Smash Series Finale: And the Tony Goes to…
Drama, drama and more drama — of the baby-daddy, divorce, drug-crime, possibly gay movie-star, Tony performance mutiny switcheroos and early-prison-release variety, to name a few — went down in the Smash series finale. But as befits a series about the inner workings of a pair of dueling Broadway musicals, most of the real tension centered on the winners, losers and performers at the Tony Awards.
Whether you were #TeamKaren or #TeamIvyLynn, #TeamBombshell or #TeamHitList, #TeamJulia or #TeamDeadGuy, there was resolution to be found. So let’s get to the business of recapping the action!
Hour 1 — “The Nominations” — might just as well have been called The Jimmy & Derek Acts of Contrition Tour, since the two possible endgame prospects for the show’s dueling leading ladies needed some light reupholstering before they could be moved into Barbie’s Dream Castle, so to speak. Let me try to boil down the action as succinctly as possible:
* Tom managed to offend possibly gay movie star/Tony nominating committee member Patrick Dillon (Brothers & Sisters‘ Luke Macfarlane — lookin’ good) by rudely checking his cellphone during a show, and then later by smashing a bottle of Petite Sirah in Patrick’s lobby (and onto Patrick’s very nice khakis). (Backstory: The wine was supposed to be a meal culpa gift via delivery, till Eileen informed Tom that gifts to potential nominators were strictly verboten.) Was something flirty afoot, or was it all in Tom’s active imagination? Hrmmm. Also, Tom and Derek tied for Best Director at the Outer Critics Circle Awards, with the former graciously thanking his predecessor/frenemy even though the two of ‘em “go together as well as Lena Dunham and a bra,” he joked.
* Karen, meanwhile, demanded that Daisy quit Bombshell (on grounds that she was a blackmailing skank) and give the role back to Ana, but the charismatic redhead noted that it was her mission to be a Broadway star, not a good person. Ana’s lawyer threatened to expose the real reason behind her firing, but when Derek used his influence to score Ana a plum role in the touring company of Once, she reluctantly agreed to let him get away with his treachery. Ivy Lynn, though, overheard the convo, and in the moment decided not to tell Derek that she was pregnant with his child. “You’ve never done the right thing, Derek, and you never will,” she said (or translated into Twitterspeak, “SMDH”). And so Derek, sitting down for an interview with Michael Riedel, finally decided to pay for his sins: He confessed to giving Daisy the role of The Diva in exchange for her sleeping with him. “Ana Vargas was collateral damage. I’m sorry.” Whoa!
* Ivy Lynn’s undisclosed pregnancy hormones had her shooting off guns of harsh truth, leaving Bobby wondering if she was back on pills. “She Black Swanned once before — and that was only Boston!” he exclaimed, reaffirming why I’ll miss him most of all in my post-Smash life. When Ivy overheard that Jimmy and Karen had described her performance as Marilyn as mere “imitation,” she blurted this doozy: “The only reason Hit List made it to Broadway is because Kyle Bishop died!” Harsh, but kinda true, no? Alas, the moment got captured on somebody’s iPhone and blew up in Broadway circles. Simultaneously, Jimmy screeched at Julia that she needed to stop paying tribute to Kyle, because everyone assumed that meant she’d written half of Hit List‘s book. (Man that kid is an INGRATE! Also, before he met Julia, everyone had agreed Kyle was a terrible writer, yes?) But since Jimmy had an emerging cold — bringing to life this cough was not Jeremy Jordan’s finest acting moment on the show — he was forced to take a night off from Hit List, and Karen got him a ticket to watch it from the audience. This somehow led to an A-Ha Moment, where Jimmy apologized for being dreadful. After Kyle’s death, “I was just afraid to let someone else get close to me!” Jimmy whined, as Karen melted/looked blank. Ugh…sorry Jimmy fans, but all episode long, I kept hoping a piano would fall on his head. He’s just THE WORST, and his sudden show of warmth toward Karen felt like a case of too little too late. Okay, if not a piano to Whinyface McSmarmypants’ head, how about a Gloria Steinem cameo where she comes in to give Karen a course in Intro to Self-Respect?
* Oh, did I mention the writers tried a little prank where it looked like Ivy Lynn didn’t get nominated for Lead Actress for Bombshell? I was thisclose to taking a Louisville Slugger to both my TV sets (even the one in the bedroom I wasn’t using), but then it was just a case of “Oops! I forgot to read one of the names!” from announcers Christine Ebersole and Cheyenne Jackson.
Okay, so on to Hour 2 — “The Tonys.” Why keep you in suspense when all you want to know is WHO THE HECK TOOK HOME STATUETTES? Without further ado, the winners are…
Best Book for a Musical: Kyle Bishop, Hit List (I enjoyed Jimmy recounting Kyle’s collection of failed musicals’ playbills, how his dead writing partner scrimped to save money to see Bombshell in Boston, and how his scoring Karen’s autographed changed the courses of their lives. ‘Twas a nice nod back to some of the better-sketched details of Kyle’s past. But if I’m being honest, Jimmy’s sobbing delivery made me feel more annoyed at him than sympathetic.)
Best Score: Julia Houston and Tom Levitt, Bombshell (Loved Tom and Julia discussing cocktail options then registering shock when they looked up and realized everyone was cheering for them!)
Best Choreography: Derek Wills, Hit List (Derek’s whole, “thanks for judging the work, not the man” speech was realistic, but I wish they’d infused it with some of his acerbic humor.)
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical: Daisy Parker, Hit List (“That bitch!” –a mental aside brought to you by Ana Vargas) (In all seriousness, though, how cool was it to see Mara Davi’s tiny but really mesmerizing turn in the season premiere get rewarded with a more extended arc later in the season? Kudos, Smash producers!)
Best Lead Actress in a Musical: Ivy Lynn, Bombshell (I can’t lie…I let out a squeal of delight when Ivy Lynn got her statuette…and her speech — a thanks to her mom for the gift of “a life in the theater” and Broadway audiences “for believing in live theater” was a true thing of beauty, not to mention one of Megan Hilty’s best moments on the show.)
Best Musical: Bombshell (Kinda predictable, since the show couldn’t end with a triumph for….Jerry! Eek!)
Best Dressed: Karen Cartwright…damn that pink strapless confection with cascading poofy bottom was absolutely amazing.
And how did everyone’s story arcs wrap up?
* Eileen discovered that Nick had gotten early release from prison, tracked him down to the greasy spoon where he’d started working, handed him a tuxedo and brought him as her date. Girlfriend got a Tony, a hot Nick, and the alluring scent of bacon in her nostrils. Now if they’d just allowed her to throw one more cocktail into Jerry’s face, I might’ve wept tears of happiness as the credits rolled.
* Jimmy packed up his apartment and looked ready to roll out of NYC — and skip the Tonys — but Julia was all “stop sabotaging yourself, beyotch!” (Confession: I added the “beyotch” part.) After the ceremony, Jimmy took Karen outside, sat her down, and made me worry he was going to (gack!) propose. But nope, instead he confessed how he had once done drugs with a girl at a party, she’d OD’d and he’d left her to die — an act that had haunted him ever since. And so, to be able to become the person Karen saw in him, he’d confessed to the police, discovered the girl had survived unscathed, but been slapped with a 6-18 month prison sentence. (Cue: Smash fans spending the next 12 months writing Jimmy-in-prison fan fic.) And thus we left Karen and Jimmy kissing in the street — and a happily ever after. (For me, happily every after won’t last till the holidays, but I’m a pragmatic sort when it comes to long-term relationships. If you want them to make musical babies and win Tonys together 4Eva, I have no quarrel with ya!)
* Derek holed himself up in his apartment, all morose and drunk and unresponsive to Karen’s help. So Ivy Lynn came to the rescue and demanded he come to the Tonys. “Oh, and take a shower — it smells like a dive bar in here,” she meowed. After the show, we saw her worldessly break the news to Derek that they were about to become parents — and he gently nuzzled her shoulder. Maybe these two crazy kids can make it work? As long as she accompanies him to all future casting sessions, I suppose.
* Frank went nuclear in his divorce proceedings with Julia — wait, that wasn’t done yet!? — and she finally confessed to him that she’d loved him, but “not in the right way,” because she was drawn to Michael Swift for most of their marriage. Thus, she agreed to not “refute anything” in court, and somehow, that healed the wounds. In an insane twist, though, Julia ended the series showing up at Michael’s door — reuniting the most unappealing adulterous couple of the entire 2011-2012 TV season. (Plus, last we saw Michael, he was borderline stalkery.) And here I was hoping single Julia and single Tom might ride off into the Los Angeles sunset together! That’s how I’m gonna choose to envision them, actually.
* Tom, “egotistically emboldened by my recent and well-deserved win,” planted a kiss on Patrick Dillon, who exclaimed he was straight. “That’s how all my straight friends kiss me,” Tom shot back, the clever boy. At the very least, Tom (along with Julia) ended the series set to meet with Patrick on “developing a big-screen musical.” (Methinks that’s code for busting open Patrick’s glass-closet door, but that’s just how I’m wired.)
* Oh, and while Hit List got beat for Best Musical, Karen, Ana, Sam and Jimmy scored a victory when Derek tricked Daisy into missing her solo number during the Tonys telecast — and the quartet (backed by the entire Hit List chorus) performed a stellar “Broadway Here I Come” accompanied only by their own hand claps and foot stomps. Yowza, that was good!
* And then Ivy Lynn and Karen closed the show with a rousing rendition of “Big Finish” (not about a well-endowed man from Finland, FYI). Yeah, the frenemies were in full enemy mode last week, but time, or series-finale convenience, heals all wounds. The razzle-dazzle of it all reminded me of all the enjoyment I’ve gotten from this flawed, fun, infuriating, dazzling NBC musical drama — and offered a final chance for #TeamKaren and #TeamIvy fans to bury their hatchets (or engage in one final debate). So with that, I turn things over to you…