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TV Review: Ugly Betty – “Giving Up the Ghost”

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Season two , episode 9…

Though I have missed reviewing a couple episodes — something about a warm beach in Puerto Rico and some frozen mojitos — you can be certain I didn't forget to watch them. I mean what would vacation be without Betty along? However in the interest of not totally overwhelming both of us, I'm going to skip to the most recent.

I think this Thanksgiving night episode is my favorite yet this season. We join our Mode crew at Bradford Meade's funeral. ("Are we getting paid for today? I mean, the memo made it seem like it was mandatory!") Arriving with a police escort and dressed in trendy incarceration Day-Glo orange, Claire Meade finally gets revenge on her rival. As Wilhelmina attempts to make a flashy black-clad entrance — complete with Marc as a Greek chorus exclaiming "What is she doing here? And who is she wearing?" — Claire sticks out her cuffed ankle and trips her, knocking Willy into Bradford's freshly dug grave. As she and her children look down into the hole, Claire fires Wilhelmina and delivers the best line of the season: "Rest in peace, bitch!"

Remember my complaint about Bradford Meade's cardboardness? Well, it seems he is way more interesting after death. Reminiscent of Six Feet Under, the ghost of Bradford is haunting Betty as a manifestation of her guilty unconscious. I was so pleased to see Alan Dale dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and clutching a frozen drink with an umbrella (another nod to Six Feet Under?), his handsome face relaxed, his one-dimensionality tripled. I particularly enjoyed his computer image where he threatened the life of the cute kitten in Betty's screensaver if she didn't help Daniel. I found myself wishing he might come back for future hauntings.

Wilhelmina returns to Mode's offices and fabulously — love the demon-eyed graphic of her as Medusa — though implausibly erases all the computer files of the magazine, bringing the already crippled fashion mag to its deadline-stricken knees. She then returns to the office to unveil her plan for her new magazine, Slater, and steals most of the staff away with promises of raises and free plastic surgery. So it is up to Daniel to lead the diminished team to recreate the first issue of the post-Bradford regime in only a few hours.

In order to reshoot the "America's Sweetheart" starlet, Cameron Ashlock, for the cover, Daniel decides to break her out of rehab (there are so many stars she could be based on I won't even venture a guess). I found this part particularly hilarious. They pay off the bodyguard and arrive to find Cameron (played by the fabulous Eliza Dushku) doing faux meditations and having found God while awaiting a cute bipolar boy she planned to suck face with. Betty manages to convince her to come to the reshoot where she refuses to leave the dressing room without booze or drugs. Daniel decides to do the Bradford thing and brings her a bottle of vodka. But he has a moment of clarity and decides it is not the right thing to do so Cameron destroys the set and is carried off before they can photograph her. When Betty convinces Daniel that he can find his own way now that he is out of his father's shadow, he comes up with a gorgeous, minimalist black cover with a foldout that proclaims the issue is in memory of Bradford Meade.

While trying to buy time with the printer, Alexis meets the vertically challenged but handsome David Steinberg who does not want to hear her tale of woe and need of an extension on their deadline. It is actually a wonderful storyline as Alexis locks them in the office and they each open up about their otherness and lack of paternal support, and they end up friends. And of course he extends the deadline as they share grapes and wine in the dingy gray office.

Wilhelmina resorts to approaching her father "The Senator" for money to fund her new publication, and when he realizes what she's become — a back-stabbing, cold-hearted bitch — he decides he does not wish to give her the money. Can't say as I blame him and though I adore Vanessa Williams I'm thinking Wilhelmina has run her fabulously wicked course and we need a new villain or villainess.

Meanwhile, Betty's insistence on following her mother's holiday traditions go up in smoke as she leaves them in Hilda's hands. She manages to set fire to the tree, destroying many of the handmade family ornaments. After taking her job back (and why wasn't she promoted?) Betty returns home with the fuchsia aluminum tree that Hilda had been coveting (shades of A Charlie Brown Christmas) and they decide that like Daniel they will begin their own traditions while still honoring those of their deceased and beloved mother.

I have to say, I laughed out loud several times and think it is one of the best written episodes to date. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us next week on Ugly Betty.

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