Recap/Review – Smash – “Bombshell” – 5/13/12

We’ve concluded the first season, and we finally have a Marilyn. So let’s dive right in with a recap, my review, and some thoughts on the season as a whole.


After Rebecca’s sudden departure, Tom, Julia, Eileen, and Derek are fighting over who should get to play the part: Ivy or Karen. While Eileen is dealing with the press, Derek visits wardrobe to see the costumes, and he keeps seeing Karen as Marilyn. Back inside the theatre, Derek tells Karen in front of everyone – including Ivy – that she’ll go on as Marilyn that night.

Jump with me to read more.

To prepare her for the show, they’ll do a complete run-through for Karen. Just before they begin, Karen calls Dev to tell him about the news, and Julia tells Karen that they’re all rooting for her to succeed. Derek tells Tom and Julia to finish the song for the ending.

Inside the theatre, Ellis tells Ivy he can’t believe the decision to make Karen Marilyn, while Tom and Julia are having a hard time with the new song.

Outside the theatre, Ellis confronts Eileen because he’s convinced Ivy should play Marilyn. Eileen tells Ellis that he doesn’t have a vote. He tells Eileen he doesn’t want to be ignored once again; he didn’t poison Rebecca with peanuts in her smoothie just to be ignored. With this information, Eileen fires Ellis, and he threatens her that this isn’t the last she’s heard of him.

Inside the theatre, Derek is working with Karen on “Mr. And Mrs. Smith,” and when Karen turns her back to the audience, Derek tells Michael to grab her if that happens during the show. Julia interrupts the rehearsal to give Karen some changes in the lyrics, when all the lights turn off. Michael takes this chance to talk to Julia, and he tells her his wife left him and took his boy with her. She is comforting Michael when the lights turn on, and Julia sees Frank looking at them.

Julia runs out after Frank to explain that she was just listening. Frank tells her he knows nothing was going on, but he is just having a hard time trusting her. Julia says they should continue onward, to create new and happy memories. Leo interrupts the conversation by bringing lunch, and Frank takes Julia’s hand as they head back inside the theatre.

Eileen is overlooking rehearsal and asks Linda (Derek’s assistant) if they skipped rehearsing “Woolf.” Linda explains that Karen can’t dance in Rebecca’s clothes. Tom tries to tell Derek that they should put the brakes on the show for that night, but Derek replies by asking how the new song is coming along. Rehearsal continues with “Woolf,” but Karen can’t get her costume change done quickly enough. When they finally get to the song, it goes great, with Ivy looking on. Afterwards, Ivy confronts Derek on his choice, and he tells her that he has visions of Karen as Marilyn and Karen has something that Ivy doesn’t. As Ivy storms off, Dev runs into her and asks about the ring. She tells him she doesn’t have it, but inside the dressing room, Ivy takes the ring out of her bag.

Eileen confronts Derek on his progress with Karen, because “Woolf” was the only song that went well. Eileen’s convinced Karen can’t learn the part in just one day, which Karen overhears.

Back in the dressing room, Karen finds her wedding ring, and she asks Ivy who put it there. Ivy tells Karen that she slept with Dev, and Karen is having a hard time dealing with it. Storming out, Karen runs into Dev and asks if Ivy was telling the truth. He explains he thought their relationship was over, and he made a mistake. Linda interrupts the conversation by asking Karen to come onto the stage. Eileen thanks Karen for everything she’s done, but Derek takes Karen aside before Eileen can continue what she was saying. Derek tells Karen to get changed to continue the rehearsal, and he tells Eileen to thank him for his choice after the show.

Eileen is surprised to see Jerry in the theatre and talks to him. He asks her if she’s sure about this, with the lead leaving and the ending not finished yet. Eileen sends him away, but Jerry tells her he has a ticket for the show that night.

Tom and Julia are still stressing over the song and can’t seem to figure out what they want to do. Julia runs out because she needs to throw up. When she comes back, she tells him the last time she threw up was when she was… *silence*

Karen finally gets the costume change into “Woolf” done but runs out after picturing Ivy and Dev together. Linda and Derek are looking for Karen, and Derek runs into Dev and tells him to stay away from Karen.

The ensemble is talking with Ivy about the recent developments, and Bobby says Ivy wouldn’t run like Karen did. Lyle also shows up again with Eileen’s painting, and he suggests choosing Ivy to play Marilyn.

Derek finds Karen in wardrobe after following a trail of clothes. Karen tells him she can’t and doesn’t want to play Marilyn, but Derek tells her that this heartbreak is the final missing piece in portraying Marilyn.

Back inside the theatre, Ivy is dressed to go on as Marilyn when Derek and Karen walk back in. Karen apologizes for her breakdown and explains that she was mad about “something.” Ivy runs back to the dressing room when Leigh walks in with champagne to congratulate her daughter. Ivy explains that she didn’t get the part.

Tom and Julia finish the final song with only a few minutes to spare before the curtain goes up. The show ends with the song “Don’t Forget Me,” and we see Ivy back in the dressing room with a bottle of pills. The crowd goes wild after the song is finished.

Well, that was it. The season finished with some cliffhanger and the biggest reveal of all. It is finally decided that Karen Cartwright is going to play Marilyn Monroe in “Bombshell.” I personally am very happy with that decision, but mostly because I didn’t want Ivy to get the part for a number of reasons. The first was the backstabbing Ivy did to Karen in sleeping with Dev and telling her about it on the worst moment possible. And Bobby probably best voiced the other reason this week: “I do know Ivy wouldn’t run.” We all remember the time when Ivy wasn’t too stable and she drunkenly ruined “Heaven and Earth” and got fired, right? And that other time when she started taking drugs for her voice but got hooked on them?

Overall, I really loved the episode. Most of the cliffhangers (Julia’s pregnant, Ivy’s “suicide,” Ellis’ threat, and Derek and Karen together?) were of a personal nature, but the episode didn’t spend too much time on it. The rest of the episode really focused on “Bombshell” and the problems surrounding a last-minute recast of the lead. There was the wardrobe, Karen not knowing all the cues, and everyone working on the show just being plainly stressed.

Weirdly enough, this was the first episode I didn’t want to smash (oh boy) Ellis’ face in. He finally showed some balls and was very direct with Eileen, and that is something I can respect. But Eileen finally firing Ellis is probably one of my personal favorite moments of the whole season.

Some other observations on the episode: Anjelica Huston was fierce when she was confronting Derek and hilarious when she saw Jerry. I’m hoping we’re not getting a “who’s child is it” story line next season. Lyle and Leigh showed up, but why this preview and not the first one? And why would Lyle return the painting after the not-so-stellar reviews of the first preview?
The first season:

Overall, I thought the season was very uneven. I absolutely loved the pilot, but the series suffered from the amount and the nature of the stories they tried to tell afterwards. The pilot focused on the the creation of a musical and some issues surrounding it. And while the pilot did mention some personal issues (Frank and Julia’s adoption, Tom and Derek’s mutual dislike, Eileen’s upcoming divorce), it mostly featured the casting of the female lead for a new musical.

And then they started to focus on the personal issues of most of our cast. Julia had her affair, Tom had a short relationship with a lawyer, Eileen kept fighting with her ex, we learned too much about Dev’s job, and almost all the relationships got destroyed over the season. Personal drama isn’t necessarily bad, but to me, the first season should focus on the main premise (the creation of a musical) and not this drama surrounding it.

But not all the issues this season were related to the personal stories they were trying to tell. The biggest problem by far was Ellis and his despicable nature. He was just rubbing me in all the wrong ways. And as far as the personalities went, I wasn’t too thrilled with the “Ivy is a backstabbing witch with the experience, and Karen is the naïve talent.” They kept coming back to this point all throughout the season, even though they appeared to be growing closer.

The final negative I want to mention is some of the song relevance. “Dance to the Music” and “A Thousand and One Nights” were especially examples of what the show should try to prevent. I can understand that the show wants to feature some other songs than just the ones used in “Bombshell.” But some songs were just woven into the story better (singing a demo for a producer, being invited to sing a song because the main cast wants to know what her understudy is capable of) than others (singing a song while getting dressed, practicing a routine in a club).

It’s probably a good thing that there is a gap between season 1 and season 2 (season 2 will start mid-season). This will give the new show runner an opportunity to analyze the first season on what worked and what didn’t and hopefully improve on it. For instance, they could’ve made tech take two episodes to show us how stressful it is instead of only saying it. And from the casting news I’ve read online, they are trimming the fat.

By far the best part of the show was the music of “Bombshell.” All of the songs they wrote for “Bombshell” were of a very high quality, and I like listening to the soundtrack over and over again. And I’d like to especially mention “Don’t Forget Me.” The orchestration was amazing, the lyrics worked, and it really tied into Marilyn and the music of “Bombshell.” I couldn’t have imagined a better finale.

Well, this was it, guys. I’m working on the season finale of Community this weekend, and then the summer TV season starts with some True Blood, Warehouse 13, and So You Think You Can Dance.

What did you think of this season of Smash?

– JJ

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One Response to Recap/Review – Smash – “Bombshell” – 5/13/12

  1. Megan says:

    So happy Ellis is gone. Karen was the only right choice because Ivy is a backstabbing lunatic. You know we’re going to get a who’s baby story line– or we’re going to know it’s Michael’s, because it’s not going to be Frank’s. I loved the final song, and Karen kicked ass as Marilyn.

    Next season will have to be better especially with Dev and Ellis gone.

    Bring on Summer TV.