Episode 3

Merci: I get tired of the Cartel sometimes, but I have to admit I laughed out loud during tonight’s episode of EcoModa…

The episode started as it ended last week, with Armando and Betty in their bedroom watching the Bogotá Fashion show, and Betty saying that she agrees to talking to the people recommended by Calderón in order to help the company.

We see the Cartel, Freddy and Wilson arrive at the hotel where they are presenting the Bogotá Fashion show and airily wave around but not hand over the invitations - so that no-one realizes they aren’t executives from EcoModa. Freddy and Wilson start to stare at all the scantily-clad models parading the catwalk, and Aura María and Sandra berate Freddy for his ogling. Aura María calls him an idiot, stupid, “Jabón Contreras” [Beth: and here it is again… i guess a loose translation could be “Slippery McWeasel,” so i’ll use that if it comes up any more. now watch it never does…], etc. Inesita berates all of them for the scene they are causing. Freddy makes comments about the models, Aura María tells him he thinks he’s Antonio Banderas Contreras… They send Freddy to get something to eat and drink for the group [Merci: Bad idea!].

We see a group of people, among them two Colombian fashion designers, meeting Kenneth Johnson and Gabriela Garza from Fashion Group. Gabriela tells Kenneth she’s hungry and he goes to look for something for her to eat. Freddy notices Gabriela, greets her, and asks where she’s from. She explains that she’s from Mexico, that it’s her first visit to Colombia; he very amiably welcomes her to the country and makes her a present of its skies, its mountains, its clouds, etc, etc, etc. Sofía notes how chummy Freddy’s getting and goes to look for Aura María. Freddy continues to babble, saying he’s a citizen of the world since he has to travel so much because of his work. Gabriela asks what he does, and he immediately catches her interest when he says he’s the President of EcoModa. She is very impressed and tells him that she wants to meet with EcoModa. At this moment the Cartel and Wilson turn up… Freddy introduces them all as company executives!

Aura María Fuentes - Executive Vice-presidentBertha de González - Administrative Vice-presidentSofía de Rodríguez - Vice-president of AccountingLa Morena (Mariana) - Executive in charge of events and models*Sandra Patiño - Vice-president of MarketingInesita de Peña- Vice-president of ManufacturingWilson Sastoque - Designer

_you might have noticed some discussion on the forum regarding Mariana ’s being called “La Morena” instead of by her name, as the rest were. although many on the list -particularly many of us overly-PC-conscious Americans- were at first inclined to view this as a slur (the equivalent of calling her “darkie,” or something worse), numerous Colombians and people with Colombian friends said that Freddy was not putting her down, nor would a _real* Mariana feel insulted by the designation, as apparently in at least some Latin American countries, “moreno”/“morena” is routinely applied to anything dark-colored or anyone dark-skinned, just as in English some people are nicknamed ““Red,” Ginger” or “Blondie” because of their hair color.

Gabriela introduces herself as well, since Freddy didn’t know her name, and leaves quickly to look for Kenneth… Inesita asks Freddy how he could do such a thing. Aura María tells him he’s a hound dog. Freddy replies that when he started talking to Gabriela he couldn’t say he was just a messenger at EcoModa, so he lied and said he was the President. But they shouldn’t worry - Gabriela is only in Colombia for the day and will be leaving tomorrow, so they wouldn’t see her again.

Gabriela finds Kenneth and tells him he has to meet the executives from EcoModa. Kenneth asks after “Mr. Baby Doll” and she tells him that Mario Calderón never called her back. Gabriela introduces Kenneth to the group of “executives” and explains that he is a Quality Engineer, but is a little bit dumbstruck when he takes in the glory that is Aura María and notices the sparks that fly between them. Kenneth and Gabriel talk about their work at Fashion Group; Gabriela is the Director of New Markets. They give their cards to Freddy and Aura María, and Freddy says he doesn’t have any because he left his in the office. Kenneth and Gabriela say they will stop by EcoModa the following morning and they hope it’s not a problem that it will have to be quite early as they have a very full day already. Freddy tells them he and the other executives have a 9am meeting, if that makes things easier for Kenneth and Gabriela [riiiight…]. Gabriela and Kenneth reply they will be there at 8am. Throughout this conversation, Inesita is fanning herself with a piece of paper as the story gets them into an ever-deepening hole. Sofía states that they have to get Freddy home to rest, and everyone makes their goodnights while Kenneth and Aura María stare dumbly at each other. After the EcoModa crowd makes its getaway, Gabriela tells Kenneth she thinks they (the EcoModa group) are a little strange, but Kenneth replies that he thought they were very nice [Beth: wait a minute, let me get this straight. how is it that Gabriela and Kenneth are interested enough in Ecomoda that they are thinking of investing in it, yet they don’t know anything at all about the executives? and we’re supposed to buy that?? oh, yeah, right - if Gabriela and Kenneth actually knew Freddy was lying we wouldn’t have a story. silly me - what was i thinking??].

Once outside, everyone turns on Freddy for getting them into such a mess. Bertha asks for a gun with which to shoot herself… Some think they should call Betty to explain what happened, but Aura María says if the call wakes the baby, Don Armando The Panther will rip them all to shreds. While this is going on, we see Kenneth and Gabriela coming out of the hotel garage in their chauffeured car and everyone waves at each other. The members of the EcoModa group decide to go home and figure out what to do the next morning.

At EcoModa the following morning, Aura María tells the Cartel that she called Betty first thing but Doña Julia said she’d already left for a breakfast meeting… Freddy arrives very pleased with himself but they immediately bring him down to earth - Sandra gives him a briefcase which nearly bowls him over [Beth: ??? the expression used here must be some sort of local slang i don’t know - at a guess i’d say it means she gave him news that really stunned him. unless she really does hand him a briefcase…?]. The only thing they can think is, ‘What are we going to do??” Inesita insists they should call Betty on her cel. Mariana says she can’t do it from her phone, that Aura María should be the one to do it; of course, Aura María doesn’t want to do it, either. They all get on the elevator, abusing Freddy.

Armando, Betty, Gutiérrez and Nicolás are breakfasting in a restaurant. Gutiérrez is being even more insupportable than ever and hands Armando a list of employees to be let go. Armando tells him if they do [let them all go] they’d have to stop production, and hands the list to Betty, who says she cannot permit these layoffs. Nicolás adds that the people who will be let go will cost the company a lot of money as the dismissals could be considered as being without just cause - the ever-ready Gutiérrez says they will just have to find some good reason for firing these people.

Back at EcoModa, everyone gets off the elevator still saying they’re going to be fired. Freddy says there isn’t a problem. Poor Inesita continues to insist they call Betty but no-one will listen to her. They decide to continue the imposture by attending to and then getting rid of their guests before Armando and Betty should arrive.

Meanwhile, at the breakfast meeting -at which Nicolás and Gutiérrez are eating like men who haven’t ever seen food before in their lives- Betty says there is a way to avoid having to fire all these employees. She explains about Mario Calderón’s call and suggestion, and Nicolás remarks that the only way this can happen is if Betty forgives Calderón [Beth: i don’t see that, but whatever…]… He adds that it would be a great deal for EcoModa - or could it be that Betty’s sensibilities have changed…? Armando is very uncomfortable during this exchange, and Betty makes it clear to Nicolás that it isn’t that her sensibilities have changed, but that they will nonetheless speak with Mario Calderón to set up a meeting with the people from Fashion Group.

Gabriela and Kenneth arrive at Ecomoda and Wilson hides his face with his neckerchief so they won’t recognize him. He then announces that the “gringos from last night” have arrived, and Mariana tells him to send them in.

We return to the restaurant, where Betty gets a call from Aura María asking where she is and what time they’ll get to the office. Betty says she’s with Armando, Gutiérrez and Nicolás at a breakfast meeting and that they’ll be in the office between 9:30 and 10a. Aura María asks if any of them are expecting any foreign visitors and Betty replies no. Sandra tells Aura María that the visitors have arrived and she hangs up with Betty. They all (the Cartel] decide to continue with the farce, to get this over with quickly, and they remove their ID badges. Freddy announces that Operation Camouflage has begun… Mariana greets the visitors in Reception (and had to ask Sandra what her ‘position’ is!).

The elevator opens and a new character appears: Doña Blanquita - apparently from the cafeteria, since she arrives with a cup of coffee on a tray. Mariana asks her to cover the reception desk, and Blanquita does so, but isn’t very pleased. Wilson comes into Reception and asks if the coffee is for him… Blanquita says it’s for Mariana, but ends up giving it to Wilson. [Merci notes that she thinks Blanquita is very funny.]

Mariana takes Kenneth and Gabriela to the Executive floor and explains that the secretaries aren’t at their desks because they are very busy elsewhere. She then takes the guests to the President’s office, where Freddy is sitting behind Betty’s desk pretending to talk on the phone with “Roberto,” telling him he can’t meet him at the club for a game of golf because he is too busy, but maybe they can see each other at the 10th hole. The photos behind the desk are half-turned so they can’t be seen. Freddy stands, kisses Gabriela [Merci: almost as if he were trying to lick her cheek clean], and gives Kenneth a hug. He then says they will give them a tour of the whole operation… Before leaving the office, they (Kenneth and Gabriela) ask who the people in the photo on Betty’s desk are [Merci: it’s Betty and Armando’s wedding picture]. Freddy replies that it’s only some poor relations and tosses the photo in the trash.

Freddy, “Doctor Valdés” (Mariana), and the visitors go to Nicolás’ office, where we see Bertha and Sofía going over some accounts…. Freddy invites them to accompany the group on their visit to Production. They run into Aura María and once again she and Kenneth make a lot of serious eye contact, which doesn’t please Freddy at all. Inesita also appears and joins the group. Freddy makes a remark about the secretaries being nowhere around and adds that they’re an ugly bunch…

In Production, Kenneth asks Freddy how long EcoModa has been in existence. Of course, Freddy has no idea, but Inesita comes to the rescue and replies 36 years, but only 17 in the current location. She adds that it began as a very small dressmaker’s shop. When asked how many people EcoModa employs, Freddy asks Bertha to handle that one, and she replies that they have 900 employees - 760 in production and the rest in various other positions. Freddy has made a point of telling the visitors how well he gets along with his employees - they’re like a family; now one approaches to ask him when they’re going to go out on the town again together. Freddy tells the employee to be more respectful and curtly sends him off. Gabriela asks if Mario Calderón had spoken to them about meeting yet and Freddy says no. He adds that he and Mario grew up together; in fact, Mario carried his (Freddy’s) books to school.

Back at the restaurant, Betty is paying and they are still discussing Calderón when Armando’s cel phone rings; he says it’s Calderón. Calderón [Merci: so handsome, but just as insupportable as ever!] tells Armando that he’s back in Bogotá and asks Armando if he’s been given permission to speak to him yet. Armando replies that they are interested in meeting the people from Fashion Group… Mario asks Armando if he can speak to Betty without her going for his jugular. They decide that Mario will call the people from Fashion Group at their hotel to set up a visit to EcoModa.

Gabriela asks to speak with the designer and Kenneth, accompanied by the “Vice President of Finance and Merchandising,” and Inesita, goes to look for Wilson. On the Executive floor, Wilson is saying he doesn’t want to talk to the people but Inesita tells him that since he took part in the matter to start with, he has to do it. Freddy and the rest arrive on the elevator…

Armando, Betty, Nicolás and Gutiérrez arrive at Reception and say they need everything to be perfect at the company for the visitors from Fashion Group. They are surprised to see Blanquita manning the reception desk and ask where Mariana is. Blanquita tells them that Mariana went upstairs and said her to stay there. Gutiérrez says that Mariana doesn’t give orders at the company and she is giving herself cause for dismissal. They all get on the elevator…

to be continued next week…

Merci notes: They didn’t show any previews, but there’s definitely going to be an uproar when Betty and Armando arrive and find out what Freddy and the rest of them have done.