Smash Recap: What the Tech Is Going on Here?

megan hilty smashIt was the best of performances (“I’m Going Down”) and the worst of lines (“It’s not yes or no: It’s ‘I’m in tech.'”) on this week’s Smash. It was also an hour filled with a whole lot of unexpected (at times, unbelievable) couple-swapping: Dev and (annoying) RJ locked lips; Dev got a lukewarm response from Karen to his marriage proposal; Ivy got blown off by Derek (right after he gave her a tossed off “I love you”); Derek hooked up with Rebecca; Dev “bought a drink” (possibly a euphemism) for Ivy; and Ellis got sent out to fetch a Neti Pot. Okay, so that last example doesn’t really fit, but it’s always fun when Ellis is given something demeaning to do, no?

The action centered around Bombshell heading to Boston for its out-of-town tryout, and Derek and the company diving headlong into “tech” — planning out the lighting, costumes, staging, etc — but most of the action happened off stage. Here’s a rundown of the major plot points:

* Movie star/Bombshell star Rebecca Duvall grappled with mounting performance anxiety, and Derek slithered into her dressing room to urge her to use her insecurities to better understand Marilyn, and to revel in her own star power, too. “It’s your escape from the terror,” he insisted. (Srsly?) Rebecca then donned (not entirely convincing) Marilyn drag for a performance of “Happy Birthday, Mr. Director” — “I wonder if she got Karen to coach her,” snarled Ivy Lynn, hilariously — and before you knew it, Derek was all “Marilyn glowed in the light. She was luminous like you.” And Rebecca was all looking for a compliment that went beyond Derek thinking she was pretty. And then Derek used his condescension — “You, my darling, are a lovely little actress.” — as an aphrodisiac. Next thing you know the director and his leading lady were going at it in the dressing room, with Rebecca’s creepy manager, super creepy Ellis, and somewhat creepy Ivy standing outside, eavesdropping creepily. Rebecca and Derek doing the nasty brings a whole new meaning to “Let Me Be Your Star,” I guess.

* Dev and Karen continued playing their roles in The Least Convincing Love Affair Ever Imagined. With his girlfriend out of town, Dev spent quality time with RJ (a NY Times reporter who has an awful lot of free time on her hands), her lips, and a bottle of bourbon, but his subsequent guilt sent him to Boston where eventually he proposed to Karen. That’s when we got the “It’s not yes or no: It’s ‘I’m in tech.'” because I guess we’re supposed to believe Karen had never given any real thought to marrying Dev until he tried to put a ring on it? Wha? That last scene of Karen storming off (“I cannot decide to get married to someone during tech — particularly someone who’s cheating on me!”) was bizarre, given that Dev said he’d fended off his work buddy’s advances. Honestly, though, I’d kind of prefer it if Karen spent Season 2 as a single lady. Maybe she could even get an apartment with Bobby and Jessica and Dennis and Sam? And her new movie title could be Struggling Chorus Boys and Gals Who Like to Get Their Drink On! Well, it’s more fun than her movie with Dev, no?

* Ivy got sent reeling from Derek’s betrayal — and directly into a post-rehearsal bender as she partied with the rest of the chorus. But when Bobby called for a Team Karen vs Team Ivy sing-off, the original Marilyn star went first, delivering a rendition of Rose Royce’s “I’m Going Down” that was achingly, heartbreaingly beautiful — my favorite musical moment of the entire series to date. (And that’s saying a lot.) It was as if Megan Hilty took every ounce of pain she’s ever felt in her life, and poured it into a single musical number. The final “What did I do wrong?” refrain was as sad as it was mesmerizing. “Top that, Iowa.” Nah, she knew better than to even try.

* Meanwhile, Tom and Sam got to duet on the clever “Another Opening, Another Show,” but when the former sided with the latter’s dad that the life of a Broadway dancer might not be worth pursuing, our sports-loving chorus dude countered with a stirring speech about living his dream with the understanding that it’s “joy one day and gone the next.” I liked the scene so much that I even bought Tom telling his new boyfriend that “you are my best self.” Nice “Oh Lord! Two boys kissin’!” from Sam’s brother, too. How refreshing to have a gay romance on TV where neither party is closeted/persecuted/self-loathing/even moderately conflicted.

* Some dude who was apparently recast as DiMaggio scored a pilot. “Bye!” he said, running out the door with such intense disdain for the role he was playing that I can’t imagine he’d ever work on Broadway again. This, of course, opened the door for the return of Michael Swift, and a total freakout from Julia. But what’s this? Frank and Leo don’t want her to give up her life just because that life means she’ll be workin’ 9-to-5 with her former illicit lover. Pack up the family wagon, they’re all goin’ to Boston. (Best line from this arc? Derek, appalled by Tom’s failure to break the DiMaggio news to Julia: “It’s called a spine, Tom.”)

* The action ended with Ivy sidling up to the bar and Dev (not knowing who the blond bombshell is) offering to buy her a drink. (And Ivy would never say no to a drink, methinks.)

What did you think of this week’s Smash? Are you excited for Bombshell to make its debut? Which character do you want to get the title role? And wasn’t Hilty awesome on “I’m Going Down”? Sound off below, and for all my TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!