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Smash recap: The Bells and Whistles

Can Derek learn how to compromise with his collaborators — and can Tom learn how to say “no” to his?

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Will Hart/NBC


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When tonight’s edition of Smash begins, both Tom and Derek are precisely where they want to be: helming their very own musicals, preparing to turn their visions into reality. But as a wise man once sang, “Having just a vision’s no solution /Everything depends on execution” — and as the night wears on, both men find themselves majorly struggling with this second step. (Insert line about Smash‘s insistence on meta-commentary here.)

Tom has brought a figurative lightness to Bombshell‘s already bright rehearsal room, lavishing his cast with praise and free, meticulously pronounced croissants. “Ding-dong,” he seems to be saying, “the Wills is dead!” But there’s a downside to this “Let Me Be Your Star” routine: Tom also feels compelled to agree with any suggestion he’s given, okaying everything from a break for Ivy in Act II (reasonable) to some rando’s wish for a standout monologue (um, not so much). Darryl “Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking” Zanuck would not be impressed.

Derek, naturally, has the opposite problem. While Tom’s too quick to please, Derek is too quick to reject any idea that didn’t come straight from his pretty British brain — especially if the source of those ideas happens to be Jimmy Collins, Human Sour Patch Kid. To be fair, the songwriter hasn’t yet learned that one tends to catch more flies with honey than steaming bile. Every time Karen’s two leading men speak, their conversation quickly devolves into squabbling. Derek/Jimmy shippers might find these scenes invigorating; to anyone else, they’re increasingly tedious, though at least this dynamic seems to be shifting as of the end of the episode.

While Good Cop and Bad Cop are worrying and fuming, respectively, Eileen’s doing her darndest to get Bombshell some good press, for a change. She’s aided by cutthroat publicist Agnes, played by Rent‘s Daphne Rubin-Vega. Agnes instantly becomes my favorite character after lobbing this barb at her frazzled assistant: “I’m aging here, Shawn! I just hit menopause while on hold!” Meow!

Eileen’s new media strategy: Stalking into the New York Times building and bewitching its editors into telling her why they won’t write a story about Bombshell. Obviously, this sort of thing happens at EW all the time. Upon questioning, arts editor Richard — apparently an old friend of Eileen’s, which means they’re going to sleep together sooner rather than later — tells her that there’s just no there there as far as Bombshell‘s concerned. “It’s been done to death in the gossip columns,” he says. “Feuding actresses, oversexed director, divorce, betrayal.” Waaait a minute — did a character on Smash just tell us, the audience, that he doesn’t think the events on Smash are worth our attention? Viewer retention: You’re doing it wrong, NBC.

NEXT: That’s more like it — Nat King Cole!