”Ugly Betty” recap: Backstage drama
If after last night’s episode, you didn’t stand up, walk to your computer and log onto Ticketmaster while chanting, ”Must…see…Wicked,” well, then consider yourself immune to all influences. Because if Ugly Betty wasn’t just one giant commercial for the Broadway show, I don’t know what was.
I know, I know. We all have been waiting for Henry and Betty’s Wicked date since way back in season 1, and the couple’s backstage kiss was exactly the kind of cutesy payoff we’d hoped for. But with a good portion of the show taking place in the theater against the backdrop of Wicked‘s soundtrack, the episode reeked a bit of product placement gone wild. To the Betty writers’ credit, however, the Broadway show’s score did tie in with the episode’s theme. True to the lyrics of Wicked‘s ”I’m Not That Girl,” Betty, Daniel, Hilda, Wilhelmina, and Marc all lost sight of who they were over the course of the hour — for better or for worse. (Closer to home, we’ve lost sight of Betty‘s regular TV Watcher, Tanner Stransky, who will be far, far away in Europe for the next two weeks. You’ll have to bear with me until Nov. 15.)
Let’s begin, naturally, with Betty. Gone is the reasonable, well grounded, and lucid girl we all knew and loved. Welcome the new Betty — irrational, illogical, and stupid (Daniel’s words, not mine!). But it’s all in the name of romance, folks. As we saw in last week’s episode, Betty decided that a short-term, passionate relationship with Henry is worth any future heartbreak. And even though Betty briefly considered walking away again last night, she decided to ignore good sense and consummate her relationship with Henry in the episode’s final moments. But I’m guessing that, thanks to a nagging little detail that seems to intervene at every opportunity — Gio — Betty and Henry’s five months may come to an early conclusion.
After a three-week absence, the sandwich man returned to Mode‘s offices to promote his new lunch joint/terrorize Betty/flirt with Betty. His presence, however, was convenient for the secret-keeping Betty, who told Daniel that her office romance was with Gio, not Henry. Thus, the do-gooder editor in chief took it upon himself to procure Wicked tickets for Betty and Gio, forcing our protagonist to make a dreaded deal with Amanda to nab enough tickets to allow Henry to attend.
Of course, after last night’s episode, it seems obvious that Gio will go from third wheel to third corner in a Henry-Betty-Gio love triangle. After all, Betty being Betty, no relationship, no matter how strong, can last. Although part of me will be sad to see Henry and Betty part ways, I’m still somewhat glad to see Gio in the picture. (Start your angry comments now, TV Watchers). Sure, Betty and Henry’s geek love is adorable, but — as I wrote in my last Betty TV Watch — Gio manages to challenge Betty, and that, in turn, encourages her to pursue the dreams that she’s bottled up over the past year. Plus, the guy used his extra Wicked ticket on his little sister, so he can’t be that bad. Would a Gio-Betty union be so terrible? (Of course, he would have to cut down on those trips to the strip clubs….)
But Betty’s pretend relationship with Gio didn’t last long, as she and Henry were exposed quite literally front and center in their own personal Love Actually moment. Daniel had realized Betty’s deception and warned her that resuming a romance with Henry was only going to lead to pain. Though Betty at first decided to listen to her boss, leaving Henry at the theater, a heart-to-heart with Hilda brought her right back into the accountant’s arms.
Daniel was attending Wicked as well in an attempt to persuade an advertiser, Sandra Winthrop (the ever lovely Marlo Thomas), to buy pages in Mode the only way he thought he knew how — by trying to seduce her. It seems Bradford has returned to his pre-Alexis ways, chastising Daniel at every opportunity and pointing out his son’s constant failures. I find it a bit odd that Bradford turned on a dime even though he knew that Daniel was only trying to protect his sister when he lost that high-profile account. But it turns out Daniel is business savvy after all — not only did he not have to sleep with Sandra to get her business, but he also managed to rattle off some impressive numbers to persuade her to advertise with Mode. Still, I doubt this small success will be enough to win back his father’s approval.
Speaking of very cute but very secret relationships, Cliff played the man behind the curtain this week after Marc did his darnedest to keep the disheveled fella out of sight. Seems that no matter now smitten our favorite assistant is with his new boy toy, extra chunk is never welcome in the fashion industry (unless you’re Wilhelmina, but we’ll get to that later). But after Cliff realized that Marc was ashamed of him, he rightly called him out on it and bowed out of the relationship. Luckily, Marc came to his senses after seeing Wilhelmina binge to both fit in her wedding dress and hide her feelings, and he called Cliff to apologize. But it’s unclear as to whether or not Marc is staying with Cliff because he really likes the guy or because he feels it’s time to settle. As an avid fan of this new story line, I’m hoping that it’s the former. Let’s face it, there’s no denying that Cliff — baby-talk voice and all — is the perfect yin to Marc’s yang.
NEXT: Wilhelmina’s wedding plans
Now onto our wicked witch. First, if you want evidence that Vanessa Williams was robbed of an Emmy, look no further than Willy’s silent but terrifying exit from the bathroom after overhearing that her daughter, Nico, faked an injury in order to skip her wedding. Never before have I seen an actress say so much without saying anything. Although Wilhelmina had tried to avoid looking affected when she had first learned that Nico wasn’t attending, her constant bingeing was proof that Mode‘s devil still does have a heart — and plenty of insecurities. Could we possibly see an Amanda-esque fat suit in Willy’s near future?
One character in last night’s episode, however, managed to be true to himself. It’s good to see that Justin has dropped the macho, trouble-making act from the past few weeks and has fully re-embraced his fabulous ol’ self. Hilda, on the other hand, was forced to abandon her flair for hairstyling to show off her two other — ahem — talents at a Hooters-esque restaurant called Hi-Beems. Yep, Hilda was fired after giving some constructive criticism to a fellow stylist and decided that the cash was worth demeaning herself. Once Justin found out, however, he and Ignacio scraped together some green to buy Hilda a styling chair to start her own salon. I can only imagine the comedy of errors that will be Hilda’s salon, but I’m hoping that the single mother will find success. Last time Hilda tried to run her own company, however, she ended up crumbling under the pressure.
What do you think, TV Watchers? Was the Broadway product placement a little too much? Do you think Hilda will find success as the owner of her own salon? Do you prefer Betty-Henry or Betty-Gio? Will Nico surprise everyone and show up at the Slater-Meade wedding? And, finally, as much as I love Betty and Henry, are they not in need of some serious theater-etiquette classes (what with the texting, walking out in the middle of a scene, etc.)?
And, of course, I leave you with some Betty sound bites:
9. Hilda, while wearing a tank top that reads, ”Freshly Squeezed”: ”You know I don’t like to be the center of attention.”
8. Wilhelmina, upon learning she has to find a replacement for Nico in her wedding party: ”You’re wrong about me being alone. I have hundreds of back-stabbing, two-faced, superficial friends that are pouring in from all over the globe to be part of this wedding. Any of them would be thrilled to be my maid of honor.”
7. Marc, on Cliff’s baby talk: ”I thought we talked about that voice. You were going to retire it and move it to Florida.”
6. Marc, telling Cliff that Willy is preventing their date that evening: ”She doesn’t give dinner breaks. Wilhelmina treats all white people like slaves. It’s something about payback.”
5. Marc, on Amanda’s dog: ”Will you please hide your mutt? If Wilhelmina sees it, she’s going to melt cheese on it and eat it.”
4. Super cougar Sandra Winthrop, after hearing Daniel’s pitch about attracting a younger demographic: ”Yes, I have been missing those 18-to-49-year-olds.”
3. Daniel, after Betty thought his offer to get rid of Henry meant murder: ”What? No. God, I hate that it’s so easy to go there with my family.”
2. Wilhelmina, angry that her ebony and ivory chocolates were sorted wrong: ”That idiot wedding planner has gone and segregated them.”
1. Wilhelmina, on her wedding singer: ”Bradford wants something called a Shania Twain to perform at the reception.”