WARNING: This article contains spoilers regarding the finale episode of NBC's Smash.
NBC's new series Smash bid adieu Monday night with the finale episode, Bombshell. The wrap up to the 14-episode season was a true Smash hit as Marilyn was chosen, characters were rounded out and plotlines thickened just enough to draw you into Season 2. Here is a recap of the highlights you missed.
Karen Cartwright Becomes Marilyn Monroe
The finale episode opens with a first-person view from behind the camera. Viewers watch from Marilyn's point-of-view as she walks backstage, accepting well wishes. Of course, who exactly was chosen as Marilyn (Karen or Ivy) is left to be determined. The curtain rises and the scene cuts to 12 hours before Marilyn takes the stage.
The cast stands waiting 12 hours earlier to hear Derek's final decision for Marilyn as Tom and Julia rush to write the finale song. Everyone is called into the theater and Derek announces that Karen Cartwright will play Marilyn tonight.
Karen, of course, does not have the show fine-tuned since she acted as the understudy to Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman). Ivy knows it better since she herself once held the role. However, Derek believes in Karen; he sees her as his Marilyn. And so she is chosen. Whether or not she can handle it becomes another question.
There is no doubt that Katharine McPhee's vocal talents are supreme. Earlier in the season, she was even able to hold her own while singing Florence + The Machine's Shake It Off. But how will she handle the role of Marilyn Monroe in the Big City once the show hits Broadway come Season 2?
Ivy, The Villainess
Throughout Season 1 of Smash, Ivy's character was hard to pinpoint. Come the finale, her character was finally rounded out.
Ivy's bitterness over not having been chosen as Marilyn is catty and childish for a seasoned Broadway professional. Should she not swallow her pride and move on? She surely did not handle herself with poise or modesty when she had the role herself.
Her true colors shine when she reveals that she has the engagement ring Dev left in her hotel room after their drunken tryst. Of course, both are wrong in this situation, but Ivy continues to lie about having the ring, probably just so could plan the perfect time to give it to Karen... which she does.
Karen comes rushing into the dressing room, stressed from all the pressure put on her to learn Marilyn in just a few hours before Bombshell opens. On her dressing room table, she sees the engagement ring and asks Ivy, who is sitting beside her, if someone had come into the room. Ivy tells Karen that she is the one who put it there and then proceeds to disclose to her the details of Dev's infidelity.
Of course Ivy chooses opening night to do this! This makes for good TV.
When Karen disappears and Ivy thinks her plotting has secured her the role of Marilyn, she instantly becomes an indisputable villainess -- cruel, heartless and complete selfish. But that may be just what it takes to get to the top.
The finale ends with Ivy sitting backstage as Karen pours her heart out as Marilyn Monroe, the star of Bombshell. Ivy stares in the mirror with a handful of pills, having hinted at her self-destructive tendencies earlier in the season, and the finale ends with a major cliffhanger for Season 2.
Derek and Karen's Chemistry
The chemistry between Derek and Karen was never fully realized in Season 1 of Smash. The two bickered most of the time they were around each other, as Derek's playboy, domineering ways rubbed sweet-Ohio Karen the wrong way. But once Derek envisioned Karen as his Marilyn, his demeanor towards her changed.
Before Karen takes the stage for her swansong in Bombshell, Derek zips the back of her glittering gold dress and tells her that he has always seen something in here. That she is truly a star. The chemistry was palpable in this scene and, now that Karen is single (she breaks it off with Dev after finding out about him and Ivy), it will be interesting to see what comes of this duo in Season 2.
Ellis is Gone
Ellis played a small but irksome part of the Smash group. As the nagging, too-big-for-his-britches assistant, Ellis has never been likable. His conniving, underhanded ways - from going through Eileen's personal information to manipulating Rebecca Duvall's agent - were far from charming (though fun for TV).
When Ellis finds out Karen has been chosen as Marilyn, he whispers to Ivy, I can't believe this. Ellis has always had a love for Ivy. Maybe it is a deviousness that bonds them.
Ellis runs out of the theater to confront Eileen, saying, You can't let this happen. It's Ivy's part. Ivy is Marilyn. We've all seen it a hundred times, she was fantastic in that workshop, there was nothing wrong with that workshop, she delivered. It's her part. When Eileen tells him that he does not have a vote in this, Ellis breaks.
I didn't get Rebecca Duvall out of your way so you can ignore me yet again. He confesses to putting peanuts in the blender in the smoothie. So don't ever call me an assistant ever again. I am a producer, he confesses. Then Eileen fires him. Finally.
Undoubtedly, this is not the end of Ellis; but at least he will no longer be in the thick of it come Season 2 (we hope).
How Will Smash Fare in the Fall 2012 NBC Lineup?
Smash has been renewed for another season by NBC for Fall 2012, despite the fact that it has faced shaky reviews throughout Season 1. It escaped the axe that cancelled shows like The Firm, Free Agents, The Playboy Club and Chuck.
The upcoming season will consist of 18 episodes, up from the 13 episodes in Season 1. However, it will be bumped back to mid-season to make way for six new shows premiering on the network in the fall.
Actor Christian Borle, who plays Broadway composer Tom Levitt on the NBC series, told the L.A. Times that the show will be rebooted come Season 2.
I just met [new show-runner] Josh Safran for the first time last week and kind of heard what was on the docket, and it's going to be a totally different ... show, Borle told the L.A. Times, referring to the departure of show-runner Theresa Rebeck. The show is almost getting rebooted.
What I think is going to happen with Season 2 is that it's actually going to delve more into the process of the creation and what the writing partnership is, the nuts and bolts of that room, he said. We looked at it briefly in Season 1 but didn't really; it was kind of, in a way, a shorthand to get us to the next event.
Critics complained that Smash takes too many liberties depicting how a Broadway show is put together. But Borle has nothing but confidence for Season 2. What's true about Season 2 is that there's still a core group of people who ... love the theater and want to continue to talk about it as honestly and as truly as possible. But the mechanics are going to change. We shall see if it's for the better, he told the L.A. Times.
At NBCs 2012-2013 primetime presentation on Monday at Radio City Music Hall, the network showed signs that Smash continues to be near and dear to its heart.
Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty took to the stage to sing the show's signature duet, Let Me Be Your Star and then closed the presentation with another performance, according to HitFix.
HitFix reported Geoff Berkshire commented that this proves that even though NBC is holding back the show until midseason, it's still near and dear to the network's heart. And strategy for the future.
Will you tune in for another season?