Ugly Betty (S02E17): The Kids Are Alright
This episode marked the long-time coming, triumphant return of the deliciously evil Wilhelmina Slater to the world of Mode, and I didn’t realize just how much I had missed her there until now. Along with that, we find Betty still weepy over Henry, Hilda still chasing after the PE coach, and Amanda filming a reality TV show with her newfound father, Gene Simmons.
The rest of this review has spoilers lurking around every corner, so read on only if you want to know all the details.
Let’s start with Wilhelmina and her super dramatic, slow-mo return into the halls of Mode, wearing an appropriate amount of fiery, devil red, along with her evil henchman, Marc. The waltzed back in like they’d never been gone a day, and the looks on everyone else’s faces were priceless. Marc lamented later that the only thing missing from their entrance were strobe lights. The Mead family is obviously on edge, since Wilhelmina now owns 1/3 of the company since she’s had poor Christina knocked up with the deceased Bradford Mead’s sperm. I’m sure the reality of this situation and the legality of it all is pretty absurd, but that’s one of the great things about Ugly Betty: it’s so over-the-top and campy that no storyline is too far fetched. Most shows have to stay inside this boundary of being realistic, but since Betty is adapted from a Telenovela, it’s essentially a classy, primetime soap, which gives it a license to break as many rules at it wants. The stories are beyond belief, but pure fun, and the characters are almost caricatures, but with enough occasional depth thrown in that they end up being more than just that. Wilhelmina, for example, is a villain with so many outrageous shcemes up her sleeve that it’s obviously not very believable, but somehow it works, and they even manage to humanize her a little now and again.
Oops, tangent alert. Anyway, Willy manages to weasel her way back into the position of creative director in the span of a day, which makes Daniel more than a little unhappy. His brother-turned-sister, Alexis, promised to make decisions with him, but reinstated Wilhelmina on her own. The seeds of trouble are already being planted in the Mead clan, and Daniel can see it, but for some reason most people seem to think he’s paranoid. But, c’mon, with a track record like Wilhelmina has I would be, too. I almost thought Alexis was acting out of character, since I assumed she would hate Willy as much as everyone else. Also, how was Wilhelmina’s office like it used to be, except for sheets over everything? I thought Alexis did all that redecorating, or did I miss something?
Meanwhile, Betty is missing Henry. A lot. And Gio wants to be her rebound guy, so he gives her a good “tongue sandwich” at his deli, which freaks Betty out. A lot. Betty is trying to get Henry and Gio’s tongue out of her mind when Claire Mead, upon Daniel’s secret request, assigns her an article to write for the new old lady’s magazine, Hot Flash. Claire says she wants a youth perspective, which Betty end sup tracking down at Justin’s junior high dance. In a twist of TV fate, she meets Gio there as well. At first she freaks out, still thinking about that kiss, but eventually loosens up, only to freak out again when she starts thinking of Henry. Gah, is it just me or is Henry suddenly seeming very unappealing? I remember at one time thinking Betty and Henry were the perfect couple, and maybe they still are, but in the world of TV perfect and happily ever after = boring and tedious. Maybe that’s a cold-hearted thing to say, but once you take all the obstacles out of the way for a happy couple, things just become less interesting. And the whole baby-mama-drama with Henry has grown stale, and I can’t see where else they’re going to take that storyline. But Gio–he’s passionate and kind, and a pinch of spicy Latino with street smarts, and I found myself enjoying watching him with Betty tonight more than Henry. And Henry sure never got a horse and carriage and took Betty on a ride through the streets of New York (aka L.A.). They end the night with Betty finally admitted maybe she does want Gio to be her rebound guy, but he apparently doesn’t really want that. He wants to be THE guy, and who can blame him.
Hilda is still going after the PE teacher with buns o’ steel, but she catches a nasty cold from her dad, which is why Betty goes instead. However, she gets Grease Lightning Justin, dressed in red satin, to be her spy. He’s not a very subtle spy, though, and he ends up telling his coach outright that his mom has the hots for him. This news prompts the coach (who does have a name, I think) to bring Hilda some soup (aww!) and ask her on a date, at a later time…when she’s not coughing up mucus and lungs. I still think one of the most heartbreaking, serious story lines Betty has pulled off to date was the Hilda and Santos arc, especially in the first episode after his death, where she (and the audience) thought he was still alive. So I’m happy that’s she getting another shot at love. And sad that typing that sentence made me think of THIS.
I also liked the Amanda sub-plot about her and her KISS daddy filming a reality show, except he’s only nice and fatherly to her when the cameras are rolling and a total douchebag the rest of the time. Then it turns out that tweety bird tattoo on his ass is fake and he only said he was her father to get some publicity. I mean, I’m not surprised… you can’t trust a guy with a tongue like that anyway. She totally disses Marc at first, because she doesn’t want him to see that daddy dearest doesn’t really love her, but she and Marc resolve by the end so that they can continue to look down and make fun of all the ugly people of the world. The relationship between these two is another dynamic I didn’t realize I missed so much until it was back. Marc and Wilhelmina just work best inside the walls of Mode, not out on their own. The show has stayed consistently good, but I think their return and this episode may veer Betty back into greatness. I just hope the show’s move to New York and the downgraded role of Alexis Mead won’t upset the stellar vibe this show has got going for it right now.
Next episode is the season finale, which involves a Mode vs. Elle softball game and has an appearance by Lindsay Lohan. I sincerely hope she doesn’t crappify the episode. Otherwise, I can’t wait!