This week, “Smash” is playing Musical Chairs and boy are we dizzy.
When the game begins, Jimmy and The Roommate Who Shall Not Be Named are running through “Hit List” for Tom Collins and the lovely folks at the Manhattan Theater Workshop, while Karen and Tom argue their way through a “Bombshell” rehearsal and Terry has lots of really smart ideas for the new and improved “Liasons” even though it's about five minutes away from opening.
Then there's lots of running in circles. This involves Jimmy refusing to find a way to make his show better so Derek isn't reduced to directing it in the cupboard under the stairs--nobody puts the Big Bad Wills in a corner!--and Kyle apologizing for everything all the time. Jerry makes power plays to oust Tom, while Eileen makes power plays to oust Jerry instead. And Ivy and Terry decide to make their bad show craptacular, going out in a flourish of trapezes and potential head trauma as opposed to quiet suckage.
After so much spinning, Karen quits “Bombshell” to follow her heart to Jimmy; “Liasons” sucks so hard that it closes as fast as it opened--freeing Ivy to be Tom's Marilyn--and Eileen and her child have manipulated the legal system within an inch of its life to shove Jerry out the door at “Bombshell.” It's like the middle of season one again. Only, you know, with the addition of some heavily auto-tuned Jeremy Jordan.
Anyway. Here's more on how it really went down...
The Obviously-Named Terry Falls Makes an Actual Funny
Remember that moment in this week's episode when Terry Falls gravely announced that he was leaving “Liasons,” and then the director immediately proceeded to tell the cast that the show was closing? That strange, rising bubble in your stomach isn't indigestion. It's a strange human reaction called laughter, and when this happened, you possibly experienced it for the first time all season.
Kyle's Ongoing Relationship with Bulky Knits
Julia's swaddling habit was contagious, apparently. Every time we see Kyle, he's found a new sweater. Cable knits! Nordic designs! We can't wait for “Smash: A Very Special Holiday Episode” where he wears a Christmas tree sweater complete with working electric lights.
Megan Hilty, We mean... Ivy... Has a Moment of Doubt
Most out-of-body moment in this episode? When Ivy Lynn calmly tells her goofball costar that she hates the show she's in and that she can't wait until it ends. On the surface, it just seems kind of over-share-y and a little unprofessional. Underneath, though, you couldn't help but wonder if real-life Megan Hilty feels exactly the same way about her real-life existence right at that very moment. Her delivery of those lines seemed awfully convincing.
Three Shows is Just... a Lot
Hi guys, welcome to “Hit List.” No, stop, it's “Bombshell”! And now it's “Liasons”! Or... wait, is this “Hit List” again? And who is that girl singing? By the way, don't forget to prop your eyelids open with toothpicks so you don't blink and miss a pivotal scene in the development of “Liasons.” With three shows within this show, “Smash” is even harder to understand than Shakespeare, yo! We could use some Cliff Notes.
The Sudden, Out-of-Nowhere Tension Between Tom and Karen
You knew Karen was leaving “Bombshell” for “Hit List” from the moment Jimmy appeared on the screen. But how would the show get her there? Rather than have her exit for a totally obvious reason – like getting fired for being a charmless, weak-singing dullard, for example – “Smash” chose to invent some totally pointless and unfounded drama between her and Tom. Never mind that Karen and Tom have never really had words before. Never mind that Karen has no real clout or credibility with anyone, therefore making her opinions largely invalid and/or nonexistent. Anyway, she's out of “Bombshell” now. So the original point of this whole television series is now invalid.
And Now, We're Auto-Tuning Jeremy Jordan into Average-ness
Look. We get it. Katherine McPhee can't sing theater songs so well. And the power and control of Jeremy's voice throws that into really sharp contrast when they sing a duet. But seriously, why did you hire Mr. Jordan – he of the biggest pipes Broadway has seen in years – if you were just going to auto-tune him so much that he sounds like... well... Katherine McPhee's equal? You're kind of making us wish he wasn't on your show, man. And that's something we never thought we'd say.
So, Do You Think There's Going to be a Scene With Marilyn's Mother?
Do you? Really? How could you guess? Could it be because Julia, Eileen, Derek, and Tom were all talking about this previously absent “Bombshell” plot point so much that it seemed like it was the central theme of the whole musical? You know what that means, right? Paging Judy Kaye. Or Debra Monk. Or...Bernadette Peters.
Karen the MENSA Candidate
At the top of the episode Julia tells Tom that if he gains Karen's respect, everyone else in the cast will follow suit and respect him too. Because... Karen is smart? And has taste? At what point did Karen Cartwright become the creative, emotional, and intellectual center of this show and how did we miss it?
The Return of the Gummer
The Gummer-Streep spawn are everywhere! In this episode, Grace Gummer is Eileen's crunchy, straight-off-the-Anthropologie-clearance-rack daughter. Besides wondering if Kate Hudson will star in the next episode as Eileen's other daughter -- just to keep with the theme -- we're also asking ourselves if Mamma Meryl is losing sleep over the fact that she's the greatest actress of her generation... and her daughter is on “Smash.”
Wait. Which Version of ‘Liasons’ Is This?
The literal night before “Liasons” opens, Terry and Ivy decide their show is so bad it's going to die anyway, so they're going to go back to an old, crazy version from rehearsals and thus, go out with a bang. And then, the actual next night, that number is fully blocked, and perfectly lit, and... when, exactly, did they have time to pull all of this together? In what reality does this actually happen?
“Smash” Reality, Where The Impossible Happens all the Time
Speaking of reality... at what point is this television show going to have even a tenuous relationship with the real world? Sure. You correctly depicted the facade of the Broadway Theatre – good job, guys! – but in what world does an actor just quit the show that's going to be her Broadway debut so she can go mess around in a basement downtown? And worse, where on earth does someone who is removed from a production team by like, the actual government, because she committed an actual crime that she actually confessed to, get to just go back to work because her ex-husband decides he doesn't want to be such a jerk anymore? Smashworld, clearly. Do you think if we moved there, we could make out with Jeremy Jordan too?
Laura Motta and Aileen McKenna blog as Lucky and The Mick on their Broadway-themed blog of insanity, The Craptacular.