Smash Review (S1E10): "Understudy"

This week ("Understudy" S1E10), things are heating up even further when the new star of the show, Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman), fails to show up for a meeting with the investors, and the production, now called "Bombshell" is in danger once again. When Derrick (Jack Davenport) appoints Karen (Katherine McPhee) as her understudy in order to keep rehearsals going, it gets back to Ivy (Megan Hilty) who was recently passed up due to a breakdown during a performance of "Heaven on Earth."

Ivy takes the news fairly well after last week's unexpected bonding with Karen and even though she's hurting, she puts on a happy face and even gives Derrick some advice to help get Karen more comfortable in rehearsal. Derrick takes the advice to heart, and in "Understudy," we start to see a softer side of this cutthroat director.

With Julia's (Debra Messing) husband finding out about her affair and leaving her, she is in a dark place in "Understudy," and with the anniversary of her first opening night with her writing partner, Tom (Christian Borle), coming up, she isn't in the most festive of moods. When they take part in their annual viewing of the first production, she can't handle all of the emotions she's feeling and takes off, forcing her to come clean to Tom about her husband's departure.

While everyone is trying to deal with their own lives in "Understudy," Eileen (Anjelica Huston) is busy trying to save the show once again, fearing that their new star is going to prove to be too flighty for the investor's tastes, which would put the entire production on the chopping black once again. With the help of her friend and loyal bartender, Nick (Thorsten Kaye), she is able to find a new investor in Randy Cobra (Terrence Mann), who is willing to fund the entire project on his own.

When Ellis (Jaime Cepero) digs into the new investor, he also takes it upon himself to look into Nick and uncovers something of interest. When he brings it to Eileen's attention, she quickly reprimands him for it and reminds him not to overstep his bounds, even as he is insisting on Producer credit for his work to bring Rebecca Duvall on board. With Duvall stuck in Cuba while she tries to secure a visa for her assistant, Eileen uses the time to get her gameplan in order.

Derrick, still trying to play nice, goes over to Karen's apartment to tell her that they are expecting Rebecca soon. Her boyfriend, Dev (Raza Jaffrey), comes home and flies off the handle in a jealous rage, attacking Derrick outside, and creating a rift between him and Karen in the process.

"Understudy" takes a very active turn, and features Tom in one of the song and dance numbers when an actor couldn't make it to rehearsal. That song, in particular, was one of my personal favorites of the season so far, and it gives us a chance to see just what Christian Borle is capable of.

With Rebecca showing up right at the end of "Understudy," next week is sure to be a roller coaster in of itself, but this show is gaining a lot of momentum, and is really starting to get interesting.

I give this week's Smash a 4 outta 5.

"I live in a world of stand-ins," Derrick Wills - "Understudy" S1E10

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