Season 2 – Episode 4: Ugly is beautiful again!
For the first time this season I felt that old pace-around-the-room gasp-audibly and laugh-out-loud feeling that I had during the entire first season of Ugly Betty. Tonight’s episode was up to the show’s fiery best.
Oh, where to begin, gentle readers! Well, Alex is struggling to relearn how to be Alexis. Rebecca Romijn is so damned vulnerable and likable she makes it work. When she first arrives at the Mode offices teetering on high heels with clown-like make-up and her shirt open to her navel you really buy it. I must say I really prefer this Alexis to the pre-amnesia model (as I’m certain I’m supposed to). Daniel confesses to her that he is responsible for their accident (though we all know it was her since she had the brake lines cut in an attempt to kill their father… phew!) and instead of rejecting him, Alexis embraces and forgives him. Their growing relationship is really quite lovely.
Meanwhile, Daniel is struggling with his confidence about his abilities as editor. Their top advertiser threatens to pull their campaign if Alexis isn’t fired—seems they have some issue with transgender folk. With Wilhelmina’s agenda-laden encouragement, Daniel tells the bigoted advertiser that he doesn’t want their business, setting off a string of advertisers who consider pulling out. The poor boy finally grows a pair of cajones, and he ends up putting the magazine’s future in jeopardy.
After interviewing the hilarious and freakish collection of magazine editors who run the full menu of Meade Publications, Wilhelmina decides she will work towards destroying Mode and starting her own mag, a la Oprah, entitled Slater. And then there’s wooden Bradford playing golf in his office. Does the man ever work? Does he ever have a line of any value? He could easily be replaced with a cardboard cutout, and I don’t think I would notice. I mean, come on people, this is Alan Dale, Toothpick Man from the X-Files! Let’s not waste him!
And holy paternity, Batman! Amanda has a breakthrough in the search for her father. When Marc suggests she research back issues of Mode from the year before she was born, she discovers a photograph of her mother Fey at Studio 54 with her rather homely assistant. With some help from PhotoShop, Amanda discovers that the ugly assistant was, in fact, Wilhelmina! She tearfully admits to Wilhelmina that she’ll keep her secret identity… secret, she’s only looking for her father (and I will have to paraphrase my favorite line of the night since I don’t have TIVO or any such thing, I love when Willy says, “If I wanted to express sympathy I couldn’t—I’m not capable”).
Wilhelmina ends up giving Amanda some clues into her mother’s backstage tryst that night: all she saw of Amanda’s father was a Tweety Bird tattoo on his ass. She then provides a guest list from the party, and Amanda begins to narrow it down.
And speaking of fathers, Henry attempts to tutor Justin in algebra; the poor boy’s grades are slipping as he is trying to channel his inner vato, but his heart is just not in it. And it turns out that Henry is indeed the father of Charley’s baby. I guess these two star-crossed lovers are not due for a break just yet. But I have to ask; why would he believe what Charley tells him about the results? I mean, has the woman done anything yet that proves her trustworthy? I’d ask for the paperwork… I mean, if it were me.
I’ve saved the best for last. The storyline of Betty’s first writing class was priceless. And Victor Garber as the abusive writing teacher was brilliant (I have to paraphrase again. When he’s holding his head after listening to students read their substandard work he grumbles: “If only I didn’t blow the Pulitzer money at that Indian casino!”). When Betty gets up to the podium, drops her bag and mixes up the Mode submission essay with her own, you know what’s coming, but it doesn’t make it any less painful.