Smash Recap: Frailty, Thy Name Is Woman?

smash season 2 karen jimmyPaging Gloria Steinem: The women of Smash need your help!

Julia, an accomplished playwright with multiple Broadway successes, has devolved into a bumbling ball of insecurities, so uncertain in her work that she has absolutely no idea if her new male writing partner has helped her discover a genius inner voice or is actively sabotaging her (¡even after a full read-through of her latest draft!).

Karen, an ingenue on the brink of staggering overnight success, has begun to sour on the prospects of continuing in the lead role of a multi-million-dollar musical — her loyalties now beginning to align with the promiscuous, possibly drug-addicted and deeply unpleasant amateur Brooklyn songwriter whose infrequent phone calls she desperately waits to receive.

Even Eileen, the ferocious producer who used to wield her martinis as weapons, now spends her afternoons fruitlessly trying to arrange prison visits with the felon boyfriend who’s told the warden he doesn’t want to see her anymore.

Who are these women? And how do we get their mojo back? Maybe they need to spend more time hanging with plucky Ivy Lynn, who this week was the only person in the cast or crew of the new musical Liaisons to tell her Hollywood actor costar that the show is a drama, not a broad comedy.

Anyhow, let’s cut to this week’s key plot developments:

A TALE OF TWO BOMBSHELLS | Julia returned from a writing spree in the Berkshires with the hot dramaturg dude, ready for a make-or-break read-through with new producer Jerry. But when she caught wind of some gossip that Peter had backstabbed a former client and then gotten his own version of a script produced, she began to doubt everything. Was her brilliant new book any good at all? Right before the reading, Tom warned her that “if it’s bad, it’s over,” but Julia — no longer able to tell brilliance from pablum — replied, “If I don’t hear it, I’ll never know.” What the what? Turns out Peter was on Julia’s side all along, and the new book wowed Derek, Jerry and everyone in the room. But wait! The new book turned out to be too good to be a commercial success, Jerry said. He and Tom voted to use an old version of the script — the one from Marilyn’s P.O.V. — while Derek and Julia lobbied for the new story of the men who made Marilyn what she was. Eileen somehow got the tiebreak vote — despite a court order barring her from being involved in the show — and the episode ended with a cliffhanger as she was about to render her verdict.

THE BOOK THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN WRITTEN | Karen, meanwhile, set up a read-through of icky love interest Jimmy and his gay bestie Kyle’s musical, The Hit List, as Derek had secured them a spot to perform the first act of it at Fringe Fest. Karen’s buddies (yay for the return of Bobby and Jessica!) volunteered to participate, but turns out Kyle’s writing was an amateurish mess. See! Not everyone has Jimmy’s natural brilliance! (Insert gagging sound here.) Karen and her roommate advised the guys to cut all the dialogue, fill in the blanks with new songs from Jimmy, and keep their date with Fringe. And while Karen’s roomie warned Jimmy to keep things professional, and not toy with Karen’s affections, a really awful musical number in which Karen sang Death Cab for Cutie’s “Some Boys” while mooning away and being pushed around like a prop indicates that the show is going to continue this ill-advised love story. (Also, should we talk about Karen’s hideous floral jacket? Did she get it from Julia when the playwright was cleaning out her closet?)

COMEDY MEETS DRAMA | Finally, as mentioned above, Liaisons‘ new star, Terry Falls (a Jim Carrey type played by Sean Hayes), arrived a week late for rehearsals and then tried to play the show as a silly comedy. After Ivy Lynn helped the bold-faced name face his fear of trying something new, he decided to go off all his meds — “I’ve neen in a 20-year haze of psychopharmaceuticals!” he shouted crazily — and really dive into the feeling of feelings. Is this how Liaisons will collapse, so Ivy Lynn can fulfill her destiny as Marilyn, while Karen heads to stardom via The Hit List? Time will tell — if Smash manages to complete its second season, anyway.

What did you think of this week’s Smash? Are you bugged by the show’s treatement of its female characters? And how about that nifty new number Public Relations? Sound off in the comments!