In the end, Betty chose ... nobody. Instead, she moved to London for a great new job opportunity, where she not so coincidentally ran into Daniel, who had recently relinquished the editorship of Mode to Wilhelmina. Betty and Daniel agreed to have dinner together, but... is it a date?
Though that distinction is left intentionally ambiguous, elsewhere in the world of Ugly Betty, there was plenty of closure. Marc made his feelings known to Troy. On Marc's urging, Willy decided that true love trumped schemes and called a truce with Claire. Amanda found her birth father. Ignacio learned to let his daughters live their lives, which included Hilda, Justin and Bobby moving out of the family house in Queens and over the bridge into Manhattan.
TVGuide.com chatted with series creator and executive producer Silvio Horta about the choices he made in the series-finale episode. How did cancellation change his five-season game plan? Does he think Betty and Daniel will date? Read on to find out...
TVGuide.com: There are, like, 300 scenes in this episode. Did it ever feel overstuffed to you or like you had too much to accomplish?
Silvio Horta: Having seen the first cut of it, which was about five minutes longer, my perspective was like, this is way too much going on, but we need to deal with it all. I don't think we gave short shrift to anything. It was important to me that the core cast all had something [in the way of closure]. If we hadn't explored the Justin story line this season, for example, that would've been a huge regret.
TVGuide.com: If you knew you were getting another season, how would this season have been different?
Horta: We would've still gotten the braces off and a lot of it would've been about Betty's physical transformation. The initial gimmick of the show was this girl hiding under these bangs, bushy eyebrows and glasses. That was a great way in, but a part of me wishes I had loosened it up earlier, in Season 3 or something. Looking back, I wish we hadn't held off on her transformation as long as we did.
TVGuide.com: You used to be dead set against a Betty-Daniel romance. Yet something happens between them here. What changed your mind?
Horta: The core relationship of the show has always been Betty and Daniel. Whenever we got away from that, people felt the show suffered. The chemistry they have — whether someone can feel it as romantic chemistry or it's just a strong bond — is just palpable. It drove the show. That question was always there: Will Betty and Daniel end up together?
It was probably a conversation I had with America. It was so obvious; they've been there for each other for the entire course of the series and to end with that possibility — and what I think you end with is a possibility — with anyone but Daniel seemed off. Are they together after that? I don't even want to say. I have my version in my head of what happens after she walks away from him, but I think everyone can have their own interpretation.
TVGuide.com: Did you actively not want a romantic conclusion to the series?
Horta: Yes, I didn't want that; it was way too rushed, too quick.
TVGuide.com: Why London?
Horta: I wanted her to have the next step up, a place to go, and I didn't want it to be New York. I wanted it to feel like she was making a big choice. And part of it is that I haven't seen a place in the world that has been as devoted, where the fans [of Ugly Betty] are as great as they are in the U.K.; it was a shout-out to them.
TVGuide.com: How did you decide on Bryan Batt to play Amanda's father?
Horta: I'm just a huge fan of his from Mad Men; he's a terrific actor. That was one story line that some people were like, "Do we need to reopen that?" and for me, it was way overdue. I wanted to answer that one question. It was egregiously left open.
TVGuide.com: Is a kind Wilhelmina a happy Wilhelmina? Isn't that antithetical to the character?
Horta: No, that is her happy ending. There are hints that she's not, like, going to become Mother Teresa. Wilhelmina will always be Wilhelmina, but over the course of the series there have been times when we've seen a lot of that softer side. But I think on the show, as in real life, people are what they are. If you were to imagine these characters beyond the series, she's not going to become a saint.
TVGuide.com: In your mind, where are these characters six months down the line?
Horta: I don't know if I want to answer that. I want to keep it for me. The series and finale is what it is; there's a degree of closure all around.
TVGuide.com: Talk to me about working with America Ferrera.
Horta: She's this pro who will not stop challenging herself and the material, and 99 percent of the time she can be right. She has incredible instincts, not just for her character, but for what this show was. Her greatest strength is her vulnerability. That's what people respond to in this character, someone who's relatable and real. The braces and glasses were iconic, but they would've been nothing, a gag, if it wasn't for her realness. She's wonderful; she's great. She's a part of my life.
TVGuide.com: You guys got a lot of great guest stars. Were there any you wanted but couldn't get?
Horta: We wanted to do something with Liza Minnelli. And Madonna. It would've never happened, but I would've loved to have Meryl Streep playing her character from The Devil Wears Prada. That would've been a dream if some version of that could've happened.
TVGuide.com: What do you think Ugly Betty's legacy will be?
Horta: I hope the depiction of so many different characters — whether they were gay, Latino, black — opened up the possibility of what a lead of a show should be. We played with the tone in such a huge way, and at every point we dared to be incredibly broad, campy, incredibly real and heartfelt. It's a tricky combo. I don't personally like watching cop shows; I love something that's different and I think we were different. I hope we found something that lasts and that people remember.
Did you love it? Hate it? Tell us what you thought of the finale in the comments section.
Encore episodes of Ugly Betty air Saturdays at 7/6c on TV Guide Network.