After months and months of anticipation, filled with numerous cast additions (and subtractions), a new showrunner, and commercials that could be mistaken for a Weight Watchers ad (sorry J-Hud…), the season 2 premiere of “Smash” is here! At long last our favorite gang of Broadway hopefuls are back and ready for anything. Let’s get started!
We begin with a musical montage with our beloved Marilyn. Karen sings a song called “Moving On” on the closing night of previews in Boston. Clearly some continued drama between Ivy and Karen has been ongoing since we last saw. Ivy is all droopy and sad while Karen’s living the life. We get a glimpse at the various pairs of lovers seemingly getting along, including Julia and Frank. We see Karen’s new roommate who delivers a little note from Karen’s favorite ex, Dev. She immediately crumples it on, “moves on” while Ivy “moves on” by tossing out all her pills. MOVING ON! When the song concludes, Karen gets a bit icy, a new character development, and tells Ivy to get the next elevator. As the elevator opens, we get an odd meeting in our lovely rehearsal room where Eileen announces her intentions to bring Bombshell to Broadway. Julia announces that there may be some creative changes where some of the cast may no longer last. Eileen gives Karen the chance to sing at a little shin dig and can pick her own backup singers. She picks Jessica, Beth, and Joy, leaving poor little Ivy in the dust. As Ivy mopes we segue into a new title sequence. WHAT?! No likey!
We’re back in Eileen’s cozy office, also known as headquarters, where the team has a debriefing where we get another write off of the season of an axed character. Michael Swift has asked out of his contract. Adious amigo! Eileen wants to know where other creative changes are going to happen, based on the critics reviews, which Julia hasn’t read. A direct dig to Theresa Rebeck? Probably. Eileen announces she wants to get the show at the St. James Theater, which apparently is super exciting, but Derek is apprehensive about whether or not this show is actually going to happen. Foreshadowing? Now we venture out of office and into Karen’s new digs. Karen and her new roomie Ana chat about some Bombshell with roomie’s computer appropriately opened to Playbill.com. Looking for a job much? Are Karen and Ana going to get along? Here’s hoping! Karen needs a friend. And apparently she’s gotten very chummy with McSleazy himself, director Derek, who’s invited her to see Veronica Moore in a fun vintage show. From Ivy to Karen? Speaking of, everyone’s still talking about the show that’s over. Ivy whines about not getting a call from her agent regarding her future with the project. Poor Ivy. We need some happiness so let’s see another musical number! And who better to hear sing than the legendary Veronica Moore played by Oscar Winner Jennifer Hudson. (In case you live under a rock or the abundance of promos didn’t remind you who she is!) The song has shades of Memphis. And it’s possible this make-believe show is better! After J-Hud sings, we go to her dressing room where McSleazy drops the bombshell (insert cymbal crash) that he’s directing J-Hud in a production of The Wiz after he’s done with Karen. Now did he mean that metaphorically or literally or…It’s McSleazy so it’s probably both. He asks J-Hud to give Karen some advice and she actually gives some sound advice. And then of course when J-Hud leaves her dressing room, she’s hounded with cameras. She’s that big of a star! Conveniently outside is Tom and Julia pining over their other show. Huh? Ok, moving on. Eileen is waiting for Jordan Roth (cameo!) but her super sleazy husband Jerry pops up because he’s jealous and will stop at nothing to bring his ex down. But before he can do that, the first big change of season 2 is no liquid toss from Eileen! BOOO! And cue commercial. We’re going to take a second to talk about this first commercial because it’s a cross promotion with the show where a bunch of theater folks sing our favorite song “Let Me Be Your Star" as they dance with some commoners around a car. Please bring that song back!!!
We’re at rehearsal for Eileen’s shindig only to find out that Ivy has conned her way into singing a song after Karen. Sneaky sneaky girl. She goes to Julia to ask why she hasn’t received a call only to find out she needs to apologize to Karen. But she already did in Boston! Girl, you ain’t apologized until you did it on camera! McSleazy is at lunch with the other McSleazy of NYC, Michael Riedel (cameo!). And that’s how Page 6 is run! Karen goes to meet McSleazy to talk about why Ivy is singing at the party but we first meet Jimmy, who we are going to see a lot of. McSleazy pops over and offers the opportunity to axe Ivy if she wants. Will she? Won’t she? Well first we need to catch up with Tom and Sam! But wait, they’re not that important apparently so let’s slap on the “SMASH SEASON 1 IS NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD” banner in the middle of the scene. How rude! We learn that Sam has been offered a role in The Book of Mormon tour but doesn’t want to take it because he wants to stay with Bombshell…and Tom. How cute! But wait! What’s that? There’s Frank making out with a mysterious brunette! Dun dun dun. What will Tom do? Tell Julia? Find out soon on "Smash."
At the party, Ivy, Jessica, and Bobby are gossiping over Rebecca’s departure from Bombshell. Sexual harassment! Riedel! You devil! McSlezy walks in arm in arm with J-Hud or V-Mo (which do we like better?) and whines that he is being villainized. If the shoe fits! Frank is randomly at the party where he gets a hug by Linda the Stage Manager. She has lines that are not show related! But uh oh, they are relationship killer lines! You give the Stage Manager the bad news lines? How mean! Frank asks Julia if everyone knows about their waning marriage only for Julia to announce that shows are like family, everyone knows everything. How very true. Eileen finds out Jordan Roth is not coming to the party and needs to find a distraction. J-Hud/V-Mo suggests Karen who conveniently walks up the stairs like a superstar. Perfect! Segue into a J-Hud/V-Mo and Karen duet of “On Broadway.” It’s actually quite good. These American Idol castoffs are pretty killer! #theyshouldhavewontheirseasons In the middle of the song, Sam comically mouths to Tom that he should tell Julia about his discovery of Frank and mystery lady. Meanwhile as the dueling divas belt, Eileen is whisked away by her boyfriend and McSleazy watches his two leading ladies with sinister eyes. As the song ends, McSleazy and Karen have an odd sexual moment. C’MON! The man doesn’t change! Karen calls herself his muse, they are about to do something when Ivy conveniently sees. Mopey Ivy thinks Derek called her because he’s with Karen but in reality, Ivy is getting the axe. And for more drama, cut to Frank and Julia. The throw down of the century. “She’s just someone from school. It was nothing.” Really Frank! You had more time to think on that one! He gets so worked up that he has a tantrum in front of the theater family, revealing he wanted to sleep with the school lady. He’s so angry that he outs everyone else who slept around just as Michael Riedel conveniently walks in. Ivy and Karen are next. Showdown? No! No? Ivy is admitting she did wrong? What? Homegirl has changed since last season! She’s got soul! Ivy wishes Karen a heartfilled good luck, leaving Karen, and us, so confused. Julia, sans scarves but plus horrible crying smeared makeup, is outside of the party where we learn that Frank is officially gone. And another character has bitten the dust. Tom consoles Julia because he’s the nicest guy and they’re partners. That’s collaboration my friends! Karen and McSleazy want to talk to Eileen only to reveal that the money that she got to finance the show has been tipped off to the government. Oh Jerry.
McSleazy and Karen sit outside on a beautiful day confused as to why they are suddenly out of a job, or two in the case of McSleazy since he’s not gonna “Ease on Down the Road.” Back at Tom’s apartment, Tom has taken Julia in as a relationship refugee. He announces that he’s going to break up with Sam, aka by telling him to take the tour. He then begs that she stay with him indefinitely. She agrees as long as he doesn’t hide anything from her. And then she gets a stack of her reviews. Oh boy. Cue the booze. Ivy goes on her first audition post Bombshell looking for a chorus role. And cue the musical montage! Mopey Ivy walks out of a seemingly botched the audition, McSleazy mopes about an empty rehearsal room, Tom mopes after getting a gift from Sam, Julia mopes about heinous reviews, and Eileen, while being stalked by Jerry, mopes about her bomb. Karen is at Jimmy’s bar where she’s about to get thrown out because they’re closing at 1am. So not New York. Kyle, the other bartender, gushes to Karen about her being her and asks her to sign his Playbill of the failed musical, since he conveniently has a stash under the bar. She signs and goes, until she comes back because she conveniently forget her phone. Why is it convenient? Because Jimmy is singing a song her wrote, “Broadway Here I Come.” A new song by a new writer on “Smash!” She loves it, we love it, and now Derek, who Karen calls to listen to the song, is about to love it! Could this be McSleazy’s new project? Foreshadow!
In our second hour, Karen stalks Jimmy at work to talk about his musical. Jimmy is confused and instead hits on Karen. He needs some work. Perhaps McSleazy can help! Karen walks off but Kyle chases her down knowing this an opportunity of a lifetime. At headquarters, Tom and McSleazy battle with a war of worlds until Eileen tries to piece together some clues as to why her boyfriend is a scum. McSleazy, who’s reading American Theatre magazine, says he can’t not take a job if it comes up but Tom says he’s there for her. Ivy continues to whine to Sam until they are ambushed by Lisa McMann, played by Annaleigh Ashford, in front of Amy’s Bread! We love that place! Lisa admits she’s basically given up acting since she hasn’t gotten any jobs. McSleazy meets with his agent in a massive office only to learn that he’s no longer The Wiz. Why? Because five dancers have filed sexual harassment suits against him. Damn! Eileen has been taken off the guest list for the American Theater Wing Gala and grovels to Jerry to give her his table. He’s so nice that he agrees. Eileen announces to her creative team via iPhone conference call, that they are going to the ATW Gala and can’t make a scene. Which sounds like code for they’re about to!
Julia is in bed, or in pull out couch, whining that doesn’t want to go. Tom tries to convince Julia to go but she’s still distraught over the breakup of her family. Julia asks Friend Tom to tell Partner Tom that she can’t go. Tom bends over and agrees to. What a good friend! Karen meets with Kyle in Times Square and shows her the “music” from Kyle and Jimmy’s “musical.” Kyle begs Karen to listen and convinces her to go to their apartment to hear the music. At Tom’s apartment, Julia thinks she’s getting her take out but it’s Ivy. McSleazy goes and stalks one of his harassment accusers, played by my absolute favorite Mara Davi, who gives him the smackdown. McSleazy got served! Ivy vents to Julia where we continue to see the softer side of Ivy Lynn. Is Ivy really ready to quit? Of course not or then the show would be over. Julia tells it like it is while offering Fluff. Then Tom, as he’s walking down the street, conveniently gets stopped by Harvey Fierstein. What?! Harvey, in his comic brilliance, thinks Tom and Julia have broken up, tries to con Tom to work with him. But Tom assures him that they are still in tact and that he will see them both later that night. We then learn that McSleazy’s lady count is up to six. McSleazy tries to ask Jimmy for advice but he gives him the cold shoulder. Bad move Mr. Writer. Drunk McSleazy is about to hit on a random women but instead gets punched in the face. Insert random music sequence. I thought we were done with those! A plethora of sexy dancers, including Ivy and Karen, clad in “Addicted to Love”-esque outfits, sexually harass him through dance. How convenient. It was only a hallucination.
“Honey I’m home” announces Tom as he walks in ready to tell Julia about his little oopsie. But Julia knows because Harvey Fierstein told Cheyenne Jackson who told Jackie Hoffman who told Mary Testa who told Julia. If you can’t follow that chain, go Google it. Six Degrees of Harvey Fierstein! At Ana and Karen’s, Ana plays the music which they think is amazing and Jonathan Larson-esque. Bobby wants to know if our new composer friend is gay, because all musical theater boys are gay, only to find out that Karen can’t see the signs that she was being hit on by Jimmy. Follow me as I digress for a second. There’s an Addams Family reunion on my tv screen! Wesley Taylor and Krysta Rodriguez! “Crazier Than You” is my jam! And now back to your regular scheduled broadcast. At the American Theater Wing Gala, Julia makes a mockery of herself when she discovers that she’s not really speaking at the Gala. Tom rescues Julia but she’s pissed Tom lied. They bicker and get interrupted by a fan who saw Heaven on Earth for the third time. At least we get some humor in the drama. They continue to bicker when Tom admits he’s been a good friend and won’t leave his writing partner despite the rumors of her mental breakdown and her inability to hack it. Julia just got hit with the honesty stick.
Now in Brooklyn, the apparent scary place of NYC, Karen and Co. meet Kyle and Jimmy, who apparently live in a huge loft. Karen and Jimmy begin to flirt while Bobby and Kyle get their flirt on. Ivy and McSleazy sit on a stoop where DrunkSleazy tells Ivy he basically has done an entire line of Rockettes. Way to go horndog! DrunkSleazy tries to apologize to Ivy but she’s not buying it. If alcohol is truth serum, DrunkSleazy admits that Ivy was his friend and that Ivy is talented and his Marilyn. Don’t give up Ivy! And then DrunkSleazy goes in for a kiss. See! Things don’t change. Eileen pounces on the ATW President only to get kicked out. Burned. Back in Brooklyn, Karen and Jimmy exchange flirty barbs which leads to Karen singing one of Jimmy’s songs conveniently accompanied by Ana on piano. Karen rocks it for the entire party but Jimmy is not having it. Listen to Karen, Jimmy!
Jimmy is pissed at Kyle for stealing his songs. Karen tries to reason with Jimmy but his ego and hot-headedness pushes her away. Remember how I predicted a stunt at the ATW Gala? Here we go! Ivy, not Karen who conveniently has her phone off, is gonna sing a song to make them realize Bombshell is the show they don’t want to miss. Ivy goes the distance with this unheard Bombshell song, making us question her future with the show since she was, well, fired.
With a whopping seven musical numbers in two hours, “Smash” is back! Unlike the first episode of Season 1, we can’t quite predict the trajectory of plot for the season, which is a very good thing. Keeps the masses watching! So what do you think? Will Bombshell bomb on Broadway? Who’s your favorite new kid? Did you like how the axed characters were written off? And, most importantly where’s Ellis? Snoopy was not mentioned once! I’m sure we’ll find out soon! Welcome back “Smash”, we missed you so!