When Ivy (Megan Hilty) becomes sick and begins to loose her voice, Karen (Katharine McPhee) is touted to quickly replace her if she doesn’t recover. Accidentally overhearing this, Karen prepares for playing Marilyn once again. This moment is a plot device that could be seen coming up Fifth Avenue. Smash has always been heading in the understudy direction, and if All About Eve has taught us anything, it is that one should always be at least prepared to take the lead spot.
Hilty is still plenty of fun as Ivy, especially as she has a slight break with reality in front of a mirror at the height of her recuperation. Ivy’s story especially parallels Marilyn’s own when the demanding Derek (Jack Davenport) strongly suggests that she take steroids to speed up her vocal problems despite the dangerous possible consequences. Jacquelyn Reingold allows Hilty to shine even further with a terrific, steroid-driven outburst at Derek in front of the whole rehearsal company.
McPhee is given yet another jukebox moment at a Bar Mitzvah, serenading the burgeoning youth with a rousing rendition of “Shake It Out”. The rather awful scene compares to an awkward Disney-channel performance as the Bar Mitzvah-ites unceremoniously bopping up and down. Thankfully we’re rewarded with “History is Made at Night”, an original song from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, which is much more entertaining.
Anjelica Huston adds a whole lot of flavour to the episode when she is given more to do than casually throwing a full martini glass at some wandering old fool. Inadvertently pairing up with the very eager Ellis, the two swiftly enjoy some apartment hunting and cheap drinks at a cheap bar. Huston’s deadpan comic timing is brilliant, and Smash gets that little bit more exciting when she is buzzing around.
Julia’s (Debra Messing) reignited affair with Michael (Will Chase) continues at full steam, despite Frank finally coming home after a notable absence. Julia’s joy at seeing Frank at home relates mainly to her loss of control. With Frank home, Julia feels she will be more measured and controlled. And yet this all falls apart with a steamy sex scene occurring in the rehearsal room late one night. While the plot devices border on fodder usually prevalent in daytime soaps, Messing’s performance adds depth that allows the scenes to play without feeling too out of place.
Though it doesn’t belt out the high notes reached in previous episodes, Smash still continues to enjoy as the workshop develops and tensions grows.
Smash airs Mondays at 9.30pm and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on W channel. You can read past episode reviews here.