Tanner Stransky
February 16, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

”Ugly Betty”: Battling for love and power

Vote for Betty! Vote for Justin! Vote for Christina! Vote for Willy! Vote for Alexis! With the bulk of Ugly Betty‘s population fighting for the things — and the people — they want last night, I found myself rooting for my favorite characters in all their battles. Just think of me as Napoleon Dynamite. Except I’m not rooting for Pedro, and I’m wearing five layered T-shirts with those five proclamations on them instead.

By the end of the show — when Justin Timberlake’s hypnotizing ”What Goes Around” was playing in the background — I was simply exhausted from all the positive brain waves I had sent at the TV. Betty, please tell Henry how you really feel. Justin, keep on snapping your fingers in the face of whoever is in front of you (and especially if it’s your father). And Christina, try to avoid the dark side! Was anyone else rooting their hearts out, or am I the only one? (If you’re really feeling anxious about the future of your favorite characters, submit your own plotlines to the show’s producers.)

Battle #1: Betty

Wowza! We finally got some movement on the Henry front. [Insert visual of Tanner keeling over on his futon before jumping up and down in his living room.] At first, I feared maybe the writers would continue to spin their wheels. But Betty finally told Henry how she felt about him. Amazing, right? Wrong. The glory lasted only a few moments. Because, of course, after Charlie showed up, Betty got cold feet and told Henry that he had nothing to do with her breakup with Walter. Sigh. Last week I went on about how Betty is pathetic when it comes to love, and this development only further proves that point. But really, I guess this little nudge is better than nothing. And I suspect that Henry knows how she’s really feeling.

This battle was harder because the UB producers made Henry’s girlfriend, Charlie, so nice (albeit naïve) and cute. Ugh! I was prepared to hate the girlfriend because she’d be uglier than Betty and really nasty. Isn’t that what you expected? But now both Betty and I are stuck being Charlie’s friend. I’m uncomfortable with this relationship already.

Battle #2: Justin

Okay, I may have been a little harsh on Santos last week when I said that I was done with him. Really, though, I was pretty much done with him this episode, too, until he finally proved his worth by defending Justin on the subway when the a-hole called Justin a ”fairy.” Honestly, Santos hasn’t been around the kid much, so I’m rationalizing that he’s probably just slow on the uptake. Maybe it will take him a while to be comfortable with it all. If you just spend a little time with him, Santos — as all of us faithful viewers have been doing for weeks now — you’ll learn to love the kid, too. At the end of the episode, it was touching when Santos said, ”And you’re right, it’s way satisfying.” So, yes! Vote for Justin! (Santos seems to be getting there.)

Battle #3: Christina

Christina continued to struggle to save her soul:

Willy: ”You’re not here to stitch, you’re here to snitch.”

Marc: ”She needs information, bitch! [Apologetically] I thought we were rhyming.”

How the hell is the cute little Scot gonna get out of this one? With Marc now helping Willy by becoming Christina’s ”besty,” she doesn’t have a chance in hell. I so want her to succeed with her designs. I mean, Sarah freakin’ Jessica freakin’ Parker called, for God’s sake! But not if it means selling her pure soul to the fashion devil.

Battle #4: Willy

I’ve made it clear that it’s my secret desire to see Willy take over Mode. For us viewers, what could possibly be more fun than that? Those few minutes in last week’s episode when she thought she was in charge — firing people from Polaroid snapshots — were delectable. I’m convinced she’d manage to bring the over-the-top fabulosity of Mode to a new level. That all means I’m hoping Willy’s friendship with Alexis will keep growing stronger.

But what I don’t get about the whole thing is how Alexis turned her back on Willy in the first place. Alexis’ switch is somewhat understandable because Daniel is family, but Willy practically nursed her back to health after her surgeries. Alexis should show some respect to Willy, no matter how evil she may be.

Battle #5: Alexis

This whole situation is a hot mess, but I like Alexis. For some whack-a-doo reason, she thought it’d be easy coming back as a woman. Riiiiiight. It seems that all she wants, even more than money or power at Meade Publications, is someone to love her. Just someone to eat her greasy hamburger with. Maybe Willy is that person, but this girl needs some friends, stat.

Who am I not rooting for? Claire and Bradford. I just can’t get myself invested in the mystery of Fey’s death enough to care about either of the possible culprits (although it’s looking like Claire’s fault now). Just give us the deets already!

And a few other notes ‘n’ quotes from another great episode:

Justin! Singing! ”Good Morning Baltimore”! Awesome. I was freaking out, of course. First off, that song is amazing. Second, his performance-synopsis of Hairspray had such conviction. Would it be too much to suggest an Ugly Betty musical spin-off with Justin as the star? C’mon!

Guest Stars Good casting, albeit a tiny bit wacky. Jerry O’Connell did a fine job, but it still skeeved me out that Rebecca Romijn’s real-life fiancé was hitting on her as a man turned woman. And as for Lucy Liu, we’ve seen her be a real bitch before on Ally McBeal and Sex and the City. The make-out session was hot for sure, but she could have camped-up her character a bit more.

The Gay PB Simply genius. Willy: ”Stop fondling my limes and do something!” Marc: ”Let me put out a gay PB among the assistants, and I’ll find out what’s going on.” Did any of you see Entourage last season when Lloyd talked about the Gay Assistant Mafia? These two should hook up: They’d be the most powerful couple on TV.

Charlie’s Quotable Moment ”I love working with found objects, but the only thing I’ve found so far in New York are hypodermic needles and condoms.” Honestly, New York isn’t that dirty of a place. Why must these stereotypes be perpetuated? Oh, never mind — I forgot this whole show is one big stereotype. (In a good, funny, campy way, of course.)

Amanda’s Trifecta Add three more roles to Becki Newton’s IMDB list for Ugly Betty. As when she played Ugly Ruthie in January, she brilliantly pulled off a drummer, a roller-skater girl, and an old woman on the subway platform last night. Maybe she’s the one who deserves the spin-off….

Willy’s Ice Queen Look and Punch Three words: Fiercest. Outfit. Ever. And fiercest punch ever, too. Also, loved this exchange: Bar Jerk Played by Jerry O’Connell: ”You look familiar, have we met?” Willy: ”We’re not even meeting now.” And this line, to Alexis: ”You know, you may be new at being a woman, but you’re an old pro at being a bitch.” Who else do you know who can get away with saying things like that?

The Sad Ending This episode had a very Grey’s Anatomy or Lost (of the old days) kind of wrap, where we see all the forlorn characters walking and thinking as a sorrowful song plays. I dunno about it — it had a bit of a phoned-in feeling.

What do you all think? What are your favorite notes ‘n’ quotes from the evening? Who’ll end up taking the fall for Fey’s death? Do Santos and Hilda have a chance to get back together? And — please, please let it be — is the Constance-Ignacio story line over?

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