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"Earthquake" is the third episode from Season 2 of Modern Family, it aired on October 6, 2010.

Plot Summary

An earthquake hits, leaving Claire stuck in the bathroom with the plumber, Manny experiencing an existential crisis while out with Jay, and Mitchell and Cameron digging themselves deeper into a lie when they use the quake to get out of a themed brunch party thrown by their friend, Pepper.

Episode Description

Claire has to turn down Haley's request to go to a party because she hasn't studied all weekend, thanks to Alex keeping her informed. She loses the appeal to Dad, who doesn't want to get involved in playing "good cop-Mom." Claire calls the plumber, over Phil's protests, to fix the faucet in the tub. Naturally, Phil thinks he's an expert, so Claire closes the door so she doesn't have to listen to him.

Mitchell and Cameron are heading to another one of Pepper's themed brunches..."Oscar Wilde and Crazy Brunch." Still, it beats the "Studio Fifty-Fourth of July Barbecue," or the "Sederday Night Fever" Passover feast. Mitchell wonders how Cameron could have dated the guy even once, and comforting each other over Princess Diana's death doesn't count.

Jay tells Gloria and Manny he's not going to church anymore, and she is not happy with him. Neither is God, apparently, as he picked a very opportune moment to have an earthquake. Claire gets locked in the bathroom, Mitchell is more worried about dying in the outfits they're wearing than dying itself, and Luke almost gets nailed by a bookcase falling he runs into a wall to finish the job.

After everybody calls everybody to make sure things are OK, with predictable communication problems, Phil decides Claire can stay in the bathroom for a little while longer while he goes down and anchors the bookcase to the wall like she begged him to do time and time again. The plumber suggests a crowbar, and Phil is offended. And Haley sees an opportunity to leave, but she'll have to drive Alex to the Museum of Tolerance for her silence. But Claire overhears everything and gets mad. Haley goes ballistic at her, and they reenact the "two months" detention scene from The Breakfast Club. Haley gets it doubled all the way to ten weeks. (Haley's math.)

Mitchell calls Pepper to cancel, but he makes Cameron do the cancelling. Unfortunately, Cam's a terrible liar, claiming the dishes and a hat rack are damaged, as is Mitchell's leg. And now Pepper is on his way over.

Jay decides he's still going golfing instead of going to church, but Gloria can't believe he didn't think the earthquake was a sign from God that he's ticked off. Jay is reasonable, saying that God wouldn't have shook the entire city if he was simply mad at Jay...and Manny likes that idea. Now he wants to skip church and find God in nature, like Jay does. Gloria is livid, but Jay figures "I was going to have a Latino kid carry my clubs; might as well be you." Gloria is beside herself, but Jay running over his golf clubs helps a bit.



As Phil tries to find the absolute correct screwdriver to use on the door (and taking his sweet time finding it), Haley continues to antagonize Claire and is up to 32 weeks of grounding. Claire thinks the plumber is being judgmental, but he had five kids of his own. The four daughters were a cinch, but the son was a pain in the neck, basically because he saw himself in his own kid. Claire is just trying to get Haley to look up to her.

DAVE THE PLUMBER: Did you listen to your mother?

CLAIRE: No, but I had a reason. That woman was a psycho control freak. (Haley's exact words for her.)

Jay and Manny talk about not getting in trouble with God for blowing off church. But his putting stroke needs some work. Jay tries to explain there is no Hell, and the bad people are merely put in a special area of Heaven. Manny proceeds to over think it and ruin Jay's golf in the process. The more Jay backtracks about what he said, the more Manny freaks out. Jay finally gives up and takes Manny back to church.

Mitchell prepares the house for Pepper's arrival by breaking dishes and putting a "coat rack" through their window. Cameron is upset it came to this, but Mitchell points out Cameron has no problem with deceit when it works to their advantage, like scamming their way into an airport lounge to meet Angela Landsbury. Cameron likes being the "mob wife." Pepper comes by to help them, regaling them of the story of Stephan and Stefan, who blew off the brunch with a total lie. Good thing Mitch and Cam have a legitimate excuse. Unfortunately, Cameron thinks now might be the right time to be honest with Pepper about how tough it is to have to always dress up for Pepper's parties. Apparently not, since everybody blew off Pepper's brunch, and now he's lamenting he'll die all alone in a quaint Spanish revival outside of Palm Springs. Finally, Mitch is forced to go back to the lying...and saying Cameron is still attracted to Pepper. Pepper sees the "jealous" Mitchell and agrees they don't have to attend his brunches for a while to keep the relationship safe.

Dave the Plumber gets the door open, and Phil has just finished anchoring the bookcase. Claire is mad at him, but Alex covers by saying Phil was cleaning glass and turning off the gas lines.

JAY: There's nothing mystical about an earthquake. Pressure builds and it's released. And you just hope there's not too much damage. But it makes you realize what matters, and for me that's my family... My family and golf.

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker


  • Manny is afraid of butterflies.
  • This episode marks Pepper's first appearance.
  • Pepper is revealed to be Jewish when Mitch and Cam do not attend his Passover seder.
  • Because of the earthquake Claire is absent for most of the episode because she is trapped in the bathroom with the plumber.

Guest Starring


  • Pepper Saltzman marks his first on-screen appearance, after being mentioned in the "Pilot" and "Travels with Scout".