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This episode, “After Hours,” opens the same way every episode of “Ugly Betty” opens – with a shot of Betty looking really ugly. OK, Show, I get it. It’s not as if, without the ugly shot to remind me, I’d be sitting there on the couch thinking “Wait! But I thought her name was Pretty Betty! What’s going on? Someone get me a TV Guide!”
Betty is seen standing in her boss Daniel’s office, soaking wet. She was upstairs with Sofia Reyes, who is not only a best-selling author but also editor of the new magazine NYW. While Betty was getting Sofia to sign a copy of her book, a fire alarm went off, soaking Betty – and Daniel’s breakfast bagel. I can handle a workplace where people hook up with their bosses and make fun of people because of the way they look. That’s a typical day at work here at the Peach Pit. But forcing a wet breakfast on someone seems lazy – couldn’t Betty make a second trip to the Mode cafeteria? It’s not as if the models ate all the non-wet options – those things have carbs! And calories! And are hard to throw up! But Daniel doesn’t complain. Why? He’s more worried that he doesn’t have someone to write a review of a swanky new hotel.The sprinklers also have a bigger effect. Not able to work in the water damage, Sofia moves her staff into the conference room outside Daniel’s office. Sofia is played by Selma Hayek, who is also an executive producer on the show. In last week’s episode, Sofia/Selma took off her shirt in an elevator. I think someone should tell Selma that if you’re a producer on a show, you can say no when a horny writer writes an episode solely so he can see your boobies. I can only imagine what the casting department got away with on the casting couch! Daniel isn’t thrilled to have Sofia there, but she strikes back by making fun of the half-naked emaciated Mode models and the magazine’s puff pieces. I think this is supposed to show that Sofia cares about real issues, but if she wants to write a magazine with chubby people on the cover and articles about feelings, then she should go work for Oprah. At Mode, it’s all about clothes you can’t afford and eating disorder denial, and that’s the way we like it.
Sofia stops by to visit Betty and give her a non-wet, autographed copy of the book. Sofia also wants some help. Since NYW’s audience is the “regular” girl, Sofia wants Betty’s feedback for an article on sexaholics. I’m not sure how Sofia got the idea that Betty would contribute much on sexaholics, or what sexaholics have to do with regular girls. Other articles Sofia wants Betty’s help with: “How a Rave Changed My Life” and “Hot Girl on Girl Action: A True Story of Love at a Women’s College”. But Betty is thrilled to help, until Daniel sees what’s going on from his office and interrupts. Maybe he was still mad about the soggy bagel – I also tend to get really cranky if I don’t have breakfast. In fact, if I have to call Cingular and complain, I skip breakfast on purpose so my blood sugar falls really low before I unleash my rage on some unsuspecting customer service rep. It works – I haven’t paid roaming charges in three years. So I feel Daniel’s pain. But after dragging Betty away from Sofia, Daniel feels bad and makes up for it by offering to let her write the hotel review.
Betty’s thrilled. All is perfect a la Mode… except Betty and Walter had plans to go to Atlantic City for the weekend. Betty tries to explain that this assignment could be the first step for something bigger at Mode, but Walter gets mad and decides to go to Atlantic City without her. Hilda warns Betty that she might lose Walter. The show seems to be pushing really hard for Betty and Walter to end up together, but I don’t think this is such a good idea. Let’s review: Walter cheated on Betty. Walter is boring. Walter is not supportive of Betty’s big break. People, it doesn’t take Dr. Phil to realize that Betty would be better off without him. Also, we learned in this episode that Walter plays flute in a Jethro Tull tribute band. Betty, that is reason enough to buy a one-way ticket to Break Up City.
Meanwhile, Wilhelmina has been given the job of wooing Ted LeBeau, President of Beaumart. Hmm – I wonder what monolithic, take-over-your-town, pod store they are trying to satirize here? Mode desperately needs the advertising dollars of this discount retailer. Wilhelmina dresses up in a Beaumart polyester suit and redesigns her office so it’s a little bit country and not at all rock ‘n’ roll. But despite these efforts, Ted still isn’t sure if the high fashion Mode is the right fit for his clothes. Maybe Mode would have better like with “Barget.”
Betty heads off to the swanky hotel, in a blue fluffy coat and orange dress. She starts writing her review, using big fancy words like “spectacular” and “deliciously divine.” Oh my – hints that she’s not in Queens any more! No one from Queens uses words like divine – them words is for fancy city folks! Betty then orders a massage. And the masseur is a hunk! What would Edith Bunker do? Who knows, but Betty went ahead with her hunky massage. Just when I’m hoping to get some information for the sexaholic article, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Walter. Walter ruins everything. And then Walter is upset that Betty has a man in her room. Which is cool, and not hypocritical of the guy who cheated at all.
Back in Queens, Hilda is doing whatever she can to find money to hire a lawyer for Ignacio, who recently confessed to his daughters that not only is he an illegal immigrant, but he also murdered someone in Mexico. Dang! Next we’ll find that Ignacio’s tamales are store bought! Hilda does what any good daughter would do – she sluts it up. Armed with a pair of leather pants and a low-cut shirt, she hits up her baby daddy, Santos, for cash. Santos puts up half the money she needs, but the trade-off is that he wants to see his son, Justin. Ignacio doesn’t want to owe Santos, and wonders what Hilda had to do to get it. Ah, yes, it’s not a good family show until a dad accuses his daughter of whoring it out for the greater good. Then Ignacio says: “You’re asking for trouble, mija.” Number of Spanish words uttered by any of the Hispanic characters in this show: One! Yay! (or should I say: Ole!)
At the hotel, Betty explains that while she and Walter can have fun, the main priority needs to be her work. And as part of that work, it’s time for dinner in the hotel’s fancy restaurant. Betty takes out her prom dress, a bright blue concoction that’s been bedazzled with diamonique. Stop it, Show. Betty is from Queens, not outer space. Someone from Queens would know that dressing like the Little Mermaid might not be right for a fancy downtown restaurant. Someone from the moon might not (I think… my apologies to any stylish moonladies reading this…)
Meanwhile, Wilhelmina is doing whatever she can to win Ted over. I think it’s pretty clear that a little trip to Make Out City would have convinced Ted pretty quickly. Instead, apparently not willing to go all the way (so to speak) for her job, Wilhelmina decides that they should go out to dinner. But Ted picks the place, and he chooses the country bar Hogs and Hieffers. When they enter, the jukebox is playing “Sharp Dressed Man”, and the waitresses wear tight shirts with the menu printed over their boobs. In short, this place is awesome. The only people who wouldn’t love it: Mother Theresa, Osama bin Laden and Wilhelmina. Actually, Mother Theresa might like the artichoke dip.
Back at Mode, Daniel takes a cue from Sofia’s book and orders Indian food for Sofia and her staff. I’m not entirely sure what exactly Sofia said to Daniel in these flirty scenes. There was something about Indian food being an aphrodisiac and something else about breast reconstruction. When Selma gets to talking fast, I only understand about every 10th word she says, but I really don’t care because she says it with such gusto. But it’s entirely possible I missed a few plot points. Plus, I was distracted by her boobs.
At the fancy hotel, Betty and Walter go to dinner. Betty tries to take notes on the meal, but she’s feeling a bit overwhelmed and doesn’t know what to focus on. I empathize with that, because I feel the same way every time I try to decide which McGriddle to get. Walter thinks they should go upstairs, order burgers, and watch cable. Which almost makes me like him a little bit, but since he doesn’t mention French fries, chocolate sundaes, or soft core, I can’t give him too much credit.
Sofia takes Daniel away on her motorcycle. Between this and the spicy Indian food, Daniel is overwhelmed by Sofia. Apparently Daniel is completely unfamiliar with the age-old saying: Everybody loves a spicy Latina! The two end up at a bar playing pool. She’s winning, and Daniel suggests that she “show me your rack.” How subtle! How coy! I can’t believe that Daniel thinks a lady like Sofia would fall for that… except she does. Moments later, they’re making out.
In the hotel’s fancy restaurant, Betty and Walter don’t know what to make of the fancy nouveau cuisine. They’re so confused, in fact, that Walter refuses to eat. When Walter orders a burger and fries, Betty is humiliated. She thinks that he is sabotaging her because he doesn’t like her working at Mode. He responds that he doesn’t want to pretend to be something that he’s not and that they don’t belong in places like this swanky hotel. That’s when Betty zings: “Maybe you’re the one who doesn’t belong.” Walter not belong?! Certainly not without a Little Mermaid dress! In your face, Walter! So Walter, fighting back, says that he doesn’t like the new Betty from Mode.
This is when I get a little annoyed. This show wants it both ways. When Betty’s at Mode, we’re supposed to laugh at her for being the clueless outsider. But now we’re supposed to believe that she’s become a Mode fashionista? That might work if she weren’t a bedazzled Little Mermaid. By my count, differences between Betty from Queens and Betty from Mode: Zero. Ways that Walter is a big whiny baby: Too Many to Count.
Back in Queens, the drama at the Suarez house continues. Santos doesn’t show up to see Justin until very late at night. Again, I get kind of excited for some research for the sexaholic article and yet again, I am disappointed. Turns out, Santos was beat up, because the money he gave Hilda was actually owed to a bookie. Hilda’s touched by his sacrifice, so she invites him to Thanksgiving. I hate to be a downer, but does anyone think that Santos and Justin are going to have anything to talk about? Santos is a hood with a gambling problem. Justin loves fashion and musical theater. Actually, maybe they could talk about “West Side Story”, a beautiful combination of gangs and dance?! Ole!
Betty goes back to her hotel room and tries to write her review. Again, she falls back on big fancy words like “posh” and “delectable” which are supposed to let us know that she is floundering. She then gazes sadly at a hamburger. Either Betty just read “Fast Food Nation”, or she’s thinking of Walter. Betty deletes what she’s written and dials her cellphone.
Back at the cowboy bar, Wilhelmina does a body shot. Then she takes a call from her daughter Nico. Ah, drunk family bonding! Anyway, Wilhelmina find out that the care package she had sent to Nico was filled with things like perfume, which her daughter is allergic to. Nico hangs up, but Ted announces that someone who is trying to be a good parent is the kind of person he wants to buy ads from. I’m not sure where he got the good parent thing. Wilhelmina sends her daughter a present that could kill her, she ships her off to boarding school… It’s just like that episode of the Brady Bunch when Carol got drunk and told Jan what she really thought of her glasses… oh, wait, that was me last night with a bottle of vodka and Nick at Night… Anyway, Wilhelmina and Ted then hold hands. Nothing like body shots to bring everyone together!
Betty goes back to Queens, where Walter is waiting on the stoop. Betty apologizes to Walter and explains that she feels that she’s the one who doesn’t belong. Then there’s a gross scene, where Betty reassures Walter that he won’t lose her. Glad to see that Walter doesn’t need to apologize for almost ruining Betty’s big opportunity.
The next morning at Mode, Daniel sees Sofia packing up her things. The water damage is cleaned up and it’s time for her magazine to go back where they came from. Daniel says that he was trying to call her all weekend, but Sofia explains that she was with her boyfriend. Ole! Wilhelmina arrives at work to find that Ted sent her white cowboy boots. Wilhelmina smiles, her hangover apparently making her forget that it is never, ever okay to wear white shoes after Labor Day. Wilhelmina then uses the box to pack up a care package for her daughter with things like jelly beans. Then she throws in the only picture she seems to have of the two of them together. Score one for the good mom – who needs a picture, she can totally remember what her daughter looks like!
Betty turns in her hotel review. Daniel thinks that the review itself is good, but explains that he isn’t going to use it – while it might be very Betty, it’s not very Mode. Mode readers want things sleek and glamorous. Betty is super sad and I really wanted to feel super sad on Betty’s behalf. But yet, I wasn’t. After all, a writer is supposed to know their audience. It would be like me wanting to write for TVgasm, but hating Big Brother (which is obviously a joke, since no one could hate Big Brother). It seems to me that if Betty is assigned to write for Mode, she should write something in Mode’s style.
Just as Betty is all sad on the inside, Sofia saves the day. First Sofia tells Betty that she shouldn’t care what Daniel thinks. This might be good advice if Daniel were the mean bully on the playground, but since Daniel is her boss, I think Betty is actually being paid to care what he thinks. Then Sofia says that she will run the article in her magazine. Betty is thrilled and does a little dance.
So I’m left with many questions: Where were Marc and Amanda? And what about the return of Fey and the mysterious murder plot? Did anyone else find this episode a little less interesting than usual? Do we think Santos and Justin are going to play nicely on Thanksgiving? When will Betty wise up and dump Walter? Let’s discuss!