Smash 1.8 – The Coup

Sam and Ivy wonder if, post unseasonably warm workshop, the show is dead. They’re both determined to be stiff-upper-lippy for each other, though. Cut to Julia, who has no need lie to herself or others, taking to her bed and moaning that the show is dead. Frank assures her that it was just a first step; it’s a long, long way to Broadway! He fires up the Xbox and strums some “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Ugh, Frank, really? Even infidelity doesn’t deserve the Cocktail soundtrack. Besides, it’s Rock Band – Floyd’s “The Show Must Go On” would have earned you more points.

Ellis makes his rounds, first: Eileen’s echoing new pad (even the cast of 300 would think it needed a few tchotkes) where he catches the tail end of Eileen’s call with Derek (just go ahead and clone her phone, Ellis, it will save you valuable alcove time) and meets Eileen’s totally zen daughter, Katie. I was going to say that Katie looks like the love child of Meryl Streep and Melissa Etheridge, but I was hipped to the fact that the actress actually *is* the daughter of Meryl Streep (and although I assume Melissa had nothing to do with it, I’m not ruling out David Crosby).

Ellis’ second run is to Tom’s, to report that he gave Eileen the new songs and she had little, ok, nothing, to say about them, but her daughter is lovely and hey, she was on the phone with Derek talking about Karen Cartwright, and isn’t that, like, bizarre?

Derek and Karen lunch and Derek is admirably low on the letch factor. Derek informs her that “WE” are talking to a new songwriter about a new approach for Marilyn. He verifies that Karen brought her demo (if she’s anything like the actors/singers I know, she has it rubberbanded to a head shot and in easy reach at all times). He would like Karen to sing this new song, but since they’re going in a new direction, this is information Tom and Julia can obviously not know. Karen’s moral center wibbles, wobbles, and then careens into Derek’s braised kale salad and is lost.

Michael and Julia meet at a park, where Michael cheerfully points out his family enjoying the playground equipment. Thrown off her clandestine vibe, Julia begins to tell him that they’re not sure what’s going on with Marilyn, but Michael interrupts with a dry, “I’m fired.” Julia freezes and Michael shrugs that it’s ok, if he weren’t fired, he’d quit. He nods at his family and explains that they’re everything to him and he’s been really stupid. Julia quickly agrees that she’s been stupid, too, and while they’re both right and both making the mature decision, it’s still gotta hurt to be the ‘something stupid’ someone else did. Michael wishes her luck with Marilyn and embraces his family. Okay, that was anticlimactic. To paraphrase Dorothy Gale, “Storylines come and go so quickly here!”

Tom’s boyfriend (are they using that word yet?) John gets Leo’s charge knocked down to failure to comply with park signage (THIS is a crime in NYC? There are 8 million of you – how do you live?? This is how that scenario would go in Oklahoma – Park Ranger: Hey, y’all ain’t supposed to be on the grass. Park Patron: Aw, shit, Dwayne, that asphalt’s hot! Park Ranger: Go stick your feet under the spigot or get back in the lake, damn, y’all ain’t new. *scene*) John smiles cordially at the judge in the courtroom, gently pointing out what a fluff charge this is, but the judge eyes up the “fresh out of the Brownstone” look of Leo’s family isn’t inclined to make exceptions for ungrateful brats. John moves to object but Julia has the biggest overreaction to “ungrateful” since Barry Bostwick in Rocky Horror and goes off on the judge. John gets things smoothed over, evidently, because minutes later Julia and fam are gratefully embracing and heading out for some post-bench warrant Chinese.

Derek and Karen meet up in Brooklyn for their super secret musical rendezvous and Karen is openly and utterly uncomfortable with the situation until she discovers she’ll be performing with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. Funny how celebrity has a way of smoothing over moral quibbles, especially when Ryan corrects Derek in his critique of Karen’s performance. Derek gives Karen notes after that she looked and sang great, but she needs to stop being afraid of the sex. She attempts to argue that she’s not, but he tells her that she has purity, and much like Marilyn, she just needs to ice that angel food cake up with some sexual chocolate. Letch factor 20: the justification of the Madonna/whore.

Katie forces her parents to meet in Eileen’s office and attempts to be the Danny Devito in this War of the Roses. She informs her dad that freezing her mother’s accounts but dumping $3 mil in her own trust fund was not nice. Jerry boggles at the possibility of a gift of $3 mil not being nice in any language, and Eileen asserts that it’s HER money, anyway, since Jerry hasn’t produced a play in almost 10 years. Katie catches Ellis’ Batman shadow on the frosted glass door and jerks the door open to say, “Can I help you?!” before slamming it in his face. Heh.

Sam takes Ivy bowling to get her mind off of Marilyn and the chorus commiserates their lot of low pay and zero info. A spontaneous dance begins in the lanes to “Dance to the Music” (this is actually something crazy dance kids do, so I’m giving it a believability pass) that culminates in Sam singing into a light fixture Chicago style. New York: where you can’t stand on the grass but you can Electric Slide down the bowling lanes. “We’re gonna rock, we’re gonna roll, we’re gonna bop, we’re gonna bowl, we’re gonna score, score, score, score, score tonight!”

Having played Tom and Eileen against each other, Ellis targets Ivy and stalks her to her ballet class (I’d call creepy, but his assertion that he’s taking the next class is too funny to hold a grudge). He asks about Tom and then Derek, and she tells him she and Derek are on a break. He informs her that yeah, he heard Derek was doing something with Karen now, and Ivy is suddenly eager to break all kinds of things with Derek.

Karen meets up with Bobby, one of the chorus friends she shares with Ivy, and tells him how much she misses the workshop. Bobby is surprised, considering she’s still working with Derek. Playing it cool is not in Karen’s repertoire and she immediately wants to know what he knows, and how he knows, since no one is supposed to know, and Bobby shrugs that he heard it from a couple of people (possibly during a spontaneous sing-a-long).

Ellis tells his girlfriend that his modus operandi is just staying on top of things (sadly, that wasn’t innuendo). He’s tired of working for Tom, because Tom’s an artist, and artists are losers. Even Ivy, because she has no idea what’s going on and Ellis at least has a clue. Yeah, that’s because she’s not a sneaky, eavesdropping rat, but okay, there, Ellis. He’s decided he doesn’t want to be a loser artist, he wants to be a producer, once he figures out what that is. Oh, Ellis, allow my Midwestern self to tell you what that is: it’s money and the having of it.

Eileen and Katie meet up with Tom and Julia in Brooklyn to see Derek’s “surprise.” Julia and Tom greet Katie warmly and the four of them head into the space ahead of Ivy and Ellis, who are poised all Cagney and Lacey behind a parked car. Stealthy. Tom and Julia are bemused, especially upon noting OneRepublic, and then Karen is shadow dancing in a sheet to “Touch Me” (unfortunately not the ’80s Samantha Fox hit). It’s modern, it’s club scene, it involves hockey-masked mimes and a revolving bed that becomes a cage. In other words: it’s no retro pastiche, but more of a breakaway pop hit.

Derek informs Tom and Julia that what they’ve just seen is a potential new direction for Marilyn. There’s the historical Marilyn, but there’s also a contemporary Marilyn. Oh, great. Now I’m picturing an autotuned Marilyn doing stunt casting on Glee, duetting with Nicki Minaj and dating Russell Brand. You’re picking up the tab for my brain bleach, Derek.

Tom and Julia are horrified, betrayed, and understandably pissed. Karen quickly apologizes and a tight-lipped Katie asks her mother to step outside. Katie gives Eileen an earful that the reason people tell Katie that she’s nice and call her “Mahatma Katie” is because she actually tries to act like a decent person. She warns Eileen that pulling underhanded tricks at the expense of friendships and loyalty is exactly how her father operates, and she doesn’t want to see Eileen turn into that in her attempts to find success on her own. Eileen agrees and immediately apologizes to Tom and Julia, Ryan Tedder apologizes to Tom and Julia, and even the keyboard players look a bit shamefaced. Eileen attempts to apologize to Derek, but he’s interrupted mid-reciprocating eyeroll by Ellis, who suggests that what Eileen means is that they should all put a meeting on the books for tomorrow and discuss the next step. A show with two divas, an Upper West Side power player, more power gays than Martha’s Vineyard in June and it’s the personal assistant who has the most chutzpah? Smash, you are obliterating all of my showbiz tropes.

Tom waves Julia off and eventually he and Derek alone stare at each other across the space. Tom says he should have never let Derek near the project. Derek says he’s needed on the project because Tom doesn’t have the stones for Marilyn. They rehash their initial falling out eleven years ago, which basically boils down to a critic Derek felt was in his pocket giving Derek a rave review and trashing Tom as a composer. To add insult to injury, Derek then tried to destroy Tom’s career by badmouthing him at every theater in town.

Derek gets into Tom’s personal space and says that he doesn’t understand gay men; they rule the New York theater scene and yet still prance about, whining about what victims they are. Tom bites the inside of his cheek and tells Derek that, for his homophobic edification, that critic eleven years ago wasn’t in Derek’s pocket, he was having sex with Derek’s father and EVERYONE knew it. Derek grabs Tom and bobbles him about until Tom’s bangs look like a Duran Duran tribute band and then welcomes Tom down to his own level. Derek claims that Tom’s songs are charming, but they’re too nice for the mess that was Marilyn. Their interaction is base, honest, intense, and on fire with possible “Kiss him, dammit!” overtones if you’re trying to make Derek/Tom happen (do – Dom is a great ‘ship portmanteau.)

Eileen has her Ellis-sanctioned meeting with Tom, Julia, and Derek and says that, while they don’t need new composers, they do need a star if the project is going to move forward. A title wouldn’t hurt, either.

Tom has the heartbreaking job of telling Ivy it’s over and he chokes up as she cries. She understands that they need a star to get to Broadway, and she’s not yet what they’re looking for. Tom invites her back to the chorus on Heaven on Earth, but at this point it’s too big a step backward for her to contemplate.

Ivy sings “Let Me Be Your Star” to her Marilyn-bedecked mirror as a knock rattles her door. She yells at the door banger to go away, but the knocks increase in volume, so you know it’s Derek. He asks if she’s all right and tells her show business sucks. Ivy’s too fragile to hear it, but Derek assures her that she was better than good. She asks why he asked Karen to do the new song showcase, and he admits it was a failed experiment. Neither of them bother to acknowledge that Ivy would have never agreed to it in the first place. She tells him he’s been hideous to her, and he counters that she told him, in front of everyone, that he was a lousy lay. Ivy looks up through her lashes and we get a last glimmer of Marilyn (this week) as she breathes, “I lied.” Fade out on a kiss…