Ugly Betty returned from its winter break to high stakes last night: The show moved to its new Wednesday at 10 p.m. time slot with a strong lead-in from Modern Family and Cougar Town. Its second coming even arrived with an appropriately biblical title: “The Passion of the Betty.” There’s no question Betty has enough pretzel-twisted plotlines and heart to muscle through the end of the season — here’s hoping it doesn’t require divine intervention to make it.
With their pregnancy scare behind them, Betty and Matt Hartley have moved into a new phase of their rekindled romance: smothering togetherness (big ups to the music supervisor who set a montage of monotony to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ killer “Home”). Betty tries to spark Matt’s old interest in painting by getting his work in an emerging artists showcase hosted by a cruelly underused Christine Ebersole — her shining moment is purring “your lovvver” like Will Ferrell on SNL whenever Betty uses the term “boyfriend.” The stunt backfires (quelle surprise!) when the paintings are revealed as hideous and overly rapturous representations of Betty. (See the video below!)
If the Betty/Matt plotline seems a bit dry, beware: The romance we prayed would never grow between Betty and her old boss, Daniel Meade, may be in the cards after all. The show has strained to show the pair more as equals this season, but let’s be frank: There’s no sexual tension between these characters at all, and as Billy Bush might say, it’s gross. Let the petition against this ill-fated hook-up start now!
At least Daniel grows a pair this week and stands up to Cal Hartley, who has developed into the Enemy of Journalism by focusing on the bottom line rather than bylines at Mode. Daniel and Wilhelmina Slater’s plot to reclaim the money Connor Owens had stolen from the company works, and after Cal insults Claire Meade for giving their child up for adoption rather than aborting it, she’s down to buy him out, too. By the end of the episode, Matt’s even decided to quit Mode. Hartley’s out! And the awful creative director who loathes fashion is also out! (She goes back to her job running a major TV studio, which is cute, but leave the network bashing to 30 Rock, kids.)
There are minor developments on the Suarez home front, too, as Hilda accidentally tells Bobby Talercio she’s having his baby in a moment of hormonal meltdown. Dad Ignacio is livid to learn Hilda seems to be repeating her teenage missteps (pregnant via thug), but does he really have the right to tell his thirtysomething daughter how to live her life? The smothering-parent bit is getting a little stale.
The episode’s worst offenses? Severe lack of Amanda (watching her follow a trail of discarded clothes like breadcrumbs left by Wilhelmina was perhaps the finest 30 seconds of the night). No satisfactory follow-up on Justin’s situation at school. And a half-amusing story line about Marc developing a relationship with his Bahamas one-night stand, Troy, who’s played by Becki Newton’s a.k.a. Amanda’s, brother, Matt. (The funny half comes from Amanda, who tells Marc he’s imprinted on Troy like a baby duckling.)
Rickey.org argues that Hilda’s pregnancy plotline guarantees more Adam Rodriguez, and is, therefore, worth our time.