"Games People Play" is the twenty-third episode from Season 4 of Modern Family, it aired on May 15, 2013.

Plot Summary

Phil gets a brand new RV with high hopes of going on a fun family road trip, and Claire decides to let him learn the hard way why this will likely be a terrible idea. Meanwhile, Manny has misplaced his backpack and Jay and Gloria go with him on a hunt for it, breaking into Claire's house and then into Mitchell's house - where they do some over-the-top snooping; and Lily's gymnastics meet brings out an unrivaled competitive spirit in Mitch and Cam.

Episode Description

Phil had a big announcement for the family. Thanks to a high-level real estate deal, he got the use of an RV for the summer and he was already dreaming of a family trip. Perhaps to Yellowstone. Of course, Claire, knowing how the family really works, decided that Jolene (what Phil named the RV) was not going to work with three kids cooped up in it for hours and hours. But she decicded to let Phil take them on a long drive just to prove she was right and she wouldn't have to look like the evil parent. Like she was about the llama Phil brought home...also named Jolene.

CLAIRE (interview): Even with a spin up the coast, Phil will see what I see every day. The transformation happens when our kids are locked in a metal box. The Kraken is unleashed! (pause) Love my kids very very much.

With the Dunphys gone, Jay and Gloria had a problem. Manny needed his backpack that contained his works for the poetry reading he was attending that night. Manny also needed to convince Jay and Gloria not to show up because he was going to go with some of his "darker" works. (MANNY: Poems like "The Umbilical Noose," "A Jail Called Mom," "Smother Nature." She'll just find some way to make it all about her.)

Cameron and Mitchell were excited for Lily (being in a gymnastics meet, and she was quite good at it. So good, in fact, both Cameron and Mitchell were getting too wound up about it, to the point where Mitchell was actually rooting for another gymnast to fall off the balance beam. Which would have been fine had not everyone heard it. Unfortunately, she did, and Lily moved into first place as a result. Which really didn't help when she told Mitch and Cam about it in front of all the other parents. But Cam wasn't out of the woods. A hyper-competitive mother accused him of fixing the hair on her daughter on purpose so the bun would come undone during her floor exercise and stop her from completing it.

Claire's plan for the kids going crazy in the RV? Not really working. Luke thought it was too cold, but Haley was kind enough to loan him a blanket. Alex wanted the music changed, so Claire tried to find something even worse. Naturally, Alex liked it even better. Still, Claire was unfazed. (CLAIRE: I didn't want to get halfway into a trip to Yellowstone only for Phil to discover what malevolent hell-spawn we have for children. Whom I love very much.) She thought she had a chance when Alex was wearing one of Haley's sweaters, but the only thing Haley was mad about was how much better it looked on Alex. Much to Claire's chagrin, Alex gets to borrow any of Haley's clothes that are older than six months. And now Phil has promoted the trip to Yellowstone to a cross-country trip. And the kids thought it was an awesome idea!

Jay, Gloria, and Manny headed over to Mitch and Cam's because Cam drove Luke and Manny home from school and Manny left his backpack in his car. They got in their house the same way they got into Phil and Claire's house. Gloria got the door open...and don't ask her how. And like at Phil and Claire's house, Jay and Gloria felt the need to snoop around, read mail, check the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, even have some brownies. (Thankfully for Jay, they were Cam's brownies and not Claire's.) But it looked like Cameron and Mitchell had a party the prior night which Jay and Gloria had not attended. There was even what looked like a drawing that insulted them. Suddenly they were quite upset and tried to figure out why. Jay accused Gloria of being horrible at Pictionary, while Gloria accused Jay of being hyper-competitive and always yelling at her. Actually, Manny was to blame. He had the invitation from Cam in his backpack and forgot to give it to Jay and Gloria. So he tries to sneak it into Cam's briefcase to shift the blame away from him. Only one problem: Gloria the Snoop had already looked in Cam's briefcase so she knew the invite was just put there. Jay and Gloria couldn't believe Manny was being sneaky and deceitful like that.

GLORIA (proud): That's my son! (They were worried Manny was too much of a goody-two-shoes.)'

At the gymnastics meet, Cam and Mitchell were desperate to save face and overcompensated with the apologies and cheering of Lily's competitors. But Lily ended up bailing them out. Another gymnast fell off the balance beam and Lily rushed to her aid. She gave the girl a hug and took the pins out of the girl's hair because they were hurting her. One of the parents came up to them and asked if they saw what Lily did. Actually, they didn't, and they thought their boorish behavior had already passed down to Lily.

MITCHELL (to the crowd): We consider what our daughter just did to be an embarrassment to the sport of gymnastics!

CAMERON (equally upset): I assure you, she did NOT learn that from us!

MITCHELL: And as far as we're concerned, that is a sign of weakness…

CAMERON: ...and not the way that a winner behaves but how…

BOTH: …a LOSER behaves!

But at least Lily won the meet and got to be on the team. And her daddies got to watch from outside, since their outburst got both of them banned from ever coming any closer than a hundred feet of the gym.

Claire really needs to learn the old lesson about being careful what you wish for, as you might just get it. Luke swats at a bee that got in the RV and accidentally slaps Alex. Then Haley tries to throw her drink at it and it hits Luke, who retaliates with the hose from the kitchen sink. And the fight continues as another bee makes it inside and Alex's sweater gets ripped. Phil pulls it over and goes berserk since Claire didn't stop the kids on purpose.

PHIL (off the reservation): I guess I was a naive boob who thought we liked each other! Obviously it was too much to ask that we could take one magnificent trip in a tricked-out, state-of-the-art RV to see the sun dancing off the Pacific! (smashes the bee between his hands) What a huge ask! (walks out of the RV) OWWWWWWW!!!

While Phil calmed down with a couple of other dads who were also in his RV situation, Claire and the kids were feeling a bit of guilt over seeing him flip out. That and the super-sad dude hug he was having. Realizing Phil wanted to plan a big summer trip, Luke was suddenly worried because he was about to flunk pre-algebra and would have to take summer school and didn't tell anyone because he felt even worse having followed genius Alex through school. Alex had actually been dating two guys at once, much to Claire's suprise (and pride), but they both dumped her on the same day when they found out. She was quite embarrassed. (LUKE: Not as embarrassing as failing a class that starts with 'pre'.) And Haley tried out as a Laker Girl, and failed miserably. Claire, buoyed by learning all of this new information, goes out to tell Phil it was a great idea to take them on a summer trip. Being forced together actually made the kids bond. The proof? All three of them doing Haley's Laker Girl audition.

PHIL (ecstatic): Oh, my God. Dream come true! I don't even need context!

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
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Guest Starring

  • Matt Malloy as Pat
  • Lenny Jacobson as Tony
  • Joy Lofton as Julie's Mom
  • Michael Coleman as Heath
  • Jennifer DeFilippo as Abby's Mom
  • Caitlyn Leone as Julie
  • Kylie Price as Abby

Cultural References