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‘Smash’ Recap: Karen Lands ‘Understudy’ of Marilyn Monroe

Katharine McPhee
Andy Kropa, Getty Images

As the tenth episode of NBC’s hit show ‘Smash’ starts, Julia (Debra Messing), Tom (Christian Borle), Eileen (Anjelica Houston), and Derek (Jack Davenport) are waiting at a workshop presentation where the new movie star, hired to play Marilyn Monroe in their musical ‘Bombshell,’ has failed to show up. This actress is named Rebecca Duvall and is still in Cuba due to her flight being canceled. As a result, the team asks Karen (Katharine McPhee) to perform as Marilyn’s understudy. When he visits her that afternoon Derek breaks this news to Ivy, explaining that after her breakdown last week he is incapable of landing her even a spot in the chorus. First chances are impossible to come back in Broadway, let alone second ones.

More tension is brewing when we see an unconscious romance building between Ivy’s gay best friend Sam and Tom, much to the jealously of Tom’s boyfriend. Julia is also on edge as she tries to make life with her teenage son bearable after her husband left due to an affair she had. Ivy is equally heartbroken over the loss of her dream role. She performs Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” while she daydreams of being Marilyn Monroe.

Being Marilyn is not as glamorous as she believed since Derek seems to criticize her every move. Meanwhile, an NYU student shows up to interview Julia and Tom about their ten-year working relationship. However Julia storms out when the student asks if her husband is ever jealous of her friendship with Tom.

Eileen is desperate to fly Rebecca Duvall into the States as soon as possible in order to please her group of stuffy, pretentious investors. To her intrigue, her dashing bar tender friend, Nick, offers her a stack of money and promises that his friends have more. She meets with a punk rocker named Cobra, who nonchalantly admits to having more money than he know what to do with.

In another surprise turn of events, Ivy tells Derek to go easy on Karen. She advises to him that, “The only directors who were successful with Marilyn were the ones who babied her.” Tom, equally shocking, is also given his own number this episode! He stands in for another actor performing ‘Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking’ from ‘Bombshell’ and does, well, smashingly. It’s about time that the other members of this talented cast are given a chance to strut their stuff. However, Tom’s boyfriend shows up with Starbucks, only to see Tom once again flirting with Sam, and he leaves without a word.

Every year for their work anniversary, Tom and Julia go see a production of ‘Three on a Match,’ which is the first play they ever wrote together. Unfortunately Julia cannot control her emotions and once again storms out of the theater when Tom gives a speech after the show. Outside she reveals that Frank left her and won’t return any of her calls.

At her apartment, Sam confronts Ivy demanding to know what she has been up to. She admits that she is simply playing super nice to get back in the show. Tom’s boyfriend also accuses him of being crazy for Sam, the backup dancer, and leaves him. Equally dramatic, Julia steals her son’s cell phone, begging her husband to talk to her again, telling him: “I’m going to die if you don’t talk to me again.”

During a rehearsal, Derek yells at Karen again, and when she responds meekly he suddenly realizes how incredible of a Marilyn she could be. She is transformed before his eyes and ours, dressed in full make up as Marilyn and we believe that she could do it. That night Derek shows up at her apartment to thank her for her hard work and to apologize for his previous unsuitable behavior. Despite his good intentions, Derek runs into Dev outside of the apartment and Dev begins fighting him.

Meanwhile, Eileen celebrates with her stuffy and pretentious investors at Nick’s bar about the arrival of Rebecca Duval, who is finally in New York. But much to the investor’s shock, Eileen reveals that Cobra is the show’s newest investor and that they can all go home.

The next day at rehearsals, it seems as though everyone has a reason to be sad, and look on solemnly as Karen sings ‘Never Give All the Heart’ from the musical. We also see in a cut away scene that Eileen and Nick finally share a passionate kiss. At the end of Karen’s number, in walks in the infamous Rebecca Duvall at last, revealing her to be actress Uma Thurman. Then the curtain closes on this week’s episode. Previews reveal that Thurman’s character is sure to cause tremendous drama in next week’s episode!

Watch ‘Smash: Rebecca Takes Over’ Preview Video

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