Smash s2 ep 17

“Show’s over.”

And what a weird way to end it.

Veering wildly from the sublime to the ridiculous, with the main focus on the ridiculous, the Smash series finale began with verve and confidence but ultimately floundered thanks to all its misplaced priorities, just like the Smash series itself.

It feels like a very long time since the glorious pilot.

The opening sequence of the very last episode kicked things off with pizzazz: I was a bit bemused at the start of “Under Pressure” and I started to giggle when I realised the entire cast – the ENTIRE CAST, that’s Derek, Eileen, EVERYBODY – was performing it together, but by the end of the song I was loving it. It was their last shot at unashamedly full-throttle musical madness, they took it, and it was fabulous.

In fairness, all three songs this week were great. “The Big Finish” was indeed a big, if very meta, way to finish (I’ll come back to that in a minute), but the Hit List company’s acapella “Broadway Here I Come” was absolutely gorgeous – far and away the highlight of the night, I’ve been breaking into snatches of it ever since. And bemoaning the fact that Hit List didn’t win Best Musicial or Best Score because, EFFING JIMMY aside, it’s an infinitely better musical with an infinitely better score overall than Bombshell is.

But “The Tonys” was more about sugary sentiment than anything else; even the Smash writers can’t have wanted to inflict more than one mildly threatening Jimmy acceptance speech on us, so they gave poor dead Kyle Best Book instead and let Tom, Julia and Eileen walk away with the rest of the spoils. Despite all the dialogue Kyle actually wrote having been thrown out in favour of Jimmy’s songs, the story Kyle wrote having been re-written by Julia, Derek and even Richard Francis from the New York Times ….. is it really Kyle’s Book at all any more? Still, the standing ovation was sweet.

Sweetness was what the episode was aiming for, throughout, I guess: suddenly, it all became less about musicals and more about matching everyone up before the curtain came down. Ivy pulled Derek out of his pity party, and he declared his love for her in his awards speech, with the promise of forever in that final scene of him tenderly cupping her belly. I assume this means a new and improved Derek, but I liked the old and naughty one. Jimmy confessed his sins and his love to Karen, and went off for 6-18 months to learn how to “become the person she saw in him”, kisses and tears to help him along the way. Nobody-cares-anymore Nick turned up again, to resume his role as the love of Eileen’s life, whether he wants to be or not. And in perhaps the most bizarrely misjudged love thread of all, Julia went back to Michael Swift. Michael Swift! W. T. F?!?!

(NB – I haven’t mentioned Tom’s kiss with Patrick because I really don’t get what was going on there.)

The whole thing was less of a Big Finish, and more of a Big Mush, then, but that’s Smash for you. Still, Karen and (Tony winner!) Ivy’s farewell number was a nicely bombastic and apt way to end things: “Just give’em that big finish, and leave them wanting more.” Yep. I loved Smash, even if I didn’t always like it. Sure, it was often ridiculous, frustrating and sometimes just bad, but it was fun. I’ll miss the music, I’ll miss Jack Davenport’s Derek and Megan Hilty’s Ivy and I’ll miss writing exasperatedly about it every week. I’m sorry it never quite made good on its early promise, but I’m sorry it’s over too. (Sniff.)

10 thoughts on “Smash s2 ep 17

  1. Tim November 9, 2013 / 4:17 pm

    I really, really wanted to love this final episode, but it just went way over my schmaltz limit, especially once I realised that Karen and Ivy were performing Big Finish (a pretty decent effort) in front of the Smash logo. I was just about OK with Under Pressure, but I can never erase the image of Anjelica Houston singing – okay, speaking – her one line.

    I do feel that the writers went way overboard over the final four episodes in their eagerness to (a) raise the dramatic stakes and (b) give everyone a happy ending. The final straw for me was bringing Nick back – who cares? – and by the time Michael Swift reappeared to give Julia her happy ending I could no longer summon the energy to scream “WT-Holy-F?!?” at my TV.

    Like you, CJ, I still loved the show, but equally I feel bitterly disapppointed that it went out on such a low after how brightly it started out in the pilot. (I feel more negative than you about season 2 because I think I was probably in a minority of one who preferred Bombshell to Hit List.) I might have to rewatch the pilot and dream about what might have been.

    • CJ Cregg November 10, 2013 / 2:31 pm

      The Nick business made me roll my eyes too, but it was the Michael Swift thing pushed me over the edge, to be honest. At least the Nick story was just boring because we don’t care about it or Eileen’s love life at all, but Michael Swift was a horrible character whose relationship with Julia was more abusive and isolating than anything else. The idea that her path to happiness lay with him was a prime example I think of how wide the gap between what must be in the writers’ heads and what came across on tv. Bizarre.

  2. Tim November 9, 2013 / 4:18 pm

    Oh, and Broadway Here I Come WAS lovely, if implausibly well orchestrated for an off-the-cuff performance.

  3. Capt. Harold Dobey November 10, 2013 / 1:02 am

    I think you have to let both seasons of Smash go as an experiment in television.

    A big idea to launch a season-tastic Broadway show that didn’t work which was Band-Aid-ed-up by Mr Gossip Girl to a fluke which might actually take off in the original vision.

    I think Smash is the perfect example of how t.v. really should be weekly episodes and forget about arcs and big visions.

    The one-armed man, Red John and Bombshell. Perhaps people just want Maverick and Cagney and Lacey.

    Sorry Mr. Speilberg.

    • CJ Cregg November 10, 2013 / 2:35 pm

      Aw I like a story arc, Capt. I think Smash’s problem was it didn’t know how to write most of the characters so people cared about the arc happening to them. It would be brilliant if Hit List did take off and lasted for years and years though….

      • Capt. Harold Dobey November 10, 2013 / 4:13 pm

        We all love story arcs. We are still all exited over Murder One.

  4. Capt. Harold Dobey November 10, 2013 / 10:32 am

    Didn’t really dig the acapella version. Bit cheesy. Goat’s cheese though.

    This is my favourite version from Krysta.

    Any Unpopcult readers go see Zachary Levi and Krysta in First Date on Broadway last night? Oh yes, we are jealous?

  5. Kay20 April 28, 2014 / 6:55 pm

    Michael Swift?!?!?! What the hooey hell?

    The only part of this episode I enjoyed was the belly rub between Ivy and Derek. And Derek’s greatness.

    Everything else? Meh.

    (Oh, and seeing Scotty, who I didn’t recognize either until I came here).

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