Last week’s Ugly Betty was a frolic on the white sands of the Bahamas: dreamy, beautiful, light-hearted. Last night’s episode — the show’s final hurrah in its Friday at 9 p.m. deathslot, before a post–New Year’s move to Cougar Town — was stressful, dark, conflicted. What caused the mood swing? A duel pregnancy scare that had many Betty characters contemplating changed futures.
In the airy Bahamas, anything seemed possible: Matt and Betty reconciled and a ruined photo shoot was rescued. But back in chilly New York, a palpable claustrophobia blankets Betty’s brood. Most of the episode takes place at her cluttered Queens home, where dad Ignacio is cooking for an elaborate Christmas/Hanukkah dinner at which he plans to introduce a new ladyfriend, neighborhood pharmacist Jean (Faith Prince).
Ironically, Betty and Hilda have met Jean already. After queasy mornings, they both make emergency trips to the drugstore for pregnancy tests, then they both race home to use the bathroom, and in their haste to cover their tracks, both drop their pee sticks behind the toilet. The tests get mixed up, leaving them both believing they’re pregnant, and they confess the truth to each other but vow to keep it quiet for the night. Betty’s career is getting off the ground, and she just forged a brand-new “no labels, no expectations” relationship with Matt. Hilda’s iffy on her future with Archie, and knows the baby would be Bobby Talercio’s.
Bobby actually shows up at dinner with a baby (okay, not a real one, but a replacement for the Jesus he stole from the Suarez manger fourteen years ago). As Matt, Archie, and Ignacio wonder what’s up, the sisters awkwardly try to hide the news, but when a Be-Shure pregnancy test winds up smack in the middle of the floor, Betty calmly retrieves it, takes it, and learns she’s not a mom-to-be. She and Matt are relieved, though he’d expressed a surprising level of enthusiasm at the prospect of a baby. Hilda’s not excited, but wracked with guilt for cheating on Archie. But she gets off easy: Archie, recognizing Hilda’s lack of real interest in him, breaks it off. It’s yet another of this season’s magical plot reconciliations — next week, Betty ends that pesky war in Afghanistan!
Wilhelmina has already resumed her relationship with Connor, using her senator dad’s connections to arrange for conjugal visits (after sneaking out in one of Connor’s blue prison outfits, hideous jumpsuits make an unstylish comeback). Time with her true love keeps Willy buoyant even as she loses her footing at Mode. In a power move, Cal Hartley hires a replacement creative director with no magazine experience — Denise Ludwig, a pushy former movie exec (Nadia Dajani) — and comes off like king dick when he tells Daniel he’ll “discuss it with your mom when she gets into bed tonight.” Furious, Daniel heeds new assistant Marc’s advice. He tries to wear an ascot and strikes a deal with Willy: If she gets back the money Connor stole from Mode, he’ll reinstate her and grant her 50 percent editorial power.
The only potential snag: Claire Meade isn’t aware of the plan. She’s actually in South Dakota finding the son she gave up for adoption. (First Amanda tones down her high-glam look: “Less money and more food stamp.”) Claire tracks the now-twentysomething Tyler (Neal Bledsoe) to the bar where he works and chats him up, learning he’s a recovering alcoholic who’s close to his mom. After she leaves him a heartfelt, hefty tip, Tyler discovers Claire’s name and address on a forgotten Mode envelope and has a moment of recognition. We’d seen that far-off gaze earlier in the episode as Betty imagined her prospects with Matt. Looks like somebody’s future is about to get a makeover.
EW jots down one of the episode’s sharpest lines, as Marc struggles to recover from Wilhelmina-induced Stockholm Syndrome: “She was the Symbionese Liberation Army to my Patty Hearst. She even bought me a beret.”