“Ugly Betty” (3.01) recaplet: Suarez in the City

(l-r) Mark Indelicato, America Ferrera, Ana Ortiz

At the end of the last season of ABC’s Ugly Betty, there were life changing decisions left up in the air, and this season promises to bring even more changes and revelations for this colorfully demented cast of characters.

A brief recap: Last we left Betty Suarez (the Emmy-winning America Ferrera), she had a choice to make, between accepting the marriage proposal of adorkable Henry (played by Christopher Gorham), and an offer to run away to Rome with hot sandwich peddler Gio (Freddy Rodriguez).

Her sister Hilda (Ana Ortiz) found herself falling for Tony (Eddie Cibrian), the married gym teacher of her gay son Justin (played by Mark Indelicato).

Over at fashion magazine Mode, diva on wheels Wilhelmina (Vanessa Williams) had taken over the reigns from Daniel (Eric Mabius) thanks to the betrayal of his sister (who used to be his brother) Alexis (Rebecca Romijn), and to top it off, Daniel had just been given custody of the young son he never knew he had.

This season opens with Betty finally spilling the beans about which guy she chose…was it the steadfast Henry, or the impulsive Gio? Turns out, it’s neither. She dumped them both, which unfortunately means we probably won’t be seeing the hotness of Christopher Gorham or Freddy Rodriguez again.

As she sits at her mother’s graveside, she tells her that she loved both men, but she needs to think of herself, yada, yada, yada, and basically it boils down to “I’ve been to paradise..but I’ve never been to me!” and she needs to find out who she is before she can settle down.

So what did she do this whole time she’s been gone? There’s a cute opening title sequence which shows her going to the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite, and San Francisco. She brought back a giant “idea” book (which is so “Betty”), and has a three part plan to go with her new attitude.

1. Take on more responsibility at work.

2. Not let romantic entanglements get in the way.

3. Get my own apartment in the city.

And how many of these things do you think will blow up in her face during the episode?

(l-r) Michael Urie, America Ferrera, Becki Newton

Her sister and father are none too pleased with the part about her getting her own apartment, and as her dad walks to his new job with her (at a fast food joint called, I kid you not, Flushing Burgers) he says that she’s acting a little naive with all this “pie in the sky” stuff. She’s offended, and leaves him to his new career, which involves being bossed around by, I kid you not, Lindsay Lohan, who is livid when she finds out that he’s the father of her high school nemesis.

Arriving at Mode, Betty instantly notices a chill in the air (literally, as Wilhelmina has ordered the temperature to be kept at arctic levels), and runs into Amanda and Marc, who are ecstatic to see her. As they stroke and pinch her, they have this comforting conversation:

Amanda: It’s like a long lost teddy bear

Marc: Ohh…furry

Betty: Why are you guys being so nice to me?

Marc: Because you remind us of the good old days, when you were here, and you would say something weird, or wear something hideous.

Betty walks into Daniel’s office, and is shocked to find that it’s been turned into a vaguely terrifying nursery. As she watches in horror, a sledgehammer breaks through the wall, revealing the icy image of Wilhelmina, who explains that Daniel’s office is now reserved for her upcoming offspring, and he has been given…a different job assignment. Betty takes the elevator down to her new job, and is not prepared for what she sees.

Will Betty make good on her three point plan? Will we see Eddie Cibrian half naked? And who’s the hot new guy in Betty’s life? Find out…after the break!

Eddie Cibrian, Ana Ortiz

The elevator opens up on Betty’s new career path…and it ain’t pretty. Daniel has been given the reigns of a Maxim clone called Player, which he describes as the “third largest no nudity men’s magazine”, or as I like to call them “for insecure straight guys with small junk”.

Betty is properly skeeved out, but Daniel convinces her to give it a try, after all, she wanted “more responsibility at work”, right?

We get a (too) brief scene with Hilda and a shirtless Tony (I wonder if Eddie Cibrian charges by the nipple?), and that’s all we see of him this episode.

Meanwhile, Betty sets off to work on the third point on her list. With Christina (Ashley Jensen) in tow, she vows to find her dream apartment, but Christina is more concerned with finding her next meal. She’s pregnant (as you recall, for financial reasons, she’s carrying Wilhelmina’s baby), and for some reason I keep flashing on the classic 70’s Joan Collins movie The Devil Within Her, where she gives birth to a baby possessed by the spirit of a freaky, dancing dwarf.

Betty finds her dream apartment, but unfortunately, it’s rented by someone else before she has a chance to sign for it, and ends up taking an apartment in the same building…sight unseen. Needless to say, when Hilda and Betty show up later to take a look at it, the apartment is a dump, but does include a free nude elderly couple in the next building. Hot!

Michael Urie

Back at work, Daniel has good news for Betty. They’ve decided to use one of the ideas in her book for their next issue, and he wants her to be in charge of it. There’s just one little hitch…instead of “strong women bicycling across the country”, it’ll be “six hot girls on motorcycles riding through the biggest party towns in our country”. She’s going to be in charge of planning the presentation of the “Player Biker Girls” event. She’s overjoyed.

Over at Mode, Willie and Marc are hatching a plan. They need more money from Alexis, and they think they can get it if they find a way to sink the pet project of Alexis’s mother Claire (played by the incomparable Judith Light). Claire’s magazine is called Hot Flashes, and if they can torpedo it, they might be able to get the funds they need. So they engineer a spot on Regis & Kelly, and Willie asks Alexis to appear with her.

The appearance on Regis & Kelly (who play themselves, terribly) goes just as Willie planned, as the two show hosts mercilessly mock the idea of Hot Flashes (of course, in real life, if anyone tried to make fun of a magazine about menopausal women, they would be picketed and boycotted). But Alexis is suitably embarassed, and she informs her mother later that her pet project is going to be downgraded to a quarterly, or egads…an insert.

Rebecca Romijn, Vanessa Williams

The “Player Biker Girls” event is going splendidly, despite the fact the Marc and Amanda have shown up for the sole purpose of wanting to see Betty make a fool of herself. But what are the odds of that?

Anyway, Daniel’s son D.J. (who may be a little French boy, but to me looks like Rafael Nadal, Jr.) is working Betty’s last nerve, constantly spraying her in the face with Silly String. Daniel tells her to chill out, but the boy has “future wedgie giver” written all over him.

That’s when the crisis happens (you knew there had to be one, right?). Seems that Mini-Rafa sprayed Silly String in the face of the biker girl who was going to be the “R” in “player”, and she left in a huff. Betty will have to fill in for her, riding a motorcycle next to a pool of babes wrestling in Jell-O. Would it surprise you to learn that the scene ends with Betty face down in that pool, having accidentally steered her motorcycle into it, in front of the paparazzi?

Lindsay Lohan

Hilda asks Betty to come to Flushing Burgers immediately, as they need to “speak” to the manager, who’s been giving their father a hard time. Betty recognizes the manager as Kimmie, the bully who made her life a living hell in high school, and after words are exchanged, a food fight breaks out, which culminates in Betty’s Big Idea Book being deep fried. Kimmie tells Hilda and Betty that their father is fired, which come to think of it, would make a great opening to a sitcom…

He was working in a burger shop in Flushing, Queens

Till his daughters got him fired in one of those crushing scenes

Later, Betty goes back to apologize, but is stunned when Kimmie admits that the reason she resents her is because she’s jealous of Betty’s success. After a rather effective scene between the two of them, Kimmie tells her that Betty’s dad is welcome back to work.

Judith Light, Eric Mabius

Daniel is having his own problems with Mini-Rafa. The tyke has locked himself in his room after Daniel yelled at him, and won’t come out. Claire tells him that part of being a parent is knowing when to say no, and as long as his son knows he’ll be there, these things will happen and be forgotten (on a side note, Daniel says that his son is learning english from watching late night tv, which means he should be an expert soon on talking about profiting from foreclosure sales, and how men can extend their lovemaking equipment).

Betty has decided to try and make a go of this new job, and offers up the humiliating clip of her Jell-O dive as Players’ new viral video. Back at the apartment, she’s surprised by her family, who have decided to help make her new home livable, and best of all, she meets her new neighbor.

Val Emmich

Meet the new man in Betty’s life, her guitar playing neighbor Jesse, played by the super cute singer/songwriter/actor/li’l hottie Val Emmich. Things are definitely looking up for Betty in the romance department, if not career-wise, because in next week’s preview it looks like she’s gone to work for…Wilhelmina!

So, what did you think of the season premiere? I thought it was so-so, myself. I love the fact that she has a new interest (her relationships with Henry and Gio were going nowhere), and I think her new job has some interesting possibilities, but I wish they would get away from the slapstick, which can grow tiring. How many times can she trip and fall into vats of stuff? And I’m hoping they don’t shift the focus away from her family now that she’s moved. Her family is the heart of this show. Let us know what you thought, and come back here every Friday for your Ugly Betty recap!

80's Pop Culture Expert, Shooting At The Walls Of Heartache.