“Smash” – Opening Night Jitters

Will a last-minute attack of nerves derail Ivy and sink Bombshell? No. No, it will not.

Previously, on Smash

Also Derek was accused of sexual harassment and everyone promptly forgot about it.

The curtain falls on the last preview performance of Bombshell. Amidst general congratulations Leigh Conroy hopes Ivy saved a little something for tomorrow night. Ivy taunts the Gods of Theatre by saying for the first time she feels confident. The Gods of Theatre’s opening salvo is in the form of Bobby, who is wearing a brown turtleneck that is an exact match to my dad’s go-to night out outfit in the 1980s so I do not approve.


He starts in on something he read online but Ivy shushes him. Jessica bounds into frame to exposit that Ivy is in a self-imposed media blackout until after the opening. Bobby can’t fathom someone not wanting to obsessively Google-stalk themselves but Ivy wants to focus on her performance. Leigh further irks the Gods of Theatre by saying Ivy only has one more night to go. That’s about one step above “what’s the worst that could happen?”

Out in the house Tom and Julia are spitballing ideas for their next project. Gulliver’s Travels? Too big. Lord of the Flies? Too bleak. Julia thinks Tom is still mad about the NYT article but doesn’t think she can apologize any more than she already has. Tom disagrees. Julia suggests building a musical around the works of poet Ezra Pound and is not only in dead earnest but this is apparently a dream project for her. Tom rolls his eyes so hard I fear for his peripheral vision. Julia’s all, fine, you hate all of my ideas so let’s hear some of yours when we get home. Tom’s not going home; he’s having drinks with producer Chet Preston. He invites Julia to come with but she declines. She tosses a last-second pitch: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I will hurt you, Julia.

Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future (played by, I don’t think I’ve mentioned, Daphne Rubin-Vega) tells Eileen backstage that she hasn’t been able to suss out anything from the Times about its review. Has she heard anything from Richard Francis? Eileen isn’t speaking to Richard because of the article. Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future tells her to suck it up, buttercup, because while the review may already be written it has not been published and they do not need a pissed-off arts editor on them. The last person Eileen wants to invite to the opening is Richard but Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future orders her to text him immediately to invite him and to tell him she is not wearing underpants.


Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future just officially edged out Stage Manager Linda as my favorite side character, and I still want the two of them to get gay married and travel the country rescuing regional theater productions.

Downtown at Hit List Scott and Kyle join the cast backstage to announce that the show is officially sold out. He also reports that Eileen has invited them to the opening of Bombshell. The idea of going upsets Karen so badly that she almost makes a facial expression.

She leaves the theater and Jimmy Charming chases after her, asking her to go to the show with him. She isn’t going. Jimmy protests that Scott made it mandatory (he didn’t) but Karen has the best Get Out of Theater Free card, her status as the former lead. Jimmy asks if she thinks she made a mistake leaving the show. She doesn’t but it would just be too difficult to attend. She compares it to attending your ex’s wedding. You don’t want him back but you don’t want to see him marry someone else either. Jimmy extends the metaphor, saying the best way to attend an ex’s wedding is with a date. If she changes her mind, he’s there for her. Who is this person and what has he done with Jimmy?

As Ivy gazes at the Bombshell marquee the Gods of Theatre finally land their shot in the form of a couple emerging from the restaurant behind her. The husband liked it but he didn’t love it. The wife chides that he never loves anything and the music was beautiful. The husband says it isn’t the music, it’s “her”, what with her knocking around the chorus for years and generally following a fairly standard career trajectory for Broadway leading ladies, the very idea! Ivy takes this profoundly stupid criticism directly to heart and her face crumbles.

Outside Hit List Ana encounters the loitering Adam (David Call); he compliments her on her performance. She invites him to join the company for drinks but he declines, thinking Jimmy wouldn’t like it. Jimmy’s not going, but he still demurs. Ana asks what’s up and Adam spills that he’s Jimmy’s brother. Ana is intrigued and must know more immediately.

Over drinks with Chet, Tom learns that Chet’s planned revival of City of Angels is in trouble since its director dropped out to direct the next Bond movie. Tom cavalierly tells him to find someone else, but to be sure that person plays up the noir and tragic elements of the show. Chet is impressed by this take and suggests Tom might be right for it, if he and Julia don’t have another project lined up. Tom says they don’t, which is not a lie, so Chet says he’ll talk to his partners.If the Bombshell reviews are as good as he expects they will be the show will most likely be Tom’s. Credits!

The morning of opening night finds Ivy in her bed scanning nasty comments on message boards. DNFTT, Ivy! Derek enters and tells her to knock it right off because nothing kills the work faster than caring what other people think. Ivy incredulously wonders that he isn’t going to be comparing Tom’s work to his own and Derek insists he’s put Bombshell completely behind him, but not, as he starts crawling into her bed, its leading lady.

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He scores an incomplete pass, as Ivy wants to save her strength for the show. Maybe after the party, she suggests. Derek’s on board but wants to DTR. They do that feeling out “do you want to tell people” business and decide to play it by ear.

Julia arrives at Tom’s, where Leo (remember him? Me neither.) is there for the sole purpose of initiating a conversation about The Great Gatsby. At first I was annoyed since this felt like a huge product placement for the new movie but then I decided, whatever. Like enough people watch this show for it to make a difference. So. Gatsby introduced. Moving on.

Kyle teases Jimmy about his sartorial indecisiveness leading up to the show. Jimmy insists that his shirt choice is important since he’s going to be telling Karen “everything” tonight. Kyle worries that knowing everything might cause Karen to pull away. Jimmy jokes that Kyle knows everything and Kyle still likes him. Kyle says that’s different because Karen isn’t like him.

Ana arrives home and Karen pointlessly jabs at her. Ana wants to talk about Adam and Karen snarks again about how now Ana wants to talk when it’s about boys. Ana shoots back that Adam is Jimmy’s brother, which is one more thing Jimmy lied to her about because Jimmy is the sketchiest sketcher who ever sketched a sketch.

Tom, Julia and Leo head to the theater in a limo. Julia gifts him a first edition of The Great Gatsby and lets him know that their lawyers are acquiring the rights even as they ride. As Julia chatters away about how this is the only project in the whole wide world for them and how Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future is going to announce it at the party, Tom’s excitement flares and then dies when he remembers City of Angels.

Eileen meets and greets through the lobby with Richard in tow, stopping to chat with people named Marc and Scott, who I am given to understand are involved in show business in some way.


It’s so meta I could just spit. They thank Richard for alerting them to the wonder that is Hit List and head for their seats.

Eileen announces her intention to go backstage and wish the actors good luck. Richard offers to go with her but she declines. Richard is perplexed at her stand-offishness but she wants to wait until tomorrow to discuss it. Richard: “So I can stand around like a prop while you pretend to have a good time?” Eileen: “I’ve been doing that for weeks, what’s one more night?” He can’t believe that she’s still upset over one little article that pretty much called her show a relic. She says he made a choice when he wrote it and now she’s making hers. He wishes her a wonderful opening night and she replies, “I will…now.” This whole exchange feels so inorganic. Like someone realized they only had Jamey Sheridan for one more episode so they needed a scene to end this relationship. Feh.

Jimmy spots Karen and her hideous dress across the lobby and heads for her. He admits to being dishonest and having trouble opening up but she gives him until curtain up to tell her about his brother. He’s still reluctant but when she moves away he opens up. Jimmy’s father used to physically abuse Jimmy and his mother. When she died, he and Adam lived on the streets. Jimmy dealt drugs and he stood by watching people OD and die and doing nothing. “When you’re living life like that you do a lot of things you’re not proud of.” Like, I suddenly desperately hope, hustle? Adam got him into that life and Kyle (a fellow hustler, I desperately hope) got him out of it, so when he says Adam is nobody he means Adam is nobody to him. He begs her not to cut him out because ever since he met her all he’s wanted to be is a good person. Which explains why he was such a complete asshole from the second he appeared on this show. She doesn’t answer, simply leading him to their seats.

Julia can’t believe that Tom wants time to think about Gatsby. He reminds her that they announced the Vegas musical at the party for Heaven on Earth and it never happened, so maybe announcing at the party is a jinx. It’s a nice nod to continuity. Also? Prevarication.

Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future gloms onto Eileen, asking where Richard is. She doesn’t want to talk about it. Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future believes Eileen is “out of her tiny mind”. Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future says Eileen needs to “get on your knees” and given her earlier sexting suggestion I expected that line to end differently than “and pray that there aren’t any consequences.”

In the last seconds before curtain Ivy turns to her mother and asks for the truth, ahead of the reviews: “Am I gonna make it?” Leigh replies, “All it takes to make it in this business is one role, that is right for you. You fought like hell for that role, and you got it. You are Marilyn Monroe on Broadway! Now get out there and show everyone what all those years in the chorus taught you!”


Bolstered, Ivy takes her place center stage.

We return from break to launch into the closing number, “Don’t Forget Me”. It. Is. INCREDIBLE. Do not get me wrong, I like Katharine McPhee’s version from last season, I downloaded it from iTunes and have listened to it many times, but McPhee’s version going forward will be the carbon copy you read when you can’t find the original. Megan Hilty owns this song. She inhabits it.

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The “shadow selves” and projections are gone, replaced by the men in Marilyn’s life. There is a brief spin into fantasy in which Ivy is rotated to face Derek, then Tom, then Karen and finally her mother. When Ivy and Leigh were face to face, I won’t lie, I teared up.

When she finishes there is a pause, literally a breath.

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Then the theater erupts with thunderous applause and cheers. Ivy summons the company out for the bows and she gestures for Tom to join them on-stage. He heads up and Rosie O’Donnell (Rosie O’Donnell) leans forward to Julia and congratulates her on her best work. She continues that she can’t wait to see what he does with City of Angels; Eileen told her that was his next project. Julia is crushed.

Eileen, her vision vindicated, stands in the rear and wipes away a tear.

At the party Derek insists to Scott that he’s not saying his version was better, but it’s a good show. Scott calls him out with a dig about how the choreography (which is Derek’s) saved it. He declares it the best show of the season. Derek: “So far.” Scott isn’t sure what he means but Derek points out that Scott hasn’t scheduled his next show because he’s no more done with Hit List than Derek is. Derek wants to transfer to Broadway and compete directly against Bombshell.

Backstage, Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future is already looking for pull quotes from the reviews. First in is Variety: “Finest musical of the season.” The all-important New York Times review still isn’t in.

Jimmy finds Karen huddled behind a staircase. It was harder going than she thought. Jimmy distresses the “ex’s wedding” metaphor but stops short when he spots Adam who is there with Ana and her fabulous hair.

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Jimmy wants to confront him but Karen dissuades him. His words earlier were just words. He needs to prove by behavior.

Julia confronts Tom about City of Angels, angered that it’s not that he’s not ready to commit to a project; it’s that he’s not ready to commit to their project. Tom deflects that it’s not a firm offer and it depends on his reviews but Julia hones right back in that the point is that he didn’t tell her, He says it’s not about her and the expression on Julia’s face hilariously proves that she is mentally unable to entertain the idea that something is not about her. Tom wants to establish himself as a director. She wonders how long she’s supposed to set aside waiting for him to be ready to work with her again and he’s like, none. She asks if this is about City of Angels or about them. He explains that he loves working with her and will again but right now all he cares about is directing.

Karen enters the ladies’ shall we say, lounge and after chuckling over a tray of what appear to be communal cosmetics (which, gross) under a sign encouraging ladies to “Marilyn Yourself!” (which, stupid) before she spots Ivy in the mirror. Ivy’s waiting for the Times review and her shoes are painin’ her so she’s taking a minute. Karen turns to go but Ivy asks her to stay. Ivy starts in about how she’s been comparing herself to Karen in the role because everyone loved her in Boston. Karen responds that she was so jealous she almost left at intermission but had to stay to hear Ivy hand her her ass on “Don’t Forget Me”. Ivy can’t believe that “the magical Karen Cartwright” was jealous of her, what with her thrown-together pile of crap becoming the talk of the town. Ivy says it’s taken her eight Broadway shows to get here and Karen replies that she hasn’t been in any. “You will be. Just, not this season, OK?” Ivy in no way sets up the inevitable Tony showdown.

Team J/K arrive at the party and Kyle is stunned to see Adam there. Jimmy explains he promised Karen he’d be good. Kyle made no such promise and he moves to confront Adam. This will end in tears. Kyle storms up to Adam and Ana, warning her that Adam is a creep. Adam says that Ana’s an adult and can make her own choices. Kyle replies that Adam destroyed Jimmy once and he won’t let him do it again. Adam stands up and pushes Kyle. Kyle shoves back harder and Adam goes down. He gets up but before he can start beating Kyle Jimmy steps in. Adam taunts Jimmy about his “little girlfriend” and I’m unclear if he’s referring to Kyle or Karen, who’s just entered. Jimmy socks Adam in the nose, then socks him again. Adam tackles Jimmy and they roll around on the floor for a while until Eileen upends a champagne bucket on them.

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It’s not a Manhattan to the puss but still, it’s good to see Anjelica Huston flinging liquids again. She orders them out just as Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future arrives with the Times review.

Outside Jimmy apologizes to Karen but she is not having it. She believes he can’t change and he doesn’t want to. Also, she’s scared of him. Should make for a comfortable working relationship going forward.

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She heads inside and he snarls at her retreating figure, “You asked to get to know me. You just did and you’re walking away. Of course!” He has a point. An idiotic one, but a point.

Scott reads the NYT review to Julia and Leo and Tom wanders up in the middle of it. The reviewer praises Julia effusively and also praises Tom’s music but found his directing to be overblown and in conflict with Julia’s work. Scott and Leo depart. Julia reminds Tom that all the other critics liked his direction but he is not consoled, reading another section about how they used to be like conjoined twins but now they have two hearts, which is a terrible metaphor.

Now Tom wants to do Gatsby. Of course he does, because, as Julia to his credit immediately figures out, he thinks the Times review sank his chances for City of Angels. She can’t believe in their partnership if he both continues to be dishonest with her and look upon her as Plan B. Tom wants to table this until they get home but Julia’s not going home.

Ivy takes to the stage to thank Julia and Eileen but especially Tom, for whom she calls upon the room for a toast. Surprisingly she next thanks Karen, saying she wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for her. Ivy asks her to come up and sing. They launch into “That’s Life” (most associated with Frank Sinatra) and it immediately becomes apparent that Karen should have demurred from singing.

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She just cannot compare vocally to Ivy and she moves like her whole body’s in spasm. And, this can not be stressed enough, her dress is horrible.

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Amidst the applause Scott asides to Derek that he gets why Derek had such a hard time choosing between them for Marilyn and Smash, just stop it. Just stop trying to sell, for any reason and under any circumstance, the idea that Karen Cartwright was ever remotely the right choice for the role. She wasn’t, everyone in the solar system knows it, so just stop. Scott further wonders which one the Tony voters will prefer. “Let’s go to Broadway!”

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Apres-number Karen brings Ivy a glass of champagne because they’re besties now and apologizes for Jimmy’s behavior. Ivy asks if Karen and Derek ever hooked up. This is the dumbest plot-contrived question. There is no logical reason why Ivy should want to know or care whether Karen and Derek hooked up and the only reason she asks is because the writers had no other way to inform Ivy that Derek had asked Karen out a couple of weeks ago and they want to add a cheap dramatic flourish to Ivy’s story. I’m insulted.

On the limo ride home Scott convinces Karen to do Gatsby without Tom and offers her his venue in the fall. He kisses her.

Ivy walks Leigh out. Leigh’s going to pick up some copies of the Times for scrap book purposes. Ivy’s amused that she still has it and Leigh lets her know she started a new one for her. She tells her how proud she is of Ivy and how happy she is to get to work with her every night. Leigh takes her leave and I mist up again.

Ivy hears “Miss Monroe?” from behind her and turns to face Derek. He offers to sex her up but she’s good. He wants to be sure and she replies, awesomely, “I’ll let you know if I need you again.” He looks befuddled and she descends the stairs, a brilliant grin spreading across her face.

Kyle strides across the floor and Tom hails him. Tom is drunk off his ass which makes him think that creepily hitting on Kyle is in any way acceptable.


Kyle responds to it, which makes me throw up in my mouth a little. They leave together and I throw up in my mouth a little bit more while my brain shrieks NONONONONONONO! Kyle, what about Blake? Why isn’t he at the party with you? Don’t do this! This makes me uncomfortable!

On the street Derek is accosted by Daisy Parker, the actress who accused him of sexual harassment back in the previouslys. She apologizes, only having accused him as a way of jump-starting her career. It didn’t work. She turns to leave but Derek can’t pass a land mine without stepping on it so he calls her back.

Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future is sorry that the Times review isn’t stellar and thinks Eileen should reduce her advertising budget, avoiding getting in any deeper until they have a grasp on the word-of-mouth. Instead, Eileen doubles it, saying she wants to run longer than The Lion King. Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future says you can’t get that without a rave from the Times. Eileen: “Screw Richard and screw the Times! We’ve got the best show in town, and if we can’t get it from the Times, we’re gonna sweep the Tonys! Get ready, Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future, we’ve got a campaign to launch.”

Next week’s episode is called “The Producers”. Dare I hope for a new number entitled “Springtime For Hilty”?