Ugly Betty's plotlines this season veer from the outrageously cartoonish (Daniel Meade joins a cult; Betty dresses like a giant hot dog) to the grittily real (Justin Suarez battles homophobia at school; Claire Meade tracks down her lost son). Episodes that find a way to cleverly merge the two are always excellent, and last night the show recovered from its sluggish previous week with an energetic hour that was nearly as sharp as Marc's best line: "This ménage au moi has got to stop," he says, of feeling split between bosses Wilhelmina and Daniel. "I hate being in the middle. Unless there's a Gyllenhaal involved."
The linchpin of the episode is a brief blackout that, duh, ironically sheds light on what characters see in each other. But anyone who lived in New York during summer '03 will attest that the show severely underplays this device. Blackouts are chaos and lawlessness, milk going bad in bodegas and roving bands of drunk hipsters singing Strokes songs in the streets (at least, that's how we remember it). On Betty the power outage is merely a disruptive force. It breaks up a karaoke party Betty throws to bond with her neighbors, traps feuding Wilhelmina and Daniel in an elevator, nearly thwarts Marc's efforts to apply for a promotion, and forces Ignacio and Bobby Talercio to chat.
The second best part of the blackout story line was Betty singing R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" to a roomful of pissy tenants as the lights blow. The best part was the show finally finding resolutions to plotlines that were begging to be put out of their misery:
• Bobby calls out Ignacio for hating on him out of fear the Suarez patriarch will lose those who depend on him most should Bobby and Hilda start a new family. Ignacio validates Bobby's theory and by the time Hilda and Justin make it home, the men are pals. Suspicious? Maybe.
• Willie punches Daniel in the face! A couples' therapist (Amanda's idea, don't ask) advises Daniel to resolve his sexual tension with Wilhelmina; that plan backfires (for a million reasons — hasn't the show been here already a few seasons ago?), but the two come to a truce over their beloved shared assistant, Marc.
• Marc gets promoted! When a senior fashion-editor position opens, Marc channels Betty's ambition and applies. Willie chooses to reward his loyalty and talent by making him a junior editor. Her speech to Daniel about how Marc is the most important man in her life is truly revealing and touching.
• Betty is over Matt. In fact, she seems to miss human companionship much more than her beloved boyfriend who shipped off to Africa to do relief work.
The episode also labors to balance good news with bad. Hilda learns her pregnancy is ending early and unhappily because her baby has no heartbeat, but Justin gets into a prestigious acting class. Betty's kind heart leads her to innocently let two burglars into her building, but her Secret-esque devotion to positive thinking helps turn Marc's world around. And in light of all the pain and suffering in Betty's world (and the real one), her mantra of dogged optimism is worth repeating: "Have you ever tried, just once, to think happy thoughts?"
Will Hilda and Bobby ever tell Justin about the failed pregnancy, wonders Rickey.org? Good question: He's had seriously little screen time this season since his big homecoming episode.
Most Viewed Stories
Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Recap: Whatever Happened to Erika Jayne?
It Has Been a Very Long Time Since a Monologue Joke Bombed As Hard As the One Seth Meyers Tried Last Night
Stephen King Confirms Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey Are in Talks for That Dark Tower Adaptation
Liz Meriwether on How They Changed New Girl While Zooey Deschanel Is on Maternity Leave
The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy
David Schwimmer on Why He Wanted to Play Robert Kardashian in The People v. O.J. Simpson
Archie Comic Reveals Jughead Is Asexual
Kanye West Says Bill Cosby Is Innocent
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast Takes Their 40th-Anniversary Reunion Photo
The Complete Guide to Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’
Latest News from VultureBeat Bugs Trailer: Netflix’s New Animated Kids Series Features a Ton of Beatles Covers Your Kids Won’t Know Are Covers
"I Want to Hold Your Hand (But I Can't Because I'm a Bug)."A Film Producer Is Tweeting Out Terrible Descriptions of Female Characters in Scripts
"A natural beauty. Most days she wears jeans, and she makes them look good."What Shows Will Make Me Cry? Your Pressing TV Questions, Answered
Plus: Should I watch the last two seasons of The Office?These Deleted Scenes From Mrs. Doubtfire Will Remind You That the Movie Was Actually Deeply Sad
Helllloooooo!Watch the First 4 Minutes of The Walking Dead’s Mid-Season Premiere: Negan, Negan, Negan
Guns out.Broad City Season 3 Trailer: A One-Stop Pussy Shop
Fraands to the aand.A&E’s New Show Will Have Civilians Pretend to Be Convicts in Prison, Which Isn’t an Uncomfortable Premise for a TV Show at All
Hmm.Kate Winslet Won’t Boycott the Oscars Because Her Heart Will Go on for Leo
"He is my closest friend in the world."Deadpool and the Promising Rise of Heteroflexibility in Comedies
Comedic protagonists — especially those who wear superhero suits — don’t generally leave room for nuance.Cuba Gooding Jr., Selma Blair, and More Recall Their Memories of Watching the Bronco Car Chase
The People v. O.J. Simpson aired their version of the infamous pursuit last night.
"Welcome to Earth-2" is undoubtedly the best episode of the season.The Purge 3 Trailer: It’s Election Year!
Lock your doors!There’s a Better Call Saul Superhero Comic, and You Can Read It Now
It's short but delightful.Fact-Checking Episode Two of The People v. O.J. Simpson
It's highly unlikely there were gunmen in the trees.Gwen Stefani Teases Title, Track List of New Album, and Oh, You Know the Songs Are Emotional
Her first in a decade.Amy Schumer Gets Serious for PTSD Drama Thank You for Your Service, Which Is Very Serious
It's an adaptation of David Finkel's book.Grammy-Winning Producer Jeff Bhasker on Crafting ‘Uptown Funk’ and His Prolific Career
"Invoking an emotion is the most important part."Charlize Theron Sought for Fast 8 Villain, Which, Considering She Has an Oscar for Playing a Serial Killer, Seems Like a Great Call
Yes. A thousand times yes.21st-Century TV Artist Louis C.K. Aims High With the Aggressively Classical, Mostly Good Horace and Pete
It’s not quite there, but there’s something inspirational about ordering this Eisenhower-era kitchen-sink stage play for 2016 on your phone.J.K. Rowling Is Releasing Another Harry Potter Book (It’s the Script to the Play You Already Knew About, But Still)
The script book for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will go on sale July 31.