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?