‘Smash’ recap: Episode 12, ‘Publicity’

This is Linda. She's an Avox.

Let’s take a look at the summary for this episode: Karen finds Rebecca’s charmed life very enticing (because she’s from Iowa, where extra firm tofu seems urbane). But Derek finds Rebecca exasperating (remaining the the most sensible person on this show). Eileen has her ex-husband meet her new boyfriend (much cheaper drinks will be thrown in his face). And Julia’s son goes missing (no one notices except Mason).

Do we even need to do a real recap? We think that pretty much sums it up. Oh, we do? Well, all right then. Here we go:

Karen shows up early for rehearsal to chat with Derek. Ellis shows up at the same time so CLEARLY he will overhear something. We actually get the tiniest factoid about how show business works when Karen says she understands that the stage manager will take over working with the understudies from now on, and it’s no big deal that she can’t work with Derek. (In the real world this might also be an assistant to the director or choreographer, but we obviously don’t have those at hand here, so it’s trusty ol’ Lineless Linda.) He says he believes she would make a great Marilyn, which is really a salty compliment after all the hoops Karen’s jumped through. And then Ivy comes in and sees Karen chatting with Derek alone and gets all green-faced. Because people talking alone equals cheating. And when people write songs about kissing on bridges, that clearly means cheating. Is everyone taking relationship notes? Good, “Smash” has some things to teach you.

Ellis tries to chat with Randall when he shows up, and Randall’s all “no.” We seriously love Randall, who was clearly the best Elliser in the business before we even knew what Ellising was. Ellisa just wants to tell Randall what he overheard Derek say to Karen SEE? In the meantime, a nameless chick has to go tell Lineless Linda that Rebecca’s coming straight from the gym, so she’ll be late.

They’re also auditioning new Joe DiMaggios to replace Michael Swift. This current guy singing “Lexington and 52nd Street” is perfect for it, because he’s almost as flat as Rebecca. At least he won’t upstage her? Rebecca mentions that she wants to cut “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and replace the song with dialogue.

Leaving the theater, Rebecca’s stalked by paparazzi and invites Karen to hang out that night and says she’ll “call her.” Which probably means having Randall call her, because we’re not convinced Rebecca can work a cell phone. Then again, neither can Ellis. Phones are very hard to work on this show, that’s why everyone meets in person all the time for two-minute talks.

Later, Tom’s pissed about Rebecca wanting to replace a song with a scene and yells at Derek to, you know, direct. Ellis tells Julia that Leo is staying with Frank an extra night (yawn), and she’s chagrined to be taking messages about her broken marriages from him. Let’s go out on a limb: Leo also told Frank he was staying with Julia, and no one notices he’s missing until Julia and Frank are actually forced to communicate, which ultimately brings them closer together, blah blah tired plot is tired.

Karen gets home and is surprised to see Boyfriend home so early, asking if he’s been fired. (True story: We called our mom during a coffee break today and she asked if we got fired. It’s always fun to live with alarmists. It bolsters one’s confidence!) He says if they’re going to keep him around to torture him, he might as well get to come home early once in awhile and take his girlfriend out to dinner. But she says she already has a “date” with Rebecca Duvall. Whom Leo will never get to meet at this rate, since it was contingent on his good behavior (REMEMBER?). But enough about Leo (we wish).

Karen and Rebecca go to some club to see a band called “Cooper.” Rebecca says Karen should stand in for a song because Derek seems to think highly of Karen. Karen’s like, “Who said that?” (Randall, duh). Rebecca says that people talk. She’s clearly mastered the art of keeping her enemies closer … in other words, she was Ivying before we knew what Ivying was. Rebecca informs Randall (why is her assistant out at a club with her? – whatever, more Randall!) that she’s checking out the competition. Doesn’t he know this, since he’s the one who told her about Karen? But we’re probably thinking too hard: This is really just an excuse to shove one of the episode’s two songs into the storyline. Karen will magically know all of the words and the band will know how to follow her, and a magical music editor will autotune her even though she’s singing live. She sings Snow Patrol’s “Run.” This means we can take a break and make tea, though, so it’s  our favorite part of the episode so far. We check back in when the whole room is standing and cheering and Rebecca is on her feet proclaiming, “You are not an understudy. You’re a star!” Um, yeah, Broadway lead understudies can sing their guts out why is everyone acting like these gals shouldn’t be uber talented also? Whatever.


We’re back at rehearsal, and Tom refuses to look at Rebecca. He wrote a ballad called “Secondhand White Baby Grand,” and Rebecca asks if it’s any good (ouch), but Derek says it’s not for her. Because she’s not allowed to do ballads, as per her own suggestions the other week (REMEMBER?). Ivy’s playing the shadows in Marilyn’s head, so the song is for her. Rebecca says Karen should sing the song, though, because she has a “rockstar” voice. Ivy could kill her right now. Why does Derek agree when they cast Ivy for that role specifically? Like Tom said, when did Derek stop directing? When did we start agreeing with Tom?

Rebecca is hanging out with Karen later and gives her a $2,000 coat that Rebecca just doesn’t want, because people are always sending her swag. And she observes that one can’t live in yoga gear forever (but we can try). Rebecca also sees a picture of Dev and says boyfriends can be a problem on the way up. After a montage of Karen and Rebecca partying all over the city, Karen comes home late at night and finds Dev staring at pictures of them on his iPad. She says they went out with Leo DiCaprio and David Bowie (who is “totally nice”) and asks if he’s mad. He says he’s not mad, he’s just disappointed. Just kidding, he actually says he’s “confused.”

Julia and Tom are working on the new song at Julia’s place, and we get to hear a piece of it – it actually sounds very pretty, with Tom singing it much more gently than Karen will. Frank walks in to pick up Leo and they have the “But he’s with you!” conversation we predicted ages ago. Well, 10 minutes ago, but it felt like ages ago.

We don’t know why Julia and Frank call the police since he’s not really missing, he’s obviously fine and been in communication. The cop says running away is the most dangerous thing a kid can do in New York, but we think that’s not really true when the kid is played by a 25-year-old man and besides, his parents are filthy rich and he’s probably crashing at his friend’s multimillion dollar loft on the Upper East Side.

Instead of showing up at rehearsal, Rebecca is teaching Linda how to make her smoothies until her manager and assistant get back. Derek is floored by her gall. Linda has no lines, obviously, but she does sigh. That’s not going to get you Equity, Linda.

Derek tells Eileen he won’t have his stage manager hijacked. He wants Eileen to tell Rebecca how to behave. She puts Ellis on smoothie duty and Ivy observes him walking in with the various kale and flax accoutrement and just says, “Show business.” Then she keeps reading her magazine while Karen’s in the next room practicing her new ballad. She invites herself along for drinks with Sam and Tom and also invites Karen, but Karen is busy with Rebecca. Apparently the tabloids are calling them both lesbians because they’ve gone out a few times in the same week. Okay?

Mason is being interrogated (we swear we didn’t know this would actually happen). He tells Julia that he doesn’t hang out with Leo anymore. But all the other kids at school seem to think Mason’s his best friend. Maybe they’re being gay together if they’re hanging out that much! “Smash” rules.

Eileen and Nick show up for some event at BAM, and Nick’s like: “So this is how the other half lives!” Okay, we think the guy who keeps bricks of cash under his bar counter has probably ridden in a livery car and been to see a show before. Even we do that every now and then, and we are most assuredly the 99%. We have to observe that Eileen actually looks great for once.

Karen and Dev go out for Indian with Rebecca at 345 (“the address is the name!”). Rebecca asks for flat, bottled water and then starts acting somewhat racist about Indian food and peanuts. We’re not spending more words on that, so just trust us.

Nick is saying he was bored by the event at BAM. Everyone chuckles politely at the Philistine. Jerry walks up with a tall blonde on his arm, and clings to her like she’s his walking stick. Nick says he thinks art should be more entertaining, and Jerry calls him a populist.

Sam and Tom are getting home from that drinks thing with Ivy. Sam wants to know why Tom’s being weird, and he reveals that Leo’s missing and gets teary-eyed about it. Oh God, he’s just being a little punk, he’s not in any danger! We’ve gotten into more trouble sneaking out of our house in the suburbs of South Florida on a school night (sorry mom).

Rebecca is explaining how you have to stay ahead of the press, and Dev is asking why she wants the press to think they’re lesbians. (Helpful hint: Lesbians are two girls who do more than hang out with each other at bars. You can Google the rest. You’re welcome.) Rebecca says Karen wants to be a star, Dev says she should let Karen decide what she wants, and Karen says they both need to stop talking about her as if she’s not there. Rebecca says she knew this would happen, that Dev’s ego would get in the way of Karen’s stardom. Dev says she shouldn’t pretend to be an expert on their relationship, since they just met 20 minutes ago. They’re already eating dinner, so if they just sat down 20 minutes ago, we think we want to try 345 best service in NYC. As Rebecca and Dev bicker, Karen stares at the TV in the back that’s been playing Bollywood. She imagines them all singing and dancing in the scene, “A Thousand and One Nights.” Everyone is in this lush song in full Bollywood regalia, ranging from Nick to RJ, from Randall to Linda (don’t worry, she doesn’t sing). This is ridiculous, but we kind of love it. Can this be the entire show, all the time? When we cut back to reality, Rebecca has left the restaurant.

Eileen finally goes back to Nick’s place, which can only mean one thing (unless you’re Christian Sam). She says Nick is so “different” from Jerry. He asks why she loved him, and if that mean streak is a new thing. She says when you’re young you believe your loved ones will protect you, and Nick just says she’s “trading up” and kisses her.

Julia confronts Mason on the street and threatens him in a weird Broadway way (“all of your preppy friends will know I write musicals and be scared of my power!”), and we’re kind of hoping for a “West Side Story” type of scuffle but alas, no. Mason’s like hey man, it’s not my fault your life is so screwed up you have to chase down teens on the street. He says Leo’s fine, just sleeping on his floor for a few nights SEE? He says none of this is Leo’s fault. And it’s not his fault, either. He says he’ll tell Leo to call her, but he doesn’t know if he will. He stopped talking like a teenager about eight lines ago, and throwing “man” around every now and then isn’t really going to save this stilted dialogue.

Tom shows up to rehearsal alone and says Julia’s out sick. Julia’s really at home fighting with Frank. Julia continues her trend of blowing off her work whenever something stirs her emotionally ugh, artists. She and Frank end up hugging, you don’t need to know anything else. Rebecca and Karen run out during a short break from rehearsal to buy chips. Ellis and Ivy stay behind to make some smoothies. Ivy asks for a favor and Ellis says yes without asking what the favor is, which can only end awesomely. With their wiles combined, we’re pretty sure these two can take over the Great White Way. Don’t forget Randall!

When Rebecca gets back from buying potato chips (mmm, potato chips), Karen’s dismissed. Derek yells at Rebecca about being late. He breaks a photographer’s camera as if he’s the celebrity in the room. He calls her a “stupid little movie star” and says he won’t let her ruin his show. It turns out that Ellis sent Karen home, but just so Ivy could do “Secondhand White Baby Grand.” Why don’t they just text Karen to get her ass back there and figure out what happened? Oh right, no one on this show knows how phones work.

Leo comes home and whines about something to his parents. Julia says dinner will make them all feel better and tells Leo to set the table. Sure, making your kid do chores as soon as he gets home isn’t going to make him turn around and leave again; Mason’s mom probably never made him set the table! At rehearsal, Tom starts crying again because Leo’s safe. Sam hugs him happily. Whoa boys, let’s not move too fast!

In rehearsal, Ivy sings “Secondhand” for us, finally. Because it’s not Kat McPhee, it actually is as understated as Tom suggested it should be. We cut over to bonding in the Julia-Frank-Leo kitchen, followed by distance in the Karen-Dev household. Then we see Tom and Sam kissing on a bed (even though he’s simultaneously in the rehearsal room somehow). Nothing says foreplay like a runaway kid coming back home! Apparently “taking it slow” means waiting a week. And wow, Eileen and Nick are shown lying in bed after doing the deed. Although that’s presumably after BAM, which was a different night. So “Smash” has a really weird definition of “going slow,” but then again “Smash” has surrendered all attempts to acknowledge linear time. At the end of the number, Rebecca says, “I think Marilyn should sing this song.”

We’d like to say Eileen and Nick won our little challenge from the end of last week’s recap but now that we think about it, it seems more like nobody wins. But we did get three songs this episode! And hopefully we’ll keep getting even more from Randall. And maybe we’ll even hear from Linda … just kidding, that will never happen. See you next week!


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