The death of a beloved character sends everything spiraling into turmoil.
Previously, on Smash
We open this week on Karen pouring the dregs of a bottle of wine into her glass. She and Derek sat and talked all night at her place and have three hours before starting rehearsing Sam to replace Jimmy. Derek begins gathering his things to go but Karen says he doesn’t have to. He asks, “Are you sure?” She responds by kissing him with what she guesstimates is passion. He lays her back on the couch and they kiss some more. “Do you really want to do this?” Derek asks again. Jesus dude, did you go to Antioch or something? They continue to kiss but before anything too terribly sordid happens…
…we shift over to Jimmy coming to in what I’m assuming is Adam’s squalid apartment. Every surface is littered with drug paraphernalia, though, so it could be a random crack den. As he shakes off the last of the night’s substances a second Jimmy starts serenading him with Radiohead’s “High and Dry”. What’s happening here? Is this a drug-induced hallucination? Jimmy’s long-overdue psychotic break? The setup for some CGI twincest porn?
Jimmy stalks Jimmy through the streets of the city until Jimmy ends up on Karen’s fire escape, knocking on her window. Instead of drawing the curtains and dialing 911 she opens the window and asks if he got any sleep. And she asks if he’s talked to Kyle. He needs to speak to her first but she can’t imagine that there’s anything left to say. He addict-speaks at her for a minute, promising to change again some more to be the person she saw in him from the beginning. Um, she saw a jackass in you from the beginning, Jimmy.
Before Karen can speak and thus confirm she is in fact dumb enough to fall for his line again, Derek appears in the distance behind her, checking that she’s all right. Jimmy bounces over Karen’s protestations that he stay.
Outside Eileen’s office Tom calls Kyle’s voice mail, wondering why Kyle didn’t get in touch about their sleazy hookup plans. He gets way pervy and deletes the message as Leigh Conroy and Ivy disembark from the elevator with coffee. Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future invites them into the inner office, where Eileen awaits them to discuss Tony campaigns. Julia is conspicuous in her absence.
At a breakfast meeting Julia shows Scott Tom’s “declaration of war”. It’s legal papers to dissolve their partnership and it names everything they’ve ever optioned together including Gatsby. Scott worries that this will tie up the rights for months and, without Gatsby, he’ll lose his job.
Eileen has poster boards up in her office with likely Tony nominees on them. For Best Actress in addition to Ivy the nominees are: Kate Baldwin for Seesaw; Audra McDonald for a title I can’t read; Laura Oskin for Oliver; Jennifer Somebody for The Beauty Queen; and Karen for Hit List, along with Leigh for Bombshell and Ivy for Liaisons, the Best Supporting nominees are: Victoria Clark for The Beauty Queen, Chita Rivera; Katie Finneran; and Patina Miller. As mentioned last week Imitation of Life is closing and Harold and Maude is struggling to regain its West End magic “and if Roadhouse gets a nomination I’m gonna retire.” Hey Eileen, don’t diss Roadhouse! The big number from Act II, “I Used to Fuck Guys Like You in Prison”, sold a million units on iTunes! And with Hit List not transferring, Bombshell is the clear front-runner although Tom faces challenges in the directing category from Pippin and Drood.
To keep the Tony momentum going they need to keep up the publicity campaign, like the full-page ad in the Times that Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future shows them. Eileen never placed such an ad and she immediately twigs that Jerry did. She and Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future exit and Leigh notes that Ivy is on both the Lead and the Supporting board. Leigh will feel just terrible about beating her out! Tom gets a call that he thinks is from Kyle. It’s not.
Derek and Karen walk to their theater and it turns out that Derek still didn’t dip into Karen’s magical honeypot. He tells her that Jimmy’s no good for her and she speaks for the nation: “And you are?” She wonders what they’re going to tell everyone and Derek suggests not telling them anything.
They meet Tom in front of the theater. He informs them that the police called him (on Kyle’s phone) to tell him (who is not related to Kyle) that Kyle has been killed in a car accident.
Subdued title card.
Julia flashes back to a moment working with Kyle on the book for Hit List. The dialogue is not what one would call subtle, centering as it does on how best to recognize the death of “Amanda”. He suggests dimming the lights like they do when a Broadway legend dies, because he’s always loved that gesture. Then he suggests that Amanda could sing another song even though she’s dead and then calls the idea of a dead character singing idiotic to the woman who put a song in dead Marilyn Monroe’s mouth. But does Hit List not end with dead Amanda in a production number now? This show sometimes. She suggests that “Jesse” could sing a song instead, the song that she first stole from him, “The Love I Meant To Say”. The flashback concludes with Julia saying, “You keep having idea like that they may just dim the lights for you yet.” Jesus.
Back in the present Derek is wrapping up addressing the company. He’s worried about them. Julia asks the group if anyone’s reached out to Kyle’s parents. Blake volunteers and Ana offers to do it with him.
Karen reports she can’t reach Jimmy and suggests Derek try. Derek correctly notes Jimmy wouldn’t pick up for him either. Scott and Stage Manager Not-Linda arrive wondering what to do about tonight’s performance. This would carry more dramatic weight if they hadn’t already decided to close the show for a few days to allow Sam to learn the lead. Derek still wants to cancel but Scott wants to go on, you know, for Kyle. Everyone gangs up on him and he acquiesces. Julia leaves the theater, needing to do something for Kyle.
Santana Lopez From Fifteen Years In The Future and Eileen decide to take a day off from the Tony campaign out of respect for the dead. Julia arrives to ask Eileen to have Broadway dimmed for Kyle. Not gonna happen.
Jimmy arrives at Hit List to gather his things and snark at the cast some more, culminating in declaring that Kyle can go screw himself. Blake breaks the news. Stage Manager Not-Linda grabs Karen and Derek from the stage but by the time they get backstage Jimmy’s already gone. Ana thinks they should leave him alone if he wants to be alone but Karen of course knows better.
Tom flashes back to a night Kyle spent with him, and no. I’m sorry, Tom, but no. Kyle was not your partner or your boyfriend or your lover. He was your inappropriate fuck buddy and you have not earned this flashback. Tom serenades him with Billy Joel’s “Vienna” and they kiss and still no.
Back in the present Julia joins Tom in the Bombshell lobby. She hesitated about meeting him because talking about business right now feels wrong. She suggests postponing but he wants to rip the Band-Aid. She can’t believe he wants to go forward with dissolving the partnership but he reminds her that ship sailed last night. She starts to vow to fight him to the end if he tries to stop her but he interrupts that he’s trying to help her. They need to dissolve the partnership so that she can re-option Gatsby by herself. Legally I’m pretty sure that’s completely wrong (Julia can form an LLC on her own and their existing partnership can sell it the rights for a dollar, for example) but the gesture is the important thing. He’s clearing her way.
Eileen tracks down Jerry at a restaurant and picks up a Manhattan. She doesn’t appreciate his “stunt” with the ad but he insists it isn’t a stunt. He has a lot of money invested in Bombshell and he has more to spend. He was sure she’d say no if he asked. She says he didn’t even try. He tries; she says no. She reminds him that Bombshell is her show and he needs to stay the hell away from it. He snarks that he thought the ice between them was melting. She throws the Manhattan in his face and replies that it’s as cold as ever.
The Manhattan-toss only works if it’s organic and this one just feels forced. Also, we’re supposed to be in mourning and the humor is not appreciated.
Outside Hit List the sidewalk is filling up with grief-stricken hipster douchebags. Julia arrives in a cab and is gobsmacked. Scott leads her inside, saying maybe they should go on after all.
Ivy calls Derek to check in. He’s putting up a brave front but inside he’s not used to caring. He mentions the lined-up hipster douchebags and Ivy thinks the show should go on. She even offers to fake an illness to skip out on that night’s performance. He’s amazed that he’d do that for her but she replies that she knows they left things in a weird place but she still cares for him.
Derek joins the company and says that they’ve had the chance to honor Kyle in silence; now it’s time to honor him on stage by performing the show in a concert format (so Sam can participate). Ana asks, “What about Karen?” Derek assumed she was there but she’s off looking for Jimmy.
Derek calls her and she reports Jimmy is nowhere to be found. She thinks of one last place to look for him, somewhere Kyle told her Jimmy used to go. Maybe check there first, genius?
At Bombshell we join a previously-unseen number in progress, “At Your Feet” featuring Leigh Conroy. Tom has implemented a change based on something Kyle said in that unearned flashback and it’s wonderful because in death Kyle has become the Angel of Show Business. He asks some backstage person what happened to Ivy and she reports that she went home sick an hour ago. Tom figures out that she’s at Hit List.
Karen finds Jimmy sitting on some ledge and, despite my silent pleas, does not push him off of it. Instead she clambers up next to him. Jimmy blames himself for Kyle’s death. I agree. All your fault, jerk. Karen’s all let me help you and Jimmy’s all why should I let you and Karen’s all I didn’t sleep with Derek because I’m in love with you and Jimmy’s all you shouldn’t love me (agreed) and Karen’s all don’t throw everything away and come do the show with me. She’s already late so she leaves him there.
With the theater filling up for the Hit List concert Julia tells Stage Manager Not-Linda she can’t believe how many people came back even after they called the ticket-holders to cancel. Stage Manager Not-Linda says that Scott told her that Julia changed everyone’s mind about going on and they called the ticket-holders back. “Sorry, did you not do that?”
Julia confronts Scott in his office about his stupid lie, easy to expose, not worthy of him! This is just dumb. Julia pulls Gatsby. Don’t care. Dumb.
Backstage Derek’s held the show as long as he can. Derek gives the company a pep talk and they move in for a group hug/prayer circle before taking their places.
Jimmy flashes back to a happier day at that ledge, when Kyle was working on Hit List and Jimmy was complaining about how it will never amount to anything.
Jimmy suggests setting a scene at this spot and Kyle suggests it be where “Amanda” and “Jesse” first meet, when “Amanda” is about to kill herself and “Jesse” sings “The Love I Meant To Say” to get her not to, and then when she comes back there to die (what is she, a salmon?) he can sing it to her again. Kyle doesn’t initially understand why “Amanda” has to die, then realizes it’s so that Jimmy’s character can learn something. It’s so leaden it pains me. Literally pains me.
Back in the present Karen starts in on “Broadway, Here I Come” and literally the second before Sam gets a line in Jimmy cuts in. Jimmy wants to perform the number, not just stand and sing it, so the company clears away the music stands and rickety chairs and Jimmy grabs his guitar to launch into “The Love I Meant To Say”.
It’s a simple song, probably the simplest song the show has put on. Just Jimmy and a guitar and later a piano, Jimmy sitting on a bare staircase under a single spot, singing a love song to another man on prime time network TV and I’m just sobbing.
Karen flashes back to Bombshell opening night where Kyle teases her about Ivy being better in the part. He asks if Jimmy spoke to her and she says yes. He had advised against it, thinking it might scare her away. She wonders if maybe he wasn’t worried about her getting in the way. He was at first but then he saw how happy she made Jimmy and hopes she might be able to fix what he couldn’t.
In the present the audience cheers for Hit List and the company bows. Backstage Ivy finds Derek and pronounces the show amazing. He asks what happened with them. She’s reluctant to get into it but he insists. She knows that the only reason he found her on her birthday was because of Karen. He tells her that there’s nothing between him and Karen and she comes back with “You will always have a Karen” which is some serious voodoo curse shit, yo.
The company is gathered outside Bombshell, waiting to dim the lights. Jerry shows up and mentions to Eileen that Scott invited him to that night’s Hit List performance. She thanks him for the ad and he wonders if that means they’re friends now. No, she laughs, but he can be a friend to Bombshell if the money is still available. Jerry’s all, yeah, about that, I’m kind of investing in taking Hit List to Broadway and since we aren’t friends I won’t feel guilty about taking the Tony away from you.
Karen asks Jimmy if he wants to go somewhere after to talk, or the next day maybe. He begs off, claiming pressing business. She asks if he’s mad at her and he says he isn’t. She asks about the things he said to her that morning but before he can respond Ana arrives with drinks. Jimmy’s on the wagon.
Everyone crosses the street to gaze up at the marquee as it dims in Kyle’s honor.
Tom proposes a toast: “To Kyle.”
To Kyle. You deserved better in life and your death deserved to be treated with respect and not as a plot device. Smash sucks.