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TV Review: Ugly Betty – “A League of Their Own”

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Season 2, episode 5.

Whoa. There is so much about this week’s Ugly Betty episode that I loved I’m not even sure where to begin! I’m just going to start with my favorite part: Betty and Henry! Henry is just too sweet, tracking Betty down at the bowling alley to save her from her nightmarish (and alarmingly realistic) Internet dating nightmare, then following her home to make sure she got there safely. (Why aren’t there more men like Henry? Hmmm?)

When she closed the door on him and Henry resigned himself to resigning from Mode, I was afraid they were going to leave us there, but when Betty rushed from the house—much as Hilda had in the episode where Santos proposed—my son and I literally jumped up and cheered. As my son said, “If she wasn’t going to go with Henry I was going to be pissed at her!” It was so satisfying; they let the tension build for just the right amount of time, and that the new relationship has an “expiration date” allows the tension to continue.

And then there’s Hilda, who finally got the share of an episode she deserves. I loved the scenes with her old widows club. It was a wonderful and humorous way of showing how we all deal with grief in our own way. And my darling Justin got to let it out. Another scene that was really emotionally powerful. Brought home by the police after wrapping his mother’s car around a tree, Hilda finally sees that he needs her; she dismisses her elderly amigas and talks to him. Really talks to him. I adore the relationship between these two characters. Though nothing like a traditional mother son relationship, they have always related to one another with love, respect, and total acceptance. When Hilda says that all they have is each other, they embrace and Justin sobs on her shoulder, I cried with them. The writers have risen to meet the challenge of expressing a child’s grief for such a profound loss. Bravi!

Speaking of non-traditional relationships, I’ve also grown fond of the friendship that has evolved between Yoga and Claire Meade. After finding a wedding invitation, Claire heads out to the house she once shared with Bradford with a buzz on and a loaded shotgun. Yoga finds her in the bushes outside the tony house and it seems Claire has accepted that Bradford is gone from her and she believes—falsely—that Wilhelmina has managed to bring her family together. She and Yoga agree to head to Positano (can’t say as I blame them… if I was on the lam I can’t think of a place I’d rather be). My son doesn’t understand my affinity for Claire. “She’s a murderer! She’s pathetic! She’s always plotting against someone!” However I think she is a tragic character, an alcoholic who is desperately clinging to the shreds of her family. Though the circumstances—murder! booze! prison breaks! breaking and entering!—are rather melodramatic, Judith Light never chews the scenery; she remains empathic even while swigging gin, plotting murder, and hauling a rifle through the Hamptons.

Meanwhile, Alexis’ memory returns and she confesses to Daniel that the accident was a result of her having the brakes cut on Daddy Bradford’s car. Daniel leaves distraught, angry since he had thought all along the accident was his fault. Poor Alexis never catches a break. I have to say, the image of Wilhelmina in her Suzy Homemaker apron serving fondue was funny as hell. And it seems her plan to kill Mode is working as the mag has lost 52% of its advertisers and Bradford is furious with Daniel again.

My other favorite section was Marc and his new potential romance, the adorable Cliff. Forced to choose between a date with an incredibly stupid but incredibly hot underwear model and the very normal photographer Cliff, I was convinced he would take the low road and go for the hottie, but surprise surprise, he chose to stay home and watch Hitchcock with the chubby photog. I have to say I have been so impressed with the growth and progression of Marc’s character; he is now my favorite on the show. And let’s face it, you really can’t miss with the fabulously talented and classically trained Michael Urie.

I could not be happier with the way things are progressing on the show. The breakneck momentum and telenovelaesque (yes, I made it up, but it will soon be a technical term, trust me) plot twists are back full force. I find myself waiting for next week’s musical-themed episode with bated breath!

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About Ann Hagman Cardinal