'Smash' recap: Episode 15, 'Bombshell'
In the season finale, we finally learn who plays Marilyn Monroe. And then everyone else gets fired or dumped or tries to die. Metro's theater critic recaps.
All right, let's see what kind of train wreck is in store for the season finale "Smash."
Julia and Tom are making last-minute finishing touches to the script, then dash through the audience that's gathering for the show to hand off the pages to ... who is it, don't keep us in suspense! Oh wait, we will be kept in suspense. Before we can see who's Marilyn Monroe, we get a title card directing us to 12 hours earlier. At that time, the production/creative team is still bickering about who to cast. The ensemble is gathered together anxiously, awaiting the verdict.
Critic Michael Riedel calls from the "Post" for Eileen. She says he'll be the first to know who the new Marilyn will be, but everything will be fine. She doesn't convince anyone, including the overly excited Ellis, who's eavesdropping as per usual. Never change, Ellis. Karen annoyingly answers a call from her "fiance," dropping that news in front of her peers like one would drop her hanky in front of a handsome man to passively get his attention in those old-timey flicks. Ivy's mom also calls to harass her so we can see Bernadette Peters' alter ego again. You know what? Bernadette Peters would have an alter ego who is just another version of herself. Never change, Bernadette.
Derek's rifling through a woman's clothing rack and thinking of the times either Karen or Ivy has performed in those outfits. Much like with Eileen's beau who thought Rebecca was good because she was "hot," Derek seems to cast sheerly based on sex appeal. In the end, we see Karen show up in that wretched purple shift with the Peter Pan collar, and then Derek announces to everyone that Karen will be playing Marilyn as of that night. That pretty much guarantees she will not be playing Marilyn by the episode's end. You can't fool us, "Smash."
... wow, it's a shiny, new SMASH! Still no official exclamation point, though.
Julia tells Karen that she can ask for help if she needs it because everyone wants her to succeed. In the background, Tom's face disagrees intensely. Maybe Tom and Julia should have exercised their ridiculous contractual powers of voting in cast members? We still want to see the paperwork on that one.
Karen calls Dev to tell him the good news; she invites him to see her perform. Tom and Julia get to work on that new song they need in a matter of hours. Julia shows Tom some lyrics and he says, "Not so much, honey." She crumples it up and starts again.
Ellis storms up to Eileen and makes a case for Ivy being Marilyn. Eileen humors him, but says he doesn't get a vote. He does get to pick up some Starbucks. Then Ellis admits that he poisoned Rebecca Duvall. He explains that peanuts grind right up! He needs an evil villain laugh, because he's already got the over-explainy-monologue-that-ends-up-thwarting-the-bad-guy part down. He says he's not an assistant, he's a producer. Eileen corrects him: He's fired. She kicks him out of the theater. Might want to get a restraining order while you're at it, Eileen. Dude just nearly killed someone, and now you're gonna piss him off?
Karen and Swift are practicing "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" but Karen forgets the blocking, has the wrong lyrics and needs a costume fitting. Drama! The lights go out (again), and Swift confronts Julia in the dark. He says he thought he came back because she needed him, but she doesn't have to run away from him. She says she's not, she's running away from herself. Swift says that he told his wife about their affair and she left, taking their 3-year-old. Of course Frank walks in and sees Julia trying to comfort Swift. He walks out angrily.
Julia chases Frank out. He says he just can't trust her. She says they can just count on the good outweighing the mistakes. Leo shows up with lunch, looking more bloated than ever. They say ridiculous things about love and vinegar and how life is better when they're all together. Rebecca's pathetic death scene from last week had more emotional depth than this dialogue.
Inside, Eileen's worried they skipped "Howl" but LINDA SPEAKS! and says that it's a matter of the costume not fitting. Um, just rehearse without the dress? Probably practice is more important than costuming at this point. We also aren't convinced that Rebecca's size is that much different than Karen's. Tom strolls up and says he needs to talk to Derek, but Derek assures him that he needs to finish that song first.
Tom bitches to Julia instead, who indulges this rant about how Ivy's better, even though she's heard it 800 times. True friendship! Julia mutters to herself that the good stuff in is better than the bad, like a crazy lady.
At rehearsal, Karen goes through "I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn't Love to Howl" while Ivy glares from the wings and imagines herself doing it instead - back at Nick Jonas' birthday party. And she's doing it better, because who are we kidding? Do they ever use the same set twice in this show, by the way? Not that there's too much going on with the sets anyway; "Bombshell" is no "Ghost."
Derek is very pleased with Karen's performance. Ivy wants to know why she wasn't picked. He says he just sees Karen as Marilyn. "She just has something that you don't." Ouch. Ivy thanks him for his honesty and walks off in tears. Dev asks her where Karen's engagement ring is, and Ivy lies that she didn't find it. Maybe she threw it in the trash next to Karen's sunglasses? Just to prove to us that she's lying, in case we didn't already know, "Smash" shows us Ivy gazing at Karen's big, fat diamond in the green room.
Eileen says that number was great, but it was also the only one Karen got right. She wants to talk about putting Ivy in at least temporarily, but Derek ignores her. Well listen, you don't ignore ANJELICA HUSTON. She says she's got $7 million in this production and she wants to have a conversation right now. That's a much better argument than the writers' teamwork voting contract. Of course Karen's standing right there and overhears Eileen screaming that she's not right for the part.
Ivy does the right thing and gives Karen the ring, but she also tells her how she got it. She compares Dev to Joe DiMaggio (not in a million years, lady). Karen chooses not to believe Ivy, and Ivy asks why she'd lie about something like that. Well, to upset Karen before she's supposed to go onstage? Which is exactly why you're doing it that way and right now? We believe Ivy has a good heart and also wants Karen to know the truth, but the way she's doing it is definitely calculating, so she can't be let totally off the hook.
Karen confronts Dev with the ring and he fesses up, which is big of him, but Karen's understandably upset. Linda speaks AGAIN! and tells Karen she needs to get back onstage, and Karen leaves mid-talk. Eileen says she appreciates Karen's hard work, but Karen doesn't buy it. Then Eileen's ex-husband randomly shows up, so let's expect some flying drinks soon!
Backstage, Tom wants to know why they're in this crazy business. Sam says it's beautiful and brings them joy. He kisses Tom and tells him to get back to work. We love Sam, but we're ready for him to get hit by a bus or something that isn't completely chipper, righteous and boring.
Eileen talks to her hubby while fixing herself a drink. UH-OH. He wants to know if their daughter helped fund the show, and Eileen says she doesn't use Mahatma Katie (we just saw that actress being equally plain in "The Columnist," by the way, so it's not all Theresa Rebeck's fault). Eileen says to go away. He says he bought a ticket, so he'll be back tonight. Eileen drinks her drink instead of throwing it! Hey, at least that one is free.
Julia and Tom bicker because he wants to add a gospel element and Julia wants to do something less literal and simpler. Julia starts to cry because Karen's not going to be good enough for their precious musical. Hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but it's not that good of a musical. Karen actually misses her cue and Linda says she walked out. THREE LINES!
Julia throws up, and she says the last time she threw up she was pregnant with Leo. How very selfish of Julia to get knocked up when there are perfectly decent homeless babies in China!
Nick Jonas takes a break from "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" to bring Eileen back her Degas, even though this show is never going to reap a lick of profit, so that sort of undermines their entire agreement. Eileen complains that the show lost its star and her assistant went psycho. Lyle says Ivy was a spectacular Marilyn. TEAM IVY!
In the dressing room, Dennis is saying that Ivy would have never run away from the part. Well, she did totally fall down and run away from "Heaven On Earth," but why let a little precedent get in the way of your leading lady butt-kissing?
Dev is in an alley where Derek decides to look for Karen in case she took a break to go dumpster diving. The director says to the fiance, we kid you not, "She's mine now."
Derek locates Karen hiding behind some costume racks and although everyone's been looking everywhere, he acts like she was easy to find. Karen says she can't do it and she doesn't want to do it. But Derek is very good at telling women how they feel and what they should think. He says, "Art isn't therapy. We aren't here to work out our personal problems. We're here to take those problems and completely exploit them." She tells him to knock it off. She says her whole life is completely ruined. Aside from having supportive parents, an amazing apartment and the role of a lifetime? Poor baby, one little thing goes wrong with your boyfriend and you shut down? Shut up, please. She doesn't shut up; says Derek doesn't understand love. She really says that. Can Ellis please bring this girl some peanuts? Derek says Karen understands love and Marilyn understood love, and now Karen fully understands her character's heartbreak. So ... yay?
The creative team has just asked Ivy to fill in. And then Derek walks up with Karen, all ready to start after that uplifting speech. They start getting ready to rehearse the new ending, even though the lyrics aren't done. We learn that one of the other dancers is named Bobby, so we thought we should mention it.
Bernadette shows up to congratulate Ivy, but Ivy informs her that she wasn't picked, and then she cries. "I'm just in the chorus, mom. You should just go home." Well, still, she might want to see you? Just a thought. Bernadette stands there, upset – what happened to her being a big, mean Mommy Dearest? Tell Ivy to suck it up and go steal every scene, like she always does.
Side note #1: If Ivy were just suddenly asked to fill in, how would the costumes fit her?
Side note #2: Isn't Ivy now the understudy, hence one broken kneecap away from reaching her dream?
We're back to the opening moments, with Julia and Tom rushing the final pages to Karen. She opens with "Let Me Be Your Star" and runs through some of the other numbers we've seen this season. Backstage, Ivy continues to sulk. Karen does the final dying scene, but instead of flopping to her death, she sings some simple lyrics as a reprise to "Secondhand White Baby Grand." Then Swift sings a reprise to "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." Derek tells Karen that no matter what happens, she should never doubt that she's a star. And then he decides that he does understand love after all. Good to know, Derek.
Karen comes back onstage in gold to sing a summary of the story she's been telling for the past two hours, ostensibly. "When you see someone's hurt and might need a hand, don't forget me. / When you sing happy birthday to someone you love or see diamonds you wish were all free, don't forget me." Were we in danger of forgetting Marilyn Monroe? Just wondering. That's the moral of this whole story, really? Dev smiles proudly from the audience. We also see Julia and Tom, Nick and Eileen sharing content glances. At the very least, something interesting is happening backstage – to wit, Ivy takes a handful of pills to off herself. Well, at least someone's committed to her part. Method acting!
And that's that! "Smash" has somehow been renewed for Season 2, so we'll see the fallout of all these breakups, pregnancies and potential suicides (yeah right) just as soon as we've had enough time to forget this show ever existed. Look, we're masochists so we'll come back for more of this– but on one condition: more Ellis.