Leave it to Smash – or at least Smash’s self-referential second season – to end on a winking note of meta commentary. The series’ last song is a cheeky, Chicago-esque duet that finds rivals Karen and Ivy putting aside their differences, donning matching dresses, and simultaneously delivering an important musical message:
“Give ‘em that big finish
And they’ll forget what came before
Just give ‘em that big finish
But always keep one eye on the door
…Let’s give ‘em that big finish
And leave ‘em wanting more!”
Subtle as always, Smash!
So, did “The Nominations” and “The Tonys” deliver a finish big enough to erase all memory of “what came before” – the [melo]drama, the [unintentional] laughter, the scarves? Of course it didn’t. While a frustrating finale can cast a pall over a great TV series, the opposite isn’t really true; months of shaky storytelling can’t be redeemed by a perfectly-executed ending, because that ending is affected by all the shaky storytelling that preceded it. For example: I was thrilled to know that Jimmy’s getting carted off to jail, but I also can’t help wishing he hadn’t been consistently loathsome enough to make me root for his incarceration.
That said, I do think that Smash basically stuck its landing. Yes, there were wrinkles – Michael Swift? What the hell are you doing here? – but generally, all that seemed wrong (Karen’s consistent over-praising) was made right (Ivy won the Tony!); the kingdoms were filled with joy (Tom and Julia, together again!); and those who deserved to (basically everyone but Jimmy) are certain to live long and happy lives, albeit ones that takes place only in our imaginations (read: weird fanfiction).
Now that we know how the whole shebang ends, recapping the first half of the finale – which covers the lead up to the Tony nominations – seems sort of unnecessary. But hey: There’s only so much Smash left to dissect, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let one ridiculous moment pass without obsessive scrutiny.
So! Hour 1 begins with poor, knocked up Ivy sadly singing a cover of “Feelin’ Alright” and occasionally punctuating her vocals with morning sickness. She’s acting so erratic that fair-weather friends Jessica and Bobby can’t help but pick-a-little, talk-a-little, and tell Sam that they think she’s hopped up on goofballs again.
You know who else is being crazy? Tom, who keeps checking his phone to see if he’s won an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Direction… even though he and Eileen are currently sitting in a rival Broadway musical’s audience. Big faux pas, dude. While Tom learns that he did actually snag the prize, his buzz is immediately harshed when he realizes that hunky Tony committee member Patrick Dillon has been watching him behave obnoxiously all afternoon. Spoiler alert: Tom annoys Patrick a few times more, but Patrick ends up voting for Tom to get a Best Director nod anyway. (What? We’ve got 120 minutes of plot to get through, and not all of it is worth the virtual ink.)
NEXT: Once upon a time in Smashland