Smash “The Coup” Review

Smash (NBC) The Coup Episode 8 (1)

In the aftermath of the workshop, the characters on Smash hung in limbo as decisions and changes were made to the direction of the Marilyn musical. Because “The Coup” was a transitional episode that wrapped up the workshop story arc and led into the next phase of production, there seemed to be a handful of less important stories that were somewhat arbitrarily crammed into the episode, making it feel rather erratic on the whole.

After we saw Julia’s family returning to normal, she met with Michael at the park to let him know he was being let go. Apparently, Michael had a sudden change of character. He told Julia that his family was everything to him and that if she hadn’t fired him he would have quit. It would have been nice to see little bits of that guilt set up in the last few episodes instead of having him suddenly change from a borderline stalker to a dedicated family man.

We spent quite a bit of time on Dev’s work-related drama. I really like Dev, but I have a hard time caring about what goes on in his political world when I’m watching a show about theater. If we’re spending all this time getting to know Dev’s colleagues just to set up characters for future infidelity or for future drama between Karen and RJ, I’m going to feel like it was a big waste of time. I don’t need to know about Dev’s business unless it will have a direct impact on the production of a Smash musical. I’ll give this story line some time and hope that there will be a Marilyn related payoff for this seemingly unrelated workplace drama.

The little side number with Karen was less of a “coup” and more of a joint effort between Derek and Eileen to present a new possibility for a more modern take on Marilyn. If it were really a coup, I don’t think the new song would have been presented to Tom and Julia for their opinions. I understand that Tom and Julia were offended that Derek and Eileen felt that they needed to bring in someone like Ryan Tedder to show them what the musical could be like with a more modern feel, but I never felt like Tom and Julia were really at risk of being replaced.

I wasn’t a fan of the more modern take on Marilyn and I hope that Smash‘s musical numbers don’t begin to trend in that techno-pop direction. Karen’s number felt like one of the longest musical numbers I’ve seen on Smash thus far. Just when I thought it would finally be over, there was a whole new verse of her rolling around on a spinning bed trying to look seductive. Although I normally love Karen’s voice, I thought the auto-tuned pop stuff was tiresome. I’m much more impressed when I hear both Ivy and Karen singing in their theatrical voices.

Eileen’s daughter, “Mahatma” Katie, came back into town to act as a moderator between her parents after realizing that her dad was playing money games to irritate Eileen. I enjoyed Katie in this episode, particularly when she caught Ellis doing his typical eavesdropping thing and called him out on it.

While totally unsure of what he actually wants to accomplish in the industry, Ellis is already plotting a takeover. Ditching Tom and dissing Ivy, he latched onto Eileen to see what he could learn by being her right hand man. I’ve been trying to keep an open mind about Ellis for as long as possible, but I don’t think I can hold out for much longer. Like a mischievous little imp, he lurks in corners, manipulates people, and takes pleasure in stirring up trouble. He’s become a completely ridiculous caricature of a person and now all I’m seeing is what Julia has seen in him from the very beginning.

Maybe the most successful part of tonight’s episode came at the end when Tom and Derek finally aired out the issues between them. Derek didn’t bring any personal baggage into this gig, while Tom (who is no doubt fully invested in the success of this project) has had a wall up from the moment that Derek joined the team. I could see how they would actually make a really solid creative team if they could just get past their history. I hope this is the start of that wall being torn down.

Ivy didn’t get a whole lot of screen time tonight, but Tom did give her the devastating news that Eileen had decided that she wanted to go with a “star” for Marilyn. Of all the character stories we got in tonight’s episode of Smash, this is the one I’m the most interested in. I want to know where Ivy goes and I want to see how she plans to overcome this setback and become the “star” that everyone tells her she’s so close to becoming.