Smash: "Understudy" Was an Overachiever

Smash S01E10: "Understudy"

So the promos for this week's episode of Smash were a bit of a bait and switch. After a full seven days of various shots of Uma Thurman glowing into the camera in multiple outfits, our "guest star" only showed up in the last few minutes of the episode. I'd be more upset about it except this particular episode was so involving and fantastic I forgot she was supposed to show up until halfway through. So: False advertising, people who cut the promos for Smash! But since the writing staff/actors have absolutely no influence on promos being cut, let's put the Haterade aside and list all of the ways this was one of Smash's best episodes yet.

I've been accused of being too harsh on Katharine McPhee. I'll admit that before I started watching her for an hour each week, I did not feel as warmly about her as I do now. But she really disappears into her character, and Karen is kind of a walking personification of whitewhine.com. She's entitled and completely self-obsessed, which stars historically are/have to be. She would be more unbearable as a sappy Pollyanna figure, so I appreciate that she's a more accurate depiction of an ambitious, budding star, but as she's constantly patted on the head onscreen, her climb to the top sometimes feels boringly inevitable. And Karen regularly takes amazing things in her life for granted—like parents who write her fat checks, a loving hometown to return to, and a gallant boyfriend who supports her emotionally (not to mention offers to support her financially). Although, she might not have Dev anymore. Poor Dev, his eyes must glaze over when Karen talks about her "promotion."

Yet, he could not bring himself to bore her with news that his worst enemy is his new boss, and he finally reached a breaking point this episode with Karen's showbiz baggage. Can we jump right to that? What a scene.

First of all, maybe it's the reflected brilliance of Jack Davenport, but Karen is always at her best and most likable when she's standing opposite of him. There is an undeniable chemistry between Katharine and Jack, and as awful as his character has been in the past, this episode made me root for them like none other. Him appearing at her door when she was waiting in a skimpy negligee for Dev was a bit of a fantasy, and as Ivy pointed out, he should have just called, but I think we all know by now Derek has a deep crush on Karen, the kind where he might have stolen her V05 conditioner on the way out to sniff during the subway home. His apology made his horrible behavior pre-rehearsal not the least bit less sketchy, but it was a nice gesture...it's just too bad he had to run into Dev on the way out.

What made me smile about this scene was that Karen, who might have brushed off the sounds of the scuffle as a spurt of random NYC violence, hurried to the window when she heard the heavy British slang. When Dickensian invective fills an alleyway, Karen springs into action.

Dev had every right to be furious that Derek would just pop in on Karen, knowing what he knows, and yes, if I were Karen's partner and had heard the whole story, I'd be like "HOW are you still WORKING with this SLEAZEBALL?!" I'm a little concerned that Dev and Karen are over, as Dev is lovely and handsome and gallant on so many levels, but hey, kind of cool that now so many people are siiiiingle right Julia?!

Talk about poor little rich girl syndrome. Julia spent this whole episode being horrible to everyone because she misses her boring nerd of a husband, despite having thrown away their marriage with both hands twice. We already knew that Julia has no respect or patience for people below her pay scale, so it was no surprise when she treated the college interview kid like feces in a sweater, but to walk out on Tom when he presented her with a heartfelt anniversary gift?

Oh, Jules. I'm sorry you only have a giant NYC apartment, a super hot on-again off-again lover, and an incredibly successful career that includes a production so popular that it's been playing continuously in one form or another for ten years. We all feel terrible for you.

But stop being mean to Tom, because not only is he the one consistently kind and loyal person on this show but he can make my damn toes TAP.

Like, well effing done!!! Its been a while since Smash has treated us to a full dance musical number with relevant, Marilyn-themed lyrics, and the Zanuck number was magnificent. Smart and snappy and fun. Who knew Tom was such an effortless performer? Granted he didn't have to break into high kicks, but I was very impressed. And the show is at last getting back into the psychology of Marilyn again, thanks to Derek's stroke:

I don't know if this was a psychotropic episode or what, but we finally got a glimpse of Karen's full Marilyn impression. She's no Michelle Williams and yes, it's jarring to see her with white hair, but the conceit was very effective and I thought for her first foray into channeling Monroe it showed promise. More please.

Eileen's shady bar friends have ponied up some cash. I got very nervous when her bartending beau plunked a wad of cash on the table. In real NYC it would have been immediately snatched.

I'm glad Anjelica Huston is finally getting a romance instead of throwing tantrums in nice restaurants, but I'm not sure it's such a wise move to literally burn your bridges with potential investors. Although now that they're out of the picture, why do they need an overpaid star? I guess that's the point. Keep lurking, Ivy!

I believe we're supposed to take Ivy's advice to Karen (which led to Derek's fantasy) as a sneaky ploy to make Derek and Karen butt heads—advising Derek to go easy on Karen and Karen to push Derek's boundaries. Ironically, this was just the kind of role reversal that lit Derek's fire. Ivy's schemy manueverings are clearly meant to signal that it's time to start hating Ivy. She's officially the bitch, guys, watch your back! She will peer the eff out of you.

All told, last night's episode was a wonderful return to form, and the shake-ups within the relationships will serve to turn the soil and prepare the dating field for some new blooms. Of course I look forward to eventually hearing two lines from Uma, but it was hard to be disappointed with this week's episode.


QUESTIONS:

– Ellis demoted to a blur in the background: It made the episode kind of better? Guess we don't need him as a villain?

– What's Ivy up to?

– How will they get rid of Uma in the next week(s)?

– Karen and Dev: done for good or they'll work things out?

As for Marilyn Trivia: No one got it last week! Marilyn's favorite food: steak with peas and carrots. Her favorite drink: Dom Perignon 1953. Her favorite singer: Frank Sinatra. If anyone wants to try to stump me, leave a Marilyn trivia question in the comments and I'll do my best to answer (without Googling, Scout's honor).

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i enjoyed the article... the jokes were hilarious... :) As far as the story between Dev and Karen oes, i think he was a lil hrsh on her. If you are ready to do something, fine, go ahead with it, but dont put someone else on teh spot when they are just not ready. Dev saying that he would give up his career for Karen was dare i say cruel, it is a great thing, but it is a selfish thing too... As far as julia is concerned, i know it may not seem as a big problem, but marriage is such a thing that becomes monotonous... i agree that it is not a reason to cheat someone... but when u meet someone who shares the same interest, same passions as you with even more intenseness, you go helpless... serves her right though... lets see where this goes... I'm loving the show though :)
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Loved the ep and so many brilliant scenes!



The number with Tom as Zanuck was just awesome...



But yep, the scenes with Karen and Derek were amazing... Any time Derek's on I have to smile as I always remember him in Pirates of the Caribbean...
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Loved the episode! Just hope we get to see a season 2!

I guess we'll see Uma on next episode and she'll have a smashing exit scene LOL!

I like the idea of Karen & Derek! I hope Dev takes a one way ticket to some other town..

I thought Tom was great!
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-Better. Dislike Ellis. Though it does require seeing him, I do love it when Eileen chews him out. I say keep him around for that... but alas I will likely not get my wish.

-I do not know, but I think that Ivy's been around town long enough to give a go at whatever it is she's angling about. And I do NOT trust the Ivy hanging around with Karen, Ivy. Bad juju that way.

-I imagine it'll be something like you said, having to do with their new investors as well as the "movie star" problems. But for her part, I bet Uma is having (well, had, as I'm sure they're already filmed) a BLAST filming the episodes. On set doing all the stupid movie star stuff and acting like a total witch (not knowing her personally, I don't know if she's really like that, but for the sake of anonymity, I like to assume the best in people until I find out otherwise, if they are otherwise, they're usually pretty quick to let you know), I bet she's just laughing up a storm with the rest of the cast.

-They won't be done for good just yet. But I'm hoping this starts the push majorly in that direction. Her home life is way too boring with him there. Way too boring.



Marilyn Trivia: Shocker, I got them all wrong. But I do love Frank Sinatra, so yay for that one.



My Marilyn Trivia question: I don't know any Marilyn trivia so I'll ask what was her favourite historical figure in the hopes that maybe somebody knows it (because I don't, also, I don't really expect anyone to know it, and if they lie, I won't know if they're lying).
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Marilyn trivia: what was her dress size?

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Staff
See this is difficult because it varies. Some say 12-14 (her weight fluctuted wildly) but because dress sizes have changed since the 50s, some recalculate that to 8-10 I believe.
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Marilyn trivia: In what movie does Monroe's character profess a love for bassists?
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Staff
"Some Like It Hot"
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Toms brilliance in this episode did not surprise me, i saw him in Legally Blonde (the musical) and he was amazing!!

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I so agree about Julia. I was ready to reach through the tv & strangle her for her poor little me attitude! Get over yourself Julia. Her worst moment was being mean to Tom. Uma will go with just one spat with Derek & do a diva moment of course! Maybe only 2 eps of her I think.
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Loved this episode. Of course Derek's a major a**hole as always, but there's no denying that he's one of the most interesting characters on the show, and one of the most mysterious as well. This episode, we got a glimpse of the real person behind that sleazy front that he puts up as a director. And if we hadn't guessed it yet, now it's plain just how deep his feelings for Karen really are.



The song... was magnificent. I'm currently writing a musical myself, and I've gotta say, I wish I could write a song in that kind of style it was masterfully done. You know it's professional when part of the lyric matches the choreography.



I'm just loving this show and I really hope it'll be renewed for season 2!
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It's already been renewed for a second season so we're in luck!
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I did enjoy this episode, but I'm not on board with the whole "gallant" Dev thing. Yes Karen has been selfish, ambitious, and inconsiderate at times, but Dev's no saint either. He has been financially supportive and was emotionally supportive when Karen was failing, but he seems much less so now that she might be succeeding. Asking someone to give up their dreams and goals for you (or saying that you'd do the same for them) might sound romantic, but really it's just straight up unhealthy. Plus they both have some major communication and trust issues. Karen didn't tell Dev when Derek tried to sleep with her, and Dev hasn't told Karen that his political cohort has been pretty clearly hitting on him for a while. Plus, Dev flipping out and beating up Derek rather than talking to Karen about it doesn't seem like a sign of trust to me. I think Dev liked it when Karen had to depend on him financially and emotionally, but is afraid that she'll leave him now that she's becoming more independent and successful. And really, he's probably right about that. Or maybe I just hope that they're done so that I don't have to hear about his boring work problems anymore.
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Not one of my favorites... I hate when they "glee sing", you know, sing in a moment that is not supposed to be sung (like ivy daydreaming). ivy is fading into the background with her scheming ways and the whole investment thing is too far fetched. and i still hate the julia-frank storyline. ugh. i miss the beginning (how many episodes have there been anyway?) when it was all about the show. love derek, though.
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Katharine McPhee looks so much like Tuesday Weld. Or maybe that's just me who thinks that...
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