‘Smash’: With heavy drama on the sets of ‘Hit List’ and ‘Bombshell’, Tom brings in Liza Minnelli for back-up in ‘The Surprise Party’

Tom Levitt and Liza Minnelli in "The Surprise."

Tom Levitt and Liza Minnelli in “The Surprise.”

This week’s episode of Smash is filled with drama on the sets of both Bombshell and Hit List, and features a guest performance from Broadway veteran Liza Minnelli.

With the first preview now only three weeks away, the Bombshell team has started rehearsing in the theatre.  After ending their long-time friendship, Ivy and Tom are constantly bickering with each other over minute details, including the exact blocking of “Public Relations.”

When flowers are delivered to the theatre for Ivy, Tom suddenly realizes (with the help of stage manager Linda) that he’s forgotten her birthday. He decides that, to make up for everything he’s done wrong, he’ll throw her a private surprise party that night.

At dinner, Tom and Ivy continue to argue over Bombshell, at least until Ivy notices Liza Minnelli walking toward her. It turns out that Tom had asked his good friend Liza to serenade Ivy, a life-long fan, with a special birthday song.

The song, entitled “A Love Letter from the Times,” was written by Tom specifically for Ivy’s birthday. Through Liza, he shares his wish for Ivy to receive excellent reviews for Bombshell from theatre’s harshest critics at the New York Times. He says he’ll do anything to help her be great, and hopes that this song (and Liza’s surprise appearance) will rectify the problems between them.

Minnelli, who improvised the majority of her lines, is a crucial and hilarious part of an otherwise uninteresting episode. She cracks a few jokes with Tom about their history together and pours her heart and soul into Tom’s touching ballad. It’s also interesting to see how surprised and star-struck the show’s stars are by her appearance; Christian Borle (Tom) and Megan Hilty’s (Ivy) reactions to her improvisation in the scene are particularly humorous.

However, after her birthday song is over, Ivy leaves the restaurant for a bar where Sam and the ensemble are throwing another party for her. Unfortunately, Tom is left off of the invite list and isn’t welcomed when he arrives at the bar to give Ivy her keys, which she had left behind. She tells him that he cannot be her director and her friend, and seeing as Bombshell is opening in three weeks, the show must be his priority.

In another terrible turn, Julia takes up Scott’s offer to take a look at the Hit List script after Tom tells her that she’s no longer needed at Bombshell rehearsals. She ends up working with Scott and book writer Kyle to give the diva (played by Karen’s roommate, Ana) a larger role in the show. Derek likes what he sees from the group and decides to keep the changes, but does so without consulting with Jimmy or Karen first.

After the explosion between Ivy and Leigh during Bombshell rehearsals, I would have thought that Julia would have some qualms about changing the show without consulting the entire creative team. It’s clear from Jimmy’s quick temper in the past over creative issues that this won’t bode well for the Hit List team.

Derek’s decision is largely due to the fact that he isn’t happy with Karen and Jimmy going public with their relationship, as he so clearly has had feelings for her since season one. After Derek reveals his true feelings to her while he is drunk, Karen tells him about her relationship with Jimmy. Derek takes out his frustrations with them during rehearsal, going so far as pushing Jimmy away from Karen during a scene.

Will Derek fight to win Karen back from Jimmy? Will Ivy and Tom figure out a way to make their friendship work? And what’s Tom going to do when he finds out about Julia helping out the Hit List team? Let us know what you think in comments!

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