Smash Recap: The Caged Bird Sings

smash season 2 the song jennifer hudsonKaren Cartwright, we need to talk.

Just a few months ago, you lost 165 pounds of cheating fiancé, and the change looked great on you. You scored rave reviews in an out-of-town tryout for a Broadway musical, you moved in with a free-spirited artisté roommate, and things were looking up.

But now, when you ought to be focusing on building a healthy, post-Dev self-esteem and launching what could be a major-league Broadway career, you’re wasting time making googly eyes and kissy lips at Jimmy — an obnoxious, entitled, drug-addicted, misogynistic Brooklyn dude who puts the “poseur” in composer. Yes, I know you’re from a small town in Iowa, but surely mom and dad let you out from the strawberry patch every now and again.

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I mean, in the last few weeks, Jimmy has insulted your looks, screamed at you in the streets and implied you took the casting-couch route to success on the Great White Way. And now, in the latest episode of Smash, dude showed zero respect for your professional aspirations — yelling at two of your bosses and then trying to physically intimdate one of ’em, despite the fact that you and said bosses have been presumably the first people in NY to overlook his douche-iness and help him with his own professional (and I use the adjective loosely) hopes and dreams.

Right about now, I’m hoping for a crossover episode with Fox’s The Following, just long enough so that Jimmy can be dispatched quickly and permanently — and with extreme prejudice. Or if we want to think synergyistically, we could have him bumped off on Law & Order: SVU (after all, it’s set in NYC…and it’s on NBC). Heck, I’d settle for Ellis returning to spike Jimmy’s kale and flaxseed smoothie with some deadly peanuts. (Oh, sorry…just having a little Season 1 nostalgia there.)

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Anyhow, I know I’m probably talking to a brick wall. (Actually, a brick wall would never say anything as perkily irksome as “Derek, Derek, you gotta hear this song — it’ll break your heart! It’s simple, it’s pure, it’s Broadway — but a fresh take!” Blech.) And since this was actually an episode built around Jennifer Hudson’s smashingly talented Veronica “Ronnie” Moore, let’s cut directly to a brief recounting of this week’s key plot points.

THE SONGBIRD BREAKS OUT OF HER CAGE | Tension rose with regard to Ronnie’s “one-night only” concert — and not just because her mother scored a deal to get it aired on Bravo. (“Isn’t she a little old to have a mom-ager?” asked indispensable stage manager Linda, in the night’s best zinger.) It turns out Ronnie was conflicted: Should she follow Derek’s new and sexy direction or listen to her mom’s advice to continue on the squeaky-clean path that made her a star in the first place? By the time Derek began screaming things like “CONNECT WITH YOUR BODY!” and “You do know what it feels like to be turned on?” in Ronnie’s face, girlfriend had had it. But after a chat with old pal Ivy Lynn (hired along with Karen as backround singers/dancers) Ronnie decided if she was going to sacrifice having a personal life on the altar of her career, she might as well have some fun with it. Cue some Fosse-esque hijinks. And cue a lush new ballad (by Jimmy and his gay BFF Kyle) called “I Can’t Let Go.” Voila! An artistic triumph! (Seriously, though, if Bravo aired this event, I’d totes DVR it. You?)

JIMMY AND KYLE AND KAREN MAKE BEAUTIFUL MUSIC TOGETHER (NOT A EUPHEMISM) | Overhearing the need for hot new tunes for Ronnie’s concert, Karen summoned Jimmy and Kyle to the theater for meetings with Tom and Derek. Naturally, when Tom didn’t immediately fall in love with his first three compositions and then dared to look at his watch — dude is on the clock as musical director for a major Broadway star, so he’d better keep track of time, yo! — Jimmy exploded: “I’m sorry. Do you have somewhere else to be?” Later, when Derek decided he didn’t have a need for the ditty Jimmy had spent one day of his layabout life working on, the kid erupted again: “Give me five minutes! I deserve that!” And then Derek gave a retort that made me love him more than I ever have at any point in Smash history: “No one deserves anything in this business. You wait your turn and you earn it. You’re not there yet.” Honestly, I don’t care how good a songwriter Jimmy is, I don’t buy that Derek or Tom or Ronnie would even think about using his songs for the concert, given his abhorrent behavior (and certainly not without an actual contract). But after Jimmy went on a 24-hour bender and showed up high in the alley behind the theater to plant a kiss on Karen, he was allowed backstage to witness Ronnie covering “I Can’t Let Go” — a development nobody bothered to tell him (or Kyle) about. (Wait, did Ronnie get to use the song for free? What? Srsly?) (Also, did the show’s writers really have Karen help compose part of the melody for the hook? And next week she’ll cure cancer!)

JULIA AND THE HOT, HOT DRAMATURG ENGAGE IN SOME MORE PRE-COITAL BICKERING | They’re totally gonna do it, right? Even if Peter’s first and only play, The Singing Bird, featured an actual bird singing. Uff da. But hey, dude wants to go away for a weekend in the Berkshires to bang out (emphasis on the “bang” part, obvi) their new ideas for the Bombshell book — in which every scene will be written from the point of view of one of the men in Marilyn’s life. (Hrmmm.)

AND EILEEN TELLS THE TRUTH ABOUT HER INVOLVEMENT WITH NICK TO THE GOVERNMENT, AND IS FORCED TO STEP DOWN AS BOMBSHELL PRODUCER | Not sure how long they can keep this particular plot line going — especially with her ex-hubby stepping in to take control — but methinks this story arc will end with Eileen tossing a drink in the dastardly heel’s face, don’t you? I loved the little piano line — “fade in on a girl…” — as Eileen shared the sad news, and while I wasn’t shocked to find out it was Ellis who’d sold Eileen out to Jerry, I wonder if the world’s lurking-est assistant will follow Jerry’s post-payoff advice in a more overarching way: “Don’t ever contact me again!” I wouldn’t mind seeing him one more time, right before he falls into an elevator shaft, L.A. Law-style. (Sorry, next week’s recap won’t be quite so bloodthirsty, I promise!)

Oh, before I wrap up, I have to give a shout-out to my favorite exchange of the week — between my favorite bitter rivals/semi-friends Tom and Derek:

Derek: (gesturing to Kyle and Jimmy) These young people could be you in 20 years.
Tom: Fifteen.


Anyhow, on that note, did you think of this week’s Smash? Are you as annoyed by Jimmy as I am? Did you like Julia and Peter’s new ideas for Bombshell? And which Ronnie concert would you rather see: Traditional Virgin or Hot-Blooded Vixen? Sound off in the comments!