Tom and Julia still haven't finished the song—but then they abruptly realize they have... at 15 minute call. Then we flashback to 12 hours before! Love an in media res moment.
Twelve hours ago would you believe... Eileen, Derek, Julia, and Tom are standing in a circle yelling at one another? (Honestly, how did this show get made?) Michael Riedel calls just in time for the drama, but Eileen pivots to a charm offensive. Apparently they still haven't made a decision about who will play Marilyn. Then, according to a fantasy sequence, Derek decides on Karen because... he hasn't slept with her yet? That seems to be the gist. Either way, the role is hers!
Julia immediately goes into Mom Role, and honestly? Would love for her to advocate for me. She and Tom are entirely unconvinced that this actor who doesn't know the role can pull it together in 12 hours (and one who's never done this professionally before), but then they haven't written the final song yet so they have other stuff to focus on. Good thing they're good at focusing! Or wait...
Eileen, meanwhile, is listening to Ellis mansplain how to grind peanuts and put them into a smoothie. We get it, you used the grinder. What a rock star! Oh, and you're fired. Speaking of fired, Michael Swift decides this is a perfect opportunity to talk to Julia again. Yes! Please insert yourself into this conversation, Michael Swift. And of course, Frank (that's Julia's husband) walks in just in time to see them chatting about the end of his marriage. I'm sure this won't affect her work. Or wait...
In the middle of all this drama, we slow real down and get Karen singing new lyrics to "Never Met a Wolf Who Didn't Love to Howl." I guess the orchestra has all new charts now that they've raised the keys back up from Rebecca Duvall?
And in the middle of all this drama, too, Ivy Lynn decides to ask Derek why it wasn't her chosen to play Marilyn. The short answer: Karen has something she doesn't. Well, if that's all! Eileen happens to disagree, loudly telling Derek that Karen cannot do it while Karen eavesdrops from the wings. She heads into the dressing room devastated, to find her engagement ring waiting for her. Ivy Lynn coolly tells her that Dev is a Joe DiMaggio, and they slept together. And in the middle of all that drama, Karen heads into the theatre to confront Dev in front of a whole bunch of people. Then Derek ignores Eileen, his boss, because he's an artist and a storyteller and he knows better than she does. My face is flush with rage, tbh.
Can you blame Eileen for pouring straight booze when Jerry, of all people, shows up to "help"? Ellis. Derek. Jerry. This woman deserves a break. Tom and Julia have used up all their allotted breaks and are actually sitting down to work for the first time since... the pilot? The second episode? Oh never mind, now they're gossiping about Karen. Guys, it doesn't matter if she can't do it if you don't finish the show.
And now... and now, we get to the real soapy parts of this episode. Karen flees the theatre; Julia throws up (she might be pregnant!); Nick Jonas shows up as Lyle with the Degas (great, now Eileen has to lug it around all damn day); Derek follows an actual trail of costume pieces to find Karen hiding in a rack of costumes, after he gets into a fight with Dev about to whom she belongs; she gets a pep talk from Derek about how she should really step up and do this role she spent 15 episodes fighting for and does—just in time for Ivy to get into costume as Marilyn and then slink back backstage. To make matters worse, Bernadette Peters shows up with a bottle of champagne because she's convinced that Ivy Lynn will get to do the role. At least she brought booze?
Back to the beginning: Tom and Julia race past theatregoers to get Karen the new song. I guess she'll learn it during "Don't Say Yes Until I Finish Talking"? We'll never know because we get a fast montage of the show (which looks incredibly entertaining), then Marilyn dies and then slides out of her silk sheets to don a sparkling gown to belt "Don't Forget Me." She gets through the number, Ivy Lynn rattles a bottle of pills backstage... and thunderous applause! Fade to black, end of Season 1.