SMASH'cap! Art Isn’t Therapy; It’s Exploitation
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party where she sang the number. The memory drums up enough courage that she decides to confront Derek. He is painfully honest with her—even confessing that he sees Karen as Marilyn, in his head—and states that Karen “just has something” that Ivy doesn’t. Dev pulls her aside to inquire about the ring; she tells him she doesn’t have it, only to pull it out in her dressing room moments later. Karen rushes back there after hearing Eileen essentially say she’s hopeless, only to find the engagement ring. Ivy simultaneously tries to warn Karen about Dev’s Joe DiMaggio-like decision to propose—just as Karen’s star is rising—and admits she slept with Dev, but Karen doesn’t want to believe her. Dev confirms it, and her world comes crashing down after Ivy’s. (I really want to believe that Ivy did generally want to prevent Karen from making a mistake—marrying Dev definitely would be, at this point—she would later regret, but doing so hours before Karen’s supposed to take the stage was a pretty lousy thing to do.)
Much of the rest of the episode is spent watching Tom and Julia looking miserable, trying to finish the show while worrying about Karen’s readiness. Julia’s so anxious that she throws up—which is weird because the last time she threw up was (wait for it) when she was pregnant with Leo. (Who wants to wager as to whether or not she’ll be pregnant, and trying to figure out whether Frank or Michael is the father, next season?) Karen’s not feeling much better, and she finally breaks down and runs off the stage. Derek manages to find her and promises that she can play the role well, reminding her that art isn’t therapy, and that she has to use the heartbreak to her advantage—after all, Marilyn did.
Ivy’s mother (Bernadette Peters, yay!) arrives with a bottle of champagne, only to find out that her daughter didn’t get the role, and we’re back to where the episode began. Karen does a fantastic job (who’s hoping this thing makes it to Broadway in real life?) and even her suicide is better than Rebecca’s. Marilyn’s deathbed disappears and we see Karen putting on a gold dress to sing “Don’t Forget Me.” (Personally, I think ending the show with the pop culture icon we remember, rather than the troubled woman or the characters she played, is brilliant.) Karen’s voice soars across the darkened stage, the audience applauds, and it looks like the season will end on a high note when (oh. fuck.) they flash to Ivy, sitting in her dressing room, pouring an entire bottle of pills into her palm. Yes, that is actually how they ended the season. Now we only have to wait eight months to find out what happens. Thanks.
Over all, I think it was a fairly strong ending to a solid debut season. My only real complaint (cliffhanger aside) is that Eileen didn’t throw a drink in Jerry’s face when she had the chance. (Seriously?! How could they miss that opportunity?) I guess we’ll have to hold out hope that 2013 will bring more Jerry dousing. I’ll end this on high note, since SMASH didn’t.