"How Betty Got Her Grieve Back" S2 / E1
It took a few minutes after the debut of Season 2 ended to figure out what seemed off about it. It was the same thing I noticed about the premiere when reviewing the first season: too much, too many people. Ugly Betty's best episodes are the ones with the most focus on one or two elements; tonight was about catching up with everything. Now that everything's in motion it should get better.
I hope so, anyway. One reason, say, Betty and Henry's romance worked because it took its time to develop (well, relatively speaking--took its time for a nighttime soap with a dozen plot strands). That's probably why the most effective parts of Ep 1 were the intimate scenes between Santos and Hilda. My girlfriend, who's watched a lot more of this kind of TV than I have, said, "He's dead and it's all a hallucination," about five second before it was revealed, and I'm sure more people figured it out a lot earlier. Still, it ended things effectively, especially paired with Henry getting off the bus in the middle of Times Square (you know, where Greyhounds let everyone off).
Overall, though, the tone was shriller than it needed to be, even for a show as deliberately over-the-top as Betty is; a new viewer is probably wondering what the hell is going on. I have a hard time thinking Amanda's newfound parentage is going to enhance things any. There's already enough drama with the Meades is one convolution too many, and a few good one-liners ("Dadford," "Your father has lethargic sperm") aren't enough of a return. Ditto Alexis's (groan) "amnesia," and Claire's escaped-prisoner status, though her confrontation with Wilhelmina ("You have about three minutes." "I only need one.") was the point where the show felt like it found its feet again, as was its cutting back-and-forth with Mark meeting Yoga.
I am looking forward to Justin as full-time "fashion elf" for Wilhelmina, though--the more opportunities for Marc and Wilhelmina to interact the better, especially with a third party to bounce off of--and to Betty-Henry developments. Becki Newton is still my favorite broad reactor, even in an unconvincing fat suit. Ilena Douglas's character is promising but needs better lines. And the final word goes to my girlfriend: "The Victoria's Secret product placement seems a little tiresome."