Wait, there are TWO episodes of Smash
left? Not one like I previously thought
? Oh man, like I was having a great day and had my favorite Chinese food for dinner and things were coming up JOE and now this happens. Great.
When we last left off, Smash
was busy retooling the "careful" character development and "plot integrity" of previous episodes to explore every combination of romance possible. Derek and Rebecca Duvall! Ivy and Dev! Karen and a My Little Pony playset! Ellis and Satan! So we start with Dev waking up next to Ivy and acts all "schwoops!" Karen talks about how Dev is MIA and some random girl talks about how Ivy is MIA. COINCIDENCE?? No one notices. No one cares. Ivy and Dev make a blood pact to never reveal their secrets, except with less blood and more dramatic indifference. Karen is nice to Ivy and Ivy is all like "don't be nice to me right now, or I might fall apart." Karen, a professional medler and idealist, decides Ivy's weird mood is in relation to her on-again-off-again abusive relationship with Derek, so she asks Rebecca if she's boning big D and of course she is! What a dumb question. Next.
Michael Swift returns, and Mr. and Mrs. Tea and Tea Jr. and Michael all share a terrible moment of awkward looks in a well-placed run-in at the perfect time for drama. NBC: we know last place.
It's the first night of previews for Bombshell
, and there are literally five plot-shells waiting to explode in everyone's faces:
1. The return of Michael Swift means Julia could potentially make another MisTEAke (I know I'm really reaching here).
2. Ivy slept with Dev, Karen's boyfriend/possible fiance?
3. Rebecca Duvall is sleeping with Derek, Ivy's boyfriend and possible sex offender.
4. Ellis. Hasn't done anything lately, but sucks nonetheless.
5. Ensemble guy has referred to the ensemble as the "chorus" several times, thus negating his existence.
Eileen acts surprised Nick the scruffy barkeep showed up to the broadway music he half-funded with millions in illegitimate cash from a shoebox he keeps behind the Stoli Vanilla. Really? If I invested my drug-money in a song-and-dance, I'd at least want to see it once before I skip town to avoid the coppers. Nick has a broken arm, presumably from getting into a FIGHT because he is SO TOUGH and SHADY, as we've been repeatedly reminded between smiles and his improbable smoothness with the ladies. Are we supposed to like this guy, or?
The show must go on, despite my objections, so here we go!
Tom: So far, so good!
Julia: It just started.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Tea.
Karen continues to try and text her boo, no luck. Leo and Frank watch Michael with skeptic-faces as Michael sings. The show we see is mostly staged bits of what we've already seen in the rehearsal space-- except this new one, where big-time producerman Daryl Zanuck calls for the tomatos (woman?) and out pops our two beefsteak stars, Karen and Ivy, playing ring around the cigar for sex-appeal supremacy in the show's titular (pun intended) number, "Smash." Whoa, isn't this show on prime-time? I feel like if this was HBO, we'd be getting to second base in this scene. Actually, the trumped-up "we're gonna blow our way to success" scene is one of the most honest and enjoyable songs in Bombshell
, both for the song and for the fact that this show is 85% people banging each other either to a) get ahead, b) get revenge, or c) just to feel dangerous. Whoa, wait, what? Karen and Ivy are friends now, hugging it out like f-cking Vinny Chase and Ari? Just wait until that plot-shell blows. No one applauds at the end of Bombshell
, GOOD. The only kind of clap this show is getting is the kind that's transmitted sexually.
Dev shows up at the end of the show, and Karen is like "oh Ivy, this is Dev, you GUYS HAVE NEVER MET" (literally). HA. Sofia Coppola is somewhere out there collecting antique coffee tables and listening to Phoenix on her portable record player, rolling her eyes real hard at this well-written tension. Everyone exchanges nervous looks. Cue commercial.
The dream team assembles and decides that they need a new ending where Marilyn doesn't die, because it's depressing.
Tom and Sam go out for Italian food and Sam convinces him to go to church. Won't he burst into flames at the doorstep? I bet everyone reading this $20 this lazy writing makes a "burst into flames" joke when we get there (yes I write these as I watch, this bet is valid).
Ellis is third-wheeling EIleen and Nick, and keeps suggesting things. "Let's change the name to "Blondes Have More Fun!" Shut up, Ellis. Nick tells him to "take a powder," which is gruff barspeak for "leave me or I'll rip you in half like a piece of paper," I think. So he takes him outside to get a car. Later, in a completely believable and organic moment, Eileen sings a song and we get our angsty everyone's problems montage early.
Karen and Dev reconcile in the bedroom and she brings up the marriage again. Uh-oh! He left the ring in Ivy's room! Heavy-handed? If you like it then you shouldn't leave a ring over in the room of her rival after you made follies. Someone isn't getting married today.
Rebecca is pretty bummed about not getting any applause, and she thinks it's all her fault. Don't worry, Black Mamba! It was definitely the writing. Turns out she isn't the world's best assassin because SOMEONE POISONED HER SMOOTHIE and she fell for it. Oh brother. You don't need to be an expert at Clue
to figure out who is behind this devious plot. "Hm, Rebecca Duvall is played by Uma Thurman whose worst role was in Batman and Robin
playing a character called Poison Ivy and this show is the worst and also has a character called Ivy who has her boyfriend stolen by Uma and she was poisoned so it must have been Ivy!" Flawless logic. JK it was definitely Ellis. I'm putting all my clams on it. Actually, it was probably Leo, tired of being pigeonholed as the "pudgy loser son" and officially the only character on the show who hasn't gotten any onscreen yet (except if "any" is "jailtime," then he came close). You show 'em, baby tea!
Turns out the poison was just an allergic reaction to peanuts, so our Poison-Ivy theory is kinda shot. Mr. (or Mrs.) Peanut is still on the loose! Meanwhile, the mad scramble for who might replace Rebecca has begun, with Ivy and Karen being the obvious frontrunners, and Ellis also up for the part for some reason because he'll literally take any promotion he can get.
Michael tells Tea he only came to Boston to party with her, but she runs away like a little schoolgirl. If she really wants Michael to take the hint about her valuing her marriage over going into his woods, well, then she should probably stop making every encounter into a cathartic moment worthy of the Oscar reel. She then runs to Tom to make him feel bad about her insecurities, and I'm so confused about if they are mad or not until the end when the sad music comes in and Julia makes a crying/pouty face.
Finally we get to church. The whole cast attends the service with Sam and we're all waiting with baited breath to see if the adulterers spontaneously combust at the doorway, and you all owe me $20. And it's at this point that it hits me-- the wily preacher, the chorus of purple-robe clad vocalists, poised to burst into spontaneous exclamation-- DANGER, WILL ROBINSON. It's all been leading up to this, the whole episode, all the church stuff, all to create this tableau of pious worship to shield us from their true narrative purpose. Those bastards. I pause my Hulu stream and realize that we're heading face-first into a gut-wrenching, tear-inducing, mega-disaster church song montage that even I, a man and a critic of stiff resolve, can't find the courage to face objectively.
Just another excuse to sing. Just like the character arcs, plot twists, and in reality, the entire concept of Smash
. All wool over our eyes in the name of theatre. Dev tries to speak from the heart but he is interrupted by yet another plot device. It turns out Rebecca drank the smoothie anyway, even though she knew it was full of poison peanut, because she's scared. All bets are off! She's leaving the show! Ivy looks kind of shady when Karen mentions it. Did she actually do it? We're back to the central question of Smash
, and no, it's not "who is going to play Marilyn - Ivy or Karen," it's "what caliber bullet should I bury in my brain next Monday at 10/9 central on NBC?" The voting is now open!