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October 8, 2015

Ugly Betty: How Betty Got Her Grieve Back (season premiere)

by Erin Martell, posted Sep 28th 2007 12:28AM

America Ferrera and Christopher Gorham

(S02E01) Betty's back! The season premiere was an excellent bookend to last season's finale. While the finale ended on a sad note, tonight's premiere let the characters confront their problems and look ahead to the future. This episode was all about letting go of the past and starting fresh, something that many of the characters desperately needed to do.

Let's start with our girl, Betty, who is now the heroine of two shows: Ugly Betty and Las Pasiones de Betty. I thought the dream telenovela was pretty funny, especially the part where a very pregnant Charlie was shown smoking, drinking, and packing heat. Betty still had a lot of unresolved feelings about Henry's departure, and it was starting to show at both work and home. The Suarez house was a mess, and Betty was injured in the line of duty at Mode. She even had high blood pressure, at her age! When Famine starts offering you food, you know you've hit bottom, and it didn't take Betty long to realize that.

It was hard to see Betty so exhausted, and the look on her face when she saw those pink Gerbera daisies from Henry (nice continuity there) was heartbreaking. Betty's meltdown at the photo shoot finally helped her face the truth. She was in a lot of pain, and ignoring the past by burying herself in the present wasn't going to make her whole again. I thought it was a nice role reversal to have Daniel give Betty a pep talk for a change. She's normally the one getting Daniel out of jams and boosting his confidence, and I love that he was there for her at her lowest point. The "funeral" was a thoughtful idea, even if he did make Betty dig the hole.

Just as Betty was owning up to her feelings of disappointment and burying all of her Henry mementos (including some paper clips he gave her once), guess who turned up in New York? Everyone's favorite accountant is back! I'm curious to hear how things ended between Henry and Charlie. Did she 'fess up about cheating on him, or did Henry leave Charlie on his own? I'm sure there will be all sorts of new obstacles in the Henry-Betty relationship (the show is part soap, after all), but the hope for a new start is there.

Poor Hilda had her own past to deal with. Last season, a lot of fans didn't want to believe that Santos was dead, and they almost got their wish. The bedroom scenes between Hilda and Santos were touching, but a little too good to be true. After hearing Santos' "vows," Hilda was finally able to admit that Santos was gone. Like Betty, she had to say goodbye to the future that she had been dreaming about and start over. Another nice parallel between the Ugly Betty characters.

Daniel got a fresh start in this episode as well. Last season's car accident left him with a broken leg, some bruises, and a whole lot of guilt. The knowledge that his drug addiction led to Alexis being in a coma only made Daniel turn back to drugs (painkillers this time). It wasn't until the funeral with Betty that Daniel was able to open up about his problems. For him, a fresh start involved visiting his sister in the I.C.U. for the first time. He probably wasn't expecting Alexis to wake up at the sound of his voice with sex-change-related amnesia. I saw the Santos revelation coming, but this one threw me. Things could get weird.

Speaking of addictions, Amanda put on a little weight after finding out that Fey Sommers was her mother. I laughed when I saw that she had converted one of her desk drawers at Mode to a snack stash. Haven't we all had that idea at one point? It took being mistaken for Betty to snap Amanda out of her funk, and then it was off to Scarsdale to learn the truth. Amanda is, in fact, the daughter of Fey and an unknown gentleman. I found it interesting that she still managed to inherit a touch of sluttiness from her adopted parents. The Tanens were in the middle of a swinging party with some "Internet friends" when Marc and Amanda arrived on the scene. Question: If it only took Amanda a few weeks to get insanely obese, how long will it take her to shed the pounds? Besides the weight loss, Amanda's new mission is to find her biological father, who may or may not be Bradford. Ick.

In other parts of the Betty universe: Claire Meade emerged from her Hamptons hideout to throw down with Wilhelmina! Her plan to get rid of Wilhelmina failed, but at least Claire got a good punch in. Wilhelmina will be getting a bodyguard next week, and he looks strangely familiar. Ignacio is stuck in Mexico, and Betty is dealing with a lawyer in New York. Bored with day camp, Justin (who grew at least a foot) stole some glitter and escaped to the fantasy world of Mode for the day. His work as a "fashion elf" earned him an internship at the magazine until school starts. Thank you, writers! The Justin-at-Mode moments are always hilarious. Finally, there's a new face at Mode: a woman named Sheila, played by Illeana Douglas. She seemed eager to win Wilhelmina's approval, and she doesn't appear to know Betty all that well (she mistook her for one of the "victim" models). It's too early to tell how she'll fit into the show, but I like her.

The premiere was missing a lot of the light, funny moments that you see in a typical Betty episode, but that's understandable. Everyone had a ton of baggage to deal with, and a few teary moments were inevitable. All in all, I thought last season's issues were handled very well, and I'm ready to see what the future holds for the Meade and Suarez families.

I especially loved the music choices in this episode. The scene that combined Betty's eulogy and Santos' wedding vows was very touching, and reminded me of the Christmas party scene in "Fake Plastic Snow". Natalie Walker's "Quicksand" was a great song to accompany that moment. Hilda's farewell to Santos, set to Syd Straw's "Golden Dreams," was also memorable. This show is great at tugging at your heartstrings.

Best lines of the night:

  • "Folks see me up in here, they think I'm the maid. Or Gayle King." Yoga, on life in the Hamptons.
  • "Steam, a little soap in your eyes--St. Elmo is still on fire." Marc, on spotting Emilio Estevez in the shower.
  • "Mother! If that is her real name..." Amanda, voicing doubts about her parents.
  • "And that's the kind of dirt that don't wash clean." Amanda, realizing she may have slept with her half-brother.
  • "You've taken a lover, and that lover has a cream center." Marc, noticing Amanda's weight gain.
  • "Apparently the Indian dream catchers we were making were 'amateurish' and 'culturally insensitive'." Camp counselor, explaining Justin's departure from day camp.
  • "What disaster are you, honey? Mudslide?" Sheila, mistaking Betty for a victim.
  • "Everyone knows you turn to potatoes in times of need." Daniel, finding Betty stress-eating at Fried.
  • "You know what? She's right. We don't have enough styling gel." Sheila, totally missing the point of Betty's tirade.
  • "I'm not going to take a bagel from Famine." Betty, refusing help from a disaster victim.
  • In honor of Julia Ward's Wilhelmina Quip of the Week: "N. I don't have the energy to say no anymore."

Until next week!

Funniest Ugly Betty moment?
Amanda's new body.192 (37.6%)
Betty wearing an eyepatch.17 (3.3%)
Marc dressed as Wilhelmina.189 (37.0%)
Justin quoting Coco Chanel.99 (19.4%)
Other (sound off in the comments).14 (2.7%)

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Ben (#8) - Good point. I guess they just couldn't fit everything into one hour. There sure are a lot of plots to follow. I'm sure we'll get more into that soon...as well as Charlie's baby's father plot...oh and don't forget there's still that issue with Christina having a husband in Scotland.
So many things to cover!

October 04 2007 at 1:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ben Reich

One thing they ignored - what happened to the guy who wanted to kill Mr. Suarez? What happened with that? I'm sure they'll bring it up soon, but in an episode in which they were catching us up on everything, that seemed to be missing.

October 02 2007 at 5:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The ending about Santos being dead was unexpected, but very sad and heartbreaking. Hilda and Santos' scenes in the bedroom were beautiful and touching. It would have been good if he had survived, but the way the writers covered that part of the story was brilliant. All along I did not see it coming.

October 01 2007 at 5:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

damn you ugly betty! that last scene with hilda asking santos to stay one more day brought me to tears..

September 28 2007 at 11:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

oh my god - why no comments about how seriously seriously annoying that whole "victoria's secret" ad content was at the beginning of the show? i wanted to retch.

September 28 2007 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did anyone else notice that the set for Betty's telenovela dream was the first I Love Lucy apartment painted in day glo colors? I assumed that Lucy episodes might have been playing while she slept.

September 28 2007 at 7:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sigh. I'm so happy this show is back. Unlike some other shows that will remain nameless, this show just started on all cylinders. It was funny, witty, but also showed a lot of heart. Rock on.

September 28 2007 at 4:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe you left out the pelvic thrust that accompanied Marc's comment that he'd been only "seven inches" away from Estevez. I did a spit-take on that one, myself.

September 28 2007 at 1:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a grand start! Quirky, witty, at times touching, at other times just plain loopy. The emerging Amanda storyline is great fun, and Alex's amnesia points to a boffo episode next week.

Just like last year, the surprises came out of nowhere, witness this episode's Santos (double) surprise. And just like last year, the writers seamlessly mixed comedy and drama, laughs and tears, often within mere seconds of each other.

Thanks, Erin, for the Best Lines list. "That's the kind of dirt that don't wash clean" was tops for me.

September 28 2007 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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