who can’t understand why Jay wouldn’t want to sleep in on his birthday. Oh, Jay’s already been to the gym that morning. Jay tells the camera that the call from his brother really scared him; he’s resolved to get in shape quickly so he doesn’t die early like his father. “Although, he did die doing what he loved: refusing service to hippies who entered his store.” The whole Dunphy family, meanwhile, are heading down to the pool. Luke complains that Manny is the worst roommate ever. “Everything he finds, he folds,” Luke recounts. They even had a fire drill — not the whole hotel, just he and Manny. They run into Mitchell, Cameron and Lily, and Phil immediately tries to pawn the kids off on them. Mitchell and Cameron are headed not only to a lavender ranch, but a lavender ranch with 45 different varieties of lavender. “Yeah, I can’t sell that. Go with God,” Phil tells his brother-in-law. Cameron confides that while he and Mitchell were dating, he oversold his adventurous side, but he can’t tell Mitchell that now. It would be like Lewis telling Clark that he doesn’t like to walk. Sidebar: Cameron and Mitchell actually have friends named Lewis and Clark, and Clark bought a sparkly belt on a trip to New Orleans. He calls it his “Louisiana Purchase.” After they say goodbye to the guys, the Dunphys continue toward the pool. Alex complains that Haley stole her iPod, but Haley had to because all of her music was on her phone. Luke continues his complaints against Manny: “He watches the news. You guys don’t even do that.” The family is stopped at the pool entrance by a hotel employee who notes that the infinity pool is an adult only pool. Phil immediately grabs Claire and tells her to keep walking and don’t look back. “What just happened?” Alex wonders as her parents disappear.

As they are about to load into the van to the lavender ranch, Cameron tells Mitchell that he just can’t go. He knows he told Mitchell that he’s not a stay-by-the-pool guy, but he really is. Can’t Mitchell just go by himself? “But it’s the lavender ranch,” Mitchell pleads, “It’s meant for two men to do together.” Mitchell loads into the van, and as it pulls away, he yells out the window that Cameron is going to miss 45 varieties of lavender. “You’re not making the case you think you are,” Cameron happily yells after his partner. Out by the pool, Jay creeps toward Alex and surprisingly throws her into the pool. Then he throws Manny in the pool. Then he throws a hotel employee in. Woops! He thought the guy was one of his family’s kids. Gloria, sunbathing nearby, tells Jay, “You’re going to hurt somebody, like you!” She tells the camera that one of the reasons she married an older guy was because she thought she’d get to relax, but with all of the “swimming, running and rowing…it’s like how some of my relatives got to this country.”

Phil and Claire relax in the adults-only infinity pool. The two playfully banter about each other’s beauty and comedic timing (you can guess which is which), and share a sweet kiss. That is until Haley starts calling to them. She met some kids who want to go to the hotel next door to get some shaved ice. Claire wants to jump out of the pool to meet the kids, but Phil tells her to let go. “Turning a family vacation into a honeymoon takes commitment. You need the ‘eye of the tiger,'” Phil instructs his wife. He tells Laire to just give her permission and trust their daughter. Claire reflects and tells Haley she can go as long as she doesn’t get in a car and is back in time for Jay’s birthday dinner. Haley runs off and Claire relaxes back into the water, leaning up against the edge of the pool. Letting go is kind of a relief. “It feels good and weird all at once,” she tells Phil. “Yeah, I was standing up against that nozzle a minute ago,” Phil replies.

Mitchell returns to find Cameron and Lily relaxing in a cabana. He tells Cameron that he had an amazing time. Elton John was even there, and played “Tiny Dancer” on their lavender piano. They even bonded over their love of lavender. Cameron wonders if that really happened, to which Mitchell replies, of course not. Mitchell sits down in the lounge chair next to Cameron and explains that he’s never found “relaxing” particularly relaxing. While he relates his reasons for this, Cameron orders various hotel employees to lean back Mitchell’s chair, kick up his feet, and put a drink into his hand. An employee begins to massage Mitchell’s feet. “Sweet Lady Gaga, that feels good!” Mitchell exclaims. He then takes a sip of the drink. “What is this?” “Happiness,” Cameron responds.

Back in their hotel room, Manny emerges from the bathroom and has a question for Luke. “Is there any sand left on the beach, or did you bring it all up into our bathroom?” Luke apologizes, but Manny notices that his same-aged nephew-in-law is sitting on his linen jacket. “I guess I can’t have nice things,” Manny huffs. Luke grabs the jacket and jumps up onto the bed. He begins to squish the jacket, taunting “I’m wrinkling your linen!” Manny has finally had it. Saying that the arrangement isn’t working. he kicks Luke out of the room. Luke responds that he’ll just go stay with his sisters. “Oh no! Who’ll pee on the floor?” Manny says. “I was brushing my teeth at the same time. I’d like to see you try it,” Luke retorts as he exits.

Cameron records a very relaxed Mitchell with his camcorder (no pun intended) in the elevator on the way to Jay’s dinner. He asks Mitchell how he felt actually napping today. “It felt good and weird at the same time,” Mitchell responds. “Like that nozzle in the infinity pool,” Cameron says. “I wouldn’t know because Phil was hogging it the whole time,” Mitchell replies. He continues, noting that Lily, who is sitting in her stroller in the elevator with them, even seems more relaxed. The doors open and Mitchell, in his haze of relaxation, exits with Cameron following him with the camera. The doors close…with Lily still sitting inside! Cameron notices Lily is gone and screams a scream reminiscent of when they accidentally locked Lily in the car. They try to pry the doors open, but to no avail.

At the dinner table, only Manny, Luke, Phil and Claire are present. Phil tells Claire that he wants to paint her. “Oh honey,” she sweetly replies, “that’s so creepy.” Claire wonders where everyone is. Manny doesn’t know, but he wants to address the elephant in the room. He apologizes for his jacket being wrinkled, but Luke used the iron to make grilled cheese. “I had bread. I had cheese. I had an iron. What was I supposed to do?” Luke asks. “Guys,” Phil replies, “We don’t care.” Gloria arrives and says she can’t find Jay. Phil offers to go find him and leaves. Alex then arrives and Claire asks her where her sister is. Haley is throwing up, Alex explains. When Claire asks why, Alex says, “You’re not going to like this as much as I do, but Haley’s drunk.” Claire knew she shouldn’t have allowed Haley to go with those kids, and she runs off. Manny turns to Luke and says, “I bet our bathroom’s still messier.”

Mitchell and Cameron run from the elevator to take the stairs as Claire arrives. Phil enters, unable to find Jay. Claire informs him of Haley’s current state. “Who would serve her?” Phil wonders. “We did,” Claire responds, “right on a silver platter.” She reiterates that she never should have listened to Phil and let her go. Phil counters that they shouldn’t feel bad for enjoying themselves. Well, Claire isn’t letting the kids out of her sight for the rest of the trip. As the elevator doors open, revealing Lily still in her stroller, Claire finishes, “Nothing gets by me from now on.” The doors close on Lily again. Gloria enters, asking if Phil has found Jay, but he replies he has to call off the search to see to Haley. Claire says she’ll handle Haley and that Phil should go find Jay. They both leave as the elevator doors open. Gloria sees Lily and finally removes her from the elevator.

Claire finds Haley, wrecked, sitting on the bathroom floor. Haley admits that some kid had a fake ID and bought some alcohol. She had one drink, and then another; she was stupid. Claire sits next to her daughter and sympathizes with her plight, “One night you’re having drinks at homecoming, the next, a game of ‘Truth or Claire’ sweeps your high school.” Haley thanks her mom for not yelling at her. That would just be cruel, Claire explains. She’ll yell when Haley feels better. Haley says that she’ll never feel better, and asks if this happens every time she’ll drink alcohol. “Yes, yes it does,” Claire replies with a side look into the camera.

Phil finally finds Jay in a hammock. Jay tells him that his back went out, and he can’t get up. Phil grabs Jay’s hand and starts to rock the hammock to get him out. “I’m just gonna rock you…like a hurricane. Just kidding. You’re too old to get that,” Phil says. Phil tries to pull Jay up, but he falls on top of his father-in-law instead. Jay tells him that his back is beginning to spasm, so Phil can’t move, leaving the two in a very awkward, very funny position. A couple walks by, so Phil announces, “Nothing weird! Aloha!” He then explains that what Jay might be feeling is Phil’s wallet — he carries it in his front pocket. Meanwhile, Cameron and Mitchell are screaming for a hotel lockdown when they run into Gloria with Lily. She explains to the new dads that these things happen. S he used to lose Manny all the time, and now she’s lost Jay. Phil finally gets Jay out of the hammock and helps him back toward the hotel. They see Gloria and Phil explains what happened to Jay. Phil heads toward the restaurant as Jay explains that he doesn’t want what happened to his father to happen to him. Gloria would have liked Jay’s dad, and he definitely would have liked her. Jay reflects that his childhood vacations weren’t like the one they’re on now. The old man would have been proud of where Jay is now. “Well if you keep going like this maybe you or I could tell him because you’re going to kill me, Jay,” Gloria tells her husband. Her legs, arms and back all hurt from the exercising they’ve been doing. Jay jokes that he wore her out. “Oh no. Don’t get cocky old man. When I sit down, I can still get up.” They laugh and head to dinner.

Phil tells the camera that the rest of the vacation went better. With the scenes playing out under his voice, Phil says, “Haley’s room stopped spinning.” She comes to breakfast with a bad hangover. When Claire offers her creamy eggs and Alex bangs on her plate, Haley just turns around to go back to bed. “Jay got back to the vacation he always wanted,” with Jay reaching one hand to hold Gloria’s, and the other to grab a cheeseburger. “Mitchell and Cameron went sightseeing on a working banana plantation…where they promptly lost Lily again.” The two dads run around the tall plants searching for their daughter. “Why did you dress her in jungle print?!” Mitchell asks Cameron. “I thought it would be cute,” Cameron replies. “She’s going to think she’s back in Vietnam!” Cameron exclaims.

“Me and Claire had a great time, but not a honeymoon,” Phil says in voiceover as he and Claire descend some outdoor stairs. Phil remarks to Claire on the steps, “Like you said, the thrill is gone.” “I never said that,” she replies. “No, it’s all over. But wait…,” Phil continues, “put a few seconds back on the clock.” He points to a grassy field where their whole family is gathered. Flower petals are laid down for an aisle, and a musician and officiant are standing beneath an archway. Further, Jay is standing at the start of the aisle with a bouquet of flowers. “The kid still has some moves,” Phil says. “I realized we couldn’t have a honeymoon because we never had a wedding.” He brings a shocked Claire toward the scene, and says, “I can’t tell if you think this is really lame or really cool.” “Oh, it’s incredibly cool,” Claire replies. Jay tells her he gets a chance to walk her down the aisle, although when he moves to do so, his back acts up, so he asks her to walk him down the aisle. Claire and Phil renew their vows, and the officiant introduces “Still Phil and Claire Dunphy!” as a ukulele player strums and sings “Eye of the Tiger.”

In the episode tag, Claire and Phil are seen in first class of their Continental Airlines(!) flight home. She tells him that if something were ever to happen to her, she’d want him to remarry. “OK,” Phil immediately replies. “That was a little fast,” Claire retorts. “I just want to make you happy,” Phil responds. Claire then asks him if he’s ever thought of whom he would pick in such a situation. Before she can even finish her question, Phil replies, “Vicki Conroy. She’s very organized, the kids love her….” Alex pops up from the seat in front of her parents. “Are you talking about Vicki? Mom, she’s awesome!” Alex says before plopping back down into her seat. Phil, seeing his wife’s expression, begins “Just in case something happens to me…” “Oh, something’s going to happen to you,” Claire replies.

Commentary

Trips to exotic places or family vacations are usually one of the gimmicks sit-coms use many seasons in to goose ratings. They are a ploy, a trick for dying series. Modern Family, on the other hand, took a family vacation to Hawaii in its first season, and not even for the finale, and it couldn’t have been better. This is further proof that the creators of the show have found a great groove with this series and are willing to break convention because it serves the series well. I loved this episode for all the reasons Modern Family has been praised this season. There was great physical comedy (Phil and Jay in the hammock. The sheer length of silence as Phil lay on top of Jay was just hysterical.), the kids were fantastic as always (especially Manny and Luke), and some very witty writing (“She’s going to think she’s back in Vietnam!”). Further, the show continued to make these characters all the more “real” by addressing Jay’s insecurity about his age and health, the circumstances surrounding Claire and Phil’s original shotgun nuptials, and the fact that yes, parents sometimes lose their kids (scary, but true. I remember when we lost my brother in a toy store vividly). Lastly, the humanization of Phil is complete. We knew he loved his wife, but setting up the vow renewal (and the way the scene was delivered by Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen was expertly done) cemented as a really sweet, if not sometimes oblivious, husband. The character has beautifully progressed from the pilot to the end of the season, and that should be a wonderful testament to the work done by everyone involves in the show.

So, what did you think of the episode? Do you want to head out to Maui (I’m going in six weeks!)? How do you feel the characters have changed (for better or worse) over the season? Where does “Hawaii” rank as an episode? Please leave your comments below, and as we approach next week’s network upfront presentations, be sure to check out TVOvermind for info on all of the renewals, cancellations and pick-ups as they are announced. I’ll be back next week with a recap of the Modern Family season finale, “Family Portrait.” Until then, I’m off to get an extra long straw so I can avoid doing a sit-up.

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