‘Modern Family’ 3.05 Recap: “I Want to Be the One to Push You Off the Cliff”

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never does. Season 2 of ‘Modern Family’ was really hit and miss for me, but we’re five episodes into the third and, while there have been some underwhelming episodes, there’s nothing that I’d consider even close to bad.

‘Hit and Run’ is a really solid episode from start to finish. It was written by Elaine Ko (who wrote some of the better episodes in Season 2) and directed by Jason Winer (who has helmed several of my favorite episodes including the Season 1 finale). It shows that both have a tremendous amount of experience on the series. ‘Hit and Run’ is tight and true to the characters.

The episode starts out with Claire running into Duane Bailey, the councilman who denied her request for a stop sign. David Cross is amazing in this role and has my favorite little bit in the episode. When talking to Phil and Claire in the intro, he says “Just like America” and tries to point to the American flag pin on his vest, misses, and then slowly works his finger up to the pin as if it was intentional. It’s just a little piece of action, but it totally killed me.

Claire’s decision to run for city council is an exciting one. As I said last week, I think the character of Claire is strongest when she’s got her mind set on something, and this should give her a lot more focus. We see her dealing with stress, admitting to something she’s uncomfortable with, and finally making a decision to go for it no matter the consequences.

Jay has trouble relating to a young client played by Samm Levine, who needs to be in more episodes of everything ever. Levine’s character just wants “that wow factor,” but can’t tell Jay what that means. Manny has a similar problem in school, since he’s asked to approach a project with a focus on form over content. In the end, Jay’s problem is solved by simply having Gloria present his old idea while adding a bit of sex appeal to the pitch.

Mitchell and Cameron are at odds over their styles of confrontation. Cameron is direct in his dealings with others, and Mitchell just plain avoids confrontation entirely. The titular hit-and-run accident causes a pretty big argument between the two, which is eventually resolved when Mitchell mans up at the end of the big confrontation scene.

Cameron, Phil and Jay all head out to get money from a kid that ripped Haley off, and Mitchell tags along. The trio intimidate the boy. (Sure he’s funny, but Ed O’Neil is a scary-looking dude when he wants to be.) Instead of returning the money, the kid makes a run for it. Mitchell tackles him and saves the day.

It’s nice to see Mitchell doing more “boy things,” but what really made this final scene was Phil revealing the names of his fists: England Dan and John Ford Coley, a pop band featuring the younger brother of Jim Seals. And when the fists and feet work together, they’re Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Awesome.

1 comment

  1. EM

    The bit with Phil naming his fists and his feet did get me wondering about the many clever or intended-to-be-clever turns of phrase he makes: does he tend to come up with these on the fly? or does he often create them when by himself, then wait patiently—years, if necessary—for the right context to unleash them? It might be amusing to see the latter scenario turned into a plot. For example: bursting with unused pet names, puns, and aphorisms, he could spend an episode trying to contrive situations in which he could let the words out.

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