Cameron and Mitchell have been looking for a way to get out of yet another theme party thrown by their friend Pepper (guest star Nathan Lane). This next one is his first annual Oscar Wilde & Crazy Brunch. Too bad our boys still haven't recovered from his Studio 54th of July Barbecue.
Pepper makes everyone assume the role of a character for his parties, which makes Mitchell wonder why Cameron ever dated the guy. Cam explains that it was only one date at a time when he was a little vulnerable after we'd just lost Princess Di. If only they had some excuse to get out of the brunch.
Claire would like Haley to stay home to study for the SAT's instead of heading out to a party. Phil would prefer that his wife not call a plumber behind his back to fix a leaky faucet in the tub. Alex wants someone to take her to the Museum of Tolerance. That's what happening at the Dunphy house. Meanwhile, over at the Pritchett place...
Gloria is upset because Jay intends to skip church this week. In fact, Jay says he's done with church for good. It's not the end of the world. But it sure feels like it when cabinet doors start knocking, hanging lights begin swaying and the ground below everyone's feet starts shaking. As Manny so eloquently explains via his panicked scream, it's an EARTHQUAKE!!!
Everyone survives the tremor though a heavy cabinet narrowly misses falling on Luke. Still, the boy does suffer a self-inflicted aftershock when he runs into a wall. Phil worries Claire will go ballistic. She's been on him to anchor that cabinet to the wall for a long, long time. Fortunately, she's trapped in the bathroom with the plumber. Phil's only hope is to secure the cabinet before they get free so his wife will be none the wiser.
Phil isn't the only one taking advantage of Claire's situation. Haley tries to sneak off to that party. If Alex agrees to cover for her, Haley will take her sis to the Museum of Tolerance. Haley just needs to know how far a drive it is to Tolerance. You know, perhaps she should do a little more studying for that test.
Claire hears her daughters conspiring in the hall and grounds Haley for many, many weeks. While sitting on the tub waiting to be rescued, the plumber rattles off some astute conclusions he's made concerning parent-child relationships. It has Claire thinking twice about coming down so hard on Haley.
A little plumber-mother teamwork allows Claire to escape from the bathroom. She wonders why it took her sneaky cabinet-fastening hubby so long to help. Luke and Alex cover for their dad by claiming he was doing all sorts of hero things like shutting down the gas line. Looks like Alex is finally going to make it out to the Museum of Tolerance. Dad's driving!
Jay's belief that the earthquake had nothing to do with his decision to skip church inspires Manny to ditch Sunday services, too. Instead, he goes golfing with Jay. Father and stepson get into some pretty heavy discussions about Jay's theory that there may not be a heaven or hell. But when Manny realizes these are just hunches, he hyperventilates about the spiritual repercussions of skipping church.
Mitchell sees the earthquake as the perfect excuse to bail on Pepper's party. Too bad Cameron chokes under pressure while calling to cancel. His exaggeration of the damage done by the quake prompts a concerned Pepper to rush over to their house. Cameron comes clean about the real reason they wanted to skip the brunch. This devastates Pepper. He thinks he's a joke.
Cameron says, "You're not a joke. You're Pepper Saltzman." He defers to Mitchell to help pep up Pepper. Mitchell says the real reason they didn't want to do brunch is because Cam still has feelings for Pepper. It's just so hard for him to be around him at his magical brunches. Pepper buys into the ruse. He has noticed Cameron's stolen glances from time to time.