In the season finale of ‘Smash,’ titled ‘Bombshell’, the episode starts with a first person camera walking through the wings. We see the perspective of the actress playing Marilyn Monroe at that night’s previews, but as soon as the curtain rises time switches to 12 hours earlier. Derek (Jack Davenport), Eileen (Anjelica Houston), Julia (Debra Messing) and Tom (Christian Borle) are arguing furiously over the never-ending question: who will play Marilyn, Karen (Katharine McPhee) or Ivy (Megan Hilty)?


The cast is waiting out in the lobby as Derek is given time to make a final decision. Suddenly everyone is called to the theater and all eyes fall on Karen as Derek asks for her and announces that she will be Marilyn, tonight.

The crew rushes around trying to prepare Karen, who is shocked but confident. Ivy watches on, numb and heartbroken.  Ellis goes to Eileen demanding that Ivy deserves the part and that he didn’t sabotage Rebecca Duvall just to give the part to Karen. Eileen is horrified at this news and fires Ellis on the spot. He promises this won’t be the last we see of him.

Meanwhile, Karen is consumed with anxiety because the costumes don’t fit her yet, and she doesn’t have the right lyrics. Tom tries to convince Derek that Ivy should be playing Marilyn, but Derek refuses to listen to his argument. And so Ivy herself confronts Derek, demanding to know why it wasn’t her. Derek solemnly responds that Karen has something that she doesn’t.

Ivy is shocked and walks away, where Dev pulls her aside and asks if she found Karen’s engagement ring he left in her room when the two slept together. Ivy tells him no, but when she returns to her dressing room she pulls out the diamond ring from her bag. In the following scene Karen finds it lying on her dressing room table, where Ivy confesses that Dev left it there when they slept together.

Karen runs out to the theater to confront Dev as to why Ivy had her engagement ring. Dev admits to sleeping with Ivy, but defends himself saying he thought it had been over between them. Karen gives him back the ring and goes backstage. She seems to be able to keep her composure until she overhears Julia and Eileen tell Derek that she simply will not be able to pull off the performance.

Suddenly Karen disappears and nobody can find her. Thinking she has run away, Ivy is told to put on Marilyn’s costume. Derek, however, doesn’t give up on her and follows the trail of discarded Marilyn pieces to find Karen hiding in a corner, crying. She says, “Nobody thinks I can do it. You don’t understand because you don’t understand love.” Derek tells her in return, “I don’t, but you do. And Marilyn did. Use that heartbreak.”

As Ivy prepares on stage, Karen returns in full Marilyn attire, next to Derek, who informs Ivy that she is no longer needed. Karen no longer harbors sadness nor fear, only resilience and confidence in herself, ready to prove everyone wrong.

Back in the dressing room, Bernadette Peters returns, playing Ivy’s mother who shows up with flowers. But Ivy has to tell her overbearing and famous mother that she was not given the coveted role. The episode then returns to the beginning of the show, 12 hours later where Julia and Tom rush to give the lyrics of the final song to Marilyn, who is Karen.

We see Karen perform multiple scenes in the musical including the opening number, ‘20th Century Fox Mambo’ and the final song, written by Julia and Tom. It’s a beautiful song titled ‘Don’t Forget Me’ where Marilyn begs her audience, “Whatever happens next, don’t ever doubt you’re a star.” The crowd goes wild during the number, and everyone looks on in pride while Ivy hears the applause and decides to take a handful of anxiety pills. The episode ends with the curtain falling and Derek whispering to himself, “I do understand love.”

This concludes season one of ‘Smash’ and we will be on edge all summer until season two in the fall. What will the reviewers say about ‘Bombshell’? Does Derek truly love Karen? Did Ivy overdose on medication? And will Karen continue to play Marilyn Monroe?

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