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'Ugly Betty' Recap: 'A Mother Of A Problem'

March 13th, 2009 12:48pm EDT
Ugly BettyIt seems that in every "Average Person falls in love with Rich Person" story, Rich Person must have an evil parent that disapproves of Average Person. Thus, it goes without saying… Now that we know Matt is loaded, he must have a scheming, elitist mother who doesn't think Betty is good enough for her son.

Betty doesn't see this age-old cliché coming though - and Matt is partly to blame. We begin at Betty's house where Ignacio is cooking everyone breakfast on a Saturday morning. Matt comes over too, and, in the course of conversation, he remarks that his mom is dying to meet Betty. Betty has to go into work that morning, but plans to meet Matt later at his mom's house, and they will go to a Ranger game together (something for Matt's job).

As they eat breakfast, Hilda remembers that she has scheduled someone for a hair appointment that morning in her home-based salon. In walks Councilman Archie Rodriguez (remember him?). Elena and Betty move in for the kill, telling Hilda how perfect the councilman is, etc., etc. Everyone is really gung ho about Hilda dating this guy.

Like Betty, Daniel is also going into work on Saturday. Before he leaves, he talks Molly out of going on a walk in the cold. He is concerned about her health. Although she dismisses his concerns (the weather doesn't exactly exacerbate cancer), she agrees to stay inside to make Daniel happy.

Later that morning, Daniel and Wilhelmina have a meeting with a famous photographer. Apparently when this guy does the cover for Mode, issues sell like hotcakes. And since the mag is strapped for cash, they need this photographer more than ever. They hope he'll be able to work for less this time (he seems like a creative-"I-do-it-for-the-love-of-my-art" type), but ultimately, he's all about the bottom line: He's not going to work with a pay cut. So Daniel and Wilhelmina realize they will need to pay his fee out of their own pockets. Although Daniel volunteers to cover everything, Wilhelmina insists on contributing. She fears that Daniel will financially wrestle her out of the company.

Meanwhile, Betty goes to meet Matt at his mom's house. When she arrives, Matt isn't there yet, but his mom, Victoria Hartley, comes waltzing down the stairs. Now sure, if any "Ugly Betty" character is going to have a clichéd storyline, it is Betty; and many of the show's plot twists are fairly predictable. But as I watched Victoria descend that staircase, I found myself chanting, 'Please don't let her mistake Betty for a maid… Please don't let her mistake Betty for a maid…' I mean, Rich Person's Family Member assumes Average Person is a servant…? That's textbook "Rich Person falls in love with Average Person" material. Surely, "Ugly Betty" would not go *that* far over the edge.

Oh, but it did.

Not only is she taken for a maid, but Betty also finds that Matt hasn't even told his mom about her yet. Matt walks through the door and is surprised to see his mom home early. He rushes Betty outside, giving us just enough time to confirm that Victoria is not pleased with her son's new relationship. Once outdoors, Matt apologizes about the situation, and Betty perks up. She believes that she can make Victoria like her. Matt suggests that Betty come to a dinner party that Victoria is hosting on Friday night. Maybe they can smooth things over then.

Since Claire knows a thing or two about Manhattan socialites, Betty goes to her for some advice on the party. Claire asks her what the evening's topic will be. At these dinners, the guests discuss a predetermined topic at dinner. Through a quick phone call to the staff at Victoria's house, Betty and Claire learn that the evening's topic will be "torture." Betty seems elated. She's just read an interesting article discussing the ethics of torture, so she will have a lot to say.

Wilhelmina, on the other hand, is not feeling so chipper. She has begun selling her possessions to help pay for Mode's expensive photographer. Watching buyers from an auction house assess the value of her furs and jewels is bad enough. Then, Marc brings her almonds and seltzer in place of her afternoon champagne and caviar. It's too much to bear! Word soon gets out on TV that Wilhelmina is selling her possessions and noshing on plain old almonds. Then she really starts feeling down. Frustrated, Willy tells Marc that she is leaving for the day.

Marc later goes to Wilhelmina's place to tell her that the auction house people are there to pick up her things. He finds her in bed with her fur and jewels, wallowing in the loss of her expensive tokens. Given the choice though, she still decides to sell them. She's desperate for the funds, and she's not going to ask anyone for handouts.

As Betty thinks about torture and prepares for her fancy dinner party, the Suarez crew gets ready for dinner at home. Elena helps set the table and puts out a mysterious extra plate…which, we quickly discern, is for Councilman Archie Rodriguez. Unbeknownst to Hilda, the family has invited him to dinner in an obvious set up. Throughout the meal, Ignacio, Elena, and Justin suck up to Archie endlessly. Hilda isn't unpleasant but laughs that he's "not Justin Timberlake" or anything. The comment has audience pay off later when Archie and Hilda are left alone at the table. He says he's sorry about the fix up and, with a straight face, starts talking about her eyes… Hilda laughs. He is quoting Justin Timberlake.

At Victoria's dinner party, Betty enjoys chatting with Matt, and she nibbles on a mushroom cap. When she suddenly turns around, half of her mushroom cap goes flying. Nervous, she glances around but can't find the missing piece of appetizer. Shortly thereafter, Victoria decides to share a newly acquired painting with her guests. That's when we see the mushroom cap - it landed smack dab in the middle of the expensive work of art. Matt takes the fall for it, but Victoria eyes Betty suspiciously and remarks that Matt doesn't usually do such things.

Still anxious, Betty goes to the dinner table and finds that couples are not seated together. She and Matt are disappointed, but Betty makes the best of it. Once everyone is seated, Victoria announces that they will begin discussing the chosen topic. Betty sits up in her chair, eager to pounce at the word "torture." But then, Victoria addresses the topic of "the future of opera." Betty is aghast. She's totally unprepared! Like a truly evil Rich Person's Mother, Victoria then looks to Betty to begin the discussion. Flustered at first, Betty looks down at her cell phone where she has received a text from Matt. He reminds her of the November issue of Mode (which he read once at the office when Betty was working late). The issue was on the opera and fashion. Regaining her composure, Betty then makes some insightful remarks, and the other dinner guests eat it up. They are impressed that she works at Mode too. Much to Victoria's chagrin, Betty narrowly escapes embarrassment.

Later, Victoria corners Betty individually to ask where she went to college and such. Victoria goes into a laundry list of Matt's accomplishments (among them: a degree from Yale, a Fulbright scholarship, and a year in Rome). She's fully unveiled her intentions now. She suggests that Matt is too good for Betty - which means that, yes, ambushing their kids' prospective love interests must be part of Evil Rich Person's Mother Training 101. Victoria says that she hopes Betty liked her meal, but she does not expect to see her again.

Obviously hurt, Betty goes to the coat closet to retrieve her things. Matt has been looking for her and quickly realizes what must have happened. When Victoria comes to find him, he tells his mom that he and Betty - his *girlfriend* (That's right, Victoria…Booyah!) - are leaving.

At the Suarez dinner, Ignacio and Elena have continued to lay it on thick with Archie, and Hilda just looks bemused. When it's time for Archie to say goodbye, everyone suddenly vanishes at the doorway - except Hilda. Here, Archie finally asks her out. (Credit where credit is due: The way he asks is very laid back and conversational - not as cheesy as it could have been.) Despite all the eye rolling at her family's matchmaking antics, Hilda does seem to like Archie. So she says yes. This is cool for two reasons: 1) Hilda hasn't had a compelling love interest since the first season, and 2) the guy's name is Archie (which, let's get real, is just adorable).

The next day at Mode, Daniel talks with Betty about Molly. He and Molly have met with a doctor who could try some experimental cancer treatments; but with Molly's history, there is a very slim chance of anything working. Plus, these treatments have some awful side effects. Daniel is open to anything that might save Molly, but she refuses. Resigned to her ultimate death, Molly just wants to live a full, happy life until then. Betty suggests that Daniel should consider Molly's request - it's one of those inspirational "it's her life, after all" talks. Daniel mulls over their conversation while he and Wilhelmina go to meet again with the pricey photographer.

They now have the money to pay him, so the Mode cover is almost guaranteed to be gold. In a gentle way, Daniel tells Wilhelmina that he is not trying to strong-arm her out of the company. He says that he is learning a lot about life and what is important. He briefly tells her about Molly refusing the cancer treatments because she "wants to live life on her terms."

The remark inspires Wilhelmina. When Marc arrives with her budget snacks this time, she unveils her champagne and caviar. Marc questions how Willy is going to afford the fancy consumables, but Wilhelmina is unfazed. She will cut back on other things, but she will not compromise on her daily champagne and caviar. She's going to live life on her terms - like Molly! (I know… Weird, right? I too found myself squirming at the comparison between "no champagne and caviar" and CANCER.) Willy then pulls out her best Scarlett O'Hara and says that, with God as her witness, she "will never go without champagne and caviar again!"

Daniel goes home where Molly is resting indoors, as promised. He says that he has decided to just treasure every moment he has with her. He suggests that they go outside for a snowball fight, and she happily complies.

In the meantime, Betty is still fretting over what happened at Victoria's dinner party. She talks to Claire in the elevator and wonders aloud how she can get Victoria to like her. We then get Claire's knowing smile and one of her dry pearls of wisdom. She says that those Manhattan socialites aren't going to change, and Betty shouldn't worry about getting Victoria to like her. She just needs to stand her ground.

When Betty later goes to meet Matt again, she runs into Victoria. They have a tense but not uncivil exchange in which they both state that "they are what they are." Betty doesn't back down, and Victoria leaves with a small smirk on her face. So maybe we can hope that Matt's mom will one day lose the bad attitude…? Matt soon walks up, and he and Betty saunter down the street arm-in-arm.

Well, what did you think? Will we see another Betty vs. Victoria showdown? And is Molly really going to die? "Ugly Betty" has killed off characters before, but never someone so genuinely likeable… Let's hear your thoughts, people.

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

Chelsea Fogleman
Story by Chelsea Fogleman

Starpulse contributing writer