THE "SMASH" REPORT: Season 2, Episode 11, or The Un-Dress Rehearsal

By Ben Rimalower
15 Apr 2013

Megan Hilty
Photo by Will Hart/NBC

Back uptown, Bombshell's first preview is about to start. Manhattan Theater Workshop's artistic director scoots into his seat with Julia and Tom as the lights are going down, just in time to catch the tail-end of their airplane tsouris talk and remark that the best part of downtown theatre is there are no planes, except ones made of actors.

Tom rolls his eyes at this "so Derek" staging style, but then, we see exactly that style come to life as Julia's idea to replace the airplane opens act two with actors crawling over each other and people's seats, slithering through the audience, Actor's Studio-like, enacting Marilyn's studies with Lee Strasberg.

When at last, the much-discussed JFK sex scene arrives, Ivy's game-time decision proves to be no nudity.

But wait, in the morning-after "Jack don't leave, come back to bed" scene, Ivy reveals all. Now, because it's more vulnerable to be naked while being rejected. Brilliant.

The performance is triumphant. Everyone is elated, everyone except Sam, Tom's chorus-boy-friend who, after giving up his featured role in the Book of Mormon tour to play a role since cut from Bombshell, didn't even get to go on tonight as a swing because of seniority. Sam is bitter. Sam blames Tom. Of course, it's also about Sam's career—I mean, if you google Sam Strickland, all you see is d*ck shots from a regional production of Take Me Out, but Tom is not innocent in this. And Tom feels bad, but mostly Tom feels excited to thank the theatre party ladies outside for their kind words and to watch Ivy signing autographs at the stage door. She has never looked more beautiful or star-like. I have to admit it's taken me a while to get on the Ivy boat (I was very moved when Katharine McPhee sang "Over The Rainbow" on "American Idol" and I never saw 9-to-5, so sue me!), but this week, I realized I'm so far onto that boat, I can't even see the shore.

Karen seems especially unappealing in this episode. One particular line she says to Jimmy about her connection to him, "what I feel with you," really chaps my hide. She's just insipid and sentimental, self-pitying without any kind of light or spark of humanity, like she's really tired and hungover and the set smelled like rancid bacon when they shot that scene.

No wonder Jimmy's done with her too. She questions him about his past and he's just like, "I'm sorry," but not the good kind of I'm sorry, more like, "I'm sorry that's just the way it is." And she's like, "I'm sorry too." And that's that for them. For this week.

Jimmy saves his good "I'm sorry" for Kyle. Kyle, his writing partner, Kyle, without whom, he acknowledges, none of this success would have happened, namely the love letter they and Hit List receive from Richard Francis in the New York Times. They are "edgy and occasionally brilliant!"

Unfortunately for Tom and all the kids uptown, the article compares Hit List to Bombshell, accusing Bombshell of "[raking] over the past," while "Hit List opens our eyes to the present and the inevitable future."

Eileen is livid that Richard betrayed her, consecrating Hit List "the musical of the season." She throws him out of her office.

Tom is so hurt that Julia spent the days dramaturging downtown, and not at his side, working on their show—even though he told her he didn't need her, even though she was there for all the run-throughs and even though she was there to solve the intermission problem. I guess he wanted her there to help him run lines with the kid that plays young Norma Jean. Hell hath no fury like a collaborator clobbered.