So… I’m not gonna lie. I used the TVGasm hackage incident as an “excuse” to delay my Smash recapping, and it obviously worked really well, since we’re already faced with another episode and I’m three recaps in the hole. It’s not that I dislike recapping this show. It isn’t even that I dislike this show. I just don’t like my recaps of it. I hate the way the show switches characters/settings every ten seconds. I know that’s how scripted shows work, how else will we keep up on what is going on with everybody? But this show already has about fourteen more main characters than it needs, and quite frankly, all the moving around makes me dizzy. That being said, I am trying a new recapping method with this one, and we’ll see if I (and more importantly, you, Gentle ‘Gasmii) like it. ‘K? Cool.
Previously on Smash: Ivy Lynn and Katren vied for the role of Marilyn; Michael Swift and Not-Grace had a (presumably torrid) affair; Eileenica is desperately trying to raise money simply to fund the workshop of Marilyn: the Musical and is being thwarted at every turn by her estranged husband Jerry, whose signature look involves a Manhattan dripping from his douche-y half-beard and a maraschino cherry draped over one ear; Derek is smarmy and untrustworthy and Ivy is sleeping with him.
Main Plotline (In Which Katren Struggles to Fit in With the Ensemble and Ivy Behaves Like an Insecure Prima Donna): It’s the first day of workshops, and a visibly nervous Katren walks into the studio, where Not-Grace greets her with an over-eager-to-reassure-the-newbie, “First day! I love first days!” She would. Ellis the Hot Assistant chimes in, “Exciting, isn’t it?” and Not-Grace gets her “something smells like doodie” face and minces away. Some other ensemble members come in, and one of them makes some cutting remarks about how Katren couldn’t possibly be any more MidWest. Dennis (the gay boy who tried to take Not-Will out on a date) shares that Katren was “Golden Sprout Champion” at the Iowa State Fair — a fact that she puts on her resume. Katren comes over to the bitchy clique and tries to be friendly, but they are so staunchly Team Ivy that she might as well take her ball and go back home. I’m Team Ivy too, but I’ve also been the new kid more times than I can count, and it sucks.
Ivy arrives, and after a few sycophantic moments of cheers and applause from the rest of the workshop, Derek tells them all to simmer down and get to work. Not-Grace isn’t being exactly prompt with the book, so they will be working primarily on the songs, some of which will actually be choreographed while others are not. Derek tells the ensemble that it is up to them to sell the show at this point, adding a caution that “the road to Broadway is exceedingly long.”
Caution: Falling Anvils of Foreshadowing Ahead
As the ensemble gets ready to rehearse the “20th Century Fox Mambo” number, an exceedingly pretty black man greets Ivy. His name is Sam and they were in Chicago together way back — “And now you’re Marilyn!” he enthuses. Derek clarifies that nobody is anybody until they start rehearsing. After going through the number, Sam compliments Katren on her voice, and she tells him that she is familiar with the song because it was her callback piece for the role of Marilyn. “Well, I’m singing it now,” Ivy ever-so-sweetly-and-poisonously says, co-opting Sam’s attention and putting Katren back in her place. Ivy complains to Dennis that no one told her that Katren was going to be in the ensemble, and she is clearly not happy about this new development.
At the next workshop, they are working on a choreographed version of the clunkily titled new song, “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl.” Katren is near Ivy for much of the song, and partway through, Ivy asks for a break. She says that she’s having trouble hearing herself over the chorus. “Ensemble,” a male cast member sulkily corrects, giving Ivy the opportunity to say, “Well, not everyone seems to understand that that means ‘as one.’”
And by “not everyone” I mean you.
They break for lunch, and Derek invites Ivy to the birthday party that he is throwing for Lyle West (Nick Jonas). He draws one finger gently down Ivy’s arm, and Sam realizes that “Ivy’s doing the nasty with the Dark Lord!”
Fun Fact: Everyone Derek hires for a show has to get this tattoo, which gets darker and starts burning every time Derek holds a rehearsal, scheduled or otherwise.
Apparently Katren hasn’t gotten her tattoo yet, because she has to ask who the Dark Lord is. “Sauron himself,” Sam says, “Darth Derek.” Sam just referenced Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars in less than thirty seconds; I think I’ve found my new imaginary BFF. “She’s sleeping with him?” a somewhat shell-shocked looking Katren asks, and it is obvious that she is wondering what would have happened if she had slept with Derek.
At lunch with Not-Will, Ivy asks why no one told her that Katren was going to be in the ensemble. He blames it on Not-Grace, who thought Katren should get something after working so hard in her auditions for Marilyn. “And she is impressive,” Not-Will adds. Ivy agrees, and then asks Not-Will to pay attention when they get back after lunch because Katren is impressively loud in the “Wolf” number.
Back at the workshop, Not-Will engages in some whispery discussion with a nameless bossy person, who tells Katren to move back further from Ivy. Ivy can still see Katren in the mirror, however, bringing the whole rehearsal to a grinding halt. Katren ends up getting kicked out of the number, along with sulky “ensemble” guy. Sulky ensemble guy tells Katren to remind him not to stand next to her ever again.
I’m grinning like this because I’m happy to be here, not because I’m gloating.
After the rehearsal, Katren is complaining to Brit Boy about how Ivy and her fragile ego got Katren kicked out of the number. He is surprised that Ivy has that kind of power, but when Katren explains that Ivy is sleeping with Derek, everything becomes clear. “Maybe you should just keep your head down,” Brit Boy suggests. Katren protests that as an actress, keeping her head down is exactly what she’s not supposed to do. Poor Brit Boy. Being Katren’s boyfriend must feel like babysitting half of the time.
At the next workshop, they are rehearsing a song called “History is Made at Night,” and Katren is seated directly behind Ivy. Ivy quickly calls a halt to the song, and protests that there is too much noise from the ensemble and it’s interfering with her ability to learn the song. As a result of this latest complaint, Katren is asked to sit out from this song as well (“Just for now,” Not-Will claims,) causing her to collect her things and storm out into the hallway. One of the other female ensemble members, the girl that we’ve seen Ivy with backstage at Heaven On Earth, asks Katren how it’s going, causing Katren to unleash a tirade about how Ivy is trying to get her fired, and the rest of the ensemble treats her like crap, and they were all beginners once too and should be helpful and understanding instead of acting so horribly. She says that she could have slept with Derek too, and just because she didn’t doesn’t make her stupid or lame, and the other ensemble members should be trying to help her instead of silently supporting Ivy’s increasingly obvious attempts to get her fired.
Well, when you put it that way….
Next thing we know, Katren is shopping with Jessica (Ivy’s friend,) the sulky male ensemble member, and another female ensemble member. They are grooming her in how to be the world’s best little worker bee, complete with instructions on what to wear when she gets to rehearsal, and when and what to change into after arriving. “So it’s like high school?” Katren asks.
They tell Katren that they will get her into their dance class, and that night they will do an “intervention.” This intervention is going to involve a lot more singing and dancing than the ones on A&E.
Ivy is getting ready for Lyle’s birthday party, and Sam is hanging out. He despairs over the Mets’ pitching game this season while Ivy defends her treatment of Katren, which basically comes down to, “I know I was a bitch and I don’t care.”
Katren brings her Ensemble Entourage home, and they immediately begin picking over the contents of her closet. “Things haven’t improved, I gather,” Brit Boy says. After an intensive wardrobe overhaul (I’m assuming, all we really saw was them throwing clothes on the floor,) the group breaks for Chinese food. Bobby (of former sulkiness fame) tries to explain to Brit Boy precisely what the problem is with Katren when it comes to being in the ensemble. Katren blames Ivy, but the others remain defensive of her, which I like. They didn’t switch sides, they’re just being rational adults about the whole thing. “The problem is you, Miss Artichoke Heart,” Bobby says, and Katren reminds him that her actual title was “Golden Sprout Champion,” thank you very much. Bobby continues to explain that in this situation, Katren isn’t the champion of anything, she is a backup singer, and despite her protests that she is trying to be exactly that, she obviously doesn’t really grasp what it means to fill a supporting background role. The Ensemble Entourage then gives a demonstration set to Adele’s “Rumour Has It.” They then try to teach Katren a dance routine, the goal of which seems to be for her to do a perfect job without being particularly noticeable. “Stop pulling focus!” Jessica reprimands.
They drag Katren and Brit Boy out to a dive bar, where Jessica has a quick word with the DJ and next thing we know, the four ensemble members are on stage dancing to “Rumour Has It.” It begins as a nicely coordinated, nobody-is-the-star embodiment of everything that they were trying to teach Katren that night, but next thing we know the music slows, and Katren is in the forefront, singing.
There’s a shocking twist.
Meanwhile, as Lyle’s party dies down, Ivy confronts Derek both about flirting with other women and about not telling her that Katren was in the ensemble. Derek’s dedication to the production is such that he is willing to put his hand on as many asses as it takes in order to get people to invest in Marilyn, and he also thinks that Ivy needs to grow up and accept the fact that she’s the star of the show which is a whole new ball of wax. “I just want to feel safe,” Ivy protests. “Then go back to the chorus!” Derek snaps. “There’s nothing safe about being a star.”
Anybody else getting an American Psycho vibe here?
He tells Ivy that the bedrooms really are incredible, and they go upstairs. So I guess Ivy can’t complain about them always spending the night at her place any more.
The Rug That Ties the Whole Room Together (In Which the Youngest and Least Attractive Jonas Brother Special-Guest-Stars and Saves Eileenica’s Metaphorical Bacon):
A teen heart-throb playing a teen heart-throb. It doesn’t get more meta than that.
Nick Jonas plays Lyle West, a former child star. Derek tells Ivy that he discovered Lyle and gave him his first role when Lyle was eight. Ivy mentions this to Not-Will at their lunch together, and Not-Will then bitches to Not-Grace about Derek claiming to have discovered Lyle. “What did he do, plant a flag in him?” she says. Dang it, that was funny! Come on, writers, please don’t give Debra Messing actually funny lines! I really don’t want to have to re-evaluate my feelings after fifteen years of being annoyed by her. Anyway, apparently Lyle’s break-out role was in the infamous production where Not-Will and Derek previously worked together, and according to Not-Will, Derek didn’t even want to cast Lyle. Here’s what you do, boys: when Lyle wins an award (Tony, Emmy, Kid’s Choice, Golden Sprout Champion) listen to his acceptance speech and whoever he thanks gets bragging rights.
Not-Will’s resentment over Derek’s claims makes him even bitchier towards Derek than usual, and Not-Grace attempts to smooth the waters by asking Derek to invite Not-Will to Lyle’s birthday party. Which Derek does, loudly and publicly, and Not-Will declines, equally loudly and publicly. After the rehearsal, Not-Will and Not-Grace take a walk, and Not-Grace tries to convince Not-Will that it was nice of Derek to invite him to the party for Lyle. Despite her best efforts, Not-Will will not be talked into going to the party because he has a date that night. A blind date, in fact, set up by his mother. Not-Grace mocks Not-Will’s plans, but he won’t budge.
The first time we actually see Lyle is at Derek’s apartment, where he is playing the piano and singing “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet.” I do not understand why they had to supplement the piano with an invisible full band. Sometimes less really is more, NBC! Derek introduces Lyle to Ivy, and there is some flirting which is stupid, clunky, and boring.
Eileenica finds Lyle sitting alone on a staircase and begins some very pointed small talk about his show being in syndication and how “popular” he must be now. Lyle appears to be fairly savvy when it comes to business matters, giving Eileenica a quick run-down of his various investments. “I’m surprised no one’s mentioned art to you,” Eileenica tells Lyle, having lured him to a bedroom in order to show him the Degas sketch. Did she have that when she arrived at Derek’s loft? It’s a bit large to have stashed in a pocket or something. She says that art and gold bullion are the two investments that never, ever lose their value.
“How much do you need?” Lyle asks, and finds Eileenica’s response of $200,000 to be negligible. However, he doesn’t want to buy the sketch from her — he offers to loan her $175,000 with the sketch as collateral, and she will give him points. That way, regardless of whether or not Marilyn flops, he breaks even. Oh, and he wants proof that Marilyn has something going for it before the deal is official.
I was just bested by a twelve-year-old in a business deal.
Eileenica hustles downstairs, finds Not-Grace and tells her to rustle up Not-Will and Michael Swift immediately. Not-Grace moans about it a bit, but she obeys; honestly, if Anjelica Huston told me to do something, I wouldn’t ask questions either. Not-Will brings his date, and Michael turns up with a “You need me?” for Not-Grace, but there’s not time to delve into either of those issue because, as Eileenica says, “It’s showtime!”
In the living room of Derek’s loft, Lyle gets up to thank everyone for coming to his party. He talks about how Not-Will and Derek were both responsible for his big break into show biz, saying “They were best friends, as well as being the best friends an eight-year-old wannabe musical theater star could hope for.” Best friends? I demand backstory NOW!!! Lyle continues to exposit that he asked these old friends of his to perform a number from their current project as a birthday gift, and they very kindly agreed.
Not-Will sits down at the piano, tells the band (how convenient to have a band just standing by) to read his mind, and they begin “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl.” Not-Grace joins in on the background vocals, and then rounds up Michael, Ellis (!), and one of the wait-staff to help her fill in as the
chorus ensemble. Ivy pulls Lyle out of his chair to join in at the end of the song, which he miraculously not only knows the words to but is able to play accompaniment for on an electric guitar.
And my wooly suspenders of disbelief just spontaneously combusted.
The guests applaud vigorously once the song ends, but Ivy is distracted from this by the sight of Derek chatting with a very attractive guest. As Ivy watches, Derek’s hand slides down onto the woman’s shapely arse. Before anything else can happen, Lyle pops up right in Ivy’s face and tells her that she’s amazing. In a pointless attempt to make Derek jealous, she asks Lyle if he still wants to show her the bedrooms, and he whips that electric guitar off so quickly, it’s a wonder that he didn’t accidentally strangle himself with the strap. They stumble into one of the bedrooms, where Eileenica is looking at her Degas, and Lyle tells Eileenica that he’ll be by her office on Monday, so yay! for getting the funding for the workshop.
Subplot A (In Which Not-Grace Fails Miserably at Remaining Professional and Not Being Awkward At All Around Michael Swift): At the first workshop, Not-Grace greets Michael with a stammery “Hi,” and a weird handshake. “You don’t have to be nervous,” he tells her and she lies “I’m not. I mean, we’re both adults, right?” Turns out he was talking about the workshop, not about seeing him again. AWKWARD.
This is a totally comfortable and not at all strange situation to be in. Also, have you seen my Xanax?
During rehearsals, Michael always looks straight at Not-Grace when singing any lyric that might be considered even mildly meaningful. She ducks out of a workshop to avoid him, claiming that she needs to go work on the book. “Stay, I like an audience,” he tells her, which helps explain why he always wanted to have sex in front of a mirror (I’m just hypothesizing here.)
After singing and dancing together at Lyle’s party, Michael tries to approach Not-Grace for some small talk, but she ducks out quickly, leaving him looking longingly after her.
Subplot B (In Which Eileenica Tries Everything Except Prostitution In Order to Raise Money for the Show): Eileenica is late for the first workshop because she is in the middle of a frantic conversation with her divorce attorney trying to figure out exactly how Jerry is managing to spend more money than God, yet Eileenica remains skint, when all of their combined assets are supposedly frozen. “All I need is $200,000!” Eileenica exclaims, which is like me saying, “All I need is a quarter for the gumball machine!”
After the first workshop, Not-Grace stops by Eileenica’s office to tell her how well things went. Eileenica asks Not-Grace, who was an art history major in college, what she would pay for the framed Degas sketch on Eileenica’s office, if it were a real Degas. Turns out the sketch is a real Degas, to Not-Grace’s amazement.
Eileenica takes the sketch to an art gallery, where she is told that it could fetch as much as $400,000 at auction. Because she needs the money yesterday, Eileenica asks how much she could get if she just sold it outright, at which point a niggling little detail regarding the bill of sale arises. Even though the sketch was a wedding gift to Eileenica from Jerry, on paper the sketch still belongs to him.
Not-Grace is listening to Eileenica mourn the failure of her marriage and her inability to sell the Degas, and suggests that they go to Lyle West’s party. “Lyle was such a sweet boy,” Eileenica reminisces. “Yeah, well, that sweet boy is now a mega-zillionaire,” Not-Grace tells her, and Eileenica perks up immediately. Apparently Lyle is worth an insane amount of money now that his show has gone into syndication, and Eileenica is suddenly very willing to put her gloominess aside for a bit and go to the party, as described above.
Not-really-subplots-but-stuff-worth-mentioning: Not-Grace is taking a long time to write the book. Like, a really long time. Like, longer than I took to write this recap. And Derek is beginning to get snippy about it. Also, Ellis the Hot Assistant isn’t really doing anything major in his campaign to make Not-Grace’s life hell, but he is very deliberately finding opportunities to interact with her, simply because he knows that a two-sentence interaction with him will ruin at least the next hour of her day. Which made the whole dancing scene at Lyle’s birthday party even more bizarre than it was already. Not-Will’s blind date is a snooze fest, but things pick up a bit sexual-tensionwise after the date is wowed by Not-Will’s enthusiasm and talent while performing at Lyle’s party.
SuburBint’s heartfelt apology: I really am sorry to be so behind on these recaps! Between server crashes and real life, I completely let things spiral out of control and am determined to spend the rest of the week busting my (also shapely) ass in order to get caught up.