Smash – Season 1, Episode 14: Previews
Leading up to its season finale, Smash delivers an episode that’s filled with very little, in an odd idea for such an important episode. Instead of building up on the drama and tensions, Previews fell flat on its own premise by working around the drama like most things didn’t matter, with several storylines being closed and some other ones treated in such ridiculous ways it doesn’t quite matter what the finale might bring since it clearly won’t twist any of those storylines.
To put it differently, the only storyline that seems to somehow matter currently is that of the relationship between Karen and Dev, with pretty much every other storyline having been either resolved or reduced in such a way that the interest for them is null. Sadly, this includes the success of Bombshell, the argued main premise of the show, that has dragged on for so long and without any proper important drama that by now whether it succeeds or flops will end up being wholly unimportant for the viewer.
This all comes accompanied with two of the least interesting musical numbers in the show so far – The cover of Stand, original by Donnie McClurkin sounded plain boring while the whole idea of giving Anjelica Houston a song for herself is almost as deluded as the idea, already done in Glee, of having Dot-Marie Jones cover Jolene: If you have cast members with no vocal experience whatsoever, please, don’t make them sing just for the sake of it. The results are uncomfortable and often plain bad and, though I’ll admit that Houston fared much better than Jones (Partly due to the chosen song), it still was far from a quality recording and definitely not something I’d choose to listen to over and over. I will, however, give props to the new original song (Aptly titled Smash!) that once again shows how the best music in the show is the original one, with most of the covers being lackluster or boring with just a few exceptions.
The episode starts as the first preview for the musical happens, with most of the show being apparently well received except for its ending – Something not at all unexpected considering the writers chose to end a musical with the leading lady dying in silence in her bed, no big number of any kind. How a couple that’s said to have authored several successful shows decides to go so directly against the unspoken rule of opening and closing musical shows with huge musical numbers is anyone’s guess. After nobody applauds the ending of the show, Tom and Julia are tasked with rewriting it while Rebecca starts believing it is all her fault due to her being the start of the show and quickly sinks into a depression.
Meanwhile, Karen makes up with Dev after he visits her in the theatre, telling her he went to NYC and then decided to go back while he actually spent the night with Ivy, apparently with the knowledge that she was Karen’s on and off rival. Things get a bit more complicated after Karen tells him she does want to marry him and, when she asks about the ring, he says he left it in NYC since he didn’t think he would need it again while in truth he lost it during the night he spent out with Ivy. He then asks her to help him search since it must be in her bedroom, but she later tells him she found nothing – However, her attitude towards this all is suspicious, hinting that she might have found it and be keeping it from Dev either to toy with him or to keep Karen from marrying a man who cheated on her.
Julia and Tom are also having trouble; Julia refuses to speak with Tom since she considers that him allowing Eileen to order for William to be called back was a betrayal. While they are forced to work together to write a song for the new ending of the show, she has a discussion with him where she says that the show seems to be more important than friendship for them, something that Tom half agrees to, making Julia’s chronic PMS get worse and making her storm out of the room, while telling him not to worry since he’ll have his damn song written in time.
While dealing with her depression regarding the show, Rebecca receives a visit from Karen who wants to check up on how she’s doing. However, when she starts drinking one of her slushies she has an allergic reaction to peanuts, the implied meaning being that somebody attempted to poison her. This idea is also supported by her manager, though Derek doesn’t believe so. For a while production is put on hold due to this, with the name of a possible replacement shall Rebecca be unable to go on being thrown around, the main idea being that Ivy could do it, once again, due to having more experience on stage than Karen does.
Though news of Rebecca getting better spread fast, Sam organizes a mass for her health in his church and invites the ensemble and producers of the show, with most of them going there. By the end of it, Tom manages to make up with Julia, who says she has a great idea for a new ending for the show. Dev also attempts to speak with Karen about something very serious but he’s interrupted by a call Karen gets from Rebecca asking them to meet.
Karen meets up with Rebecca at the hospital, where she tells her the slushie indeed contained peanuts since she could test them and that she had kept drinking mainly because she was very afraid of how the play would turn out. She also tells her she believes she was indeed poisoned and uses this as an excuse to quit the show, expecting Karen to get happy since she’s in theory the understudy for Marilyn.
Later that day, as news of Rebecca quitting the show spread, the ensemble meets up at a hotel room to chat for a while, the talk of a replacement quickly popping up. When the uncertainty about who will take the role starts being discussed, Ivy and Karen exchange suspicious glances with each other.
Final Review Rating: 3/5