After doing it, Karen gets what is obviously a late-night booty call from Derek, but she goes because she's inexperienced and desperate for this gig and maybe a little bit because she knows what's happening. Either way, when she gets there, Derek pulls out a bottle of scotch and two glasses. He preys on her insecurities -- her "light" resume, her reluctance to play sexy -- while at the same time lightly slut-shaming her for showing up in the first place. Really some A-level head-games. He needs to see "everything she's got," and Karen knows exactly what that means. She's scandalized and so not ready for this casting-couch shit.
But instead of walking out the door, she ducks into the bathroom, collects herself, and emerges sporting one of Derek's collared shirts and nothing else. The rendition of "Happy Birthday Mr. President" that follows is at cringe-worthy in the extreme, and probably intentionally so. She gets right up in his lap by the end up it before spurning him with a "...not gonna happen." So she gets to half her sexy cake and eat it too, and good for her.
Karen's night of triumph transitions into the big show-closing musical number, "Let Me Be Your Star," which follows both Karen and Ivy to their callback audition, where we see the faces of Julia, Tom, Derek, Eileen and Ellis light up alternately at their blonde bombshell Ivy and fresh-faced novice Karen. And here's where Smash makes itself distinct. Up until now, it's been an exceedingly handsome and polished network series -- the West Wing of Broadway dramas, or at the very least Parenthood for performer types. But this closing number, tying up all the aspirations and insecurities of its two protagonists in the same rousing belter is something no other show on TV is equipped to handle (sorry, Glee, you need actual characters first). By the time both Ivy and Karen stride into that Army/Navy surplus store, I've been totally sold.
Joe R is technically Team Ivy but not necessarily anti-Karen. He can be reached for lavish praise and nothing but at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can listen to him yammer on to his heart's content on the Extra Hot Great podcast.