Smash – Callbacks – Recap (UPDATED!)

Tonight, we saw Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) and Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) battle in the callbacks for the role of Marilyn Monroe! We get a pretty cool inside look at what actors have to deal with when auditioning, going to callbacks, and waiting. Oh boy, as a former thespian myself, they did a pretty good job. Also, Julia (Debra Messing) and Frank struggle with their busy lives and wanting a child, and Eileen (Anjelica Huston) continues through more messy divorce drama.

I missed doing a recap last week, so quickly, this show is great. It started strong, and I was concerned (and still am) about this show going forward. Exactly how can they stretch this into a full blown show? Will I keep watching? Will I care? Anyways, tonight had me on the edge of my seat wanting to know who would land the iconic role of Marilyn Monroe. Sure, Megan Hilty is incredibly talented and exudes that sex appeal, but on the other hand, you have Kat, with a certain innocent charm that Marilyn was made of. With the setup of last week, the producers obviously want us to root for the underdog from Iowa. However, they’ve toned down the cat scratching venom Ivy should be spewing to make her more likeable. We do get to see some of Ivy’s “evil” side tonight, though.

This episode was all about the callbacks. There were some really stellar moments. Karen proved she was up to the task, and above all, we got to see Karen’s transformation into Marilyn during the wonderfully colorful “Mamba” number. Kat’s performance is really marvelous. I’ve always been a huge fan of her, and I’ve been waiting for her break-through. I think this is it. Tonight, the show opens on a lovely performance of “Call Me” by Karen. We quickly learn she was daydreaming as she is supposed to be waitressing. Girl should honestly stick to pop and show tunes. While it didn’t wow me like it should have, Kat’s vocals were superb, as always.

The daydream feeds into her desire to land the part, as it has been four days since she last heard from the producers. The producers, writers, and director have all been hard at work trying to figure out exactly who should play Marilyn. They keep running in circles. Ivy is the girl with 10 years of Broadway experience, and Karen is the charming girl from Iowa. How do they choose?

Great Moments:

With so much going on, I’m surprised I can keep it all straight. I’ll take one grouping at a time. First, Julia and Frank are still trying to adopt a child from China, which, for the record, takes a long freaking time. I could have told you that. During a session with the adoption agency, they quickly learn that it could take two years (or more) for them to even get the child. As expected, it quickly sours them (specifically Frank) on adopting. Later on, there is a touching scene with the family. Their son overhears Frank confess that he doesn’t want to go through with the adoption. I’ve never witnessed a teenage so invested in this. Julia and her son have a great scene about keeping promises. Aww.

Karen and Dev experience their first onscreen bump, bump in their relationship. Dev is expected to get a promotion and must attend a dinner with some of his colleagues. Karen is expected to arrive right after rehearsal. Unfortunately, lines are crossed and rehearsal runs over. Afterwards, Karen arrives at the restaurant to an irate Dev. Sure, his anger is quite understandable, but when you are seriously dating an actor, these things should be expected. I was actually booing my TV at this point.

Karen is struggling with the dance moves, at least compared to Ivy, but what I loved is seeing her transformation into Marilyn Monroe. We see her hitting her apartment hard rehearsing and during rehearsals with Derek, he’s relentless. But all that hard work paid off! During “Mamba,” there is a physical reveal of what Karen (or Kat) would look like as the blonde beauty. I have to say. I’m digging it! The performance was magical. Then again, I’m a huge fan of showy over-the-top extravaganzas and clever manipulation. Here again, they are painting her up as the underdog.

There is a really awkward (and delicious) scene when Derek introduces Ivy to Karen. Beforehand, Ivy learns of who her competition is and that she is from Iowa. Ivy brings out her claws a little bit. I think that will slowly leak in as the show goes forward. I actually would love for Ivy to really show them who’s boss. “I Like your scarf,” Ivy tells Karen. Ouch.

Eileen runs into her ex-husband and his new toy at a restaurant as she’s meeting Derek. At one point, Derek leaves the table and Eileen is left alone. Jerry, of course, sweeps in and there is dramaaaa. Let’s just say, it ends with a drink to the face for Jerry. Honestly, this storyline could have been left out. I’m not that invested in her or her life.

What can I say about Ivy? Well, she’s a slut. During a really cool rehearsal scene, Ivy is working on a monologue and gets tripped up over the word crazy and exactly what that means to her character. It quickly turns into this creepy, sexual scene with Derek. First, he unpins her hair and kneels pretty close to her face. Then, there’s hot love making. (NO!) This didn’t bode well.

Last but certainly not least, we have the last deliberation on casting. It’s Friday, and they need an answer. Once again, all we really get is more back and forth banter mulling over the same points as before. Building more suspense, we get a cut to Karen at work waiting to hear the news and Ivy backstage at her show. Tom arrives to tell Ivy the news in person.

The actress playing Marilyn is……..IVYYYYYYY!!!! I’m on the fence about this. Sure, she has more experience and realistically fits the role better, but damn you producers for making me root for Karen! Gah! That certainly isn’t the end of it. I suspect some major drama to unfold very very soon.

Closing out the episode is a moving rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Crazy Dreams.” As a diehard Carebear, I wasn’t happy with the performance…at first. Seeing it in context makes a world of difference. During the music, we get a montage of all the story lines. Not gonna lie, I teared up a bit seeing Karen and Dev holding each other here.

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