'Smash' Recap: Working Out the Kinks - Rolling Stone
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‘Smash’ Recap: Working Out the Kinks

It’s almost showtime, in more ways than one


Bernadette Peters as Leigh Conroy

Eric Liebowitz/NBC

Places, everyone! Things are coming to a head on Smash, as the investor workshop for Marilyn: The Musical is here. It’s time for lights, camera, action!

After doing the nasty last week, Julia and Michael are acting like a couple of teenagers who have a crush, rather than two 40-somethings having an affair. They hold hands and longingly stare into each other’s eyes while standing on a busy NYC street. Seems like they’re taking a big chance since – oh, hey, Derek and Eileen! Who would’ve thought there was a possibility of running into anyone right outside of rehearsal? Shocking.

A call to the mysterious number Karen was handed while performing at a bar mitvah last week leads her to a recording studio, where a surly engineer plops her behind a mic to record a demo for a big-time music producer named Bobby Raskin. Ornery at first, the engineer’s face lights up once she starts singing.

At rehearsal, Michael is clearly tempting fate when he pulls Julia into an empty room for a steamy makeout session. As she wraps her legs around him like it’s an episode of Jersey Shore, Tom inadvertently barges in on them and breaks things up. Oops.

Another oops? The cheating lovebirds didn’t check to make sure Tom’s troublemaking assistant, Ellis, wasn’t lurking anywhere. Because, of course, he was. Ew.

As soon as Karen arrives she gets a phone call. The surly engineer wants her to return to the studio. What to do, what to do: Stay dedicated to her $200 a week job as a chorus girl, or chase the dream of becoming an, ahem, American idol? It’s a no-brainer, even for such a goody two-shoes, who heads right back out the door.

On her way out, Karen passes Ivy Lynn, who has her mother (played by Bernadette Peters) in tow. When Mommy Dearest enters the room, jaws drop. Seems Ivy has been hiding the fact that she was spawned by legendary Broadway star Lee Conroy. Hey, a little mother-daughter rivalry never hurt anyone.

The overly excited ensemble surround Lee and beg her to perform. She obliges, leaving Ivy tearing up as she watches mommy hog the spotlight. (Hm . . . maybe that rivalry isn’t so healthy after all.) Seeing that Ivy’s upset, Derek sidles up next to her to tell her she’ll be amazing at the workshop.

Meanwhile, as Julia stares at Michael like an ice cream cone she wants to lick, his wife and toddler stop by for a visit. Sick to her stomach (dairy can do that sometimes), Julia runs outside. Tom chases after her, only to learn she and Michael did the deed last week. Disgusted with herself, she leaves rehearsal early to go home.

When Tom returns with the news of Julia’s departure, Derek and Eileen are miffed. Ellis sees this as his cue to pull new BFF Eileen aside to tattle on Julia and Michael. Although he’s beaming ear to ear, Eileen cuts him off, saying if he repeats the info to anyone else he’ll never work on Broadway again. That’s one way to crush a young, creepy kid’s spirit.

Home early, Julia catches her son Leo smoking pot with a friend. When she freaks out on him, he drops the bombshell that he knows all about the affair. Flabbergasted, she breaks down as he storms off. Way to kill a good buzz, mom.

At Ivy’s apartment, her mother warns her to keep a tight grip on Derek because she’ll never be able to pull off Marilyn Monroe. While she’s being berated, Ivy pops a pain pill. Look ma, just like Marilyn!

On the day of the workshop, Karen gets a call from as-yet-unseen Bobby Raskin, who wants to meet with her ASAP. She declines, because it means she’ll have to skip out on the workshop. Call me optimistic, but I bet she gets a second chance next week.   

During a read-through, Julia and Michael get into a heated discussion about their affair in front of Derek. The depth of what’s going on goes over the usually acute director’s head. Thinking it’s improv, he requests the lines be put into the actual show. That won’t make things awkward or anything.

Soon it’s time for the workshop to begin, as investors pile into the room. Well, it’s more like a sauna than a “room,” since the heat can’t be turned off. Right before the show starts, Ivy’s mom shows up and makes a scene as Ivy shoots her death glares.

But Ivy tries to shake it off as she steps into the spotlight. While all eyes are on her, it’s Karen who’s envisioning herself all dolled up as Marilyn on the Broadway stage. Relegated to the chorus, she spends the workshop daydreaming she’s the star rather than just one of the masses.

Although Ivy has a couple of slip-ups, it’s Karen who steals the show when daydreaming leads her to fall off a chair at the end of a song. Time for an intermission! 

And what a juicy intermission it is. Michael makes a pass at Julia right as her hubby shows up, and Derek corners Ivy, telling her to get her head in the game. If her game wasn’t off before, it sure is now. When the workshop ends, Derek whispers to Eileen that changes need to be made.

The next day, the reviews are in, and they’re terrible. The execs start squabbling about whether to replace Ivy. But Ivy fan numero uno Tom shuts the debate down when he snaps that it’s Michael, who plays Joe DiMaggio, who should be replaced. This prompts Julia to rip off the cartoonishly oversized sunglasses she’s been wearing indoors and shoot him a look.

Derek is shocked Michael’s name is even brought up, but Eileen is privy to what’s really going on. When put on the spot, Julia agrees that Michael should be let go. Fade to black. To be continued . . . obviously.

Last episode: Better Living Through Chemistry


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