Okay – so what happened in this week’s episode of the NBC’s Series Smash. As always there’s a pre-credits opener with some tasty tidbits (like a sampler) of what’s going to happen over the rest of the episode.
With the producers, authors, director, backers, investors, cast and production crew waiting – everyone nicely assembled in a hall – the new Marilyn – that would be Uma Thurman playing the role of Rebecca Duvall – is a no-show. Eileen Rand’s chief investors – Emanuel Azenburg and his wife threaten to pull out if Duvall isn’t on board in two days.
At City Hall – a disconsolate Dev is moping in his office. It’s all so true – the other guy has officially got the job Dev wanted, and now Dev has to work for him. As expected and predicted, R.J. shows up offering a helping hand and possibly more (?). Dev still doesn’t know that this guy made a pass at Karen, this guy doesn’t know that Karen is Dev’s girlfriend, and Karen doesn’t know that Dev has been passed over. Looks like there’s trouble brewing between Dev and Karen. Major trouble.
Unwilling to lose even a day’s work – Julia, Tom, and Derek decide – Karen will be installed as the offical Understudy. Great for her – not so great for Ivy.
Sam passes on telling the news to Ivy and leaves it to Derek. Fade to opening credits.
Right after the opener Karen stops by Dev’s office – she’s got the good news and can’t wait to share – She’s the understudy to Marilyn, there’s no Marilyn in sight, so Karen is Marilyn (for the time being). Of course this news is so good that Dev can’t tell her his bad news. And speaking of bad news – that guy pops in to Dev’s office just as Karen and Dev are sharing a moment’s passion. “Don’t tell me this is your girlfriend,” he says to Dev with a leer. This isn’t looking good at all.
Next day at rehearsal, Karen doesn’t go where she’s supposed to go. This is what blocking is all about – you know, this is when the characters learn who stands, or sits where – and while that is going on someone else goes there. Karen apparently doesn’t get it right. She misses the part when she’s supposed to go down-stage. Instead she goes upstage. Derek has a hissy fit, and screams at Karen, embarrasses her, and then make a production out of making sure Karen has a pencil – to take notes on the blocking.
Tom and Julia have an interview with a Wikipedia spouting interviewer. It seems that the sole purpose of this was to get them to talk about Three Upon a Match – which is Tom and Julia’s anniversary ritual. Of course the interviewer upsets Julia, when he asks if Julia’s husband is jealous. Now Julia storms off. More on Three on a Match later.
Karen goes home for the expected fight with Dev. Because in telling Dev about the blocking error she let’s it out about the sexual harrassment with Derek on day one. Now Dev has his own hissy fit. Karen departs telling him, “Yell at some one else Dev“! That night Karen and Dev spend a sleepless as well as talkless night. There was no hint of make-up sex whatsoever.
Meanwhile Eileen is having problems with those ‘vultures’ who have agreed to invest in the show. All because the actress is a few days late. Her favorite bartender commisserates and beyond that, he’s got a large bundle of dead presidents beneath his bar which he hands over to Eileen. He also promises that there’s more where that comes from – because he’s got this friend. When Eileen asks – he says we’ll leave it at that – a friend.
At the rehearsals, Tom has to fill in and perform as Darryl Zanuck, the big Hollywood producer of the Marilyn era. Don’t Say Yes Until I’m Finished Talking was the theme of the song, and it was glorious. Even if you don’t care to see 8 Chorus boys and Tom hoofing it – it still was fun.
But – there’s always a but – Derek has just given Karen a quick positive pep talk, which Sam and Tom laugh over, and that’s just when John walks in. He gets just one good look at how alive Tom seems with Sam, so with head down, and appearing quite forlorn, John leaves before he’s even noticed. This too isn’t looking good at all.
After the commercial break, Eileen meets Nick’s friend – the musician Randy Cobra, who may or may not have a distinctly illegal past. Meanwhile four of the cast – Karen, Sam and two others are out for drinks. Ivy walks in to ‘make nice’ and to return Karen’s sunglasses. Drinks all around – Bartender – ‘five appletini’s please‘.
Tom and Julia take in Three on a Match – a local school production. Tom goes on stage to make a gift presentation to Julia – who unexpectedly, storms off once again. This time right in the middle of Tom’s presentation. Julia later says, when cornered by Tom outside, that she was overwhelmed – but all of this was just for one purpose – to have Julia tell Tom that Frank found out. It seems that Julia, up to now, hadn’t told Tom a thing about Frank having walked out on her.
While this is going on, Dev and RJ get together. Things are really speeding up. All the secrets are coming out into the light of day, or under the light of the moon and stars.
Ellis digs up some dirt on Nick the bartender – but Eileen doesn’t want to see it or hear it. Ivy’s new game plan is to make nice to get back into the show. Julia uses Leo’s cell phone to call Frank, who so far, has refused to take any of her calls.
The news of Duvall’s imminent return reaches Eileen and Derek. Derek goes over to Karen’s apartment to tell her that as well as to apologize for what happened when they first met. As Karen later tells Dev, Derek was there all of 10 seconds and he was out the door. But not quick enough to avoid Dev who arrives as Derek has just left the building.
Dev is all over Derek, and in what seems to be just seconds, a fight breaks out. Oh no, this isn’t looking good at all. Karen flies downstairs and breaks them up before Dev completely loses it.
Meanwhile Eileen goes round the bend. She’s got a new investor – Randy Cobra, as well as Nick’s money. Eileen continues to ignore Ellis’s warnings about Nick. The contracts between Eileen and her more staid investors are burned up, and Nick and Eileen lock lips.
The next day Karen is singing to the whole crew. She’s great as Marilyn. She has the whole company in her hand, but it is only for a few minutes, because just then – in walks Rebecca Duvall looking every inch the movie star that she is.
Oh no. This time – things are most definitely not looking good. Not for Karen, not for Dev, not for Ivy, not for Derek, and most assuredly not for John, Tom, and Julia.
Wow – a great opening as well as a very cool montage to end the episode. Do you feel manipulated? Well you should. I know I do. But this is really the heart and soul of dramatic series. Make them laugh, make them cry. Make them smile, and then take it all away as things go bad. Then have things brighten up. And don’t worry about it because, for sure, it is going to get dark all over again.
Not sure why they called this episode The Understudy. Yes, I know – Karen got a promotion to understudy, and when Rebecca Duvall was a no-show, the understudy got to stand in for the lead. I’m thinking maybe they should have called this episode, The Big Tease.
After all the promotional effort including the lead-in at the conclusion of last week’s Hell On Earth episode – you know when they finally revealed that the Duvall character would be played by Uma Thurman. Then we don’t have Uma Thurman until the very end of the episode. Some may call it a grand entrance – I call it a Big Tease.
The Big Tease is what we got tonight as we were pulled this way, then that way. We got played, again and again and again. You know what, I think the best name for this episode should have been – Failure to Communicate – all those secrets created all that stress. As each of these truths came to light, for sure, as I’ve said repeatedly – things are not looking good at all .