'Smash' Finale Postmortem: A Marilyn is Crowned Once and for Good

Smash Katharine Mcphee Megan Hilty As Marilyn Monroe- H 2012
Mark Seliger/NBC

Smash Katharine Mcphee Megan Hilty As Marilyn Monroe- H 2012

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season finale of Smash.]

NBC's Smash wrapped its freshman run Monday by crowning a Marilyn Monroe once and for all as Bombshell was forced to make a final decision between Ivy, who played the part during the workshop, and newcomer Karen, the show's most recent understudy.

Ultimately, Derek's (Jack Davenport) visions of Karen (Katharine McPhee) as Marilyn gave her the edge over Ivy (Megan Hilty), despite his romantic connection with the latter. His decision, meanwhile, doesn't go over well with Tom (Christian Borle), Julia (Debra Messing), Eileen (Anjelica Huston) and Ellis (Jamie Cepero), who admits to getting rid of Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) so the production could make its way to Broadway.

"Derek keeps seeing her as Marilyn and that's hard when a director sees something -- even if no one else sees it -- there's nothing else that can change that person's mind," McPhee tells The Hollywood Reporter.

STORY: 'Smash' Finale Preview: Who is Best Equipped to Be Marilyn?

Karen's big break, however, doesn't come easy as she's tasked with not only learning the rewrites and last-minute changes but also contending with frenemy Ivy, who isn't happy about being bypassed for the part and confesses to sleeping with Karen's boyfriend, Dev (Raza Jaffrey), after his botched marriage proposal.

"She's paying for a lot of things that I don't think that she necessarily deserves," McPhee says. "Her boyfriend acts in disgusting ways and Ivy tries to redeem herself by being honest with what's happened, but she's despicable herself as well."

After confronting Ivy and Dev, Karen ditches both and, following a pep talk from Derek -- who points out that in addition to having Marilyn's desire now shares heartbreak with the icon -- returns to center stage with a newfound confidence.  

STORY: 'Smash's' Uma Thurman Teases Rebecca Duvall's Impact: There's Drama Everywhere

"At some point in Season 2 Karen is going to have to deal with the fact that with her success comes personal failure," McPhee says. "Life as she has known it has been a disaster and you can have as much success as you want but we all know from people who have had success that when your personal life stinks this success only creates a high for so long."

"I think that it's safe to say that Karen will be dealing with quite a bit of heartbreak alongside feeling really proud of what's she's done," she adds.

For her part, Ivy forces Derek to explain why, after working on the script with him and working her ass off during Bombshell's workshop, she didn't land the part. Learning that Derek's visions of Karen as Marilyn's were the deciding factor, a distraught Ivy pulls a Marilyn and sets up one of a few cliffhangers when she eyes a handful of pills.

STORY: 'Smash' Preview: Dev and Ivy Do What? (Exclusive Photos)

"The rivalry has just begun," McPhee vows. "Karen until this point has been nice, patient, understanding and has done everything the right way and for someone who approaches so many things with so much integrity, this is just disgusting to her and despicable. It's like, 'You just played with fire.' I think her new approach is no more Mr. Nice Guy."

While audiences loved Karen in the lead, it may come at a price for the production after Eileen (Anjelica Huston) finally fires Ellis for his role in Rebecca's departure when he attempts to force on a producer hat and have a greater say in pushing Ivy to get the part. "You haven't heard the last of this," he says after getting canned.

What did you think of the Smash season finale? Are you pleased with who landed Marilyn? Do you think Julia's pregnant? Do you want to see Ellis come back with a vengeance next season? Hit the comments.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit