Modern Family review – 4×04: ‘The Butler’s Escape’

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The  family is definitely still in adjustment mode four episodes into the fourth season thanks to all the changes that have been introduced. Also, is it just me or does Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) continue to age at a speed just shy of the speed with which Gloria went from zero to full bloom? Not that I’m complaining, because this episode showed me that Lily is going to be one sassy-four year old thanks to Miss Anderson-Emmons budding comedy skills.

Let’s bitch it out…Luke (Nolan Gould) is taking magic lessons, an interest he shares with Phil (Ty Burrell), but he wants to quit. When Phil insists that he honour his commitment/fulfill his destiny to become a professional magician, Luke’s teenage tantrum fittingly ends with his disappearance in a flash and a puff of smoke! This is followed by a very potent – and possibly metaphorical – moment when Phil insists that Luke escape from a straight-jacket type trick to see if he really wants to quit magic. Of course, Luke escapes like some houdini-infused child savant. Phil is dismayed when Luke reaffirms his intention to quit but we learn that the root of Phil’s dismay is not so much Luke leaving magic behind, but leaving Phil behind as they grow apart.

Gloria (Sofía Vergara), meanwhile, is snoring through her third trimester, which is disturbing the rest of the household. Claire’s (Julie Bowen) advice: don’t complain about *anything* that your young, hot and pregnant wife is doing. So Jay (Ed O’Neill) doesn’t complain. Instead, after throwing Manny (Rico Rodriguez) under the “tell Gloria about the problem” bus, Jay tries to avoid the confrontation altogether by sneaking in a night at a hotel while he is supposed to be on a business trip. “Surprisingly, this doesn’t work out” said all of the viewing audience. Jay’s plan is foiled because Manny climbs out from under the bus and gets his revenge by tipping off Gloria (Sofía Vergara), who arrives at the hotel in a furious state. But, as often happens on this show, Jay and Gloria’s conflict is relationship-affirming. Oh, and because I know you’re wondering, Claire is still fixated on Gloria’s pregnancy weight-gain. That joke just won’t die. The problem is that it also doesn’t go anywhere; it just sits there every episode so far.

Courtesy of ABC

That leaves Cam (Eric Stonestreet), who thinks he will absolutely kill it as a music teacher. He’s overconfident and excited and, as Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) suspects, a bit nervous for his first music class. “…I wouldn’t be surprised if I got slow-clapped out of my first class.” His premonition comes true, but not exactly in the way he expected. As we saw last week, Cam is adjusting to life out of the house and leaving Lily with Mitch.

Mitch is also overconfident, not-so-excited and definitely not nervous. At least not until his daughter escapes from the shopping cart and hides in a dairy freezer in the grocery store. It’s here that it becomes very clear that there is more to taking care of Lily than meets the eye. I really have to say that Aubrey Anderson-Emmons is doing a fantastic job. She has the best irritated look on her face, wearing a sleeping mask and duly annoyed that Cam’s practicing is interrupting her sleep (she then hilariously rips Cam’s piano cord out of the wall). Little infant Lily has apparently been replaced by a young girl with some chops!

Meanwhile, back at Phil and Claire’s house, Claire realizes that there is a problem with Alex (Ariel Winter). The middle child is normally smug but now she’s just outright mean. The problem? A “Haley (Sarah Hyland) deficiency”, which is throwing the household off-balance. Once Alex and Haley chat over the interwebs, all is again right in the Dunphy household. And all is right with the writing when Haley asks Alex, exasperated, “What is wrong with your hair? You should dip yourself in boy-repellant.” Balance. Restored.

What did you think? Is Lily’s character destined for more lines? Can she carry more of the comedy load, or is she too young? Will this family find its new groove now that Haley will be appearing less often? Or, is this a temporary absence and the writers are cooking up a reason for her to move back home? Stay tuned…

Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9pm EST on ABC.

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