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TV Recap

'Smash' Recap: Episode 14, 'The Phenomenon'

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'Smash' Recap: Episode 14, 'The Phenomenon'
Photo Source: NBC

This week on "Smash," Kyle is dead. Also, Kyle is dead. Some other stuff happened in between there. Jimmy sang a song to himself. Karen artfully removed six strands of hair from her intentionally messy side-braid. Jonathan Larson rolled over in his grave. Frank DilLella played himself, and exactly nine of the twelve people in the live viewing audience recognized him. Megan Hilty waited around for her plotline to come back. But mostly, Kyle is dead.

Before the news gets out, though, Karen has enough time to nearly-shag Derek, and Jimmy has enough time to walk in on them and then promptly disappear into one of his drug hazes of indeterminate length that keep him conveniently off-screen while everyone else makes musicals. 

Over at "Hit List," the show is left reeling from the news about Kyle, but no one is more freaked out than Tom, who had been having a fling with him. Tom, deciding to use this tragedy as a perspective builder – never mind that Kyle isn't even out of the morgue yet – uses some of Kyle's advice to make "Bombshell" a better show, and obviously the world a better place.

Meanwhile Scott tells the cast he's cancelled that night's show, but talks them all into performing when hoards of fans show up outside the theater anyway. So the show goes on despite everyone's grief – is this plotline ringing any bells for you? – and everything seems relatively fine and dandy and uplifting and inspirational. That is until Julia finds out Scott lied, and told the ticket-holding public she'd personally talked the cast into performing. Then, in a moment of hybrid rage/grief, Julia tells Scott to shove it and takes "Gatsby" off the table.

Back at "Bombshell," ticket sales are picking up and the creative team is looking forward to the Tonys. Jerry, without Elieen's permission, places a full-page ad in the Times praising the awesomeness of "Bombshell." After Eileen balks and throws a drink in a "take-your-money-and-shove-it" tirade for the ages, Jerry decides to take her advice. In fact, he shoves his money straight into a Broadway transfer for "Hit List."

Alas, the scene for the season finale – and this year's Bizarro Tony Awards – is set...

The Awesome

Tom and Kyle, Sittin' in a Tree...
It's really too bad that Kyle is dead, especially because his flashback, single-scene romance with Tom is possibly the most genuinely romantic 4.5 minutes of the entire series. Who needs Derek and Karen messy-kissing on her Pottery Barn couch when we can have Tom serenading Kyle with a Billy Joel song, offering some gentle comfort and advice, and then beckoning him back to bed? This scene rocked our worlds so hard that we forgot about the uncomfortable age difference, the weirdly lemony flashback filter that makes everyone look like they're battling jaundice, and that we will never got another scene like this because Andy Mientus – and Kyle – are history.  

OG (Read: Original Gangsta) Eileen Rand is Back
Eileen has been a bit of a wet blanket lately, but for one shining moment this week, we got a peek at the Eileen we all fell in love with last season. When she stalked up to Jerry's table to dress him down for taking out a Times ad without her permission, and we spied that martini glass on the table, we PRAYED that she'd punctuate her argument by emptying its contents on Jerry. Boy did it feel good to see that prayer come true. Of course, Eileen succeeded only in driving Jerry to produce the Broadway transfer of "Hit List" and making her own professional life worse. But still. Homegirl threw that drink with panache and we cheered.

The Awful

The Jonathan Larson Rip-off of Eternity
You know what we've seen coming for months, now? The "Rent"-ing of "Hit List." So why, then, were we still so shocked at how far the "Smash" writers were willing to take their "Rent"/"Hit List" parallels? We clearly shouldn't have been, as it's not like "Smash" has never shied away from cheap drama. But, seriously, this was insane. And nothing – nothing – could have prepared us for the shock of seeing Jesse L Martin – member of the original cast of "Rent" – act out scenes which bastardized his actual life experiences for entertainment value. In the theater where they took place back in 1996. With the original show poster hanging on the wall behind his head. It was horrifying. This was not a story inspired by Jonathan Larson, or even a tribute to his life and work. No. It was a commercial enterprise exploiting his story for their own gain, without even so much as a grateful nod to all that they were stealing. We've never felt so icky watching "Smash" before. And while Jonathan Larson was busy rolling in his grave, we were left with little more than hope that, at the very least, his family would get paid royalties for their story. Given "Smash's" high cost and total lack of viewership, though, were guessing that's a no. NBC is holding onto every penny they can – and apparently, exploiting dead people to try and earn a few more.

The Inexplicable

The Dueling Jeremy Jordans
What even is this number? Why do we have The Phantom of the Jimmy Collins singing to the real Jimmy Collins, and really, which one is which anyway? Did we honestly have to go to this cheesed-out length to illustrate Jimmy's internal battle? And more importantly, at what point did "Smash" ever give Jimmy's character enough depth and substance for him to even have internal turmoil? Because we've always been under the impression Jimmy was made up of hot air, warm tequila, and the entire text of Neil Strauss' "The Game," with a few errant dust bunnies floating around in there for good measure. Either way, though, the biggest WTF of all is that Radiohead even licensed a song to "Smash."

Jimmy's Problem is Finally a Real Problem
After an entire season of being told that Jimmy spends a lot of time doing bad things with bad people, Smash actually decided to do something miraculous: It shut its trap and showed us. What took them so long? When Jimmy wakes up in a strange place surrounded by drug paraphernalia with a swollen, bloodshot face, it actually seems like there's bad things happening in his life. And not just like he forgot to do his laundry and drank too much Mountain Dew.

Full-On Bizarro Universe
This week, "Smash" entered the full-on Broadway twilight zone when it affirmed, once and for all, that "Bombshell" and "Hit List" are happening right now, in the midst of this actual theater season. As Frank Wildhorn once said, "This is the moment, y'all." Suddenly the references to Broadway shows – and Tony contenders – got really.... real. Or kind-of real. The "Pippin" and "Drood" revivals, Laura Osnes, Patina Miller, Victoria Clark – all of these people and shows are being mentioned as award-season competition for "Bombshell." There is something sweet and strange about this turn of events, except that when you look at the details, it feels like we've been huffing some of Jimmy's drugs. Laura Osnes is in..."Oliver"? Victoria Clark is starring in something called "Beauty Queen"? We have no idea which alternate-reality Broadway this is, but, it honestly might be more exciting than actual Broadway right now.

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