Oh, my little Smashbox 20s, I feel as though my whole world’s upside-down. Julia and Frank had an off-camera reconciliation, and nobody bothered showing it to us? Derek, who has been enjoying a perfectly lovely and stable relationship with Ivy, is suddenly boning Rebecca Duvall in her dressing room? Ellis has arbitrarily decided to be Miss Lynn’s champion? And finally – Ivy and Dev? Ivy and Dev?? Stop the world, I want to get off!
In a film class I took in college, we learned that the perfect plot twist must be simultaneously logical and surprising. Smash’s writers sure have the latter down – but they could use a little work on the former. There have to be reasons why the characters act the way they act. Derek hasn’t been lecherous for weeks, and he hasn’t even been getting along with Rebecca (and not in a “they hate each other but secretly love each other” sort of way) – why in the world would he decide to sleep with her now? A week ago, Frank could barely stand to look at Julia. When and why did he decide to play the role of Happy Househusband again? As for Ivy and Dev – well, they’ve both got motivation for doing what they do, and their random tryst is certainly surprising. But I still can’t be on board with it, because: ewwww.
Let’s think back to the beginning of “Tech,” when the promise of a Smash that wasn’t infuriating seemed tantalizingly attainable. It’s sad but true that this show features real, honest-to-Hammerstein show tunes all too infrequently. So I was tickled when Tom kicked the night off with a new spin on “Another Op’nin, Another Show,” even if his arrangement was a little odd. And the song doubled as a meaningful mood-setter: The Bombshell gang has temporarily relocated to Boston, where their out-of-town tryouts are scheduled to begin in just a few days.
But before they can finally premiere a fully-staged production, they’ll have to suffer through a series of tech rehearsals. This means that everyone’s even more on edge than usual; the lighting’s a disaster, the set’s components are too heavy, the composer wants to add in yet another new song, and, oh yeah, a principal has just jumped ship to film a pilot. (“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” “To Las Vegas. Peace out!”)
Ted’s abrupt exit means that the creative team may have no choice but to bring Michael Swift back to the show. So Marilyn’s the only character who gets an understudy? Whatever; this is just an excuse to give a storyline to Julia, who’s currently enjoying a remedial pancake-flipping class in Brooklyn. See how her neck is unencumbered, now that her world is free of lies? Julia, predictably, is not down with the Swift news – even though Eileen travels all the way back to New York so she can deliver it personally. Admittedly, since Anjelica Huston has the power of flight, this wasn’t much of a hassle for her.
NEXT: Terrible Ellis + self-awareness = not-as-terrible Ellis