‘Smash’ Recap: ‘The Coup’

by Erin Strecker

Last night was all about temptation: Good girl Karen was tempted to go bad with Derek, Dev was tempted by the seedy underbelly of politics, and Ellis was tempted by his longing to be a producer and his diminishing affection for Tom. Everyone was on edge after the lackluster workshop last week. No one knew what the next step was going to be, and Ivy especially was concerned her head was on the chopping block.

Ivy may not know her fate, but Julia broke the news to Michael early on that he would no longer be part of the Marilyn team (Subtext: Also no longer part of her life.) He took the news well, saying that if he wasn’t fired he would have quit. Perhaps they’ll be able to put their affair behind them with no one else the wiser? Doubtful, but it’s working for the moment. Other family drama included Eileen’s daughter, Katie, showing up, concerned about how her mother was handling her father’s increasingly spiteful money issues regarding their impending divorce.

To get her mind off the news she wasn’t hearing, some of the ensemble members took Ivy bowling. This will be known as the moment “Smash” went full “SmashGlee.” Prior to this, all songs took place in a very real world, whether it was at practice or a Bar Mitzvah. Not so anymore—they danced down the bowling lanes and belted out a very fantasy-based tune. Talk about a huge mistake.

In the meantime, Derek wanted to meet up with Karen to go over recording a new number for the show. The only catch: She couldn’t tell Tom or Julia. Karen wondered if this was the right thing to do, before ultimately agreeing. Derek explained that he and Eileen would tell the others eventually, but it was best not to worry them prematurely. They set to work on the new number “Touch Me,” complete with a backing band that included Ryan Tedder (playing himself) from OneRepublic.

It seemed everyone was hearing news from a third party last night, whether it was when Dev found out he wouldn’t be getting the new job—or Ellis telling—or rather showing, Ivy about the new show. Point of discussion: Is Ellis the most manipulative character on TV? I think so. He wormed his way into Eileen’s personal life, listened in on her family drama and also planted creepy seeds of doubt in Ivy’s mind about her status with the show.

Eventually Tom and Julia (as well as a hidden-away Ivy and Ellis) saw the new number. The overtly sexy tune “Touch Me” featured an extended dance on a fenced-in bed and really missed its opportunity as a Britney-Spears-circa-2001 single. The gyrating, the pulsating tempo, it was all there. And it was all a long way from anything we’ve seen Tom and Julia do thus far with “Marilyn.” Needless to say, they were more than a little bit blind-sided.

Katie, who apparently was just full of pure goodness, told her mom that surprising Tom and Julia with a whole new direction was really unfair, and not the kind of person Eileen is. Eileen agreed, so she went back into the warehouse/studio where the surprise performance took place and apologized. Julia and Eileen then both left, leaving a sad-faced Karen to run into Ivy outside. Cold words were exchanged. Both were hurt.

Inside, the bubbling, just barely under-the-surface tension between Tom and Derek exploded in one very heated argument. They both threw down some good lines, with Tom saying that the only reason the show they did together got such good reviews for Derek was because Derek’s dad was sleeping with the critic. Burn! Derek then snapped and started hating on the gay men running the theater world “but still always playing the victim.” Ouch. Those two are going to be signing up for a BFF dance class anytime soon. But they will still have to be around each other—both confirm they aren’t quitting the show.

The episode didn’t just end badly for them: Tom, now short one assistant because (surprise!) Ellis is now Eileen’s assistant, had to tell Ivy that it was decided “Marilyn” needed a star—and that wasn’t her. A clearly devastated Ivy was alone sadly singing in her room when Derek stopped by to tell her how great she really was. That was exactly what Ivy needed to hear, so, to the surprise of no one, those two ended things last night back together in bed. Her professional life may be in shambles, but her personal life is right on track… Well, actually probably not, but we’ll have to wait and see how Derek and Ivy Round Two plays out the rest of the season.

Crushers: How are you liking Ellis as a villain? Do you think Karen will get her turn as Marilyn, even though the show is now looking for a star? Will Ivy be happy just being a chorus girl? How long is Julia’s family going to remain blissfully ignorant? Sound off in the comments and on Twitter!