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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Ugly Betty: A League of Their Own

Illustration for article titled Ugly Betty: A League of Their Own
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Illustration for article titled Ugly Betty: A League of Their Own

Last week I began by gloating over predicting correctly. This week I begin by gloating over predicting incorrectly. The Betty-Henry pairing is on, unexpectedly for me at least (I don't read much TV coverage, particularly spoilers). And while I'm very happy for something I've rooted for, hard, to finally happen, given Betty's speech ("I know you're leaving in five months and I know everyone is going to say it's a big mistake and I know I'm going to get my heart broken but it's worth it"), I'm a little torn. Then again, in my notes immediately after Betty's lines are is the phrase, "OMG YES," so maybe I'm not that torn. At the very least, it was nice to finally see Henry and Betty kiss without it being a dream/fantasy sequence.

But the pairing I like even more is Marc and Cliff, the photographer of a shoot Marc is sent to supervise a shoot by the scheming Wilhelmina: "You've never asked me to supervise anything before–wait a minute, is this part of your plan to make the magazine suck?" Their chemistry was more or less instant chemistry (Cliff: "I love Hitchcock. How about Psycho?" Marc: "I work for one. Does that count?"), and if Cliff's response to Marc's asking Gus the male model out is hardly new terrain ("You're such a cliché . . . I thought there was more to you") their final scene, on Cliff's couch watching Psycho, was perfect, from Cliff singing, "You picked me over underwear model," to Marc's understated (and very sexy), "What if I get scared?" In the notes, this one got an "OMG PERFECT." (Yes, all-caps. I'm a dork.)

Everything else about this episode pales in comparison: Alexis getting her memory back (flashback compare-contrast when Bradford curses out Daniel) and—oh no—revealing she'd had the brakes on her dad's car cut, which she crashed in the Season 1 finale; Claire first deciding to turn herself in, then to murder Wilhelmina, then deciding that "She did what I never could—she brought them together," and deciding to skip to Italy with Yoga; Betty's lousy Internet date. Justin's joyride and, apparently, reforming at the end; Hilda's widows group. Each had a couple laughs, and each felt like a place-holder compared to the two romances with which the ep climaxed.

Except the collapse of Mode—though that seems riper for future development than in this particular episode. I complained last week about the deus ex machina of a fashion magazine losing advertising due to a transsexual character, but now that the magazine has lost 52 percent of its ads and has 90 days to right itself, the screws should start turning hard. This week's rice paper/soy ink jokes were mild, the sudden redesign to look like OK beggared belief even in a show as knowingly broad as this one, and the family drama took precedent over the office drama. I'm hoping to see more of the way this affects day-to-day goings-on at the magazine.

Which doesn't mean I necessarily need to see more of the unnecessary characters they've been adding this season. One reason the Cliff-Marc hookup had me cheering is that he's the first new addition this season I've actively enjoyed. Kenny the Asian hip-hop guy in accounting gets dialogue almost as bad as Yoga, Claire's co-escapee, the new editor played by Ileana Douglas hasn't been anything special so far (she wasn't on tonight), and the preview promises that next week marks the hardly-awaited return of Gio the sandwich jerk. (And Christina's husband entering the picture doesn't necessarily promise great things, either.) If this is how they intend to make up for the loss of Santos (casting directors, please give Kevin Alejandro something meaty, dude has serious charisma), it isn't working so far. Even for someone who loves this show's baroque over-the-topness, it's becoming apparent that less is more.

Grade: B

Stray observations:

-Amanda stole both her (very brief) scenes, particularly when she ran breathlessly to gossip about Betty's online dating—she's a great physical comedian. And how she responds to Marc's new man ought to be something to hear.

-Kenny pees in ladies' room: "It's cleaner." I used to work at a nightclub and having seen both the men's and women's after the place closed, I can tell you for a fact that no, it's not.

-Best part of the bowling alley: twin gutter balls followed by "It's couples bowl!" Disco ball comes down, everyone starts making out. Not as priceless as the '70s stuff last ep, but the show does this sort of thing very well.

-Love Wilhelmina's silver maid's dress during the family gathering.