”Ugly Betty” recap: Willy’s power play
Before last night, I never considered Ugly Betty to be that much of a romance. Sure, there were the trysts and flings, especially from folks like Daniel. And there was the Hilda-Santos romance of last season. And, of course, Betty had her dorky, mostly boring relationship with Henry. But even though it’s loosely been termed a ”telenovela,” I always thought of the show as much more of a fish-out-of-water dramedy, focused on the pratfalls of a good-hearted but awkward girl. Although it’s still that, last night's episode — with the love connections sparking between Gio and Betty, Hilda and Tony, and, yes, even Marc and Amanda — was so romance-tastic. What happened? Maybe it’s just that Betty isn’t such an oddity at Mode anymore. Maybe she’s mastered her career world, so the writers feel they should explore an area — that area being love — where she’s still got some awkward left in her.
Whatever the thought is behind it, I love the direction the series is headed in right now. It’s all very heartwarming. Since Henry had to go back to Tucson to be with his new baby, he and Betty decided a ”clean break” was best, although Betty (lying on her bed among dozens of used Kleenex, a Wicked Playbill, and photos of Henry) was understandably upset about the situation. Which, in a great stroke for all of us Getty fans out there, opened the door for the tango that’s currently going on between Gio and Betty. As they proved tonight, it certainly takes two. (I don’t want to dwell on it, but I’m so pleased that Betty decided not to do the long-distance thing with Henry! And I wasn’t pleased to see the previews showing that Henry will be back next week, proposing to Betty.)
After Betty’s initial reaction to Gio’s passionate, unexpected kiss in his sandwich shop (how much did you love Marc and Amanda’s devious ”Betty Whorez Is Out of Control” e-mail blast afterward?), I thought maybe I’d been wrong all along and that they’d actually never get together. Was Betty ready for a new romance? Did she ever really like Gio or was she just being polite? But the fact that she stopped outside the shop — it was just for a fleeting moment — to ponder what had happened made me realize she was at least considering the possibility. For a second, it seemed as if she might have actually — gasp! — liked the kiss. Could she really forget Henry that quickly? But alas, Gio still had to work hard to get her to come over to his side, charming her at Justin’s dance with his smooth moves and lock-picking skills.
And then, at the very end of the episode, Betty seemed ready to see Gio as more than just a friend, ready to possibly brush off her conflicted feelings for her ex. A date — she wanted a dang date with him! But Gio backed off. ”I don’t want to be the rebound guy,” he told Betty after she asked if he wanted to hang out some time. ”I want to be the guy.” This simple but smart comment from him was what made me love what’s happening here. This is a guy who knows what he’s doing, and at least at the moment, it doesn’t feel like he’s doing it in a sleazy, player-type way. He’s not just going to jump into something with Betty because she’s willing and wants to get over Henry quickly. Gio, at least right now, craves something real, and I can really respect that. Let’s hope this little rejection doesn’t make Betty go running in the other direction.
NEXT: Hilda makes her move