Smash 1.5 – Let’s Be Bad

Eileen calls her assistant to go over her calendar and finds out that he now works for Jerry. Yeah, that’s beyond awkward. Jerry’s grabbing at anything he can take from her – soon she’ll have nothing left but her knock-off Marilyn earrings and a Degas she’ll have to go Nick Jonas’s apartment to see. 

Karen lounges with her new chorus friends at rehearsal and Derek asks to borrow her to work out some of the bridge footwork on the “Let’s Be Bad” number. Karen is stiff in his arms and Derek tells her that she’s afraid of herself and anything below her neck and has no follow through. Hmm…I’ve seen clips of Dancing with the Stars and I’ve never heard that in a critique. Ivy arrives and catches Derek mid-vertical mambo with Karen and asks if she was late. Silly diva, every Anglophile knows the early Bird gets the Brit!

Julia hasn’t shown the new pages to anyone but Tom, and Eileen is getting antsy. Speaking of things Julia has only told Tom, Michael wants to get together with Julia after rehearsal and go over some questions he has on the existing pages. Tom offers to work with Julia after rehearsal, because he has a date with John, but he can blow that off, because he can’t see himself ending up with a lawyer who says “Wow” a lot.

Julia and Michael end up together in a diner where Michael airs his worries that DiMaggio is coming off like a tool in the script. Michael claims that Joe was the love of Marilyn’s life, after all, he “sprung her from the loony bin and planned her funeral” (and you just know Michael’s dying to make that into a “still a better love story than Twilight” macro for his Tumblr). Julia tells him that the story she’s trying to tell is bigger than a love story and then casually eats Michael’s dessert. She ignores an unknown number on her cell, and that’s okay, because meanwhile…

John is extolling the begats of lawyers in his family while Tom nods and ignores Eileen blowing up his phone about the unseen pages. He gets a call from an unknown number and takes it, because it’s not Eileen getting antsy or John talking about tortes. Turns out the call is from Leo, Julia’s son, who has been arrested and can’t find his mother. Tom is suddenly very interested in what type of law John practices.

Tom has John lawyer-up for Leo, and John learns that Leo was with a friend in the park who was in possession of marijuana and a vaporizer, but Leo has only been arrested on suspicion of loitering for solicitation of drugs. John informs the cop they’ll never make that stick and gets Leo released on a bench warrant, and Tom is suddenly very interested in playing naughty solicitor and hearing more about John’s briefs.

Dev learns from a very attractive press contact that he’s not a lock for the press secretary promotion.

Leo worries about Julia’s reaction to his arrest and Tom mocks him musically from Julia’s piano. Oh, to always have access to a piano and the gift of song to rebut teenage whinging! Leo tries to roll the blame on a newly-arrived Julia for not being available when he called, but she calls him on the clue phone and sends him to bed. She tells Tom she missed the call because she was talking to Michael about the script. Tom spies with his little eye something guilty and defensive. He informs her that her son was just arrested because she was flirting with her ex-boyfriend while her husband was out of town and this is her wake-up call.

Rehearsal call time: Ivy sings “Let’s Be Bad” and Derek stops her, telling her she’s not getting the vibrato Marilyn had. She tries to explain that it’s hard with the words and pitch and emoting, but Derek tells Karen to show Ivy how it’s done. Ouch. Karen, however, has no idea what Derek means by “the vibrato on the note” (Iowans call that yodelin’, y’all) and he huffs and tells her to just sing “Happy Birthday.” Karen sings with Marilyn’s breathy vibrato and the chorus wows like a senior citizens’ group at their first viewing of Cats. Derek suggests that Karen work privately with Ivy on the intonation and both Ivy and Karen blanch.

Alone in the rehearsal hall, Karen tells Ivy that she thinks that Derek’s idea to have them work together is silly. Ivy agrees that, yes, taking singing lessons from a chorus girl is silly. Ivy offers to give Karen a bit of advice, and that advice is that Ivy is a grown-up who knows what she brings to the party, and it’s what Marilyn had, and it’s something that can’t be taught. Ivy stares into Karen with all the drama and gritty realism of Marilyn in Bus Stop, and then the pianist enters and Ivy’s suddenly all raindrops on roses again, a bouncing fluffy kitty of a diva. Karen’s head is spun.

Eileen prods Julia about the pages, but Julia has learned that Leo’s legal problems could put a crimp in the adoption. She informs Leo, who admits to trying pot just like any other over-stimulated sixteen-year-old New Yorker, that smoking pot or drinking or doing anything illegal will go down on his permanent record. (Yes, she uses those exact words. Sadly, she does not use the Violent Femmes intonation.) Worse, it could hamper the adoption, and Leo eye-rolls that that’s what she really cares about. Julia reminds him it’s what they all care about, and he’s shamefaced.

Ivy finishes the dance number for “Let’s Be Bad” and the directors and writers put their heads together. Ivy gnaws her lip and then offers to let Derek hear her newly toned trill before performing the song, but he blows her off. Uncertain, she misses her cue twice, has a few crystalline tears quiver on her lashes and then takes a deep breath and says she’s ready. Smash cut to the full-dress fantasy sequence, and Ivy gives us a little Marilyn who is hopped-up on goofballs to shimmy through another dumb blonde picture with Mr. Arthur Miller on the set and dances her way into the chorus’s hearts. Derek, however, is unmoved and heads for the door without a word. Karen tries awkwardly to tell Ivy, “See? You didn’t need my help after all!” and Ivy icily informs her that she doesn’t need Karen’s condescension, nor that of priggish British directors. She’s doing this for herself and Marilyn!

Ivy and Michael get smashed with sports fan/gay dancer/singer Sam (he has layers) and while Ivy and Sam dance around who Michael might be driving to drink off his mind, Ivy is blatant that her drink is on over Derek and his “he’s hot and he’s cold, he’s yes and he’s no!” attitude. Liquidly courageous, Ivy girds her loins and heads out to corner Derek in his lair.

Karen complains to Dev that it was humiliating for Derek to have her sing “Happy Birthday” in front of the company and then give Ivy singing lessons, and that Ivy and Derek are both a piece of work. Dev is confused as to how that’s humiliating, but as he wasn’t there when Karen gave Derek a lap dance before smacking his hand, she quickly shifts to the fact that she’s always “looked down” (her words, I just recap) on girls who were overtly sexy. Dev clucks his tongue sympathetically and then tosses her a little red number to wear to the party they’re attending, because having his smoking hot girlfriend on his arm is going to lock that political promotion up for him (didn’t work for McCain, but okay). Karen drapes herself across the bed and says, “Poor Marilyn, this was what her life was like every day.” Yes, dealing with mild showbiz machinations and wearing a cocktail dress to a chi-chi party is exactly like being a cog in the studio machine and the plaything of politically powerful men which took a toll on your already shaky mental family history and lead to an overdose and/or political assignation. Eh, she’s an ingénue – over-dramatization is in her soul. Karen sends Dev on his way and purrs a sultry rendition of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” while dressing in reverse order. Okay a) that song worked better on Glee when Quinn sang it during a teen pregnancy and b) singing a song about the objectification of women while stripping to heels and a bra and telling me it’s bad to find women sexy? It’s like I’m recapping the musical episode of Supernatural.

Michael shows up drunk at Julia’s, but it’s okay, because Leo is super excited to see “Swifty.” Leo invites Michael for dinner and Julia groans and nukes more Trader Joes. Hopped up on barley, Michael tells Leo that he and Julia used to smoke a little doob after rehearsal. Leo is aghast, “You said you only tried it once at camp!” Hmm…perhaps Julia got her “just one time at camp” experiences confused, Leo. Leo gets sent to bed but pauses on the stairs to jokingly ask what else his mom does after a tough rehearsal. What else, indeed.

Derek works at home and Ivy shows up drunk at his door, demanding R-E-S-P-E-C-T. She feels like she doesn’t exist for him in rehearsal and he stoically informs her that no one does – this would all be so much easier for him if actors would stop having all those annoying feelings. Her only feelings should be about Marilyn. Ivy knows she had bullet points and agenda items and themes she wanted to hammer out with Derek, but they kind of got buried in all the beer and Derek’s sheer artistic magnetism. He asks her to stay, and they kiss.  I worry about the quality of her breath, but Derek goes with it. Ivy wakes up in his bed alone and finds him downstairs; pouring over the pages for Marilyn. Her face softens, once again swept up in his passion for the project.

Karen and her stunning collarbone and shoulders show up at the party, only to find that Dev is sitting with RJ, the ace reporter, in order to get an in for the press secretary position and Karen is to be shuttled a few tables away where she will be hot girlfriend adjacent. Karen drowns her irritation at Dev by telling random party guests that she’s playing Marilyn in a Marilyn Monroe musical workshop. Male random party guest speculates on the iconic blow-up skirts Karen will be wearing, and Karen drawls that yes, in fact, that’s why she’s wearing the slinky number she has on tonight, so that all the men will want to have the sex with her. They start a bit of a snarky flirt (or flirty snark) and male party guest suggests she come back to his hotel and sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. Press Secretary” to him and he’ll buy her room service (awww, no honor bar?). Karen realizes this is Dev’s unknown D.C. rival and snags his name and info before telling him she’ll be in touch and sashaying into the night. In the hired car on the way home, Dev thanks Karen for her “leg work” and Karen straddles him, telling him she’ll prove she’s not afraid of anything from the neck down. Dev wasn’t aware that was a problem, and keeps an eye peeled for the peeping chauffeur as they make out.

Having successfully kept Julia from trampling her marriage with a nostalgic romp in the sheets with Michael, he hopes, Tom gets a leg over with John. They sprawl in the sheets, one upping each other’s “Wow”s before agreeing that it was terrible sex, the worst sex they’ve ever had and possibly the worst sex anyone’s every had before howling with laughter.

Julia calls a car for Michael and they wait awkwardly on the stoop for it to arrive. Michael is all earnest eyes and quiet longing, and Julia tells him that they both have families now, and they’re not going to mess that up. Michael tells her that he wants to be with her and Julia grimaces – he’s worse than Eileen wanting her pages. One of those perfect New York moments of silence settles over them, a musical cue beckons and Michael begins to sing Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” (well, I’m pretty sure it’s the Leon Russell version, not the Xtina one). Julia is completely inured to people suddenly bursting into song, but you can tell she’s charmed. The car arrives and she ushers him to it. He reaches for the door, looks back at her wistfully, and then runs back to the stoop and kisses her. As kisses go, it’s pretty smoking, and I wait for the camera to pan up and show son Leo watching from the floor up above, and it does.

Next week: All the secrets are out! Orly?

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  • Sally R

    I’m such a bitch, but this show is really annoying me (my general dislike of musicals not even part of the annoyance). I don’t feel like we’ve got any good female characters. They’re all over-the-top stereotypes for me. And Karen’s Man’s World bit made me want to weep with frustration. I like your comparison to Supernatural The Musical, though. That would be awesome. (And yes, Glee did the song better. I actually started wondering how many Glee songs will be redone on Smash. *sigh*)

    I might just stop watching and only read your recaps. Then I don’t have to look at pouty faces and cat fighting.

    • Suzanne

      I really, really like the musical numbers on the show, but then I’m a Marilyn fan and a huge musical fan. I liked the behind the scenes process of building a musical, and I hope they go back to that some more. I understand a lot of Ivy’s issues, but I wish they’d build her a little more than “first big break” and “sleeping with the director: bad idea?” and “Karen = rival!” Karen and Julia could be fleshed out more — I wan to know WHY they do what they do. I don’t know how I feel about the non-musical numbers? I obviously had qualms about the James Brown song, but I don’t know how I feel about it otherwise, despite enjoying the voices on this show.

      I am enjoying it, though, and I’ll stay with it because I want my Marilyn musical!

  • darkhawkhealer

    Okay, in no particular order:

    The John getting Leo off thing was HOT, and you could tell Tom thought so, too! *gigglefits* It’s one thing to SAY you’re a stuffy lawyer, it’s totally another to rock it out and make yourself look good to your new squeeze. \o/

    I don’t like Michael. He needs to go far, far away and practice that thing called professionalism.

    Leo worries about Julia’s reaction to his arrest and Tom mocks him musically from Julia’s piano. Oh, to always have access to a piano and the gift of song to rebut teenage whinging!

    Yes, yes, yes! It was hilarious. Poor Leo. *pets him* Uncle Tom doesn’t love him any more. *G* I bet Tom was more annoyed with having to babysit Leo until his mom got home than the whining, what with having to turn down a nightcap (wink wink, nudge nudge) at John’s place. :P

    The Ivy/Karen thing irritated me so bad! I wanted to throw things at Ivy! Okay, I always want to throw things at her, but being all, ‘I know what I bring to the table’ one minute and then rocking the teary eyes and injured innocence when Derek is Not Nice to her the next? I’m sorry honey, you have no idea what you have if you’re going to let some man you’re sleeping with throw you off of your game. IJS.

    I kind of adore Sam. Especially when he’s trying to get in good with Tom and Tom just blows him off…I cackled. I really, REALLY hope that turns into an opposites-attract relationship because I can SO see it!

    It’s like I’m recapping the musical episode of Supernatural. <– that made me LOL. :D

    I actually liked McPhee's version of "It's A…", I enjoy her voice. I know, I know, I'm probably in the minority but there you go. :P

    The Derek and Ivy thing…ugh, I'm so over it. I think we can all agree that Derek is an ass, I think even HE would agree to that. I don't think his being an 'artist' should excuse it or make it okay but a little tiny part of me thinks Ivy deserves everything she gets for a) sleeping with the director in the first place and then b) expecting it to be more than it is, you know?

    The Julia/Michael thing: That was in fact a hot hot kiss, and she DID in fact kiss him back and I so wanted to throw things at the both of them! Michael moreso than Julia at the moment but I'm sure that'll change. I mean, really? Doing that out in public when you're both with other people and your son's window faces the street? Really? …Julia needs to think like a Scorpio and consider all angles, is all I'm saying. :P

    I don't think this show's getting enough credit. It's pretty fun to watch. It's like Musicals Of Our Lives!