Here’s your discussion post for “Smash” – “Let’s Be Bad”. Recap will be posted later. In the meantime…discuss!
This week’s episode of Smash, “Let’s Be Bad,” is possibly my favorite one to date. One of its strengths is that it set up a lot of interesting plot points, which had me looking forward to the rest of the season so I can find out how those plot points will pan out.
The episode opened with producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) discovering that her erstwhile husband Jerry found a new way to throw her plans for Marilyn the Musical off track. Jerry failed to prevent Eileen from getting funding for the workshops—because she sold that Degas to Lyle West (Nick Jonas) in the previous episode—so he stole her assistant instead, leaving Eileen paralyzed. Her assistant runs her whole operation and knows how to do everything, including fix Eileen’s computer when it’s not working properly. Luckily, Eileen’s problems end when Tom’s (Christian Borle) assistant Ellis Tancharoen (Jaime Cepero) arrives. Ellis was only supposed to deliver a book on Marilyn Monroe’s life to Eileen, but he ended up offering to help her around the office while Tom is helping Julia (Debra Messing) finish the book, presumably because Tom doesn’t need much assisting during this time. I can’t wait to see what will happen between Eileen and Ellis, because the latter knows about Julia’s affair with Michael Swift (Will Chase), which could make things…complicated, to say the least.
Speaking of Julia and Michael, Julia finally fell off the wagon in this episode. Michael was not-too-subtly chasing after Julia from the beginning of this episode—and, after a stirring rendition of the Donny Hathaway classic “A Song For You” towards the end—finally manages to get Julia to give in to her feelings for him. Julia will most likely come to regret that decision in the coming weeks, because her teenaged son Leo (Emory Cohen) witnesses her locking lips with Michael. Julia also has a lot on her plate in this episode, because aside from being under mounting pressure to fine-tune the book for Marilyn the Musical, she also has to discipline Leo after he’s arrested for allegedly smoking pot in Central Park with friends. Said arrest could hurt the adoption Julia and her husband Frank (Brian d’Arcy James)—whose absence this week was explained by Julia saying he went on a teachers’ retreat to renew his license. Kindly recall that in a previous episode, Frank expressed a desire to return to work while waiting for word on their plans to adopt a baby.
It was nice to see the spotlight on Debra Messing’s character this week, for the most part. But that’s not to say Tom didn’t have his own moments in this week’s installment of Smash. It was he who came to Leo’s rescue when the poor kid couldn’t reach his mother by phone when he landed in the slammer. (Julia, by the way, was hanging out at a diner with Michael, under the guise of talking about some of his scenes as Joe DiMaggio in Marilyn the Musical.) I thought it was funny that as Leo was sprawled on his living-room couch, apprehensively awaiting his mother’s arrival, Tom was turning Leo’s ranting into song. Later on in the episode, Tom kept up a running commentary while Julia was on the phone with Frank. Tom and his lawyer date from last week also hung out more this week—and even tumbled into bed together—only to discover that they didn’t have as much sexual chemistry as they thought they would.
However, two people who I thought might have some potential for a long-term hookup are Tom and Sam Strickland (Leslie Odom, Jr), a member of the show’s chorus and Ivy Lynn’s (Megan Hilty) best friend. I guess my gaydar must really be nonexistent, because I didn’t realize Sam was gay when he first appeared in last week’s episode. (Remember that scene in which Sam, Michael and Ivy were hanging out at a sports bar and bemoaning their love lives?) I thought Sam was so flirting with Tom before rehearsal, when the former tried to get the latter to talk about sports. I may be in the minority here, but I wouldn’t be mad at the writers if they decided to explore the sparks between those two in future episodes. I think, potentially, there could be a great storyline in there for Tom. Having said that, I think John is way cuter than Sam, but that’s just my personal preferences talking.
Could the writers of Smash have read my recap of “The Callback” and decided to give Dev more screen time and an interesting storyline as a result? Because this week, viewers discover there’s more to Dev than just being Karen Cartwright’s (Katharine McPhee) boyfriend after all—he’s very gung-ho about his work and almost single-minded in his pursuit of a promotion to Press Secretary. Also introduced this week is an attractive female reporter named RJ Quigley who works with Dev. I smell trouble for his relationship with Karen and the beginnings of an interesting storyline for Dev, apart from said relationship. I hope the writers pursue it because I want to see more of Raza Jaffrey. Not only is he a good actor, but he’s actually kind of smokin’. (Did anyone else freeze-frame the scene in which he was shrugging into a white button-down shirt?) Having said that, why is it that a lot of the plot points unfolding in this show have to do with infidelity in some way, shape or form? Not that I’m complaining, but it kind of makes me wonder if the writers have any other rabbits in their hat. If they don’t, their magic act could get old really fast, if you know what I mean.
Meanwhile, the rivalry between Karen and Ivy heats up as Derek (Jack Davenport) singles Ivy out in the middle of rehearsal for not performing up to par. He then asks Karen to stand up and demonstrate what Ivy should be doing and adds that Ivy should work with Karen to improve her singing, further humiliating her. As expected, our Marilyn doesn’t take well to that. Ivy initially goes along with Derek’s orders, but she eventually lashes out at Karen when her frustration gets the better of her. However, Ivy should have been more grateful to her one-time rival, because Karen actually helped her knock the “Let’s Be Bad” performance out of the park. Although after she was done, Derek still didn’t look very impressed, which hurt Ivy’s feelings. Towards the end of the episode, she barges into his apartment and confronts him about his behavior towards her in rehearsal. Derek just explains that in rehearsal, he’s focused on making Marilyn the Musical the best show he can—and that’s why everyone, even Ivy, is invisible to him while he’s in the rehearsal room.
Karen reacts to Ivy’s put-downs by releasing her inner sex kitten with a stirring take on “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” Again, I have to comment on Katharine McPhee’s voice these days. It’s so much more controlled, fuller and rounded than it ever did in her Idol days. Back then, she sounded shrill whenever she tried to reach for a high note. Now, however, Katharine sounds absolutely beautiful when she does the same thing. Anyway, Karen’s unleashing of her sexier side actually helps Dev at work—she inadvertently hits on his rival for the position of Press Secretary, and tells Dev about it. For some reason, he chooses to overlook the fact that his girlfriend was making eyes at another man and just focuses on the fact that she managed to find out who he’s up against. I don’t know what will happen next, but I’m hoping we’ll get to see Dev fight for his promotion, and how that fight will affect Karen and her quest for Broadway stardom.
Speaking of Broadway, viewers got their first real look at what the finished Marilyn the Musical will be like if it hits the boards via the “Let’s Be Bad” performance. We’ve seen Karen and Ivy dressed up and singing as Marilyn before, but we’ve never seen them do all that while acting and delivering lines—until this week. Watching that performance and seeing Ivy-as-Marilyn interact with the other actors made even me excited about the possibility of Marilyn the Musical actually making the Broadway stage.