|How are these two so wussy with a dad like Jay?|
I'VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE
I'll start with the one that didn't work, which sadly was the Jay-Gloria subplot, where Gloria gets him to attend the quinceanera of his employee's daughter. There was something about this that made me think about Arrested Development (probably the culture clash), cause I know how they would have set up the storyline and made it work. For one thing, Hurwitz et al would have started the story much later, probably when they're walking into the hall, rather than back in the house. We would have reached the awkward finale of the story much more quickly, and then we'd spend some time with Jay/Gloria trying to correct his faux-pas (and failing). Instead, we got too much exposition, in exchange for not enough payoff. It was just Michael Scott-level AWKWARD.
STRANGERS ON A TREADMILL
On the other end of the neighborhood, Claire and Mitchell team up to "Strangers On The Train" Phil and Cam, because they are both extreme cowards (though in the end, Mitchell even more so). Cameron has developed a charming new habit of wearing bicycle shorts in public (love the way the camera put censor pixels on the ENTIRE PAIR OF SHORTS everytime they were on screen. When Claire tells him to lose the shorts (after very transparently trying to butter him up), Cam runs to the bedroom and cries like a baby. Later, when he finds out Mitch was in on it, the end up in a detente that Mitch very cleverly wins.
Jay, on the other hand, is preparing a speech full of lame zingers for the annual real estate convention. Claire, with the best intentions, tries to scupper the whole thing, but Mitchell chickens out at the first sign of Jay's heartbreak. So Claire hides the speech and then Phil manages to kill anyway. Which led to a 'heartfelt' scene that actually felt earned, and didn't make me roll my eyes.
THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR
Now the writers have suddenly picked up on the fact that Alex and Haley are awesome, so now we get a FOURTH plot (but seams are already showing with the multiple stories, I hope they recalibrate soon). Once again, the girls give us one of the funniest scenes of the episodes, when Alex manages to out-popular Haley, until the whole thing explodes and they both start screaming.
And I was rolling on the floor laughing.