Smash, Season 2, Episode 10: “The Surprise Party”
Written by: Julie Rottenberg & Elisa Zuritsky
Directed by: S.J. Clarkson
Airs Saturdays at 9pm (ET) on NBC
It’s sad to see one of the best episodes of Smash get wasted on Saturday night television. For the first time this season the audience catches a much needed break from competing shows Bombshell and Hit List as it digs deeper into how everyone’s love life is working, or not working. This episode also sparks the question: Why doesn’t Liza Minnelli star in everything on television? An appearance by Jennifer Hudson earlier this season felt as though Hudson would rather be doing anything other than Smash and Minnelli’s appearance feels utterly delightful. She is just so happy to be kickin’ it with her pals on Smash, never allowing her iconic status to go to her head. Also, more Christian Borle and Liza duets please!
During tech rehearsal for Bombshell Tom and Ivy continue to butt heads. She’s still upset with Tom for allowing her mother to join the cast and Tom makes it worse by forgetting Ivy’s birthday. But with two magical words “Call Liza” Tom hopes to make it up to Ivy. Tom asks Ivy to a special dinner party and she can’t say no to her director, even though she already agreed to party with the rest of the cast later that night. A surprise birthday dinner appearance by Liza gives Eileen the idea that this would be a wonderful public relations stunt after yet another devastating article concerning Bombshell has been written in the New York Times. You got to love Eileen, her mind is always thinking business. Even with her turbulent romantic life (seriously Richard Francis a little less talking and more action please?) Eileen is always on her toes trying to get the best for Bombshell.
At dinner with Tom, Ivy gets the surprise of her life when Liza shows up to sing a song Tom wrote just for Ivy on her birthday. Lucky for Tom everywhere he goes there is always a piano! Ivy can’t help but feel the surprise is all for publicity since Eileen and the New York Times are occupying the same restaurant for dinner. Ivy confronts Eileen about the setup, but really why bother? It’s Liza! Who cares if the press is there? Have a couple more birthday drinks and calm down Ivy. Later in the night in an almost unbearable embarrassing scene, poor Tom catches the cast and Ivy at a bar celebrating her birthday without him. Ivy takes the moment to explain that he is now her boss and they can’t be friends right now. Ivy is so powerful and bold in this scene and hopefully this will continue with the remainder of the season while she’s fighting for her career and life in Bombshell.
Meanwhile in the love lives of the rest of Smash Scott Nicholas finally confesses to Julia that he had a thing for her fifteen years ago. Jesse L. Martin has been around for a couple episodes now, mostly just existing in the background, so it’s nice to see him put to use. Somewhere in the midsts of their awkwardness and sparring Scott and Julia in a romantic relationship makes sense. It’s been a slow, tedious process to get these characters to this point but it feels appropriate for Julia’s sake since she’s still reeling from her divorce. Also hopefully major conflict will ensue once the cast and crew of Bombshell discover she’s also been working for Hit List.
Finally rounding out those in love and those out of love, Karen demands Jimmy tell her more about his past since she’s feeling like she doesn’t even really know him. He refuses to tell her the truth and they have a momentarily break-up of sorts. During this lapse in their relationship Derek takes a moment to inform Karen that he really”cares about” Karen. The scene is short and gives us one of the best performances from Jack Davenport- he’s a little bit drunk, never making eye contact, and is just the right amount of embarrassed and repressed. We don’t get a chance to sympathize with Derek for long because before the end of the night he stops by to give Ivy her birthday present. Ivy is probably better equipped to deal with Derek’s personality and Derek just might be that “JFK” she’s been looking for all night.