On ''Ugly Betty,'' the mystery woman turns out to be Daniel's brother, who launches his plan to take over the company; meanwhile Betty helps Daniel get his groove back

By Tanner Stransky
Updated January 21, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

”Ugly Betty”: The mystery woman is unveiled

Holy Alexis Arquette! Er, I mean Alexis Meade, obviously! Just when I thought Ugly Betty couldn’t take its level of camp any higher or come up with a cleverer pop-culture allusion, the smart producers pull out a twist on the here-and-now that’s absolutely perfect.

Alex Meade, Bradford’s son and Daniel’s brother, isn’t really dead, and — in the buxom image and name of the most fabulous of the Arquette family (besides the married-in Courteney) — he’s now a she! Or she’s a he underneath there somewhere. Or whatever. Regardless, the beloved, often-mentioned, and presumed-dead son is the mysterious woman who’s been shrouded in darkness, covered in gauzy wraps, and plotting with Willy to take over Meade Publications (and, we can only hope, the world!). Also, in a move that only further cements UB fabulosity, Alexis is played by none other than Rebecca Romijn! The sexiest X-Men character ever (and former wife to Uncle Jesse) is playing a purportedly dead man turned woman. Get all that? Good!

Seriously, TV Watchers, twists like this — more knotted and tasty than those pretzels Amanda would like Betty to be selling from her new desk cart — are what make this show shine. Further proof of the show’s blinding luster? Well, as you no doubt know, the frothy frosh comedy took home two Golden Globes. First, deservedly, for Best Comedy (interesting that ABC has taken the Best Comedy award for the last three years with hour-long shows) and, second, for the best, most real heroine on television, America Ferrera! That giddy, breathy speech of hers? Don’t get me started, y’all, or I’ll have to get out the Puffs again. ”It’s such an honor,” she huffed, ”to play a role that I hear from young girls on a daily basis how it makes them feel worthy and lovable and that they have more to offer the world than they thought.” Seriously, America, were you trying to make us go into fits?

After last week’s episode of disastrous breakups, this week was all about building up some of my favorite relationships on the show — Daniel and Betty, Amanda and Marc, the shrouded gal and Wilhelmina. Look at Daniel and Betty. After they grew apart a bit because of Sofia, how does this pair mend? By singing Sonny and Cher’s ”I Got You Babe” in a Brooklyn pizzeria, obvi! Priceless — and the sort of totally ridiculous moment this show can pull off without seeming silly. ”It’s half off if you sing!” Betty told Daniel as she pulled him up to the stage. He yelped back, ”Yeah, but I’m rich!” Although she did botch his expense report a couple weeks back, hasn’t she figured out the luxuries (i.e., expensed dinners!) of the corporate culture? You don’t need half off a pizzeria dinner! But, then again, that ingenuousness is exactly what makes Betty’s sweetness so pure and endearing. And what about when Amanda opened ”Page Six” and saw Betty and Daniel in there together? Was anyone else wishing that the paparazzi would have snapped a shot or two of them karaokeing instead? Anyway, how fabulous (albeit, again, ridiculous) was it that Betty’s full name was in the headline?

In another unconsummated workplace relationship, Marc really seems to care about having Amanda around at Mode. I guess he just needs someone else to be his assistant-level partner in crime. I’m not complaining — some of the best scenes are when these two get together, like their exchange about pushing Betty’s cart — and Daniel — out the window or when Marc inspired Amanda to ruin Daniel’s date with Gisele. (”The bitch is back!”) When Marc lobbied for her as he and Wilhelmina decided who was in or out, Heidi Klum-on-Project Runway-style (”Auf Wiedersehen, Amanda!”), the icy creative director comically patronized him with ”You’re going miss your little beard? How cute.” (BTW, loved the Star Wars-like secret in-or-out wall that spun around. Totally normal with someone like Willy.) Amanda definitely isn’t Marc’s beard (he’s about as closeted as Elton John), but his determination to save her was touching. I was saddened by Amanda’s decision to defect to Willy’s dark side after being a Daniel supporter for so long, but truly, she’d only ever really fit in where wickedness reigns. Right? Her tiny pores ooze with evil!

Back in the world of good — a.k.a. the Suarez home in Queens — Hilda (”I could be the Latina Mrs. Fields!”) was whipping her staff into shape while they put together cupcakes. Riffing on the premise of Material Girls, Herbalux went under, so Hilda was out of business and needed a new job. But cupcakes? Really? As a New Yorker, I can say that cupcakes — a sugary trend that came and went a few years ago — are so cliché! (But, to be honest, this show is predicated on many a cliché.) Anyway, the story line did provide us with a little bit of snaptastic Justin, which is never a bad thing. Justin’s best lines of the night: 1. ”Yeah, Betty, I miss the swag,” while lamenting that Betty no longer works at Mode. 2. ”Maybe Oprah can adopt us?” Justin Winfrey does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

And finally, Christina. Poor, poor Christina. Like Amanda, she defected to the dark side. Seduced by fashion. Used by Wilhelmina. Sigh. Ranking at the top with Betty on the Pure Points scoreboard until now, she fell far this week. But who can blame her? She just wants to be chosen as one of Mode’s top designers to watch, an honor that would promote her from ”seamstress.” (Seriously, is that really a job title for people at fashion magazines these days?) But maybe, like Betty when she almost accepted the huge check from she-devil Willy for her father’s lawyer fees, she’ll have a change of heart next episode. In her defense, Christina can’t know who she’ll be hurting by taking that packet of incriminating evidence to the police — sadly, it’s all the people who are truly her friends now.

And now, before I sign off, some of my other favorite zingers of this episode:

· Marc: ”This bum don’t slum.” Wilhelmina: ”That’s not what I’ve heard,” possibly in reference to the comment Betty made about Dudecruise.com last week.

· Hilda, after losing her Herbalux job: ”Is there a sign on my forehead that says, ‘Crap Here’?”

· Fashion TV correspondent Kathy Griffin (such on-point casting!) on Daniel: ”Rumor has it, he’s in Brazil, licking his wounds — and anything else that walks by.”

· Betty to Daniel: ”I don’t know if you know this, but the space underneath your desk is very good for hiding in the fetal position. I can stand guard if you want to give it a try.” And, while trying to persuade Daniel to go to a swimsuit-model casting session (in a singsongy voice): ”Big boobs!”

· Amanda to Betty, on her new desk cart: ”Ooh, it matches your muumuu. Don’t you just love?…You can sell pretzels from it during your break.” And later, Betty to Amanda: ”What did you do with my cart? Did you put it in the men’s room again?”

· Marc, trying to explain to Amanda the meaning of Wilhelmina’s in-and-out board: ”These are the people who are staying, and these are the people who get the Jimmy Choo. The boot. Gone. Later, skater.”

· Amanda on Daniel: ”He’s asking Betty for dating advice. That’s like asking Britney Spears for parenting tips.”

· Marc: ”You have to prove your loyalty to the Queen.” Amanda: ”You?” (Marc put this one over the top by responding with a cheesy grin of gratitude at the thought of being referred to as the Queen.)

What do you think? What was your favorite zinger of the evening? Did you assume all along that the mystery woman was Fey Sommers? And of course we’re all rooting for a Henry hookup, but if the very close Daniel and Betty were a celebrity couple, what would their combo name be? Danietty? Bettiel? Help, TV Watchers!