Sure, there have been many good individual episodes of "Ugly Betty
" this season… But the show's overall plot hasn't moved forward in any substantial way. Betty is still a plucky assistant for a flakey-but-decent-hearted playboy. That being said, last night's episode may have set the stage for future intriguing "Betty" plot developments.
We begin with the smug Nick Pepper returning to Mode for a casual visit. You may remember that Nick was Alexis' assistant (and Amanda's rival) way back when. Well, he left Mode, and through the YETI (the "Young Editors' Training Initiative) Program, he is now the Deputy Culture Editor at The New York Review. Betty is taken aback by Nick's skyrocketing career and decides to investigate this YETI program herself.
She goes to the YETI offices, eager to apply. All she has to do is develop a cover, a table of contents, and a letter from the editor for a magazine concept that describes who she is. Here's the catch though: She is starting late and now only has forty-eight hours to create said magazine. With the resources and experience she has at Mode, Betty decides that a fashion mag is the way to go (although her family and friends all look askance at the concept of "Betty" plus "fashion"). She starts brainstorming, and Christina even helps her put together a fashion ensemble for the cover. (What, have you forgotten Christina? Seems like the writers of "Ugly Betty" have. She's only Betty's best pal and the surrogate mother of Wilhelmina and Bradford Meade's baby. But whatever. She's averaging, like, half a scene per episode.)
While Betty's busy with YETI, Wilhelmina is still angling for Connor's affections -- despite his being joined at the hip to his cute-as-a-button, school teacher fiancee, Molly. Desperate to pull him away, Wilhelmina arranges for a next-day meeting with a major advertiser in Key Largo. She and Connor must attend in person. Connor feels guilty since he was supposed to talk to Molly's class about his job, but he asks Daniel to fill in for him at the school. Then he can go on the business trip.
Betty soon learns that she's not the only one at Mode applying to YETI. Marc is going for it too. The situation is extra tense because only one applicant per magazine can be accepted. It's a full-blown Marc versus Betty showdown! What's even scarier, Marc is also doing a fashion mag -- only, he clearly has a better grasp of high couture than frumpy Miss Betty.
Naturally, Betty goes back to Queens where her family gives her a much needed pep talk. (Seriously, if these characters fail in their current jobs, they could have bright futures as motivational speakers…) Ignacio reminds her about the homemade magazine Betty made when her mom was in the hospital. She put "The Betty Review" together in one afternoon, and it was easy because she cared about the topics (more than, say, fashion). Now, the light bulb comes on. Betty goes back to Mode where she pulls an all-nighter working on her new magazine. By the time Daniel arrives the next morning, Betty is frizzy-haired and wired on coffee. She only needs Daniel's recommendation letter to make her application complete. She asks him to go through a dry-run of her application presentation, but Daniel procrastinates on helping. He has to leave to fill in for Connor at Molly's school. At first he is held up by a game of red rover, then he lingers to flirt harmlessly with Molly. Ultimately, he doesn't get back to Mode in time to help Betty -- whose presentation is scheduled for that afternoon.
Luckily, Betty's presentation goes well anyway. She proposes "B Magazine," a mag geared at confident, thoughtful women who want to celebrate their uniqueness and intelligence. Yup. *Yawn.* Although sweet in an obviously sentimental way, I think Betty should lose points for her lack of originality. Isn't her magazine almost exactly what Jennifer Garner proposed as her anti-fashion magazine in that movie "Thirteen Going On Thirty?" But anywho, Ignacio and Hilda wait for Betty outside the presentation room, ready to be her cheerleaders.
Just as Betty tells them how wonderfully it went, Marc enters the room in slow motion and to the beat of techno music. He's got a spiffy PowerPoint presentation and an entire magazine (which goes way beyond the requirements). As if that's not enough, his sponsors are designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka of Badley Mischka. You know it's bad when one of the YETI judges walks out, sees James Mischka, and coos "James!" It looks like Marc is going to wipe the floor with Betty.
Back at Mode, Betty is still mad at Daniel (who has since returned to Mode and apologized). Eventually, Betty concedes that his help wouldn't have mattered anyway. Then the phone rings. It's YETI… telling Betty that she got into the program! From across the room, Marc's eyes grow wide.
In Key Largo, Wilhelmina and Connor hold a successful meeting with their big advertiser. To celebrate, Wilhelmina suggests that they order dinner and wine through room service. They laugh, chat, and, after a few drinks, make small-talk. They later lounge on a giant cushion with wine and strawberries. It's here that Willy finally leans in for a kiss. And wow. Connor tells her off! He plainly instructs her to lay off and accept that he has a fiancee. For a second, I felt sorry for Wilhelmina. But honestly. Connor? Wilhelmina always has things for these wealthy, powerful, smooth-talking types. For once, I'd rather see her fall for a real dweeb, so we could see something new in her character.
While Willy and Betty are dealing with their issues, Justin has some concerns of his own. He's become friends with his former school bully, Randy (after they discovered a shared love of Broadway musicals), and they go to see the school's production of "Little Shop of Horrors." Hilda is thrilled to see Justin have a good friend, and she gets seats for the two guys to see "In the Heights" on Broadway. Justin's happy as a clam, but the cool kids at school start razzing Randy about his new friend. With a weak little "we can't hang out anymore," Randy eventually yells at Justin in front of the other boys, ordering the youngest Suarez to leave him alone. Justin is stunned and hurt, angrily telling Hilda that he and Randy aren't friends now. Although too upset to talk that night, Justin has chilled out by the next morning, and Hilda gives him a Betty-esque pep talk about staying true to himself. Finally, Justin suggests that he and Hilda go to "In the Heights" together. Why waste good tickets? And let me just say-- Justin is definitely joining the club of "Ugly Betty" side characters who often prove more interesting than the heroine. Justin's growing pains practically made this episode, and young Mark Indelicato (who plays Justin) totally hit the mark.
But, back to Betty. Marc's initial reaction to the YETI news is to phase out his nemesis. Then he goes for the jugular. He tells Betty that the YETI judges picked her because she's Latina and, thus, the "token ethnic girl" who helped them "meet their quota." The remark has its intended effect, and Betty is super hurt. When Betty calls YETI, she discovers that Marc may be right about why she was accepted into the program. Hilda and Ignacio tell her to forget about it. She got in! Who cares how? And, as Ignacio points out, his ethnicity has hurt him enough times. If it helped Betty now, then awesome. Still, it's not how Betty wanted to succeed. Then, she gets that weepy look, and we know something is afoot. She later withdraws from YETI, so Marc can be accepted. He thinks she's crazy, but -- Betty holds her ground. Marc ultimately accepts the offer with a meek "thank you" and a line about how "some of the hottest guys I've ever dated have been Latino."
So Betty's feeling a little down. Then she gets called into Daniel's office. He's made a call or two, written her a six-page recommendation letter, and she's now back in YETI. (Cue the angel chorus!) Because she worked at Player magazine this year too, she and Marc can be from different magazines and both be in the program. Now, is it just me, or was this weird? Betty wasn't okay with getting into YETI as a Latina, but she's cool with getting in on a big technicality like Player? Oh well. The point is: Betty and Marc will both be YETIers. From across the room, Marc calls to congratulate her. (Guess it's easier for him to be gracious now that he's in the program too.)
So, will YETI bring Marc and Betty closer, or will it bring out the competition? And will Betty's career rise now that she's got YETI? Post your thoughts in the comments section!
Ugly Betty Stars: 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
Story by Chelsea Fogleman
Starpulse contributing writer