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Ugly Betty: Do Over, and Over ...

Ugly Betty's fourth season has been plagued by disappointing ratings but buoyed by inspired writing and acting. So why, at the season's halfway point, did the show decide to half-ass a crucial episode — only its second in its new time slot?

Last night's premise was Betty's Worst Week Ever, which based on the series' past antics (murder, kidnapping, cults, car crashes, orphans, pregnancy scares, deportation threats, giant hot-dog costumes) could have been pretty wild. But Betty's crapalooza consists of losing a big story at Mode, finding out Amanda owed her back rent, suffering a busted foot from a silly assignment, and being so inspirational she inspires her boyfriend to move to Africa to do relief work.

Last night's premise was Betty's Worst Week Ever, which based on the series' past antics (murder, kidnapping, cults, car crashes, orphans, pregnancy scares, deportation threats, giant hot-dog costumes) could have been pretty wild. But Betty's crapalooza consists of losing a big story at Mode, finding out Amanda owed her back rent, suffering a busted foot from a silly assignment, and being so inspirational she inspires her boyfriend to move to Africa to do relief work.

Of course, the cause of the breakup is — you guessed it — a blog (check it out here!). Betty's pals talk her into starting her own online forum for a series of stories profiling do-gooders. (Watch Marc kindly point out how dated the idea seems in the clip below.) Jack-of-all-trades Matt sees an opportunity to try something new and splits. Betty's bummed, but recovers fast: She talks her landlord into renting her her old apartment back and writes that she's ready for a "chance to start again." Wasn't that the theme of the first episode of the season? If this is the show's reset button, we'd like to request more Amanda/Marc scenes, some follow-through on Justin's maybe-gay-in-high-school plotline, and any sign departed characters (like Alexis Meade) might return.

In the starting-over department, only pregnant Hilda seems to be catching a break — and Ana Ortiz nearly saves this episode by bringing loads of energy to her few scenes. While everyone's moaning about being abandoned, Hilda is feeling loved by Bobby Talercio (Adam Rodriguez, whose time on the show is scheduled to end sooner rather than later). Daniel actually thinks he's being ditched, too, by his new assistant, but in truth Marc is only helping him lose weight, look better to potential advertisers, and shave off that dreadful beard (at last!).

If the Matt-Betty split gives you déjà vu, Wilhelmina's story line is a yawn, too: She proposes marriage to incarcerated Connor Owens, he accepts, then he bribes prison guards to tell Willie he's been transferred when she arrives on their wedding day. Did he break her heart out of true love? Haven't we seen Willie go through this same emotional moment twice before?

In the final scene, Betty reads her blog post on the subject of saying good-bye to her landlord as the New Pornographers' "Adventures in Solitude" plays in the background (again, nice work, music supervisor!). In many ways, this episode seemed like a hasty farewell tossed together in case of (gasp!) early cancellation. Betty can do much better — and it'll have to. Based on what we're reading about upcoming ep "Chica and the Man," good (and gay) things are in store.

More Recaps:
If Betty offed Matt to make way for a Betty-Daniel romance, Rickey.org is ready to puke.

Photo: Patrick Harbron/ABC