”Ugly Betty” season finale recap: Decisions
On last night’s season finale of Ugly Betty, which was very aptly titled ”Jump,” Claire Meade — a font of good advice as of late — told Betty that she was too ”safe.” Yes, Claire was talking about the aspiring editor’s writing, specifically a piece she did for Hot Flash called ”Young at Any Age.” But more than that, it was a comment on Betty’s whole existence. For too long, Betty has played it safe. And it’s the season finale, so what a great time to shake things up — and shake things off? (I’m looking at you, Henry.) My question: After these words of wisdom — and Betty’s own realization that, yes, she doesn’t take risks — why is she still even considering Henry’s proposal? (All I have to say to Henry Grubstick, yet again, is How dare you?) Seeing as how it’s essential for her to shake up her life (and, you know, shake up the series, too), a marriage to Henry and a move to Tucson would only be backtracking. Right? The answer: Natch! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
Honestly, though, I think that — despite his marriage proposal — we’re close to the end of Henry Grubstick on this show. Unless he’s planning to move back to New York permanently, we can cross these star-crossed lovers off our list. I know the show left us with a cliff-hanger — Betty’s leaving her Queens nest, but is she headed to Rome with Gio or Tucson with Henry? — but Ugly Betty is not Ugly Betty without New York City. (Especially after the producers announced the production is moving from L.A. to New York City next year to earn tax credits and have a tad more authentic look.) The city is a character as well! Betty can’t exist anywhere else. (Okay, maybe in Mexico, but just for a bit.) I may eat my words come September when the show is back, but it looks like we’re in for another season of glorious Gio-Betty romance.
Objectively speaking, isn’t the Gio-Betty romance truly better than Henry-Betty anyway? When Henry appeared at her doorstep in Queens to propose, I started getting hives. He’s in too much of a hurry, scurrying around like there’s no time and he’s too busy to think about what he’s actually doing. Yeah, he’s always had a nervousness about him, but it’s spiraled to inordinate levels lately. I guess having a baby will do that to you. I’d already ranted about this in my TV Watch a couple weeks back, but Henry’s presumption that Betty would just uproot her life to move and live with him in Tucson is ridiculous. What’s the upside for her? Besides getting the now nervous Nelly known as Henry, nothing really. Yeah, Henry said he could get her a job as a writer at a magazine down there, but — news flash, Henry! — the publishing world is based in New York, and she’s already writing for magazines. Well, sort of.
Sorry for devolving into Henry hatred (he’s really not worth the ink…er, the bandwidth). Let’s get back to Gio and Betty. In one scene this week, they were practicing softball in the park. After she had success with a few pop-fly hits, Gio said, ”See what you can do when you say yes to things?” Awwwww — say yes to him, Betty! Gio asked Betty to go to Rome with him, which is obviously a huge deal. What I loved most about the whole sequence was that when they were lying there in the grass, Gio gave Betty a quick smooch on the lips. There’s something so perfect and sweet about that — especially after he just asked her to go on a European excursion with him.
NEXT: Hilda gets kissed
The couple’s only off moment was at the beginning of the episode. Of course, I want Gio and Betty together, but after last week, I thought Gio had decided to refuse to be the rebound guy. But he was acting like they were together. What? Thankfully, Betty gave him an appropriate thump on the head, telling him, ”We’re not exactly a couple.”
Although it hardly seems worth noting at this point because of its brevity, I suppose I should address Lindsay Lohan’s appearance last night. Yes, she was there. Yes, she was fine in what amounted to a nod to her movie Mean Girls. Yes, she’s a huge celebrity who shined some much-needed light on this ratings-starved show. But what else is there to say? She was on screen for approximately two seconds and really did nothing but sneer at Betty and use her as a ”human shield.” It was a nice, quick introduction to her character, but I’m reserving judgment until we see the episodes that she’s in next fall.
Another guest star who it looks like we’ll see more of: Eddie Cibrian. And that’s fine by me! The scene when Tony brought Hilda the cafeteria food — tater tots and Jell-O with fruit — was just too sweet. And I’m happy because we haven’t seen Hilda this smitten in a long time — since Santos died, probably. Although my suspicions about what was really up with Tony were spot-on: The guy’s still married! Of course things couldn’t be perfect — that doesn’t make for good TV. But I was pleased to see Hilda go back to Tony, even after she found out what was going on. And how hot was that kiss between them? She took a chance — a ”jump” if you will. The producers were really obsessed with that theme this week.
Another theme as of late: upheaval at Mode! In news that really isn’t that shocking if you take a look at the notches on his bedpost, Daniel apparently has an illegitimate French son, Daniel Jr., who showed up suddenly at the offices. Willy, smelling opportunity, leaked the news to the press, including sad footage of the rejected kid scavenging for food in a garbage can. Quicker than a sex change, Alexis installed Willy as editor in chief of Mode and kicked Daniel to the curb. Claire was not pleased about the change, but oddly, she only showed her disapproval with withering glances. Why didn’t she say anything? And just how long will it be before Willy takes over Meade Publications entirely?
All of this played out against the Mode vs. Elle softball game. But I wasn’t so into it, really. It was funny enough: Naomi Campbell with her BlackBerry, Amanda and Marc as cheerleaders, new editor in chief Willy leading the team to victory. But honestly, what was the point? I’d like to see guest stars like Campbell actually advance the plot. I’ve previously written about how Betty has become the new Will & Grace in terms of celebrity cameos, but really, that was a show that knew how to use guest stars. Most of the guest spots on Betty so far — I’m thinking particularly of Christian Siriano and Nina Garcia — have been totally throwaway. Betty White I loved, but that was because she had a meaty role. The best parts of the softball game for me were Amanda and Marc’s cheer (see the sound bites below) and the announcement by Fashion TV correspondent Suzuki St Pierre: ”It’s the athletic event of the fashion season! The only athletic event of the fashion season! The Mode vs. Elle charity softball game! Who will win? Who cares? It’s about who’s wearing what, and more importantly, who will Naomi Campbell smash in the head with a baseball bat?”
NEXT: No more B-word, please
On a slightly tangential note, I’m sick of the use of ”bitch” in Ugly Betty — and everywhere in general. Last night’s softball game started with a ”Play ball, bitches!” Last week, before walking into Mode with Marc, Willy said, ”Let’s do this, bitch!” When Mr. Siriano arrived in the offices, he told everyone, ”Worship me, bitches!” And just before Amanda sang her tribute to Gene Simmons several episodes back, she started with ”It’s Mandy, bitch!” Britney, what did you start? And why is this continuing on Ugly Betty? I’m over it, bitches.
That said, this was a pretty great episode of Betty, full of heart and emotion. ”You jumped!” Ignacio told Betty, while making up with her after reacting poorly to her Henry-Gio conundrum. ”And it was okay. I wanted to protect you, but you knew what you wanted to do, and you did it.” Awwwww, my heart melted. I think the producers were right to get back to the ”heart” of the show — it melts me every time. Last season’s finale was action-packed, and this one was sentiment-packed — with a few cliff-hangers thrown in for good measure. A nice balance, if I do say so myself.
And now for the last time this season: Betty bites! Enjoy:
· Hilda, to Ignacio, who was ironing and fuming about Betty’s Gio-Henry debacle: ”You slicing ham with those pants? Papi, that crease cannot get any sharper!”
· Amanda, trying to get Marc to compliment her on her cheerleading outfit: ”Pretend you’re a man for a second, and tell me how hot I look.”
· Marc, admiring himself in his cheerleading outfit: ”This is not working for me. I like the V, but it is doing nothing for my bustline.”
· Amanda, to tiny Frenchman Daniel Jr.: ”Do you mind if I dress you up like a doll and put makeup on you?”
· Marc and Amanda, leading a cheer at the softball game: ”We’re Mode! We’re cool! We’ll take your team to school. You’re Elle! You smell! Your team can go to hell.”
· Willy, reveling in her good fortune: ”God must truly love us. Just in our time of need, he drops a little French boy into our laps.”
· Ignacio, about Betty’s Halloween costume as a child: ”You were baby Madonna! Your sister’s idea!”
So, TV Watchers, there’s lots to think about this summer. Here’s just a sampling: What will Daniel’s role be at Meade now that Willy is in charge at Mode? Has Hilda actually found love? And most important, who’s Betty going to choose — Gio or Henry?