February 20, 2012 8:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Smash' Postmortem: Ellis is Building an Arsenal
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Monday's Smash episode, "Meet Mr. DiMaggio."]
On Monday's Smash, Ellis (Jaime Cepero) continued his conniving ways, building up a potential arsenal of ammunition to use against Tom and Julia in his quest to receive credit for the Marilyn Monroe musical.
Tom's (Christian Borle) ambitious assistant now has a copy of the first act of the production and key knowledge about Julia's (Debra Messing) affair with the production's new leading man. The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Cepero to get the scoop on what Ellis plans to do with his newfound knowledge, here are six things to know going forward.
Ellis swipes Julia's notebook. The young assistant makes copies of all of Julia's notes for the first act before returning it to her. "In the first chapter, there are some things that he reads in there that he finds interesting," Cepero tells THR. "The information that he's been acquiring throughout the first three episodes will definitely come back to bite some people in the butt. He's gathering up a slew of information that's going to be very valuable for him later."
Ellis gets an earful. While eavesdropping (again) on Julia and Tom, he learns that Julia had an extramarital affair with Michael Swift (Will Chase) -- whom they want to play Joe DiMaggio. Even worse: neither Michael nor Julia's devoted spouses are aware of the indiscretion. "He has some information now that he could potentially use to thwart her a bit and get her to back down," Cepero offers. "He's biding his time as to when he'll be able to drop that and waiting for the right opportunity."
He's not gay.Until Monday's episode, little was known but much was assumed about Ellis' sexual orientation. Tom's doting and over-eager assistant has certainly flirted with his boss but meeting -- and seeing him -- with his girlfriend offered a prime display of just how good of a manipulator he can be when it comes to going after what he wants. "He knows his assets and he can tell that Tom finds him attractive so he's going to play on his assets as much as he can to make sure that he's a permanent fixture with the Marilyn show," he says.
How did Ellis get the prized gig as Tom's assistant anyway? During his revealing conversation with friends, Ellis notes that he landed the job because his mother knew Tom's brother. But is that really all there is to it? "You start to wonder where this kid's from, how he got here, why he's so interested in this business," Cepero says. "You start to see his definition along the series."
Can Ellis' girlfriend (Condola Rashad) be trusted? He vents his frustrations and misdeeds to her, confessing that he stole Julia's notebook after a conversation in which she -- and his friends -- suggest he deserves credit for his Marilyn idea. But is Ellis revealing his cards to someone who supports his shady ways? "She's so much more innocent than he is and she's not that OK with him making these poor decisions," he says. "She's definitely got a hand in some things."
He wants what Tom and Julia have. After seeing the lavish lifestyle that Tom and Julia are immersed in, Ellis wants a taste for himself. "He wants to have that money and wants to be in control of things and be successful," Cepero says. "So whether it's performing or producing or writing, he's got to find his way. As the series goes on, you're going to see him climb the ladder as well as he can."
What did you think of Monday's Smash? How big of a threat do you think Ellis is? Smash airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC.