As the show starts, I've just gobbled down a delicious handful of peanuts. We'll miss you, Rebecca Duvall!
It's the day of the next scheduled Bombshell preview, and Derek decides Karen will play Marilyn, which means they have about ten hours to teach her, like, the whole second act and also shorten all of Rebecca's costumes so she doesn't face-plant in the middle of "Twentieth Century Fox Mambo." Ellis throws a hissy fit at Eileen about how terrible Karen is and blurts out that he poisoned Rebecca with peanuts (although he doesn't point out that he was the one who wanted to bring Rebecca onboard in the first place!) and Eileen finally, gloriously, magnificently, fires his weasely ass. Everywhere, cranky oldsters who hate entitled millennials cheer grumpily.
As Julia and Tom frantically write the new closing song, Karen gamely tries to learn all the new lyrics, choreography, and blocking, and I grudgingly admit that she's doing kind of a good job, considering. Ivy offers no such consideration. After she demands that Derek tell her why he picked Karen when Ivy knows the show backward and forward (and when Ivy is a WAY BETTER MARILYN OMG), Derek confesses his brain-tumor-induced Karen-as-Marilyn hallucinations, and Ivy vengefully scampers off to tell Karen she slept with Dev.
Karen breaks under the stress and flees the stage, leaving little bits of her costume behind her like a stripper's trail of breadcrumbs. Derek takes this opportunity to transfer his actress-whispering powers onto Karen and talks her back off the ledge she's perched on in her '50s underwear. He does not, mercifully, offer to bolster her confidence with his wang.
Beloved former guest stars Momadette Peters and Nick Jonas return, to serve as a vivid reminder of Ivy's failure and to give Eileen back her Degas, respectively. Michael Swift tries yet again to get Julia to dive back into their icky, ill-advised affair, by telling her that his wife left him and took their whimsically-named Brooklyn spawn with her to Seattle. Man, those burly, outdoorsy northwestern preschoolers are really going to make fun of his ridiculous moniker. Julia repels his advances again, but then rushes off to hurl her guts out, which in TV shorthand means she's up the stick. Good effing Lord.
The show: It goes on. Karen acquits herself well, and sings the shit out of the new eleven o'clock number, earning herself applause mid-song. Ivy, meanwhile, pours a whole bottle of pills out into her hand in the dressing room and considers ruining next season for us. Don't do it, Ivy! You have so much to live for! Like… um… Sam and Tom love you! And you have such pretty dresses! And I bet when Momadette Peters crosses over to the great Tony Awards of Eternity you'll get all her signed Arthur Laurents paraphernalia!
Previously on Smash: Ivy was awesome in the first workshop, but that didn't stop Derek from sleeping with Rebecca (to help the show, the manslut said); Karen whined about her little spat with Dev while he skulked around guiltily, having lost Karen's engagement ring during his dirty, dirty cheating sex with Ivy; Ellis had stupid opinions; someone poisoned Rebecca with peanuts; Eileen demanded a new ending to the super depressing musical that is Bombshell; and Rebecca abdicated her role, leaving a vacuum where Marilyn should be. (Although that kind of fits.)
Julia and Tom are still rewriting, 15 minutes before the next preview is supposed to start. They finish the last few lyrics and dash through the crowded lobby to get the pages to Marilyn. But who is Marilyn? She's walking to the stage from her dressing room and we see everyone in the company wishing her luck, but of course we don't know who -- oh fuck it, we all know it's Karen, Karen's the worst, Derek's an idiot, the end, have a nice summer, everyone.
Or we could keep watching. Anyway. Julia and Tom wish her luck and Karen takes her place at center stage, looking out into the blackness as the curtain rises -- and we flash back twelve hours.
Derek, Eileen, Julia, and Tom are squabbling at center stage about how they don't have a Marilyn or a closing song. Julia wants to cancel the night's preview so they can keep working. Tom says the press will keep eviscerating them if they cancel another preview (although the constant stream of bad press [and actors plummeting to the floor of the Foxwoods Theatre] didn't seem to hurt Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark's box office) and Derek bellows, "Enough!"
The dancers are in the lobby, eavesdropping, as is Ellis, wearing his ridiculous red suit that looks like Thom Browne was inspired by Pinocchio. Eileen storms out of the theater, followed by Ellis, who hands her the phone. Michael Riedel, still making everyone's life a living hell. Eileen spins Rebecca's departure for Michael and says they have "a thrilling Marilyn waiting in the wings." Well, they do have one, but she's not going to be the one, you know?
Even Karen doesn't believe she should be Marilyn. She tells Ivy, "They're going to ask you to do it." Ivy demurs, because she doesn't want to jinx this whole Speaking Into Being thing she has going on. Both their phones ring, and Karen goes off to make wet squishy noises at Dev. Ivy moves away from the crowd to talk to Momadette Peters, who asks if the producers have asked Ivy to play Marilyn yet. Ivy reminds her that Karen is the understudy, and Momadette repeats that ridiculous line we keep hearing about how understudies don't get to rehearse the parts until after previews, because that makes one iota of sense at all when you have $7 million invested in a show. Whatever, I'm just so delighted to see Momadette. She reminds me of the days when I had such high hopes for this show, when it excited me.