Jay forces the family to take their family vacation on a houseboat on a lake in an effort to create memories that will last long after he's gone. Meanwhile, Mitchell runs into an old flame that opens some old wounds; Cam has to stay out of the sun at all costs; Phil and Claire try out some adventureous excursions; and the kids' quest for a good time may not be as fun as they expected.
Phil and Claire realize that Alex may be more self-sufficient in college than they thought; Manny works to avoid a tearful goodbye after Gloria and Jay move him into his dorm; Hayley gets an unexpected opportunity.
Phil thinks he's going to have a day of bad luck after he doesn't complete his daily superstition, but Claire has no time for his silly notion. Meanwhile, Mitch believes Cam is undermining him during their kitchen renovation.
Jay's best friend, Shorty, is back from Costa Rica and stays at the house so they can catch up and reconnect. However, Shorty is spending more time with Gloria and seems to be avoiding Jay. Meanwhile, Alex is ready to shed her good-girl image and is going to prove to Claire that her relationship with Ben is definitely a sexual one.
Phil and Claire still want to celebrate Halloween in a big way, but it seems no one shares their same enthusiasm making them wonder if maybe everyone is right. Over at the Pritchett's, Mitch and Cam are frustrated by how long Jay is taking to finish their kitchen remodel, which forces Mitch to finally stand up to his dad. Meanwhile, Gloria's hospitality is wearing thin when Cam oversteps his boundaries as a house guest.
Claire is determined to make up for her less-than-joyful mood at Jay and Gloria's wedding by throwing their tenth-anniversary party.
During Jay's Thanksgiving toast, he honors the entire family on their recent successes, even though everyone knows that isn't quite true. As everyone desperately tries to hide the facts about their perceived triumphs, Phil works hard to master a classic magic trick and prove he's not the family failure,.
The family recount all their biggest celebrity encounters; Phil shows a house to his musical hero; Jay's day at jury duty takes an unexpected turn; Manny's encounter with his favorite playwright doesn't go as expected.
After leaving his real estate firm to strike out on his own, Phil decides a solo camping trip in the wild will be just what he needs to boost his confidence; Mitchell's plan to teach Cam and Lily each a lesson backfires.
When Claire lands a big opportunity for Pritchett's Closets, Jay expects validation for his contribution; Pam's ex-boyfriend shows up and Mitchell sees this as an opportunity to get Pam out of the house; Luke and Alex find a business opportunity.
Claire's request to build a "She Shed" in their backyard is denied by the homeowners association and only Luke and Phil know the real reason why. Meanwhile Pameron lets Cam in on a family secret that forces him to visit Mitch's therapist to work through this new information.
Gloria has to rush Phil to the hospital for an emergency surgery after he experiences some intense stomach pains and rallies the entire family to be by his side.
When Luke goes missing after a night out in a sketchy neighborhood, Manny, Phil and Gloria team up to track him down. Meanwhile, Haley is desperate to land an interview with the creator of a popular lifestyle website and interrupts Alex during one of her college classes. Alex's professor, Arvin Fennerman, then proceeds to try and give Haley a piece of his mind.