The Manhattan Project (Ugly Betty)

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"The Manhattan Project"
Ugly Betty episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 1
Directed by Victor Nelli, Jr.
Written by Silvio Horta
Production code 301
Original air date September 25, 2008
Episode chronology
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"Filing for the Enemy"
Episode chronology

"The Manhattan Project" (also known as "Nights in Rome or Tucson") is the first episode in the third season, the 42nd episode overall, and the third-season premiere of the American dramedy series Ugly Betty, which aired on September 25, 2008.


Lindsay Lohan guest stars as Betty's rival Kimmie.

As the events of the previous episode passed, Betty's decision about whether to visit Rome with Gio or marry Henry had taken its toll on her. We learn (via a confessional to her mom's tombstone) that Betty refused Henry's wedding proposal and Gio's Rome date because she wasn't ready for a serious relationship and had to find out who she was. With time away from her two former love interests, Betty travels the country alone to gain experience and returns refreshed, along with an idea binder which outlines her goals: get more responsibilities at work, exclude love life as a priority, and get her own apartment.

Unfortunately, as Betty returns to New York City, she discovers much has changed. First, there's a newly redesigned "Mode," done up in black, white and chrome fixtures, and the office is extremely cold. Marc and Amanda welcome back their favorite "frenemy," and of course, there's Wilhelmina as editor-in-chief. As Betty walks into a nursery for the unborn Meade (formerly Daniel's office), Wilhelmina punches a hole through the wall and tells the construction crew to put a window there.

Second, Daniel has been "kicked downstairs" to head up another Meade publication, a young men's magazine called "Player". Betty's job is plagued by Daniel Jr., who welcomes her by gluing her to her chair. Daniel makes light of the situation and wheels Betty into a meeting room, where she is greeted by a chorus of "boo"s from the male staff. Nevertheless, she gets assigned to head up the magazine's Harley motorcycle event. All goes well until DJ sprays Silly String on a model. Ever-resourceful Betty tells Daniel she will handle the situation by filling in for the injured biker. As she does, Betty spots Daniel Jr., who proceeds to spray more Silly String all over her helmet—resulting in a major catastrophe. Marc and Amanda, of course, are present to enjoy the hilarity.

Third, Betty decides to get an apartment in the city, much to the chagrin of Papi and Hilda. Betty, with a very pregnant (and hungry) Christina at her side, goes apartment-hunting and is duped by a savvy real estate agent. A spacious flat with cheery yellow walls wins Betty over, but she makes up her mind a moment too late—someone else just signed the lease. Sensing Betty's naivete, the agent talks her into leasing another "great" place upstairs that turns out to be a filthy mess and has a "sexy view"... of an elderly nude couple. Later on, though, Betty's family saves the day by surprising her with their version of an Extreme Home Makeover. After her apartment is finished, Betty (who has made it a goal to hold off on relationships with guys) knocks on her neighbor's door to complain about loud music and meets Jesse, who is a very attractive guitar player. Betty walks back into her place with a wistful look in her eyes.

On Betty's return from vacation, she's proud to learn that Ignacio has a new job at Flushing Burger. Later on, she has the chance to meet Ignacio's boss, who turns out to be Kimmie Keegan, Betty's old nemesis from school! When Kimmie learns Ignacio is Betty's father, she starts treating him harshly, making him clean restrooms instead of cooking, then cutting back his hours. When Betty and Hilda confront Kimmie, Kimmie waste no time reviving the feud, leading to a food fight which results (among other things) in Betty's idea binder landing in the deep-fryer. Later on, though, Betty apologizes to Kimmie, who surprises her by admitting she's jealous of Betty's loving family, great job and city apartment. Kimmie makes things right by giving Ignacio his well-deserved job back.

In other scenarios, Claire's Hot Flash issue and its future has caused a rift within the Meade family, as Alexis reveals to Wilhelmina their plans to promote the debut cover on Times Square. However, Wilhelmina says she wants more money to promote Mode, which Alexis says she can't do at the moment. This frustrates Wilhelmina, and she decides Mode will be the priority. Later on, Alexis and Wilhelmina promote Mode on Live with Regis & Kelly, but the interview takes a different twist when (as Wilhelmina planned all along) the hosts mock "Hot Flash" and read an article that trashes Alexis' appearance and discusses how she screwed Daniel by demoting him.

It also looks like Wilhelmina's plans to divide the Meades may be succeeding better than expected, as Claire scorns Alexis for killing Hot Flash, saying she's just another puppet for Wilhelmina. This meltdown, along with a situation ending in Daniel yelling at Daniel Jr. for eating cake before dinner, would take its toll. Claire explains to Daniel about being a father and doing what he has to do; Daniel and his son (who cautiously emerges from his room, where he ran and hid) later talk and make up. Claire gets a call from her assistant, being told that Alexis will downsize Hot Flash. Claire reminds her that Wilhelmina has not only pushed Daniel and her away, but she will make Alexis a fool too, warning her that it now leaves one more Meade to go.

Claire, sadly enough, is right. The following day at Times Square, Wilhelmina and Marc see the billboard cover of Mode and congratulate themselves on a job well done.


As its name already suggests, "The Manhattan Project" is the second episode in the series to be produced in New York City (the first being the Pilot).[1]

The rumored working title for this episode was "Nights in Rome or Tucson". Filming began July 9, 2008.


"Previously on Ugly Betty" is not mentioned in this episode, we can hear Betty saying, "Last season on Ugly Betty"


This episode marked the first for Rebecca Romijn as a recurring role, while it introduced one new recurring regular, Val Emmich as Jesse in his first episode.[2] Kimmie (Lindsay Lohan) also appeared for the second time and more appearances are scheduled.


After Hilda complains that Betty wasted all her money in the apartment, she complaints about the "cost of gas", to which Betty replied "you don't have a car." However, in season 1, Hilda did have a car she used to sell Herbalux and was taken "hostage" by Justin so that Hilda and Betty can take him to Fashion Week. In season 2, Justin stole Hilda's keys and crashed the car - however, she may have since lost her car.


"American Girl" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

"Roam" by The B-52's

"Rump Shaker" by Wreckx-n-Effect


In the review it was stated: "There was a lot going on in tonight's episode. I was surprised that Gio and Henry only appeared in the opening sequence. I was hoping that Betty would have chosen Gio. I don't understand why Ignacio couldn't get a better job. I thought that he had his immigration status cleared up and he's obviously a fantastic cook, but having Lindsay Lohan as his boss sure makes things interesting. Daniel's new magazine seems like it will get boring fast. His new crew isn't as fun to watch as the Mode workers were. I'm glad Christina, Marc and Amanda still find ways to get involved, but they seem weird out of the workplace. I wasn't shocked to meet Betty's new neighbor. It always seems when characters want to avoid love, they're sure to find it".


While it did well in the US with a 6.6/11 among all households, a 3.3 among 18-49s, and 9.78 million viewers watching, it was down 12 percent from the second season opener but helped ABC will the night.[3][4] However the entire Thursday night schedule among the major US networks were all down from the same time in the previous season.

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