What a web we do weave when first we practice to deceive!
Ivy Lynn just slept with Dev, because her director boyfriend Derek is sleeping with Bombshell star Rebecca Duvall, who was rumored to be sleeping with Dev's girlfriend Karen, who turned down Derek's advances. Tom is in a relationship with a member of the ensemble, and his writing partner Julia now has to confront her former lover, Michael Swift, as he rejoins the cast after she broke up with and then fired him—just as she's finally getting things back on track with her husband and son (who is oddly involved in his parents' personal lives). And Eileen calls intermission the interval!
We watch the show unfold, as Rebecca Duvall talk sings the songs other girls had to screlt their faces off to land, then we get Marc Kudisch as Daryl Zanuck in "Smash," performed by Karen and Ivy Lynn. (Shades of Megan Hilty and Kudisch as Doralee and Franklin Hart in Broadway's 9 to 5 here.) And then we see Rebecca Duvall as Marilyn end the show by... dying. Cue the applause! Except no one knows the show has ended because typically musicals don't end with the leading lady dying alone on stage. Even Carrie had two of them up there!
So that's not great, and the brain trust get together to figure out a way to... circumvent Marilyn dying. Eileen promptly goes to Ellis for advice—or listening to his advice? Until he says he's trying to produce because "someone has to." Which gets him kicked out of the bar by Nick, while Eileen sits with a Cheshire cat smile. After Nick wanders off to make sure Ellis has a ride home, Eileen saunters up to Marc Shaiman (!) at the piano, where she sings "September Song," first introduced in Knickerbocker Holiday by her grandfather, Walter Huston.
The next morning, Karen decides you know what? She will marry Dev! But he's left the ring at Ivy Lynn's! (It's always amazing to me how cavalier people are with diamonds on TV shows.) Which also begs the question: Why isn't Ivy Lynn sleeping at Derek's hotel this whole time? Oh, because Rebecca needs his "attention" and he's giving it to her. So why can't she be a good professional and look the other while, file her nails, and wait for Rebecca to stop needing so much attention?
Rebecca is not handling the lack of applause well. "I'm the star, it's all my fault," she says, before launching into the age-old actor's lament that there's always someone new coming up behind you. Then she promptly begins to asphyxiate and ends up in the hospital after being exposed to her arch nemesis: peanuts. So two previews get canceled (that sounds so quaint today, two performances).
While everyone else is gossiping, Dev texts Ivy Lynn (how doe she have her number?) about getting the ring back. How is that not just a text? Why does she have to go outside to meet him? Oh Smash, never change. Even Ivy Lynn is like, "Is this wise?"
Somehow professional actor Michael Swift thought that Julia wanted him back, so that's why he took the role again. Then he tries to rekindle something with Julia in a hotel lobby. Honestly, she's famous! Shouldn't he know better? She's not even wearing her turban and sunglasses.
Julia promptly blames Tom for putting the show above her and her family, so it's now his fault she may get a divorce. Is this the end of Houston and Levitt? Did Julia just lose her family and her career? Nah, they make up eight minutes later at church, right after Karen sings and gets a standing ovation because of course she does. (Shouldn't she be saving her voice in case she goes on for Rebecca Duvall?)
After church, Karen runs to the hospital to see Rebecca Duvall. Twist: Rebecca Duvall knew someone put peanuts in her smoothie, but she drank it anyway because she's scared. So now who plays Marilyn? Her understudy or the performer who knows the role? And what will Rebecca Duvall do now? Go back to Cuba? Casual Friday 3? Where is her spinoff?
Marc Kudisch, Marc Shaiman