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Ugly Betty: The Swimsuit Issue

Ugly Betty's fourth season is zipping along at an ironically breakneck space: The show is based on a Colombian telenovela β€” Spanish-language soaps, like their American counterparts, traditionally move at a turtle's pace β€” but rather than unfurl plotlines slowly and deliberately like in its early seasons, the new Betty is slashing and burning dramatic arcs, slaying and birthing relationships, and accelerating Betty's beautification and maturation. In the latest episode, America Ferrera as Betty even has her first moment of brief semi-nudity.

Desire is the watchword in "The Bahamas Triangle" as Mode ships off to the island to shoot a swimsuit spread for Wilhelmina Slater's final issue. Everyone wants to go on the fancy trip; Amanda wants to be with Matt Hartley; Daniel wants to rediscover his mojo; Marc wants a hook up on his first vacation in five years; Wilhelmina wants a job (she lost a potential position to an editor played by Christie Brinkley). And back at home, Hilda wants to find the spark in her relationship with Archie — and if she doesn't recover it soon, former flame Bobby Talercio (Adam Rodriguez) will be happy to have her back.

Betty isn't sure what she wants, but she knows she's hurt by Amanda and Matt's budding relationship and is dismayed she'll be witnessing their antics in the Bahamas as Wilhelmina's assistant. A verbal face-off between Betty and her former roomie turns into an amusing waterslide race, but the potential love triangle is defused when Matt admits he's not over Betty at a candlelit dinner and Amanda sends him off to find her.

Connor Owens had promised he'd find Wilhelmina whenever she needed him and — surprise! — he's not really dead! In a scene so bizarre it seemed like one of the show's trademark dream sequences, the thieving former Mode exec emerges from the sea to the strains of Barry White's "Never, Never Gonna Give You Up," happens upon a despondent Willy and vows to take her away with him.

From there, fantasies turn into (mostly good) realities: Daniel wakes up next to his past hook-up partner Amanda, who comforted him after a failed conquest. Marc lands in bed with the only gay he can find: a lighting tech for Mode. Bobby rekindles his romance with Hilda. Willy and Connor emerge after "hot secret sex." And there's even a shot of Betty in bed with Matt.

The desire and daiquiris have consequences, though: Nobody's watching the swimsuit models, and when half of them vanish, Betty saves the day with Shakira. The singer happens to be vacationing at the Atlantis, and agrees to pose for the cover of the "Fearless issue" in a very unsexy full-body onesie modeled on Anne Kellerman's scandal-starting suit from 1907.

But Wilhelmina's fairytale romance with Connor hits a major snag when the FBI arrives to arrest him and the love of her life convinces her to say she tipped them off to regain her position at Mode. Back at home, though, she learns she's lost something else huge: Marc. Willy failed to recognize her sassy sidekick's editorial dreams, and after Marc and Daniel bond over drinks in the Bahamas, Daniel sees Marc's wit and wisdom and makes him his new assistant. (Based on our experience in the mag biz, that may have been the most realistic plotline in the entire episode.)

The coming weeks promise pregnancy scares, awkward holiday moments, and the development of the Claire Meade adoption story line. Betty is ready for its big move to Wednesday night with drama galore — hopefully viewers desire much more of this fine season.

More Recaps:
Ugly Betty News praises the show for giving Amanda two serious monologues, and notes the wild episode was like viewers' own "fun, breezy vacation fling."
EW lists off some of Wilhelmina's most bitingly hilarious lines, including, "I've told you many times before that people will die at my hands if things are not perfect. And this time, I ain't playin'."

Photo: Courtesyof ABC