Smash Recap: Serious as an Art Attack

First, some good news: This week’s episode of Smash provided plenty more ammo in the delicious war between #TeamKaren and #TeamIvy. And now for some more good news: The show refuses to give simple answers to the question of which character deserves to be the heroine of our ongoing melodrama, and (to a lesser degree) which of these flawed, ambitious, enormously talented women is more deserving of the lead role in Marilyn the Musical. (Side note: At the end of the day, it’s possible to root for both ladies — if you’re willing to unite against the common enemy known as Ellis!)

Ivy Lynn’s ongoing insecurity — a frequent side effect of sleeping with the director before you’ve landed the lead role in his play — began to percolate in not-so-flattering ways, as she used her position as the star of Marilyn to get Karen benched for not one, but two of the numbers being workshopped. (Her smile when Karen had to sit out “History Is Made at Night” was downright vicious, no?)

That said, after at least a decade in the business, Ivy must be shrewd enough to know that Derek casting her former rival in the ensemble might be a not-so-subtle backup plan — both personally and professionally. Can you blame her for putting the kibosh any potential scheme Karen might have to All About Eve her way into the lead role Ivy’s dreamed of during all those grueling years in the ensemble? (I do, however, blame Ivy for using the word “chorus” in front of all her buddies. Watch who you step on as you climb the ladder, girl!) What’s more, Ivy’s birthday-party performance of “Howl” was so mesmerizing, I didn’t even snicker when a wistful Eileen threw a clump of dirt on the coffin of her own marriage and declared to Ivy that “you’re my happiness now.” On a related note, Karen has yet to headline a number that comes anywhere near to matching “Howl” or even “National Pasttime.”

Speaking of Karen, her (failed) callback for the Marilyn role seems to have gone to her head. Iowa’s been hired to be part of the ensemble in a workshop of a major Broadway production — a huge break for a total neophyte — and yet she’s already stroming into hallways and snapping at her castmates when things don’t go her way or people aren’t nice to her. Seriously? How would she handle a tough review from a critic or a dearth of applause from an unenthusiastic audience? Plus, shouldn’t she have already made it her business to learn basic stage-blocking techniques and the fine art of not upstaging the lead actress? And yet while I was a little incredulous about Karen winning over Jessica by telling her castmate she’d been “horrible,” I will say this: Karen actually seemed fun and lively and not so gosh-darn doe-eyed annoying while she was learning some trade secrets and throwing back shots with her newfound work buddies. Plus, she had a point that not sleeping with the director, and not getting the lead, didn’t make her “stupid, lame, or untalented” — a point she proved with a solid/partial cover of Adele’s “Rumour Has It.”

The Ivy-Karen rivalry played against the backdrop of Nick Jonas showing up as slightly skeevy former child star Lyle West, who was either discovered by Tom or Derek or both (depending on who you ask), and suddenly had $80 million in sitcom syndication money in his pocket. Derek threw Lyle a party. Lyle sang Michael Buble’s “Haven’t Met You Yet” and hit on Ivy Lynn. Eileen popped in to offer some investment advice — put your money into art or gold bullion — and an offer Lyle couldn’t refuse: Buy her Degas for $200,000, which she’d use as seed money to get Marilyn off the ground. After Ivy Lynn (backed by Michael, Julia, Dennis, a singing waitress, and — ick — Ellis) gave the aforementioned rendition of “Howl,” Lyle decided to take points on the show — and the painting — giving Eileen’s a bold-faced name to add to the show’s list of producers. The show — or at least the workshop — will go on!

And now for a few points of discussion:

* Did anyone other than Ivy buy Derek’s exceedingly ridiculous explanation for fondling that fine lady’s behind? (“Everyone at this party was a potential investor!”) Since when did prostituting oneself become a key component in directing and choreographing a Broadway musical?

* Who else is loving Julia’s burning hatred for Ellis? I chuckled when she asked the woman setting up the rehearsal room if she could put Tom’s assistant at a separate table, and absolutely roared when she blatantly ignored his overzealous “Derek’s having a big party, huh?” That kid is going to stir up some terrible trouble — and 1,000 smarmy facial expressions — before Season 1 is over.

* Michael needs to stop coming up to Julia with his cryptic messages and goo-goo eyes already!

* Also, note to Smash writers: We need more Eileen and Julia hang-out sessions, please! In fact, maybe there’s some kind of spinoff or after-hours show that could focus on nothing but Anjelica Huston and Debra Messing’s characters sharing some booze and chatting it up.

* Exchange of the night:
Caterer: “I’m an actress and a dancer.”
Elieen: “Not now, sweetheart.”

What did you think of this week’s Smash? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Bitchin' Amy says:

    Ivy Lynn’s jealous insecurity is going to get her nothing but trouble. Derek really is a horrible person and I, for one, can’t wait to see how he plays Ivy against Karen in upcoming episodes.
    And, OMG, Ellis is loathsome… But I loved that his girlfriend at the party told Julia that he was “obsessed” with her and Tom! Priceless when he tried to play it off as just “fascinated.” He is going to make tons of trouble for everyone, not a doubt in my mind.

    • spoiler SMASH says:

      Remember the print media pyramid ad of two weeks ago. That tells you all you want to know how SMASH turns out by the end of the season and the key to it begins next week.
      Now, will NBC stick with it if Hawaii 5-0 kicks its butt in the ratings again and again. The Daytona 500 probably won the night easily anyway except for The Voice.
      BTW….SMASH producers realize they need to have McPhee singing much more on each show. Ratings swing on how much she sings.

  2. SL says:

    I liked this episode way better than last week’s. I still don’t know whether I’m Team Karen or Ivy, and I like that about the show. The show has good, complex characters, plain and simple.

  3. Titina says:

    LOVED the show tonight! HUGE improvement!
    I was so hooked every minute of the hour! The team Karen and Team Ivy rivalry is so entertaining.
    I am Team Karen all the way. Ivy is getting on my nerves. I don´t believe for 1 minute that after 10 years of broadway experience you should know better than to sleep with the director beforehand.
    Besides Ivy should dump Derek soon, his real interest is Karen not her.
    Can´t wait for next week!

    • Michelle says:

      Totally agree. Even my boyfriend watched the whole thing with me. Of course, he had snide comments, but he try to change the channel on me

  4. Jessica says:

    Your recap was spot on!! As of right now I am in Ivy’s corner. There is just something about Karen that I do not like (although I haven’t figured it out yet!) I did like her much better when she was “chilling” out though!

  5. Dennis says:

    Would you quit picking on my favorite charactor, Ellis. He’s the main reason I watch this show.

    • Zach says:

      I find your love of Ellis sickening, yet intriguing, please tell me why you like him. Does his quickness to steal things out of curiosity make you gush? Does his attitude problem make you fawn over him? Please tell!

      • dan says:

        I find Ellis to be absolutely loathsome, but he was sort of a trooper when he got up and sang and danced at the party to help sell the show. I’m sort of surprised Julia couldn’t say anything nice to him.

        • jenna says:

          I still want to know how he managed to get an invite to the party!

          • Um says:

            Yeah Ellis is a serious trouble maker and has been since word one. Too bad Tom couldn’t stick to it when Julia fired Ellis the first time. Perhaps he wouldn’t be so bad if his friends weren’t making him entrepreneurial to steal notebooks, info, and some thunder away from Tom and/or Julia. Plus now he has leverage – the affair between Julia and Michael. Would Julia seriously have told Tom and thought they were alone with Ellis always buzzing about?!?! I feel that sooner or later someone is going to have to pay Ellis, put his name up in lights, or both. Seriously he probably has the rooms bugged by now… A strange weasley character that I don’t like but who helps the show with the range of individuals you find in and around the making of a Broadway musical. I only hope he hangs himself getting the pat on the back he thinks he deserves…

          • Snsetblaze says:

            He was never invited as far as we saw. Derek had no reason to invite him (if he can’t stand Tom, why would he invite Tom’s assistant?)

    • Jess says:

      I think/hope Dennis is being sarcastic.

  6. Zach says:

    I loved how everyone gushed for Nick Jonas yet I thought he was terrible. Opinions opinions…

  7. Edward says:

    I’m really starting to warm up to Eileen and that exchange alone with the waitress just put her to the top of my list.I understand that Karen did seem bratty when she walked out rehearsals but i think it wasn’t just Karen acting like diva it was her defending herself from Ivy’s antics of trying get her off the play entirely.Ivy was delibirately trying to get her fired or at least seem non-existent even some of the “ensemble” members can see it. Karen knows she’s hanging by a thread and nobody likes her except for Julia so I’m glad she stood up for herself and garnered some new friends which Ivy is not going to like one bit.

    • barbara says:

      I think Ivy sees the threat that Karen is, extremely talented and ambitious. Karen isn’t happy about being in the ‘ensemble’ no matter how much she smiles, she thinks she should be Marilyn. Ivy is aware of this. And Karen is a real threat.
      Of course, Karen is inexperienced, but she may not be so inexperienced by the time the show actually gets to Broadway.
      Still, Karen is loved, has a great support system, and doesn’t make mistakes like sleeping with the director, and has none of Ivy’s (and Marilyn’s) insecurities. Ivy really *is* Marilyn.
      Karen’s ego is so big that she thinks she should be the star even while being in the ensemble. That’s what was annoying about her. She’s not ‘one of the troop’, which Ivy had doen for ten years. Karen sticks out like a sore thumb with her ambition and desires and her awareness of her own talent. That’s why I’m Team Ivy!

      • Winnie says:

        You are wrong about Karen’s character. She does not have a big ego. She just knows and believes in herself that she can do the job. Don’t forget that even though her parents love hr dearly they don’t think she can ever make it big on broadway and if that does not give you insecurities, what will? She has a good head on her shoulder that is why she is surrounded by people who love her and a boyfriend that believes in her talent and helps sher achieve her goal. There is absolutely no ego there. After all she acknowledges that she needs more experience and thus she accepts a much much lesser part in the show. But know that if you are a STAR, it is hard to harness that raw talent. She does not need to work hard to become one because everyone already knows that she is the talent to watch. She has self worth and not ego.

  8. Kevin says:

    I do believe Karen’s number “20th Century Fox Mambo” in episode 2 was at least on par (if not better than) both the Wolf number and “National Pastime”. It was a spectacle! And my, my — the dancing was clean! Ivy hasn’t danced like that yet.

    • Kirk says:

      That’s because Ivy can’t dance! Lol
      Karen’s Mambo has been the best original so far. Any haters are pressed.

    • Jasmine says:

      Yeah, I’ve been really confused about not seeing Ivy really dancing at all? She kind of just shimmies around,waves her arms, and rubs all over her body. Her footwork in this episode was atrocious. It’s a good thing Hilty is a performer because she is certainly not a dancer. And I would rank the musical numbers as follows:
      1. Let Me Be Your Star
      2. 20th Century Fox Mambo
      3. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
      4. National Pastime
      5. Never Met a Wolf
      The latter two are just *too* stereotypical Marilyn for me, very cheap presentations although they are still genius numbers from Shaiman and Whitman. The real essence Marilyn is in those first three numbers

      • Music Fan says:

        So far I have seen Ivy carried,dragged and thrown around, but the girl hasn’t really danced yet. Why is that? Now I really want to see her try
        Rumor Has It complete with the dance steps.

      • star says:

        I saw an interview with Megan Hilty where she said she basically can’t dance haha! So I guess they are having to hide it by having Ivy be in dances where others dance around her and she gets thrown around a lot! Amuses me though when the characters make out that Ivy is this sh*t hot dancer. I imagine they will have Karen do the more energetic dances because it looks like Katharine McPhee is a pretty good dancer, which – who knew?!

  9. DB says:

    much much better than last week. finally, the plot is moving forward! more Karen, more behind the scene of the making of the musical, the better!
    the show always came to a screeching halt when they focus on boring irrelevant blah of Julia. the other stuff on Ellis/Tom were pretty boring too, but none worse than Julia. I don’t care about her family, her adoption, her love affair. thank goodness we don’t have to suffer through all that this week. and the show is substantially more enjoyable…except those awkward moment b/w Julia and Michael, I hope they just cut it out, but I know the writers think the tension of their past is interesting…it’s not.

  10. Lime says:

    * Can someone explain what “points” are, in this context? I’ve never heard that terminology.
    * I understand why Ivy was a total B this episode, but it didn’t make me sympathize with her, at all. I LOATHE people who act like that – the second they start to get attention, they step all over their friends and forget their roots. How dare she call them “the chorus”? And all the crap she pulled with Karen makes her look like a diva who can’t handle the work. She was wasting everyone’s time, stopping rehearsal constantly to get Karen moved around. I honestly see no redeeming qualities about her character. Except her singing voice.
    * It may not seem like it, after that last bit, but I really do love the show! Even Ellis is a love-to-hate kinda guy. Julia’s cold shouldering made me laugh so hard! He deserves it!
    * No mention of Tom’s cute date? I liked him, someone outside the industry. Hopefully, he sticks around.

    • Chris says:

      I think they mean percentage points of the gross of the shows box office.

    • Jess says:

      Yes, I liked Tom’s date too!!! He’s hot so from an eye candy’s prespective, i hope he sticks around! He played Daniel’s half-brother (blanking out on the name) on Ugly Betty!

    • Steven says:

      I don’t know if it means percentage points or basis points. Usually when someone is talking about “points” in banking or investing, they mean basis points. One basis point is 1/100th of a percentage point. If they mean basis points, then I bet it is the box office gross; so for every $100 ticket sold, Mr. Jonas there would get a penny and a half.
      Alternatively, they might mean percentage points, in which case it is probably 1.5% of the box office after expenses. $1.50 on every $100 ticket seems like a lot to give away for a relatively small investment. Don’t forget, this is just to get the workshop going, at some point they are going to have to raise the money to actually mount the production. . .

  11. TG says:

    I think my favorite original so far (aside from Let Me Be Your Star – goosebumps!) was the little snippet of the harmony heavy song that Karen got kicked out of and walked out the room. Want to hear the whole song, stat!

  12. charissa29 says:

    Ellis is the Anti-Christ! If it is even possible to call a character in a tv show about a Broadway musical that. Love the show, loathe Ellis but the actor is BRILLIANT at deploying smarmy smile and dimples!

  13. star says:

    Loved this episode and that we are getting some good Ivy/Karen rivalry going on, and Karen had every right to be p*ssed with Ivy blatantly trying to sabotage Karen. Just because she has been in the chorus (sorry ensmeble!) for 10 years doesn’t mean she is any more entitled than a newbie to get a lead role. And you have to wonder why Ivy has never made it so far – girl is full of insecurities. I’m liking Karen’s new ensemble buddies, especially Bobby, and I found their scenes together to be really fun and engaging. A lot more than the party and the wolf number to be honest. Wow was that performance a whole lot of self-indulgence! I want to like Ivy, but I really can’t, and I feel that the writers are giving her all these flaws just to make us sympathise with her and forgive her acting like a diva … and I guess I can sympathise, but underneath it all she is just an annoying character for me. She just doesn’t come across as likeable, like Karen or Julia. Loving some Eileen. Her “not now sweetheart” was awesome!

  14. Joe says:

    Love the show and I agree with what you say. Right now the only thing I have trouble swallowing is that members of the ensemble would live in such “fabulous” apartments. To me, that sticks out like a horny naked man in a roomful of nuns!

    • the girl says:

      The show has already pointed out that Karen is pretty much broke. She only gets by because of Dev. He is in politics and it seems that he’s rather successful. Dev offered to carry her financially for a while. She shunned the idea but I imagine that he is doing just that.

  15. Heather says:

    I love how the show touches not only on Ivy not knowing how to be a star, but also Karen not knowing how *not* to be a star. It’s refreshing that this show is not over simplifying this and portraying both girls like they have nothing to learn. That there is hard work involved/required. (Ahem…Glee)
    I’m eating this show up, cliched plot points and all. LOVE IT!

  16. Sheila says:

    Jonas did an excellent job!! That Buble cover is pretty amazing and is doing well on iTunes, which is good for the show! Overall I really enjoyed the episode!

  17. James says:

    I’m finding it very difficult to root for Ivy Lynn. She was sympathetic in Episode 1, when she was talking to her mother, but she’s been horrible since then. I’m 100% Team Karen at this point, although I do wish the writers hadn’t turned Ivy into such a beeyotch. Maybe she’ll become more sympathetic in the future, but for now, I don’t see how anyone can root for someone with such a nasty personality.

    • danny says:

      I think this is exactly what the writers want the audience to be doing in terms of feelings for Ivy and Karen. Each week they seem to be building one up while tearing the other one down (and they’re switching back and forth). I found it odd that Ivy walked into the rehearsal hall late (she came in after everybody else) with big sunglasses on and a definite diva attitude after all the “good” things we’ve heard about her from Tom, Julia and her friends. Suddenly now we’re supposed to believe she has this diva attitude because she got the lead in a workshop. Then to tear Karen down they show her throwing her bag on a chair and getting snippy with a cast member because they aren’t treating her fairly. Hey Karen…welcome to the big leagues. Its called “paying your dues.” But beyond those things, the writers are trying to show that both woman have their pros and cons, both have insecurities and both have their strengths and weaknesses. My guess is that some outside event (or new person to the cast) will impact both of them and they’ll have to work together for the good of the show. Last night’s episode was MUCH better than last week’s waste of an hour. Hopefully it will continue on this stronger path for the remainder of the season.

      • James says:

        True, but Karen’s frustrations were justified, given how nasty everyone was being toward her for no reason whatsoever, while Ivy seems more self-entitled.

      • Gingy says:

        Uma Thurman is slated for a five episode arc. Perhaps she will be the impact that will have Ivy and Karen work together. Love the bit between Ivy and her long ago castmate discussing her Zac Posen dress that “is almost new….the zipper even works”. That’s 10 years in the ensemble showing.

  18. Lisa says:

    I thought last night’s SMASH was great! Deborah Messing is knocking it out of the park with this series and so is Anjelica! Ellis needs to go and from where I sit he can take Ivy with him! Karen has a better voice and more charisma than Ivy. Karen also has enough self confidence and self respect to try and get the part without sleeping with the director. Ivy is a tramp.
    As for Slezak saying that Karen is weak or that her one failed audition has gone to her head…Michael, did we watch the same show? I love that Karen called the ensemble bullies out on the way they were treating her and reminded them that they were all new once too. And how would Karen have learned about how to act in the ensemble when this is her first show and when she is clearly star material?
    You want to be Team Ivy then be Team Ivy but be fair! As for me, Team Karen all the way!

    • Winnie says:

      I agree with you regarding Karen. She came from small time small town theater (from what her Dad says, it’s a high school production) and there she was the star. Sure she is all green and don’t know how to be in an ensemble. All of how Karen’s character is believable. Ivy on the other hand being experienced in broadway should know better than sleeping with the director. I go for high morals anyday over clawing your way into the top for your ambition. Like you, I am Team Karen all the way. p.s. shoot me now but I like Ellis character. He is a little slime ball but he is at least not in your face (except for Julia’s face ha ha) its a dirty job but someone has to do it.

    • Alice says:

      I agree. The ensemble acted like the fact that Karen went so far in the audition process (How dare she try and take the role away from “our” Ivy) was out of malice on her part. If they are the seasoned vets that know so much, shouldn’t they understand that’s what auditions are like? It made no sense. I was glad Karen stood up for herself- it’s one thing to pay your dues by being in the ensemble (it’s not like she turned it down because she thought she was too good to be in the chorus) but it’s not fair that the rest of the ensemble was acting like junior high school brats. Really, there is nothing redeemable about Ivy. Getting the part because your friend wrote the show and you’re sleeping with the director and then making life miserable for the girl that lost out because of your own insecurities? Grow up Ivy, you’re supposed to be the pro here!

  19. Smooshiest says:

    This episode was insanely better than last week’s. I need to start with Ellis; as a minor character, he certainly has a lot of impact on the plot, and given his propensity for stealing things, for a good part of the hour, I thought the Degas was going to disappear into his “girlfriend’s” hands and out of the door. That being said, he knew he had to be on Team Marilyn as a whole at that party because the whole point of it besides it being a birthday bash for Kyle was to secure investors (not the way Derek thinks you do).
    As for Ivy and Karen; I am team Karen. Ivy is the type of person who is so insecure yet promotes an air of confidence to hide that. She is an extremely jealous person and while Karen could have toned it down a bit, Ivy did not need to be so annoying about the fact that she was overshadowed. If she is the star, she should act like one, not a jealous, insecure bitch – she supposedly has a lot of experience and someone above said she even disses long-time friends to push her way to the top. I was very intrigued by the upcoming scenes for next week’s episode. It looks like she’s beginning to crack even more, and it would be interesting if they give the part to someone other than Karen, but it will be Karen in the end.
    I don’t think only Julia likes Karen; believe me, Derek does and he’s playing the two girls against each other, which is precisely part of why Tom cannot stand him. I was surprised to hear someone say that Tom and Derek were former best friends; somehow, I missed that in earlier eps.
    In any case, I am sticking with it, because it does improve week to week and now I am too invested to let it go.

  20. Debbie M says:

    I have to be team Karen, however I did love “Howl”. I was just so skeeved out when Ivy asked child Jonas to show her the bedrooms!

  21. jesse says:

    Great episode! I think they are finally fleshing out the characters and what they will become. LOVED the ‘ensemble’ helping Karen. Great dancing!
    I do find Ivy sympathetic. It’s one thing to sit back and say she shouldn’t do the things she does; it’s another to be in her shoes and realize that for 10 years she has worked hard and now she has her chance to be a star. It’s important to her; and sadly, she will do anything it takes to get there. I doubt that it is a stretch from reality.

  22. Drew says:

    I think that the episode was much better than last week’s. Though the performance at the party had a disconnect from the rest of the story… why did they call Michael in for a number which didn’t even feature him? It’s not like he was part of some big meeting with the kid.
    Though “National Passtime” is still my least favorite number from the show. The disconnect between the story being told and that number was horrible. They should ditch that one entirely.
    McPhee continues to impress. I actually get actor nerves during some of her scenes, which is unusual when I’m not performing anything. The subtleties of the performance were great.
    Still hate Ivy and Ellis… though I hate Ellis way more than Ivy.

  23. fernando says:

    Let me start of with IVY, I was so team Ivy when the show started but now that she got the role, I am slowing starting to dislike her. Yes Karen was trying to out shine but Ivy did not have to keep trying to get her out of the songs and dances and two yes IVY did get the part of Marlyin because she slept with Derek, yes everyone voted but at first Derek was team karen until he slept with IVY.
    Now let me move on to Ellis, I rather Nick Jonas have played tom asst. instead od the guy who plays him because hes not so good at it. But I do like that he is standing up for himself, Juila is a bit harsh on him.
    Nick Joans did amazing last night and I hope we see more of him.

  24. Su says:

    Forget Team Ivy or Team Karen…I’m Team Dev!

    • miria says:

      Can you please do us a favor and take him away from the show and lock him up so he never ruin any other ever? The guy is a complete waste of space. I`d be one happy camper if he got fired. Between him and Ellis, I`d vote for Ellis stay on the show. Dev makes watching a paint dry look like Star Wars OT.

      • Danielle H says:

        He sounds so good though ;) I like him being around because it kind of grounds Karen and shows part of her life and gives her a sounding board.
        As for this episode, I liked it. I am loving this show though. It’s slightly uneven, but still super watchable and o so enjoyable. My favorite new show of the year, and I liked a couple of the new shows of this year quite a bit!

  25. l says:

    I am absolutely loving Julia! Debra is doing great with the facial expressions in scenes with Ellis.