“This what theatre is: it is joy one day and it’s gone the next. It’s like a religion.” Sam spoke these words to Tom near the end of this week’s episode, and it certainly seems to be the mantra that SMASH creators stick to regarding plot development. Tom, Sam, Eileen, and Nick are currently experiencing joy, and Julia’s family is tentatively attempting to reestablish joy, so naturally, it’s gone for Ivy, Karen and Dev. The previews are approaching, and Bombshell’s cast, crew and production team are in the midst of a war—a.k.a. tech rehearsal—in Boston.
We begin the episode with the cast excitingly prancing through an unusually empty Grand Central Station (seriously, when has it ever been that empty during the day?) and a shot of Frank in bed with Julia. (Apparently a nice family dinner is all it takes.) The couple’s quick reconciliation may not make much sense plot-wise, but I appreciate that it is taking its rightful place—in the background—so the focus can remain on the Boston previews. I don’t know if this week’s writing was actually better, or if it’s just my personal perception of rehearsal vs. performance, (when I’ve done theatre in the past, the nerves that accompanied auditions and rehearsals totally dissipated as soon as the lights were up and the seats were filled) but I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt a surge of vicarious giddiness when Karen stepped onto the stage and looked out across the auditorium.
Everything changes once things move into a theatre, and they have quite a few changes to make and kinks to work out before the previews can begin. Tom wants to add a song, and Rebecca wants an extra costume change, but their biggest problem comes in the form of leading man Ted’s last-minute departure. Now they don’t have a Joe DiMaggio, and this obviously confirms that we haven’t seen the last of Michael Swift and the concomitant drama, but again, I found the treatment of this added plot twist to be expertly handled. We see just enough of Julia’s internal struggle—and her struggle with her colleagues—to keep us interested, without the addition of another drawn-out drama. (This one, thankfully, wraps up nicely in three quarters of an hour.) Julia doesn’t want to risk shattering the fragile foundation upon