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'Ugly Betty' Recap: Ugly Berry

October 31st, 2008 2:29pm EDT
Ugly BettySo last night's "Ugly Betty" felt more like "Mean Girls 2" to me -- and not just because "Mean Girls" star Lindsay Lohan was making another guest appearance. Sure, Wilhelmina is almost always mean, but she's driven by career ambitions and power hungriness. Mark and Amanda are mean too, but they're driven by insecurities. But as I watched Kimmie mercilessly taunt Betty, I scratched my head. Why's Kimmie so mean? From what I can tell, Kimmie gets her kicks from picking on Betty Suarez, plain and simple. And the seemingly endless cycle of Kimmie tearing into Betty (for no really compelling reason) got a little tiresome.

But I should start from the beginning. Although Betty is struggling to work alongside Kimmie, Daniel and Wilhelmina are working together surprisingly well. They actually seem like a united front when Claire approaches them about hiring a Chief Financial Officer. Alexis, she reminds them, was a good numbers person; but the two of them will need some help keeping the company financially afloat. Initially, they dismiss the notion, but it comes back later.

Betty is feeling down in the dumps. After Kimmie flaunts her fancy "Associate Editor" business cards, Betty wonders if she's ever going to get ahead. She gets a little inspiration from her cute musician neighbor, Jesse. He's stuck playing in coffee shops, and Betty's still an assistant. They're both dreamers though. Methinks a little romance is afoot!

At Mode, they're prepping for their "Sizzling Hot" issue, and Betty is frustrated when Kimmie's pitch for "Sizzling Hot Club" is accepted. She hesitantly asks Daniel if she could have pitched an idea too. Daniel says that she definitely could and asks for one on the spot. Flustered, Betty blurts out an idea for "Sizzling Hot Fruit." Sure, it sounds lame, but it's a starting point. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, Daniel greenlights the idea. Thus, Betty ends up at her family's kitchen table, sampling fruits for a winner. Ignacio suggests the Brazilian tico berry and whips out a picture. Dubious at first, Betty researches the fruit. A-ha! She discovers that famed Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima grew up eating tico berries on her grandfather's farm. Adriana credits the berries for her beauty.

Naturally, the folks at Mode gobble up the idea. It's a beauty tip. It's original. And it's a chance to get Adriana Lima on the cover of Mode (apparently she's ecstatic to do the photo shoot for her "beloved" berry). Daniel and Wilhelmina are so thrilled with the idea that they make Betty Project Manager for the story. They also restructure the issue around Adriana Lima, which means that some ideas get cut, including Kimmie's. Kimmie grits her teeth and determines to outdo Betty somehow.

In the meantime, Wilhelmina meets Connor Owens, formerly of the publisher Crittendon. Intrigued by his solid reputation (and good looks), she wonders if he would come to Meade ... Maybe he could fill that open CFO spot? Connor mysteriously insists that Daniel would never allow it. Sure enough, when Wilhelmina broaches the subject with Daniel, he rejects the suggestion outright.

Since Adriana's cover gets major press, Betty gets to handle the TV interview. Kimmie schemes sabotage. After briefly letting Kimmie help with makeup, Betty leaves to call her family. She's gone just long enough for Kimmie to convince the lighting guys to crank up the lights - and, consequently, the heat. Betty comes back for the interview, and the hot lights immediately make her break into a sweat. She can't concentrate. Her makeup runs, and her fake eyelashes fall off. The whole thing is a disaster. Betty knows Kimmie is to blame.

Luckily for Betty, Kimmie has made other enemies at Mode. After she snubs Mark and Amanda not once but twice (sophomorishly implying that they aren't cool enough for her), the duo plots to take Kimmie down. Seeing the Betty-Kimmie rivalry, they enlist Betty as an accomplice. At first, Betty is reluctant. But then, Adriana Lima arrives at Mode. Guess who's by her side? Kimmie apparently met Adriana at the airport the previous night as a "representative from Mode." She took the model out for dinner and drinks (unlike Betty who sent Adriana a fruit basket). In the process, Kimmie also managed to take credit for all of Betty's ideas. For Ms. Suarez, that's the last straw, and she teams up with Mark and Amanda to oust her rival.

Mark and Amanda recall Wilhelmina suggesting they use a particular necklace for Adriana's photo shoot. The necklace belonged to Marie Antoinette, and it's about to go to auction. If the necklace appears in Mode, then the price will spike, and Wilhelmina will get a share. (Hence, Willy's keen on the necklace being used.) Since Kimmie was not around for Wilhelmina's comments, she has no clue. So Mark and Amanda go to the photo shoot and trash the necklace. Kimmie, who's evidently running the show, is persuaded that the accessory is hideous. She orders it off the stand-in model.

Then Mark and Amanda pass the baton to Betty who approaches Kimmie. Blabbering about her own meekness, Betty convinces Kimmie that Wilhelmina hates weakness. The only way to earn Wilhelmina's respect is to stand up to her.

Muwahaha...

Speaking of Wilhelmina, she's still interested in Connor Owens for Meade's new CFO. They have Connor into the office, but Daniel acts cool and aloof. When Connor presents them with his financial proposal, Daniel seems disinterested. On the car ride to the Adriana shoot, Wilhelmina brings up Connor one last time. Finally, Daniel concedes that hiring Connor may be the best strategic business decision. Wilhelmina thanks him for respecting her opinion, and it looks like the Wilhelmina-Daniel team is making progress.

Betty's feeling good about setting up Kimmie until Daniel comes around. He compliments her professionalism in working with a rival. Guilt soon gnaws at her. Scrambling at the last minute, Betty tries to save Kimmie, insisting that she was lying -- that Wilhelmina wants others to be weak. But Kimmie ain't buying it. When Wilhelmina arrives, she asks why the necklace isn't on the stand-in model. Kimmie explains that she's made an executive decision not to use the necklace, and a tete-a-tete between Wilhelmina and Kimmie ensues. Willy is so aghast at Kimmie's headstrong attitude that she fires the new editor on the spot. Kimmie has a hissy fit and storms away, but not before throwing all the tico berries into a nearby fountain.

So now they don't have tico berries for the photo shoot, and Betty must talk with Adriana. Fortunately, Betty sent tico berries in Adriana's fruit basket, so perhaps they can use those berries instead. Not only does Adriana supply back-up berries, but she also picks up on the fact that Betty had done all the photo shoot work while Kimmie took all the credit.

When Daniel ultimately praises Betty's successful shoot, he acknowledges that Kimmie was a baddie after all. Then Connor arrives, and the two men retreat to Daniel's office to discuss the new CFO's offer. That's when they smile, pound fists, and congratulate themselves. They got Connor hired and made Wilhelmina think it was her idea! "Betty" often has twists, but usually they're more over-the-top than this one. Kudos to the writers for such a subtle surprise.

All this while, Ignacio is excited to vote for the first time, now that he's a US citizen. Hilda uses the election to boost salon sales (you get 10% off with an "I Voted" sticker), but Ignacio is disheartened that she doesn't actually step away to vote. At the end of the day, a man walks in for a haircut. Over the course of conversation, Hilda laughingly admits that she doesn't have a business license. That's when the guy tells her he's a local councilman. Hilda gets mad and boots him from the salon chair. He leaves with a gentle crack about how she can vote him out next time if she doesn't like him.

Maybe the writers will leave it there with Hilda realizing the importance of voting -- but I'm afraid that this councilman may be a new love interest. If so -- c'mon. Hilda's been single for, like, one full episode.

Cast: America Ferrera / Eric Mabius / Alan Dale / Tony Plana / Ana Ortiz / Vanessa Williams / Ashley Jensen / Becki Newton / Mark Indelicato / Michael Urie / Rebecca Romijn / Kevin Sussman / Freddy Rodriguez / Illeana Douglas / Judith Light / Christopher Gorham

Chelsea Fogleman
Story by Chelsea Fogleman

Starpulse contributing writer