Smash Recap: Peanut Butter and Jealousy

uma thurman smash“The real question is, who’s going to play Marilyn?” With that episode-ending question from chorus boy Bobby, Smash took us right back to the dilemma that’s been on everyone’s minds since the pilot.

I wouldn’t put my money on movie star Rebecca Duvall, who wound up in the hospital after ingesting a smoothie that was laced with peanuts, then revealed to Karen she wasn’t coming back to the show because of her brewing insecurities. (So in the course of a few days leading up to its Boston previews, Bombshell loses its Marilyn and its DiMaggio? If next week’s episode doesn’t have the production getting eaten alive by the theater press like a slow cow wading in a pond of piranhas, then Smash will have officially tossed its credibility on that Grand Central Station-based train bound for anywhere but Beantown.)

We’ll see if Rebecca follows through with what would surely be a public relations disaster — screen star can’t handle the pressure of live theater! — but who wants to bet if the police examined Rebecca’s smoothie station, they’d find Ellis’ prints sitting in a light patina of peanut dust and flax seed? (Side note: Anyone else howl when Eileen laughed off the suspicions of sabotage by Rebecca’s manager with this doozy: “What are you, Miss Marple?”)

Here’s what went down during the action-packed hour:

* My favorite part of the episode focused on Bombshell‘s bomb of an ending. We saw brief snippets of several familiar numbers from opening night of previews, and then the final scene: Rebecca’s fading, semi-incoherent Marilyn lying alone in her bed, finishing up a sad and desperate phone call before repeating a line from “Second-Hand White Baby Grand” — “I still have something beautiful to give” — and dying. Alas, it turns out it’s hard for an audience to rise to its feet — or even clap — when a musical closes with death by overdose. That scene of Tom, Julia, Derek, and Eileen’s post-mortem was the kind of great inside-theater stuff that keeps me coming back for more Smash in spite of its intermittent ludicrousness. And Debra Messing, in particular, knows how to land a punch line. Responding to Tom’s surprise that she’d seen HBO’s Marilyn Monroe biopic starring Ashley Judd, Julia hilariously summed up the problem facing the production: “I saw everything. And you know what? In everything, she dies.”

* Wanna know the difference between Karen and Ivy? The former starlet couldn’t even consider a marriage proposal from Dev during “tech,” while the latter managed to down a few drinks and then slip into bed with the hot but disgusting mayoral employee. See how far a little Broadway experience can take you? Oh yeah, as last week’s previews teased, Dev and Ivy fell into bed, and it was pretty clear they weren’t exactly innocent about knowing each other’s connections to Iowa. After agreeing to keep their tryst a secret, Dev returned to Karen, who said “yes” to the proposal and then, wondering why Dev wasn’t slipping that ring on her finger, delivered the most unintentionally hilarious question in Smash history: “You didn’t give it to someone else already, did you?” Oh girlfriend, define “it.” Further complicating matters, Dev worried he’d lost said engagement ring in Ivy’s room. The way the latter gal incredulously asked Dev if he was going to propose to Karen within hours of cheating on her makes me wonder if Ivy will eventually spill the beans to her frenemy.

* Tom managed to sneak in that long, lost number, “I Wanna Be a Smash,” for Karen and Ivy, but if I’m being honest, I was a little underwhelmed by the ditty about young actresses in search of casting-couch glory. Really, the best part of the song was hearing Ivy put aside her own issues and tell Karen she was “really good.”

* We also had a lot of relationship ridiculata happening:

– Derek basically brushed off Ivy’s hurt and anger that he was cheating on her with Rebecca by flippantly explaning he was just doing his job as director. (If I were Ivy, I’d have been all “I didn’t realize you needed to direct your wang into her Casual Friday!”)
– Michael continued his stalker-y behavior with Julia, who pushed him away and pointed her finger in a way that totally meant business. (Please, for the love of all that’s Broadway, put this nasty adultery subplot to bed, Smash writers!)
– Tom and Julia had a silly, trumped-up fight, just to prove that out-of-town previews can make even the sanest characters go crazy. Did anyone think that tense scene in the theater, where Julia noted that “the show is more important than all of us,” was going to lead the musical duo to turn that revelation into a closing number?
– Sam took Tom to church — “Jews don’t sing and pray. We complain and eat,” noted our jaunty composer — and then everyone else showed up and Sam and Karen (borrowing that hein skirt from Julia, maybe?) sang Donnie McClurkin’s “Stand,” an odd choice for a proudly gay character, seeing how McClurkin is part of an “ex-gay” minsitry.
– Eileen took Nick and his injured hand out for drinks to show off her amazing gams by sitting on a piano and warbling a moving rendition of “September Song.”

* Quotes of the night (aside from the exquisite Marple gem)

“Quiet! You know I hate enthusiasm!” –Derek to his applauding cast

“Are you directing now, Ellis?” –Eileen, shutting down her cad assistant’s complaints about Rebecca’s performance (but still not firing him already!)

“Well let’s get out of show-business then, Karen.” –Rebecca, responding to Karen’s explanation that she just didn’t want to see anyone get hurt

What did you think of this week’s Smash? If you had a vote, would you choose Karen or Ivy to replace Rebecca? (Two days ago, Karen didn’t know what tech was, but a month or so ago, Ivy was falling down the Heaven on Earth steps thanks to a booze and pills cocktail. Not an easy choice, but I’d go with Ivy.) And what else are you hoping for in the season finale?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Dan Wolpe says:

    As much as I love Karen, Ivy would be the better Marilyn. And for the record, we Jews absolutely pray and sing!

  2. davey says:

    Except Karen wasn’t very good, Ivy. My bets are that Karen finally sleeps with Derek next week to get the lead.

  3. Sarah says:

    TEAM IVY ALL THE WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I do also appreciate that the writers didn’t make her just the overdrawn villain they have for half this season by showing her remorse for sleeping with Dev. I loved the “If you keep being nice to me I’m going to lose it” exchange.

    • jenna says:

      I loved that line as well! I’m curious if it will be Ivy or Dev that reveal the affair to Karen. I was underwhelmed by the smash number but I really enjoyed stand, I love sam’s voice :)

      Apparently there always needs to be adultery in this show -_-” first julia and michael swift and now ivy and dev?? Can’t people just keep their pants on!?! How creepy was michael swift though, he is coming off as a major stalker (too bad that’s already ellis’s role in the show!) Speaking of ellis I have no idea why eileen didn’t fire him for that “somebody has to” remark when she asked if he was producing now! How is his ego so huge!

      Anyone else think they completely cut the scene where rebecca wanted karen fired…I don’t see that happening anytime soon (as in next week)

      • nyguy says:

        Ivy gets the lead and Karen the understudy but Ivy will end up pregnant. Is the daddy Dev or Derek? Either way she decides to have the baby and loses the lead to Karen in the end.

      • marta says:

        LOVED ‘Smash’ and ‘Stand’ — anything Karen sings is amazing! She’s a shining star! Team Karen ALL THE WAY

      • Amy says:

        I guess I’m the only one who thinks there is great chemistry with Michael and Julia. Of course, I want her to stay with Frank and not mess with Michael, but the story is interesting to me. I thought that scene was fantastic with Julia and Michael. When she pushed him away, I cheered for her. And when I saw the look on his face and the tear on his cheek, you could tell that he was really in love with her. I didn’t know who Will Chase was before Smash, but I am definitely a fan, now.

  4. Josh says:

    Definitely a better episode. I’m upset Ivy knew who Dev was. It’s like they are trying to lessen her fall by not getting Marilyn by having her make all these mistakes.

    Tom rocks.

    My biggest hope for season 2(besides some consistency) is that Ivy and Karen become friends. I found Karen so much more interesting when she’s with Ivy and I think Ivy could learn to cool it down from Karen. So please, let’s have this happen

    • Kristen says:

      It was written all over Ivy and Dev’s face at the bar that they were well aware of who each other was. I’m not at all surprised. Ivy was hurt, already despises Karen b/c she thinks the girl sets out to take everything from her when it’s exactly the opposite… she sunk to a new low, and I think once the story comes out, she’s going to deal with some major repercussions. I honestly hope she is preggo with Dev’s baby, and she has to leave the show. While she physically would fit the part to a “T”, Karen’s voice is much more consistant. I don’t always enjoy Ivy’s songs, and often find myself fast forwarding through them.

      • TheBeach says:

        As professionally driven as they have potrayed Ivy to be, if she indeed becomes pregnant I can’t see her going through with it.

  5. devmustgo says:

    Team Karen for me. I don’t really care that Ivy is showing remorse now. Anyone can do that AFTER the event! Plus I’m still a sucker for Karen’s gorgeous vocals, and I thought she shined in the ‘Smash’ song. I do think Karen & Ivy have great chemistry so its sort of a shame they’ll back being enemies again next season. Oh and can we now add ‘spineless’ to Dev’s growing list of terribleness!

    LOVED LOVED the gospel song, despite its random set up, but hey …. it’s Smash!

  6. Shary says:

    Team Karen! Ivy comes off drag queeny when she is done up as MM

  7. TV Watcher says:

    Ivy is the better choice for Marilyn for many reasons but Karen is the more easy to root for character by a mile. BTW, I loved the “Miss Marple” comment and Twittered it the second it left Eileen’s mouth.

    This was a very good episode and as good an example of a “set up to season finale” as you’re ever going to see. All the characters are in place for the train wreck. And hopefully Rebecca is gone for good.

    As good as Eileen’s Miss Marple comment was, Tom’s panicked side mouth panic attack, “They’re not clapping, why aren’t they clapping” took top prize for me.

    • Cara says:

      I agree! Great episode.
      When Tom said “why aren’t they clapping?,” I was all “because they’re not going to clap the sad death of Marilyn, you idiot!” But that’s what so great about this show — that’s the exact kind of idiotic move that real writers make when they get too close to a project and aren’t thinking about “give the audience something to clap for” at the end.
      I’m Team Ivy, BTW. Hilty has a Broadway voice; McPhee has a breathy pop voice. Plus, Ivy’s just better suited to the part. But they’re both great.
      And did I mention: I LOVE THIS SHOW!

      • TV Watcher says:

        I agree 100% on all of your points. For season 2, I just hope they change the Ivy vs. Karen dynamic all together; I dont want to watch 2 seasons of that.

  8. smashtastic says:

    I enjoyed this episode, but again hated how they made Karen act so pathetically. Dev tells her he nearly slept with RJ, and yet she’s the one grovelling and apologising and practically begging Dev to propose again. I realise its the Smash writers way if cranking up the drama for when Karen eventually does find out, but its just annoying, especially after she showed a bit of spine last week during her Dev confrontation. Dev is a terrible human being now, and I just don’t know with Ivy. Sure she’s feeling bad now, but come on, she’s a grown up, and she made the spiteful conscious decision to do the dirty with Dev, so really I don’t have much sympathy. As for who plays Marilyn, kind if rooting for Karen. Love her purer voice and maybe I’m a sucker, but I like that Karen still has integrity and tries to do right by everyone, even if she can be so frustratingly naive at times. Loving Derek right now as well. He’s really grown on me as the season has gone on. Plus just watched a Karek clip for the season finale and it’s great!

  9. Linderella says:

    Great episode and I loved the Smashed number. Dev is a name I can’t put in this comment and no matter how Karen finds out it’s a good thing. Does anyone else think Julia’s church inspiration for the finale of of Bombshell will somehow involve heaven? I love this show!

  10. astrid says:

    Ivy is great as Marilyn, much better than Karen. And she really needs a success in her life, so pleeeaase let Ivy be Marilyn!!

  11. michael jara says:

    Evita ends in death, as does Sweeney Todd. It’s not that unfathomable!

    • Cara says:

      Yeah, I think they didn’t make that point clearly enough. Her life ended with death, and the show should have that, but the SHOW shouldn’t end with her death. I’d add a number where dead Marilyn meets up with her shadow selves and she realizes she really did achieve what she wanted in life after all — greatness and immortality. (Well, something like that.) That would leave the audience with something to clap for at the end, but not kill the sadness.

  12. JC says:

    I love this episode and I’m going to miss Rebecca Duvall. Uma Thurman was so funny and clueless I love that about her character I hope she comes back in season 2 :)

  13. naughtyelf says:

    And the prize for clunkiest line of all time has to go to Karen for “Ivy, this is my boyfriend Dev. You guys have never met.”

  14. Taylah says:

    I still think Ivy is the best choice for Marilyn. I wish Smash would realize one thing: there is a ton of Broadway stars that are in no way saints, but that doesn’t take anything away from their talent. And it doesn’t matter how much they try to turn Ivy into a villain, she’s still more talented than Karen. I don’t care if a godly light touches Karen and tells her God is rooting for her, me, as a viewer, will still think Ivy is the best choice for Marilyn.

    That Karen and Ivy number was really good, though. Maybe they could give the whole number to Karen and she’d still have her own spotlight in the show.

  15. wrstlgirl says:

    I took a pass, will watch online at some point. Doesn’t sound like I missed much of anything that wasn’t predictable. The fact that we still don’t know who’s going to play Marilyn, from day one, is ridic.

    • M says:

      That’s been the whole lead up of the entire season! Who will play marilyn, the broadway vet or the new comer. It only makes sense that they finally decide in the season finale…

  16. Maggie says:

    6 degrees of Broadway separation, Zanuck was played by Marc Kudisch, who played smarmy boss Franklin Hart opposite Megan Hilty on Broadway in 9-5 a couple seasons ago, he is also the original Trevor Grayden from Thoroughly Modern Millie, where at one point one of his costars was Christian Borle! bummer we didn’t get to hear him sing more, though, he has a great voice!

    • Cara says:

      I loved his voice, too! Thanks for the info, Maggie — those of us far from Broadway don’t know a lot of this stuff.

  17. cindy25 says:

    Team Karen easily. She has the better voice, she’s the better dancer, and she has Marilyn’s presence. Ivy is caricature of Marilyn. Big boobs, way over the top, and her impressions seem more like a parody than an impersonation. It’s exaggerated and unnatural. Sure, the viewer would look at that and immediately think Marilyn but that Marilyn belongs on Hollywood Boulevard taking pics with tourists, not on Broadway. Karen is comes off way more natural without trying as hard. Team Karen for me.

  18. MLO says:

    Eileen and Nick = YUCK. I love Thorsten Kaye but it grosses me out when he gets all up in Angelica’s wrinkles.

    • Lisa (@KittyKay3) says:

      Eileen is my favorite character. I love her with Nick. He is helping her discover a different side of herself. she feels beautiful, possibly for the first time in her life.

    • JC says:

      Get over yourself they are adorable together and it shows that you can still find happiness in your 50’s or 60’s :)

  19. Lisa (@KittyKay3) says:

    I want for Karen to be cast as Norma Jean and Ivy as Marilyn. Karen has the innocent optimism of a young Norma Jean. Ivy brings the sexy but jaded Marilyn. This would allow them to get the production ready more quickly..

    • Suz says:

      I’ve thought the same from ep1….

    • Pattie G says:

      That’s what I’ve been thinking for a while also. It also gives a fresh angle on the rivalry for Season Two. And makes things interesting for Derek as he seems compelled to sleep with his leading ladies….

  20. Lisa (@KittyKay3) says:

    Am I the only one that thinks Rebecca poisoned herself as a way to exit the production? She knew she was bad.

  21. Jasmine says:

    I prefer Karen, but Ivy getting the role of Marilyn would be a better story arc for the season at this point since they’ve built her character up so much better.

    Karen will be playing Marilyn on Broadway next season, however…

  22. Melissa says:

    Ellis was my first thought of who spiked Rebecca’s smoothie but that’s a bit obvious. I’m starting to lean toward Derek having done it. He changed his attitude toward her very quickly and I think secretly he thought she would ruin his show so he found a way to give her an out of course now that I say that, maybe rebecca did it herself so she had an excuse.

    • Hali says:

      I thought it might have been Ivy… she is pretty ambitious (but is she crazy?).

    • TheBeach says:

      Hmmm…interesting take that it might have been Derek. I had considered that Rebecca did it to herself as an easy out, but the Derek theory is interesting.

  23. Ken says:

    What will the show focus on next season?

  24. Mark P says:

    Without a doubt, Ivy has all the characteristics of a Marilyn Monroe. She has the voice and the body. But Karen is the star of the series and she has to be a successful Broadway star in the end because if not, what’s the point of watching Smash!?

    I love Katharine McPhee. Team KAREN all the way!!!

    • TheBeach says:

      What happened to the story line of Karen being discovered by this huge record producer? That plot kind of fell off the radar.

  25. extra says:

    i actually like the weird stalker-y Micheal/Julia relationship. it is a better storyline then the weird cheating michael/julia storyline. Further, he can sing.

  26. Ivy should definitely get the lead since Karen is best as a human karaoke machine.

    In our recap, we give the crown of badness to all the Julia stuff – though kudos to Tom for calling her out on the BS. Just wish that so many of the storylines weren’t predictable. Gee, wonder if the ring will show up at a really inconvenient time next week?

  27. kara says:

    Karen should definitely be the lead because all Ivy does is yell. The untrained ear may be fooled but Ivy simply isn’t that good. Karen should get the part. Her voice is fantastic. They need to kill off the son. Ellis is annoying but at least he provides some form of entertainment. The son is useless.

  28. kip says:

    I’m sorry, team Karen people, but she is so boring! I feel bad for Katherine McPhee because nothing she has done on this show has shown her talent or ability to actually engage with a song. She was actually really great on American Idol, but I have to fastforward through her non-Ivy related scenes because they are so dull. She can’t act and they don’t showcase her singing well on Smash. Maybe because the songs are pre-recorded and she is better live? I don’t know. Her dialogue is flat, her singing seems ordinary and while she sings she just makes her “earnest” face. The only variation is that sometimes she’s is visibly trying to look more optimistic or more vulnerable. It drives me almost as crazy as Julia’s character being just terrible. Karen’s section of Stand was a disappointment to me, and it didn’t seem as connected as Ivy’s I’m Going Down.

    Please Smash writers, have some balls and give the role of Marilyn to the less likable, but more interesting, character of Ivy. Megan Hilty is nailing it, even when you give her questionable material to work with.

  29. Hali says:

    I just love that someone else thought that Ms Marple line was amusing :).

  30. princessme says:

    Megan Hilty can’t act and her voice does nothing for me. So by default, I’m team Karen. But my favorite character is Tom.

  31. Lily says:

    TEAM KAREN!!! Sorry I’m not sorry.

  32. sana says:

    biggest surprise of the night had to be Sam singing. what a voice. if i were Tom, I’d write him his own musical! why is he only a dancer on the show?

    regardless of all her issues, i still think Ivy is the best Marilyn. i hope she gets the part at the end.

  33. I love how people have fallen in love with the character “Karen” so are shouting that Megan Hilty can’t act or sing. People, it’s ok to love one character over another, but Hilty has starred in two musicals on Broadway, and been nominated for a Drama Desk Award for one of them. Try to keep it real. That doesn’t happen when people can’t sing or act.

  34. Brianne says:

    I like Karen, but Ivy is definitely the better choice to play Marilyn.

  35. Karen & Ivy says:

    I definitely think that Karen & Ivy can play 2 diff sides of Marilyn. Too bad for the HBO biopic which already did this, but they can be a bit more sophisticated about it.

    FWIW Megan is from my town (in the Seattle area), so Go Megan!
    And her “I’m Going Down” was the vocal performance of the season.

    No diss on Kat – love her too, her singing is sublime. :)

  36. what kind of understudy doesn’t spend every spare minute learning the blocking and running over the numbers and dialogue? The stage manager has the book with the blocking, she should have a copy too and really know it. Karen doesn’t deserve the role specifically because she doesn’t have the right work ethic.

  37. Jeff says:

    Ivy, with Karen as the understudy. She’ll get her turn as Bombshell reigns supreme…!

  38. Carla says:

    I saw Megan Hilty play Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” last night. She’s a star. If the Smash writers insist on the silly premise that Katherine McPhee could get a leading Broadway role over the amazing Megan Hilty, I’m just going to ignore that and pretend the finale never happened. I can always go back to Hilty singing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” in my mind :)

  39. Amy says:

    I like Katherine McPhee, but I haven’t seen the range of emotion that I really want to from her, so I guess I’m Team Ivy!!