Smash: Star Power

Smash S01E11: "The Movie Star"

I'm kind of still dazzled over last night's episode of Smash, "The Movie Star." While much was made of Rebecca Duval not having a strong voice, her jazzy ending number was fine, and Uma Thurman is just so damn appealing it made the fluster around the star just that much more believable, strengthening the motivations and storylines of everyone involved. She's well worth carrying around some mace.

I love that Derek sees a huge guy in a leather jacket starting to make trouble and just rushes him. Derek, you are a solid column of testosterone. You cry cigars. I know it wasn't Kyle MacLachlan, but the seedy boyfriend who broke into rehearsal looked kind of like Kyle MacLachlan circa Showgirls, so I'm just going to pretend that was the case.

Rebecca is causing so much trouble! But it's carefully considered, totally plausible, believable trouble. If Rebecca Duval had been played by someone less gorgeous and charming than Uma, the plot would have worked just as well (this whole episode had a pitch-perfect pace, plenty of drama, and no unearned moments) but I was leaning forward in my seat watching UMA effing THURMAN dance around in a blonde wig because WTF, I've got to see this. So that alone made a perfect argument for why kowtowing to “Rachel’s” demands was absolutely necessary.

I mean, buying a blender and adding a few more lines of dialogue, that's not so unreasonable. I know Julia and Tom are hyper protective of the book they threw together in two months, but Julia does have that incredible talent for monologue, which she was not shy about bringing to the guidance counselor's office.

The guidance counselor in this scene made me smile, with her inquisitive expression melting into awkward terror as Julia unspooled her nerdy feud with Frank. It's entirely believable that Frank would want to maintain a public front while he and Julia sew things up/break things off, so I was impressed by that. Smash excels in character consistency: I feel like I know Frank, as quickly sketched as he is, and even as Ivy morphs into more and more of a villain, the insecurities that were always present in her character are what she's using for scaffolding as she transforms.

I do think the writers should have shown us the conversation between Derek and Ivy that brought her back into the rehearsal room, though I have to wonder if it had anything to do with his fight with Dev, since she alluded to that later in the episode. Although it definitely made her attempts to be chummy with Karen that much more sinister. Whatever Derek told Ivy about the confrontation or whatever she can guess about his continual flights of fancy are turning her into a toxic and exciting villainess, and Megan Hilty seems to absolutely relish it.

I loved Karen for calling her out in the bar after the Casual Friday 2 screening for her awful jabs. She got a little too hateful and in a commendable moment, Karen threw down the tab and picked up her new scene partner, a.k.a. that gigantic metal-studded purse, and got the hell out of there. Although Karen wasn't exactly barfing rainbows at Ivy, I winced when she called her "unstable."

Dev blew off the screening for drinks with his lady reporter friend. Wouldn't we all? If you're going through turmoil at work, sometimes talking to someone who understands the context of your references is immensely therapeutic, and while Karen lives in a hypersexual showbiz world where she regularly dodges booty calls from her boss, so far we haven't seen Dev and his reporter friend put a hand or word amiss. And if they are headed for a relationship together, awesome. They can show this screengrab to their kids.

Even more awesome, it would leave Karen single so she and Derek could get together, because damn those two have chemistry. Katharine McPhee and Jack Davenport enjoy being across from each other so much, I'm kind of worried about their significant others. While Karen's cooing Marilyn transformation in Derek's second fantasy sequence was totally indulgent and silly, it was maybe my favorite part of the episode. I am no McPhee fan, but stick her across from Davenport and the fun they have together is infectious.

Tom’s fledgling romance with chorus member Sam has been launched, and it looks like they’re putting the first brick down in the foundation of a proper will-they-or-won’t-they build-up, so that’s cool. Also in budding-romance news: Eileen and Older Colin Ferrell are officially together. How can you resist a man who knows how to mix drinks and paints portraits of astronauts?

Plus, bonus moment: For once the weaselly Ellis got caught being a user and was completely called out. Amazing! I'm going to go out on a limb and say this was one of the most well-written episodes of Smash thus far. I've enjoyed the content of other episodes more, but in terms of interweaving stories and laying groundwork, this was a masterpiece: Hats must be tipped. And after Uma's dramatic turn in the promo for next week, I can't wait to see what's waiting in the wings.


1. Now that her character's being so reasonable about working with everyone, how will the writers eventually get Uma out of there? Will it be her choice or theirs to re-cast?

2. Did you pull a fist pump when Ellis got called out?

3. Derek's fantasy sequences: Are you enamored by them or not so much?

4. Are Dev and Karen heading for Splitsville or is Dev allowed to get a drink with a coworker even if she's female?

5. How did you like Uma's performance as Marilyn?

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