Ugly Betty: Mom Genes

By
Photo: Patrick Harbron/ABC
Show
Ugly Betty
Episode Title
Level (7) With Me
Season
4
Episode
7

The freshly fashionable Betty Suarez still wears that somewhat unsightly "B" necklace for a special reason: It was a gift from her mom, who died when Betty was young. The specter of dead or absent parents has always loomed large on Ugly Betty, and lost mothers played a giant role Friday night as the show rushed to tie up major plot developments with a few broad strokes.

First up: Claire Meade's attempt to save her son Daniel from the insidious Community of the Phoenix. Daniel's blind devotion to the cult reaches its apex when he gives a Tom Cruise–esque pitch for the Community on TV, then lets COP members sit in on an editorial meeting to reject pitches with "negatronic energy." Overbearing assistant Natalie (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and Community leader Bennett Wallace (the always-creeptastic Dylan Baker) won't let Betty near Daniel, so she starts writing a story about the Community to learn its inner workings.

Once Betty is inside the COP compound — the suitably evil-looking Cooper Union building on Bowery — Bennett tries to manipulate her with talk of her dead mother. Undeterred, Betty and Claire press on with their investigation, but Daniel slips away to achieve "Level 7": reunion with his dead wife, Molly (Did anyone notice they skipped Level 6?). Meanwhile, Amanda tells Matt Hartley about the Community's invasion of Mode while the two are on a covert Wii Tennis date, and Matt instructs Claire and Betty to act fast, revealing he'd once fallen pray to Bennett's teachings — which involve drugging his followers with tea. The foursome invade COP headquarters, and Amanda and Claire wind up in a grief-counseling group where they talk out their own issues (Claire did murder Amanda's birth mother, Mode editrix Fey Sommers, before Amanda got to know her).

Claire and Betty finally track Daniel to Molly's apartment, where the potent tea is giving him a vision of speaking with his dead wife. Betty overtakes his hallucination and forces him to say good-bye, giving him the closure he so sorely needed. And ... voilà. He's suddenly cured! Daniel becomes lucid, tells Natalie, "Bennett has been using you to get to me" and is a-okay. A tidy ending to a bizarre plotline.

Next, there's Wilhelmina's attempt to save her daughter, Nico, who she believes killed her boyfriend (of course, there was no murder — only an extortion plot). Willy is so distressed by the reported death of her ex, Connor, and Nico's predicament, she makes the tabloid's worst-dressed pages in floral rubber clogs in one of the episode's few laugh-out-loud moments. She plots to send Nico to Venezuela since she can't raise the bribe money, but Nico only wants cash and turns to Detective Castelar (a.k.a. her very-much-alive boyfriend, Jonathan). Marc spies the two plotting while he's trashing Wilhelmina's comfy clothes and rushes to Willy to spill the news. But when Nico lies, implying "Detective Castelar" demanded sex, Marc scoffs and Willy is enraged, booting him from the apartment. Her motherly instinct, sadly, is for naught: She soon catches Nico trying to swipe a pricey necklace, and the ruse is exposed at last. So what turned Nico into a conniving, greedy liar? Her absentee mother (so she argues). Nico rants about being sent away as a child so Wilhelmina could focus on her career and a furious Willy sends her away for good.

Finally, there's Claire's search for the son she gave up for adoption. She receives a package from South Dakota children's services with a photo of her elementary-school age son and Amanda (who snuck a look at the envelope's contents) urges her to give him a call. As the episode ends, she does just that.

More Recaps:
Rickey.org begs ABC not to cancel Betty — and not to pursue any plotlines that involve Daniel becoming romantically involved with Betty (amen!).
EW gives Betty props for some of the episode's funniest lines: "Since this is the fearless issue, I was thinking we could shoot the models dressed as pirates, plundering booty but also showing booty."