Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Smash: Change in Stakes

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I don't know that "Understudy" is the most fitting title for this episode. Yes, Karen does understudy Marilyn, but that's really only a very small piece of what happens in this episode. Playing Marilyn again changes a lot for Karen - she is back to being more committed to the show, she has to work with Derek a lot more closely, and she needs to watch her back from whatever Ivy might try to pull. Ivy's had a change in plans, too, as she needs to find work in a city where everyone is talking about her fallout during a Broadway performance. And, while I'm not sure why Dev insists on keeping his work troubles from Karen, the opportunity to move to Washington, DC to work as a press secretary of sorts there is a big leap - but he needs to decide how his love life and his career intersect. He's not the only one with this problem, as Tom is caught eying Sam one too many times and loses his new steady, John. Will Tom decide to pursue romance with a cast member, or is that too much of a gamble? Similarly, how many times will Julia call Frank before she realizes that he needs to come to her? Yes, the adoption storyline is pretty much dead, but being without Frank is quickly taking a toll on Julia, a change for which she just isn't prepared. Much like how Eileen thinks that she's ready to turn her back on tried-and-true investors to partner with a new-to-theatre backer, without being brave enough to look at any background checks...

Smash "Understudy" (S01E10): Rebecca, the star set to play Marilyn, is running several DAYS late because of an issue with her Cuban assistant leaving the country. [can we all do a big eyeroll for the "goodwill mission" that Rebecca was down there doing with Sean Penn?] Karen is chosen to fill the role in the meantime, as an understudy. Of course, Derek is rough on her, which even Ivy is sympathetic to - apparently Marilyn often shut down unless directors babied her. Karen also lets it slip to Dev that Derek sexually harassed her on the first day they met, so he's now angry with the director. [while I believed the acting when Karen let it slip, I don't believe that her character would actually do that.] We see a number where Marilyn doesn't sing - it's zippy, though Tom is the lead in it, presumably because they don't have someone cast in that role. [I definitely support having songs where Marilyn doesn't sing!] Eventually, Karen tries standing up to Derek when he yells at her, suggesting what Marilyn might actually do in the presented situation, but Derek daydreams while Karen speaks. [that whole imagined scene and the crazed look on Derek's face were junk.] Because Rebecca will be arriving a day early, Derek takes the opportunity to tell Karen in person, as well as finally apologizing for what happened the first night they met. On his way out, he runs into Dev, who starts a fight. [why? why would you beat the guy? c'mon, Dev! you're supposed to e politically savvy and all!] Karen comes down to break up the fight, then Dev asks her if she'll quit the show for him - and it becomes clear that he'd give up more for her than she would for him, as he has the chance to move to Washington, DC and work, but he knows Karen won't have the same opportunities there. [so we're looking at a potential break-up. And Karen will have plenty of problems, as she won't be able to afford rent. where do you think THIS is going to go?]

Ivy lost her job at Heaven on Earth after acting inappropriately on-stage, so she's looking for work. [loved Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" as Ivy walks by Heaven on Earth. imagining everyone wanted her as Marilyn was crap, tho.] Ivy goes to have drinks with the cast after a few days, even giving Karen some earrings. [Why was Sam fooled? OF COURSE Ivy is trying to win her way back into the show!]

Nick (the bartender) offers Eileen some capital and suggests that he has friends who might be interested in financing Bombshell as well. They talk to one of his pals, Randy Cobra, who decides to back the show, allowing Eileen to dump the stuffy folks she's been trying to woo. [a little strange... surely this will get people talking about Eileen!] Ellis, however, has bad news to share when he investigates Nick, but Eileen doesn't want to hear what he has discovered. [well, if she doesn't want to hear it, I'm sure that Ellis will find a way to leverage whatever he knows!] 

Julia asks Leo about Frank, learning that they've been in contact. Well, since she's left "a hundred" messages, she decides to steal Leo's phone to make another call, begging Frank to talk to her. It's the tenth anniversary of the opening of the first show that Julia and Tom wrote, so they're celebrating by going to see a small production of it. After the closing number, Tom goes on the stage to present
(Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)
Julia with an apron signed by the cast and crew, but she's overwhelmed and leaves the auditorium. Why does she do this? Because she realizes that an earlier interview that she and Tom took insinuated that her relationship with Tom is better than that with her husband. ["according to Wikipedia" ?? what kind of reporter was that kid??] Well, this finally pushes Julia to admit to Tom that Frank found out and left her. [I don't know why she didn't tell him before... yes, it's embarrassing, but wouldn't you want some support?] While Tom comforts Julia to the best of his ability, he has problems of his own going on... John repeatedly sees Tom with Sam and eventually calls him out on it: it's clear that Tom lights up around Sam in a way that he doesn't around John. [I didn't like Tom and John as a couple, but I don't know that Sam is the best fit for Tom, either.]
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