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Ugly Betty Recap: Gaga No-Go

For the gays, a Lady Gaga reference is akin to Chekhov's gun: If you introduce it in the first act, you damn well better use it by the last. Though Stefani Germanotta didn't cameo during last night's long-awaited return of Ugly Betty, her name popped up to forward a few key plotlines, including one involving Betty's inching-out-of-the-closet nephew Justin. Shakira made a guest appearance earlier this season, but Gaga is truly the series' patron pop star: "I felt like a freak," she told Barbara Walters earlier this year of her own youth. "I want to free my fans of their fears and make them feel … that they can create their own space in the world." A Betty mantra if we've ever heard one.

Alas, there was no "Lady Gaga's Lady Goggles" fashion shoot in Mode — Betty's suggestion for a spread on "fashion-forward prescription glasses" — and not only because Betty accidentally played a video of Justin reinterpreting the "Bad Romance" video during a pitch meeting — LOL, OMG, and GAY. There are only five episodes left, but it seems like addressing Justin's sexuality is in the cards. This week he nearly opens up to Marc twice, but doesn't do the deed. When he's ready to be a free bitch, baby, we'll be, too.

Other story lines are zipping along, though: Last episode, the Suarez house caught fire owing to either Justin's careless cigarette, Ignacio's amateur electrical work, or Bobby's wise-guy plot to get Hilda insurance money, and now everyone's bunking in Betty's cramped Manhattan one-bedroom. This week the cause of the blaze is revealed as Betty's curling iron. But we had to endure a few rounds of comedic waterboarding for the info, because the show hasn't broken its habit of bringing in implausibly wack-tastic auxiliary characters with no clear purpose (in this case, Mad Men's Rich Sommer as irritating fireman Jimmy, who asks Betty on a date to expedite her fire investigation). Rather than grasp for guest stars for the final episodes, the show should showcase its core characters — and a few familiar faces from past seasons would be quite welcome. Spoilers predict the return of Scottish seamstress Christina, but regrettably no Rebecca Romijn.

The episode wraps with a Suarez lovefest set off by Bobby and Hilda's engagement — a stark contrast to the squabbling Meade family's bitter division. Claire's secret son Tyler sticks around New York to bond with his mom, and the fashion rags report they're having a May-December romance. But learning the truth doesn't assuage Daniel's anger at his new stepbrother. He cuts down his mom for allowing her deception to tear apart his relationship with his own father and has nobody to turn to for support — when he calls hook-up pal Amanda for a chat, she's off wooing Tyler, whom she earlier taught to smize.

Marc doesn't get any romantic action this week, but he does show off his best hairdo in months (farewell, brief Jheri cur!) and hilariously plays along as Wilhelmina runs into an old flame and pretends to be Wanda From Tha Block. Why will we miss our weekly dose of Vanessa Williams? Because she's a free bitch, baby, and she knows it well.

More Recaps:
Rickey.org charts how far our little Betty has grown: "Using a man to get what you want? Why, Miss Suarez I am proud."

Photo: Courtesy of ABC