It starts with Veronica (Jennifer Hudson) on stage singing (yay!) and rehearsing for her one-night-only show as Derek watches and winces from the audience. He wants her to break out of her comfort zone and be sexier, but Ronnie’s mom — Veronica has now been renamed Ronnie (just go with it) — shows up and is the mom-ager from Derek’s hell. And as portrayed by the amazing Sheryl Lee Ralph, Cynthia Moore is a full-package diva.
Next we catch up with Julia, who believes she’s at Peter’s acting class to talk to his students (remember, he’s the handsome dramaturg from last week’s episode). He lets her know that she’s not there to lecture, but rather to watch Bombshell performed by his students…but he’s changed the names so the students don’t know it’s about Marilyn. Julia is mortified. And pissed.
Jimmy and Kyle call around for gigs, but are not having any luck until Karen (Katharine McPhee) dials them up and tells them to come to the theater because Derek needs a new song for Ronnie’s show. This could be their chance. Plausible, right? Again, just go with it. At least things are moving along much more swiftly than last week.
Jerry shows up at Eileen’s office to ask her about her scheduled deposition tomorrow, where the feds will ask her about where the funding for Bombshell came from. Eileen says she’s not going to implicate Nick (who we learn is missing, not just written out of the show as we had thought) in any way that will hurt him. Jerry tells her she’s foolish to protect her boyfriend.
Ivy shows up at the theater for Ronnie’s show and Karen is not thrilled, but says it’s fine — especially since she sees that Ivy and Ronnie know each other and are friends. Kyle and Jimmy have shown up, too, and they watch as Tom presents his songs to Derek, who doesn’t want any of them for Ronnie. Kyle and Jimmy may now have a chance to write something for Ronnie that Derek may like, and Tom is unnerved by the newbies potentially stepping on his toes (or worse: showing him up).
Karen sings one of Kyle and Jimmy’s songs for Tom, but he looks bored and preoccupied. Jimmy sings another of his songs, and then calls Tom out when he doesn’t seem to really be paying attention. Tom says the songs are good, but they’re not for Ronnie; they’re not Broadway. Kyle tells Tom that he and Jimmy will write something brand new, right now, for Ronnie’s show tomorrow night. Tom tells them to go for it.
Jimmy and Kyle try to write a song on the fly, but Jimmy is getting frustrated so Kyle agrees to give him some space to sing and play on his own. Karen comes in and she helps Jimmy with the melody of a single line. Jimmy likes it and asks her to stay. Kyle comes back in and sees that Jimmy is gelling with Karen and some jealousy may be brewing here.
Eileen returns to her apartment and finds Nick. Apparently he’s missing no more.
In her dressing room, Ronnie and Ivy eat lunch and dish on Derek. Ivy tells her that Derek is infuriating, right up until he makes you give the performance of your life. She advises Ronnie to give Derek a shot at directing her his way.
She tries. But Ronnie laughs during rehearsal because she thinks Derek’s interpretation of her old stand-by song is ridiculous. “Make me feel something. Make me feel anything,” Derek hollers. And just as Ronnie is about to retaliate, her momma comes in and tells Derek that she will fire him if she toys with her daughter’s image or her comfort level and replace him with Tom. The drama is being amped up.
Nick tells Eileen that he is going to turn himself in because he can’t let Eileen take the fall for his past (which we still can only assume was shady). Eileen asks him to stay, and to come to bed.
Derek finds Ivy texting in the alley behind the theater, and she walks aways from him — finally, she’s not the a punching bag — because he’s talking at her, not to her. Then Derek asks her what he should do. Ivy tells Derek to let Ronnie sing “whatever the hell she wants.” And we agree: just let her sing!
Jimmy brings his song to Derek, but Derek tells him that Ronnie is only going to sing what she wants. He’s no longer looking for a new song. “Give me five minutes. I deserve that,” Jimmy whines. And Derek explodes on him, “Nobody deserves anything. You wait your turn and you earn it.” And when Jimmy gets in Derek’s face, and Karen becomes alarmed, Derek mockingly quips to Karen, “It’s alright, darling. He’s just showing off for you.” Then Jimmy storms off.
After the commercial, Karen is on the phone with Kyle wondering where Jimmy is. Kyle tells her that when Jimmy gets pissed he can be gone for days doing very bad things.
Ronnie sits in her dressing room, sad, and tells her mother she’s not feeling it. The stage mother tells her daughter to just do what she knows best and play to her strengths and give the audience what they want, so she can move beyond Broadway. “Now is not the time to go changing things,” her mother advises her, which leads us to believe that Ronnie will want to change everything.
Next, Tom and Derek go over the songs for the Ronnie’s show. Tom tells Derek that he made a a mistake by not listening to “that kid’s song.” That kid being Jimmy. Begrudgingly, Tom says Jimmy’s the real thing (i.e. he’s got talent) but if Derek tells anyone he said that, Tom will kill him.
The song in question then plays as Kyle goes looking for Jimmy; he’s singing the song as he wanders through the streets of New York looking for Jimmy while Derek reads the sheet music. This blends with Ronnie singing it in her dressing room, then on the stage in the empty theater as Ivy watches from the wings.
Karen finds Jimmy in the alley behind the theater and he admits to having done some drugs. She tells him to go inside, and show everyone that he can take rejection, and that he can handle the business. Jimmy goes in for the kiss — that’s been building up for three weeks — and Karen isn’t sure what to make of it…at first. Then she looks as if she likes it, and tells him they should try that again some time when he’s not high.
Julia’s tired of the mind games and tells Peter to stop playing them. He tells her the same thing and they both realize they might actually see eye-to-eye on something. Next they’re drinking wine at noon on a weekday and she admits to writing male characters better than women. She realizes that Marilyn was defined by men, and she identified with being defined by men herself. It’s an epiphany for her and the Bombshell rewrite. So they dig into a rewrite together.
Jerry shows up at Eileen’s office again and asks how the deposition went. She tells her ex-husband that Nick turned himself in and told the feds she had no idea where the money for Bombshell’s funding came from. So she’s off the hook. “So they’re letting you keep Bombshell?” he asks. “Not exactly,” she confesses.
Ronnie’s mom sees Ronnie in a sexy outfit backstage right before the show is about to start and momma thinks Derek has coaxed her to do this. Ronnie says it wasn’t Derek, and that her mom should take a seat because it’s going to be quite a show. We can hardly wait!
After the commercial, Smash starts right off with the music (J-Hud gets to sing a whole song!) and Ronnie announces that she wants to do a new song. Jimmy and Kyle can’t believe it — she’s going to sing their song! Ronnie belts it, and Ivy and Karen sing back up. Hudson shines, looks gorgeous and is singing her face off.
Her manager mom cries in the audience, so proud of her little girl all grown up and singing “I Want To Love You But I Can’t Let Go.” On her last note, rose petals fall and a standing ovation follows. Ronnie calls Jimmy and Kyle to the stage to thank them for the new song and they get their moment in the spotlight. Just when we think the episode is going to end here, Eileen summons Derek, Tom and Julia to her office to announce that Bombshell is going Broadway after all. But, as a condition of her deposition, Eileen has to step down as the producer. There’s one person willing to step in for the plagued production: Jerry.
The show closes with crafty Jerry on the phone thanking someone for the inside info on Bombshell’s funding and telling this mysterious someone that now everyone will know Eileen couldn’t do the show on her own without him. We cringe when we think it might be Nick on the other end of the line who helped sabotage the show and Eileen. However, we learn it’s not Nick; it’s Ellis — Tom’s scheming assistant from Season 1 who got axed with many of that season’s superfluous characters. It looks like the conniving and calculating Ellis is back in the picture, and hopefully he’ll inject just enough deceit and drama into Smash to keep its blood pumping in the weeks to come.