Claire Meade tries to make Betty see that she and Henry won't be able to work it out; meanwhile, Willy makes her big baby announcement
Credit: Bob D'Amico
Ugly Betty | ''Oh I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over your loud shirt.'' —Betty lashing out at Marc (Urie) for his constant insults, episode 3

”Ugly Betty” recap: Lessons in love

Claire Meade is a freakin’ genius. On tonight’s episode of Ugly Betty — an action-packed installment that saw the continued crumbling of Betty’s wretched relationship with Henry — she made more sense than she ever has before. A rational Claire Meade? Yes, my TV Watching friends, believe it! I speak, specifically, of when she reprimanded our bespectacled heroine on the ridiculousness of her doomed situation with Henry: ”Wake up, Betty!” Claire intoned, after pinching the confused girl — really hard. ”This relationship you are in has no future, and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll get back to living your life — instead of planning baby showers for your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.” Betty, this is a woman you need to listen to, for she spooled out some very sage advice.

Now, I realize Mrs. Meade and I are both being hard on Betty. She’s a lovesick girl, one who hasn’t seen much romance in her life. So I can understand that she’s been swept off her feet. Henry is undeniably loyal, charming, cute, and all that. But the situation she’s in — with Henry’s ex-girlfriend Charlie having just given birth to the former couple’s son — is heinous: How can Betty and Henry even consider moving forward with their own romance with such a cloud over them? I sat there and watched as Henry showed up minutes before the baby shower (the one that Betty, in an attempt to bury the hatchet, was putting on for Charlie, no less) and told her he wanted to be with her forever. How dare you, Henry! How dare you! The idea that they could continue their pathetic coupling while being 2,439 miles apart (thanks, Google Maps!) — he in Tucson, she in New York City — is laughable. Every other weekend together (his friend works for an airline, hallelujah!) — honestly? That’s your solution? How about just leaving her in peace? Sure, folks attempt long-distance relationships all the time, but get real: Most New Yorkers can’t even make it work across borough lines. (The trek to Brooklyn from Manhattan is killer!) And the illegitimate baby doesn’t help much, either.

In this situation, my concern is squarely for Betty: Is the girl even considering her own happiness? She’s the one having to make the concessions if this arrangement goes forward. Since the new baby needs his father around, Henry will have to be away — all the way in Tucson. But if Betty and Henry are going to be together forever, one would assume that they, too, would have children one day. What happens then? Does Betty have to move to Arizona so she can raise a family near Henry? Leave her own family and career behind? Or raise her children alone? Or would she and Henry wait 18 years until this new little tyke heads off to college and Henry can come back to New York? Thankfully, I think Betty realized all this at the episode’s heartbreaking end — she cried and hugged Ignacio as Henry gleefully held his new son at Charlie’s side. Just as her heart was being ripped out, mine was, too. But Betty knows what she has to do, which is, without question, break up with Henry. And from the looks of the teaser for next week, it’s a-comin’. She should take comfort in the fact that Claire Meade is always around if she ever feels like backsliding into Henry’s arms.

NEXT: Daniel on the couch

The Meade women were rather full of advice last night, weren’t they? Daniel clearly wasn’t taking his break with Renee very well, so both Claire and Alexis did their best to talk him into therapy. But of course it was Betty who sealed the deal and made an appointment with Dr. Wallace (the lovely Keri Matchett in a solidly funny guest spot). Inspired by the lady’s librarian sexiness, Daniel flirted, and she pounced and then freaked out. So of course, he went on yet another bender and ended up in Queens. And where do you go when you end a drunken night in Queens? Natch, the Suarez household! Oddly — but perfectly — it was Ignacio who took the reins and talked some sense into the eternal playboy by asking him, ”What makes you feel good about yourself?” I envisioned super-hot models dancing around in Daniel’s head. But no, Daniel headed back to Meade Publications and showed that being the editor-in-chief of Mode is what really trips his trigger. Is a workaholic Daniel on deck? I’ve heard people say that once your professional life is in order, your personal life follows. So if we’re following that axiom, maybe Daniel’s renewed interest in his career will lead him to someone better than Renee. (Really, was she that good?)

While Daniel was dealing with the fallout from his last relationship, Hilda was working on starting a relationship of her own — her first real post-Santos crush — with Justin’s hunky gym teacher, Coach Tony Diaz. Um, hi there, Eddie Cibrian in tight gym shorts! (Seriously, did Eddie know that the camera was going to focus directly on his butt — as he bent over, no less! — about a half dozen times?) I like the potential of this relationship: Hilda hasn’t looked happier since she opened the totally unsuccessful Hilda’s Beautilities. I wonder, though, what’s Coach Diaz’s damage? Granted, we didn’t learn too much about the guy — other that he’s rather amenable and darn cute — but what’s lurking? He’s too much of a straight (and I’m not talking sexuality) character to naturally exist in the Betty world. What wackiness could be lurking under that gym-teacher facade? He’s obviously got some Latino heritage, like the Suarez family, so with the craziness of Betty, it’s entirely possible that he’s Ignacio’s long-lost love child. But…um…gross. Okay, why do I even postulate these things? Moving on!

NEXT: Willy’s big announcement

Anyway, lastly, we’ve got to talk Willy: She’s back in her rightful place — at Mode! Claire, Daniel, and Alexis had no idea that she was going to drop a bomb of such magnitude: She’ll soon have Bradford’s love child. If she gets what she’s demanding — a third of the Meade empire — Ugly Betty will only get better. A shift in power with Willy gaining more control is quite a delicious thought. And while I can’t wait to see her diva around the office like the old days, I’m even more excited about the prospect of the Marc-Amanda reunion that’s surely coming. I’ve missed the campy duo’s scheming and name-calling and general silliness. But that’s not to say they didn’t provide lots of laughs separately last night. Amanda, with her feigned interest in Charlie’s baby shower, and Marc, as the stellar sidekick to the increasingly wicked Willy (how about that Godfather-esque scene?), killed as usual.

Overall, I think this was one of the best episodes of the season — and certainly the best since the strike ended. True, I ranted about the drawn-out Benry situation for quite a while, but anything that gets me that riled up is good television. And I feel like Betty is in the middle of a cosmic realignment that’s setting the show up for another amazing finale and great third season. (Um, hi, Lindsay Lohan!) Sure, less Alexis next year, but maybe more Claire? A Betty-Lohan catfight and kiss-kiss makeup? A Gio-Betty hookup? How about Hilda giving birth to a little Tony Diaz Jr.? So many possibilities!

Before I go, a treat: My favorite sound bites of the night! Enjoy:

· Amanda, surrounded by pregnant women at Charlie’s baby shower: ”Why’s everyone so fat at this party?”

· Amanda, getting a little too deep at Charlie’s baby shower: ”You know what they say about pregnant women being really beautiful? Well, I have a question: What if you’re already really beautiful? Is it possible to become too beautiful? I mean, is it dangerous? Could you hurt someone?”

· Marc, after Willy expressed her concern that her baby may be fat because of all Christina was eating: ”Don’t worry — we’ll put it on a juice fast the minute it pops out.”

· Willy, daydreaming of her return to Mode: ”As I march up the steps of the Meade Building, it’ll be the greatest comeback since…Jesus.”

· This exchange: Marc: ”Oh, Willy, why can’t things be easy for once? On the surface, our plans our rock solid.” Willy: ”Perhaps that’s our curse, Marc. That, and our humanity.”

· Justin, after Hilda offers to fix things with the gym teacher: ”Please don’t. He might make me quarterback on the hockey team or something.”

· Hilda, after hearing the news that the gym teacher is making Justin choreograph the cheerleaders’ routines for the rest of the school year: ”He calls ESPN the cheerleading channel. He’s gonna love it!”

What do you think, TV Watchers? Are you excited for La Lohan’s upcoming guest appearance? Would you agree that Daniel has been overreacting about losing Renee? What happened to Hot Flash and why is Claire acting as editor of Mode now? And, most important, how much do you love Eddie Cibrian?

Episode Recaps

Ugly Betty | ''Oh I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over your loud shirt.'' —Betty lashing out at Marc (Urie) for his constant insults, episode 3
Ugly Betty
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