Fortunately for Modern Family fans, the Pritchett-Dunphy clan made it out of LAX all the way to “Hawaii,” this week’s new episode. And although the family may have been on vacation, it’s clear the writers were hard at work–creating one of the season’s best half-hours.

As the group readies for Jay’s birthday celebration, we learn several crucial pieces of information. Jay’s father died at the same age his son is about to reach. Cameron doesn’t really like to go on “adventures” when on vacation–he’d rather relax by the pool, much to uptight Mitchell’s dismay. And most important, we learn that years ago, Claire and Phil were supposed to go to Hawaii on their honeymoon.

Unfortunately, Claire’s unexpected pregnancy with Haley derailed both a formal wedding and the trip. Phil spends the entire show trying to have that honeymoon he and his wife never had, which means that Claire must give her kids some freedom from her constant surveillance. Which leads us to …

This week’s Modern Family parenting lessons:

Lesson #1: Once a parent, always a parent

Phil persuades Claire to loosen the apron strings for a couple of days. Maintaining the focus to keep her mind off the kids and on rekindling their romance takes the eye of the tiger, says Phil. But when Haley goes off with some teens from another hotel and returns horribly drunk and sick, Claire reminds Phil that being a parent has to come first for her. This is one of those moments where you realize the show may be funny, but it’s not always kidding around.

Lesson #2: But even parents deserve a little love.

Claire’s guilt over Haley’s drunken episode seems to put the kibosh on Phil’s romantic plans. But somehow, the goofball pulls off a magnificent save–the formal wedding ceremony they’d never had. In a moment both funny and touching, the couple renews their vows on the beach, surrounded by family, flowers, and love. And with a strolling musician playing–what else?–“Eye of the Tiger” on his ukulele.

Quotes of the Week

Phil: Come on Claire–let’s turn this vacation into a honeymoon,

Claire: Sweet Pea, I’m a mom traveling with my kids. For me this is not a vacation–it’s a business trip.

Phil: In nature, fathers are known to eat their young. It that because they’re delicious? No. It’s because they want to give their female–bear, giraffe, what have you–the honeymoon they never had. Just to be clear–I’m not condoning eating your kids, but I sure as heck understand why giraffes do.

Jay: To tell you the truth that call from my brother scared the hell out of me. I decided I’d better get in shape–quick. I didn’t want to end up like my old man. Although he did die doing what he loved. Refusing service to hippies who came into his store.

Claire: Oh honey–one minute you’re having wine coolers at your homecoming, and the next a game of ‘Truth or Claire’ sweeps your high school.

Phil: We say we’ll make time, but life gets in the way. I know we’re parents, but can’t we be lovers, too?

Jay: This may be my worst birthday ever.

All that–and just the right amount of Manny, too!

(Image courtesy of ABC)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV