”Ugly Betty”: Claire’s insane trial
That axiom about the truth setting you free? It proved to be right for Claire Meade last night on Ugly Betty. And more important, that truth finally cleared up what exactly happened with Fey Sommers’ death, a story line that the show has been following — sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse — since its launch a year and a half ago. I don’t know what you thought of the final revelations, TV Watchers, but I’m totally fulfilled by the sensational wrap-up to the Fey-Bradford-Claire love triangle.
The episode began with a disoriented and mumbling Betty lying on the floor of Gio’s sandwich shop. Broken glass and garbage surrounded her. We quickly found out that she had thrown a trashcan through the window of the shop in what appeared to be a fit of rage — but we also learned that Gio wouldn’t be pressing charges. What would make Betty do such a thing? Did Mode finally drive her to the brink? Was she in a tizzy over potential love Gio? Were we in a flashback to New York City circa 1985 and she’d been mugged in plain sight?
Then Betty rewound three days to give us the whole story: Preparations were underway for Claire’s trial; Willy and Marc were trying to coerce the unflappable Christina into carrying the ex-editrix’s fetus; and Amanda was doing her best to protect her mother’s secret sex room — and the secrets inside it. Betty, always willing to chip in to help the constantly-in-crisis Meade family, was volunteering to gather a few of Claire’s things for the trial — including a special bottle of perfume that Alexis specifically requested. Unfortunately, since the story line with Betty becoming wigged out by the perfume was teased liberally in previews, what was to come was no surprise.
After Claire bequeathed the perfume to Betty — because, you know, a prisoner can’t be trusted with such dangerous items! — Mode’s most levelheaded assistant sprayed some on and started acting like a loon. Girlfriend could type a memo faster than a crack fiend on ecstasy! She was sweating profusely, wildly running around the office, passionately kissing Henry in an elevator full of people, and raging at Gio about things that made no sense.
Regularly playing Betty must be a blast, but America Fererra really got to let ‘er rip in these scenes. I especially enjoyed her licking Christina’s face and the breakfast scene in Queens, when Betty bumped-and-grinded with Justin, furiously downed a glass of orange juice, and devoured half a can of Reddi-Wip while Hilda and Ignacio looked on with dropped jaws. (Justin, of course, chimed in with ”I like it. She’s sassy.”) After watching these sequences, I’m sitting here asking myself why, exactly, didn’t America win her second Golden Globe last week? This girl knows how to put on a show.
While Betty was cracking up, Amanda was piecing together the truth about the fateful perfume. Turns out Fey had persuaded Bradford to get the special perfume for Claire as a gift when the trysting duo was vacationing in Denmark. It’d be a peace offering for being away, Fey assured Bradford. What he didn’t know, though, was that she had poisoned it. Of course, she recorded all of her dubious dealings in the pages of her diary, because when you do evil things, you naturally write down what you did so you can be caught, right?
If we hadn’t figured it out by this point, we learned that Claire had been using the perfume at the time that she cut Fey’s brakes. So the toxins in the perfume caused her crazy actions! That plea of temporary insanity was spot-on. But it wasn’t until we got back to where the show began — with Betty crashing through Gio’s window — that everything started to unravel.
After some touching wrangling by Betty, Amanda agreed to give up the diary pages and perfume so that Claire could be set free. But it was Marc’s plea that really turned the tide with the vengeful Amanda: ”I think there’s a reason you need me to do these things with you,” he said, ”because deep down, you know that your mother was responsible for her own death. Claire Meade is innocent.” I’m glad Amanda changed her mind, but more so than ever before, Amanda and Marc became almost…human! Scary! The touching moments are sweet (paging my box of Puffs!), but I rather enjoy them when they’re up to their evil ways. Never fear, though, Amanda mercifully assured us that it was merely a flash of kindness: ”Eh, it’ll pass,” she deadpanned when Betty thanked her for doing the right thing.
So the jury ended up exonerating Claire, and dare I say that Betty found something of a stand-in for her own deceased mother? The way Claire gazed at Betty — because the go-getter from Queens was the one who ultimately proved her innocence — is the way any mother would look at her child. Back at the office after the trial, Claire summed up exactly how I was feeling: ”To Mode!” she exclaimed as she clinked champagne glasses with the magazine’s staff. With Claire back at the helm, it seems the recently struggling magazine may be ready to get back on its feet.
NEXT: Willy at her evil best