With only one more episode left in the season, Smash manages to get through some significant plot points in its penultimate episode. Unfortunately, many of them are predictable, but true to Smash form, some stronger moments manage to balance it all out.
Let’s take a closer look after the jump:
Well folks, ‘Bombshell’ has finally made it to previews. And I’ll admit it; the show did a really great job in capturing the feeling of a live preview. I enjoyed how we got a montage of all the numbers we’ve been working with throughout the season. It felt like all that time we spent in rehearsals was actually worth it! The staging of the numbers during the previews were a vast improvement over the ‘fantasy staged’ sequences that we saw before. I credit this mainly to the presence of the theatre’s audience, and the cutaways to backstage cues and costume changes. Somehow it made it all feel more authentic.
Unfortunately, most of what happened off stage brought me right back to the Smash hate-watch. Let’s start out with Dev (Raza Jaffrey) and Ivy (Megan Hilty) who end up having a drunken one-night stand last episode. Although both of them wake up with tons of regret, the whole thing cries out “pathetically soapy” and doesn’t quite fit in at this stage of the game. Let’s face it: Karen’s (Katherine McPhee) relationship is so dysfunctional that we don’t need to introduce this arbitrary affair to heat things up. All this does is paint Karen as the faultless victim and her angelic character doesn’t need the boost (the show has crammed it down our throats for months). Even in a drunken haze, both Dev and Ivy understood what they were doing: they were looking to hurt Karen. Full stop – there was no other motivation. So where can we go from here? Karen will end up absolutely hating Ivy and having every right to, and Dev will desperately try to reconcile with her, to no avail. Zzzz. We’ve seen this all before.
I will give the show credit for Ivy’s reaction the next day: at the very least she acknowledges how misguided her hatred was and genuinely seems remorseful (as does Dev). But what follows is a predictable sequence of events that bores the pants off everyone. It would have been better to address the real relationship problems between Dev and Karen: her inability to put her relationship before her ambition, and his inability to communicate with her. These are very relatable problems and it would have been nice to see how they might be dealt with. Karen forgives Dev, and accepts his proposal, but these problems haven’t gone away.
Dev musters up the guts to spill the beans to Karen about Ivy, very seriously telling her that he needs to talk. Instead, they’re interrupted as she takes a call from Rebecca (Uma Thurman). Clearly Karen isn’t in tune with Dev at all. I’ll say this – if you really love someone and he clearly has something important to tell you, you let that call go to voicemail. It’s likely Karen won’t find out about the cheating from Dev or Ivy, sending her poor little heart into DEVastation (pun!). I’m already dreading how the show will drag this out well into next season in an effort to keep Dev relevant.
And speaking of cheating, we have this continuing business with Julia (Debra Messing) and Michael (Will Chase). And by business, I mean crap. I thought we already resolved this? Michael returns to ‘Bombshell’ thinking there’s no way that Julia would ever agree he be re-cast if she didn’t still hold a flame for him, so he returns “because of her”. He accosts her at the cast hotel and wants to start up affair number three. And Julia actually hesitates! WTF?
Thankfully she comes to her senses and brings out the “finger of doom” and points Michael’s love away. I wasn’t paying much attention when Michael went away last time, but I’m pretty sure when Julia told him that the affair “blew up her life like a bombshell”, he agreed that it was all a mistake and was happy to stick with his wife. End of affair. So why is he still trying to pursue her? Throw that in the pile of plotlines that make no sense.
Continuing with the anti-monogamy trend (because it is a literal trend on this show), we get Derek’s (Jack Davenport) predictable (and ridiculous) explanation to Ivy as to why he’s sleeping with Rebecca. Apparently he’s doing it to keep Rebecca calm and show-ready. She’s the star and it’s just what a director has to do. He continues to turn it around by telling Ivy how much he loves her because she understands this. The way Derek treats women is absolutely deplorable, and it’s hard to watch strong female characters succumb to his womanizing ways. But hey, Derek is at the very least, consistent. So…there’s that.
As ridiculous as the bedroom antics are on the show, there are still moments that rope you back in. One of the strongest relationships on the show is between Tom (Christian Borle) and Julia. I thought the way their fight was handled was filled with genuine and relatable emotions. Although, initially it appears Julia is just looking for someone to blame for her unrequited feelings about Michael, Tom is quick to call her on it. He doesn’t deserve to be the scapegoat for her mistakes, especially when he advised her against it over and over. Both admit to putting the show above their friendship, which frankly, totally happens in real life. Friendships are an important part of our lives, and it’s clear that Julia and Tom have a long-standing one. But rarely do friendships trump family. And in this case, when we have two people who are clearly passionate about their work, friendship has to take a back seat for the good of the show. Furthermore, the way they reconcile is equally as authentic. Sometimes all you need to say is “Sorry”. Issues aren’t always resolved by grandiose speeches. It was nice to see such an honest depiction of friendship amidst all the subpar soapy elements. It made me wish that they had dealt with the other relationships with the same kind of tact.
Other strong points in the show – no surprise here – are the musical numbers. Again we got amazingly solid performances in the new number “Smash” from both Karen and Ivy, and even Eileen (Anjelica Huston) did well in her subdued rendition of “September Song”. Though these offerings were pretty amazing, the church number “Stand” blew them all out of the water. McPhee was excellent, showing her continued strength when singing on a stage in front of an audience. When she’s not forced to do anything else, she really shines. And what can I say about Leslie Odom Jr.’s pipes? Absolutely beautiful! Let’s hope that he can escape the predicament of injuring himself as his father’s (Read: the show) foretold last week.
In order to set things up nicely for the finale, we have to get rid of Rebecca. As was so painfully obvious a few episodes ago, Rebecca gets booted out of the show because someone snuck peanuts in her smoothie. What is surprising, however, is that it’s Rebecca who chooses not to return to ‘Bombshell’ after her anaphylactic scare. So we’ll finally get the answer to the long, drawn-out question of who will play Marilyn on stage: Will it be Ivy, who knows the part, or will Karen finally get her time to shine? If you have any doubt then I invite you to look at the promotional poster for the show.
So that’s it Smash-ers. One more episode left. Who did you think spiked the smoothie? My money is on Ellis (Jaime Cepero) since he hasn’t done anything deplorable of late. What did you think of Nick’s (Thorsten Kaye) broken arm? Think that will come back to haunt Eileen? Do you think we’ll get one more confrontation with Michael and Frank (Brian d’Arcy James)? Let us know your finale predictions in the comments section below!
Smash airs Mondays at 10pm EST on NBC