So, it turns out, Smash has been sly like a fox this whole dang time.
Either there was a serious course-correction paying off here, or I watched tonight the climax of a carefully-laid story in which I was actually supposed to hate Jimmy the entire time and think Kyle was a sweet magical angel. I’m seriously blown away that the emotions I’ve been feeling all year were carefully played on the show’s part.
Throughout the season, we’ve been watching entitled jerk Jimmy whine, abuse, and eye-roll his way all the way to a possible Broadway transfer of a promising show. There were drugs, illicit pasts, sex, lies, and pissing contests. And tonight, Jimmy burns the last bridges he has, getting high before the backers performance, changing blocking, and missing a crucial cue that results in a serious injury for Karen.
Before I could even write down “Fire him!” in my notes, the conversation was happening between Derek and Scott, and as the shoe finally dropped on Jimmy, I felt an inordinate sense of glee. It was finally happening! And even better than that, Kyle and Karen finally realized he’s emotionally manipulative and abusive! It was like Christmas morning!
Of course, this is Jimmy we’re talking about, so the empathy-free jerk decides to perch atop the bar and set metaphorical fire to every last relationship still standing. He tells off Karen, outs Kyle as a cheater to his boyfriend, AND makes the snide comment about Kyle being secretly in love with him that we all were totally thinking but didn’t want to say because we love Kyle.
The girls urge Kyle to tell Jimmy what’s what before he loses his resolve. So he searches for Jimmy, singing “The Last Goodbye” with a thick helping of wounded angst. Andy Mientus has a great voice that we haven’t heard enough. And sadly, because of Kyle’s emotional state and crappy Brooklyn drivers, we probably won’t hear more.
Yup, Hit List‘s journey to the stage involved the tragic loss of a young talent, à la Jonathan Larson. And I totally had the wrong one pegged.
I would totally call Smash‘s tragic killing of Kyle (and I assume he’s dead based on the previews for next week) as emotional manipulation, if it hadn’t been set up so damn well all season. As Jimmy flouted and demanded our attention, Kyle sat in the background, worked hard, got good, and was loved. He started behind and got ahead of Jimmy. He made tough calls. He had adorable parents and a nice boyfriend. As much as it hurts, Smash earned this twist.
In this, Smash also cemented Jimmy’s status as the season’s actual, bona fide villain, which impresses me a great deal. He truly was meant to be the instrument of conflict, not the misunderstood hero. With St. Kyle (for indeed he was) dead or grievously injured thanks to Jimmy, the guy needs to pay some serious penance, and I’m genuinely excited to see what happens next in that story. I can’t believe I actually wrote that!
Meanwhile, Tom and Julia have a full-scale partnership meltdown. Tom is sadly sinking quickly to the antagonist place himself, as pretty much every argument Julia makes to him re: her pursuit of Gatsby as a play is the right argument.
Fortunately for Eileen, drama = ticket sales, and news of Bombshell being potentially the last Tom/Julia musical drives the numbers up. She continues to ruminate doubling down with a Hit List producer credit, though.
In other news:
– Loved seeing an exhausted Bombshell cast in the throngs of PR. And humoring Kathy Lee Gifford!
– Karen and Derek, fueled by rejection, finally head home together.
– In song news, we got two new Hit List ditties. The first, “Don’t Let Me Know”, started off in a cool stripped down place, before tracking the recording and release process of a new song through interesting staging. As always, McPhee and Jordan knock the pop stuff out of the park. I also give it points for dropping in the beat in a neat way.
– We also finally got to see Hit List‘s closer, “Come, Stay, Goodbye”, which apparently involves lead character Jesse (THAT’s his name!) imploring the ghost of the girl character to remain on earth, or something. The song has a fun Ben Folds-y energy to it and a neat build into an uptempo. I was bouncing along. Cool choreography on this one, too.
Until next time, Smashers! Can’t wait!