Modern Family Season 9, Episode 14 recap: Written in the Stars

Photo credit: ABC / Eric McCandless, acquired from ABC Press Site
Photo credit: ABC / Eric McCandless, acquired from ABC Press Site /

Modern Family returned from hiatus last night with a Valentine’s-themed episode. The writers went back to their usual Valentine’s formula, only this time they put a spin on it.

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After a long hiatus the Pritchetts and Dunphys were back on our screens last night. In the last episode, way back on January 17th, Haley wandered into one of Alex’s classes and caught the attention of her professor. Alex has a huge crush on the professor and is completely shocked when he asks Haley out.

In its return, Modern Family picks up this story where it left off as Haley is preparing to go on a date with Professor Fennerman (Chris Geere). Meanwhile, Claire and Phil try to save Jay from disappointing Gloria on yet another Valentine’s Day, giving up their own tradition. They’ll instead stay in and watch Joe, but of course, this doesn’t go quite how they expected either. The third major story follows Cam and Mitch running into Luke while trying to enjoy their night, and instead ruining his.

The open

This episode wastes no time jumping into the action. In the cold open, Jay is arriving home with a cookie and a balloon to give to Gloria. Before he can get to the door, Claire and Phil arrive (in costume for their traditional Valentine’s Day role play) to stop him. Earlier in the day Phil was talking to Gloria about his and Claire’s plan. She compliments him for being romantic before she becomes angry and launches a tire iron through a window, talking about men who don’t appreciate women. Phil obviously interprets this as being in reference to Jay’s lack of romance so he is there to help.

They tell Jay he needs to spice things up and offer him their hotel. They suggest that he and Gloria meet at the hotel to do the role play that they are now giving up. During the conversation, as Jay is coming around, they ask him who is the sexiest man he knows. Without hesitation he says Dwight D. Eisenhower. When Phil and Claire question this choice, he responds: “You have not seen the right photos.”

Haley and Alex

Back at the Dunphy house, Haley is preparing for her date with Alex’s professor. Alex is completely jealous though. He is convinced that this date will be a miserable failure. Haley, on the other hand, seems excited about the date.

The date

Later, we see Haley and Professor Fennerman outside near a telescope that he has set up. He starts talking about astronomy and his accomplishments in the field and Haley is completely lost. At one point he mentions one of his theories and she responds by asking him if he smokes weed. Despite realizing she’s not understanding anything he’s saying, Professor Fennerman presses on. He asks her if she has any plans on August 27th of the following year because he needs a date for a NASA event, where he is to be honored. At this point Haley realizes how in over her head she is and talks about how many accomplishments he has, while unable to name any of her own. She ends up taking off, saying that she’s going to the restroom.

After a while, the professor becomes anxious and decides to call Alex. He asks if she knows where Haley is because he can’t find her and fears that he bored her. Alex, completely in love with the professor, says that he could never bore anyone. The two joke about how boring another professor is, prompting Fennerman to say: “Thank God someone gets me tonight.” He also says that he should have set his sights on someone who he has more in common with, before thanking Alex and hanging up.


After they hang up we see Alex with Manny. She believes that the professor just told her that he should have pursued her and is convinced that she should go to the park. Manny, meanwhile, is upset at himself for not getting his mother a Valentine and piggybacks on Alex’s energy to motivate himself to do something for Gloria. Alex, of course, makes fun of him equating her search for love with his love for his mom.

Later, Alex shows up at the park just in time to see the professor and Haley are kissing.

Two paths

We then jump back as Haley explains how she ended up kissing the professor. She says that she was planning to leave but got lost. She ended up at a fork in the path and chose the one she did by chance. When she arrived back at the date she was texting and didn’t even see the professor until he yelled: “you came back!” She is startled and even yells, “dangit, I did” but he is, again, unfazed.

He tells her he thought that he had done something wrong but she explains that the problem was that she hasn’t done anything at all while he has done everything. She calls herself a loser and he tells her that he is the loser. He says that he was only bragging about all of his accomplishments because he felt like a loser in her presence. Fennerman tells Haley she’s formidable in a way that is exciting. Haley tells him that what he’s saying doesn’t make sense and he says that he likes that. Telling her: “we can figure it out together.” It is at this point that she figures out the theory he mentioned earlier and this is what leads to the kiss.

The camera then flips to show Alex walking away.

Photo credit: ABC / Eric McCandless, acquired from ABC Press Site
Photo credit: ABC / Eric McCandless, acquired from ABC Press Site /

Luke, Cam, and Mitch

Modern Family episode usually touches as many members of the family as possible. This’s one was no exception. Early in the episode, Cam and Mitch are excited about getting into a nice restaurant to celebrate their Valentine’s Day. That is until they are offered a table right next to their nephew. They talk about how they don’t want to sit next to him while he is out with his fling of the week essentially, before accepting that they don’t want to lose their spot and sitting down.

Later, the uncles are trying to enjoy their dinner and Luke is still alone. They realize his date has stood him up and he tells them not to worry about it. As soon as they try to settle in however, he vocally lets his feelings bring them back in.

The next time we visit the trio, Cam is being let down by Mitch’s weak attempt at a Valentine’s Day card. That’s when Luke sees the selfie (above) they took when they first arrived at the restaurant. He realizes that the girl standing behind them in the line was his date but he’s confused as to why she would have left. Cam and Mitch immediately realize that she heard them basically calling Luke a player and making it sound like he only dates dumb girls.

The fix

Surprisingly, they decide to tell them it’s their fault and Luke forces them to follow him to her apartment to fix it. When they arrive, Luke starts by saying she’s hotter than her picture, before Cam cuts him off. Then, Cam starts to talk about how Luke usually dates dumb girls but that she clearly wasn’t that. He gets off track and Mitch cuts him off. Mitch then delivers a very romantic plea for her to give Luke a chance, and it works, on Cam. However, Luke has taken off to the cab where he tells the driver to drive until he hears a party.

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Claire and Phil

Going back to the beginning of the episode, Claire and Phil have given up the Modern Family tradition of their role play at the hotel. However, they are still in costume and have the house to themselves. Except they are babysitting Joe. Claire decides to make this a bad-babysitter role play but Joe is about to mess that up.

The six year-old has decided that Claire will be his Valentine and gives her one that he made. He shows up with slicked hair and wedges himself between Phil and Claire, suggesting that Phil leave.

Later, as Phil and Claire are trying to get Joe to go to sleep, he separates them. He asks Phil to go outside for something and locks him out.

When Phil knocks on the door to be let in, Joe turns the music up to drown him out. Claire obviously notices her missing husband as Joe tries to lure her over and act like nothing is wrong. Phil breaks in through another door and has finally had enough of the kid. When Claire tells Joe he can’t act the way he is, he yells that she’s a bad valentine and runs away.

Phil, near the end of the episode, decides to play along and goes to Joe’s room. He asks Joe if he can have Claire and Joe allows him to, before asking if Haley is single.

Jay and Gloria

Now for the patriarch. After being given Claire and Phil’s hotel, Gloria and Jay show up for their role play. Gloria, has come as a prostitute and Jay shows up as a wealthy hotel owner. Of course, he can’t help but talk business and Gloria (in character) suggest that her husband speaks that way and it bores her. This causes Jay to panic and step away to call Phil.

He tells Phil that he’s failing and this situation is making him realize he never should have gotten Gloria in the first place. Phil reminds him that it’s about confidence and having a plan. Jay mentions that he had planned to slam a watch on the counter at some point to break it: “so he can always remember what time he fell in love with her” and Phil is impressed. He tells him to go back in and Jay does.

Later, as Jay and Gloria are talking, security approaches her and asks to come speak with them. The guard tells her he’s going to have to ask her to leave and she thinks that this is part of Jay’s plan and continues to play along. Eventually, Jay steps in to tell the guard that she’s his wife. To which the guard says: “That’s what they all say.” Jay agrees that he would say that if he were really in this situation.

The watch

Eventually, Jay and Gloria are able to prove to the cop that they are married. Jay is telling Gloria that he got the idea from Phil and can’t believe he took his advice. He tells her the story that Phil told him in the open and Gloria says that Phil misunderstood. She wasn’t talking about Jay at all.

She was referring to Joe not getting her a Valentine. Jay can’t believe that she was THAT mad at a six year-old but then gets to the root of the issue. Manny hadn’t gotten her a Valentine for the first time since he was a kid either. She gets mad again yelling: “promises were made and I will not be ignored!” It is at this point that Gloria realizes how crazy she sounds. She tells Jay that she probably felt that way about her boys because she knows Jay isn’t good at doing romantic things.

Jay acknowledges that he needs to do better so she doesn’t feel like she needs that kind of attention from her kids. He then pulls out the watch to do what he mentioned to Phil. He slams the watch and delivers the line but Gloria is not happy.

The watch was her father’s.


While the credits run we go back to Jay and Gloria’s house, where Phil and Claire have put Joe to bed and are making love in Jay’s. Just as Phil goes to change the song, Gloria and Jay walk in to find them. Jay yells: “I can’t believe this is happening again!” Which prompts Phil to say: “again?” and looking at Claire.

Right at that moment, Manny arrives at the doorway with a Valentine to deliver to his mom. He sees Claire and Phil in bed, and his mom and Jay in their role-playing outfits and ends the episode with a bang saying: “What kind of freak show goes on while I’m not here???”

Next: The Good Doctor Episode 15 recap


With a finish that great, it is a wonder we survived without Modern Family for so long. The show is back now and delivered another Valentine’s Day classic. Next week’s episode also revolves around Jay thinking he needs to do more for Gloria. This time it is a misunderstanding of his own that causes the confusion.

Modern Family returns next Wednesday at 9/8c.