What a difference a week makes. After a solid start to the second season, Smash returns to some of the problems that plagued its first season including a nod to one of TVs most hated characters…like ever. On the bright side J-Hud closes the episode with one of the best songs from the series and of course, she kills it. Did I mention Sheryl Lee Ralph (the original Deena Jones!) shows up as Veronica’s mother? Let’s bitch.
This week the show juggles a few characters while making more room for Veronica’s (Jennifer Hudson) storyline, to varying degrees of success. Let’s start with what works. Julia (Debra Messing) meets up with Peter (Daniel Sunjata) to continue work on the book for Bombshell. She goes to his acting class thinking she has been asked to speak, but unpleasantly surprised when she’s confronted by his students criticism of her book. Ouch!
While the romance between Julia and Peter is becoming more and more obvious, it’s still nice to see part of the creative process at work. Julia’s refusal to actually address some of the criticisms of her book rings true for an artist who is afraid that she has lost the magic, as is her realization that the students were right. There’s some great dialogue between her and Peter this week about an artists insecurities. I have to say the Julia of season two is way more fun that season one Julia. I guess that’s what happens when you stop dragging about 180lbs of dead weight. Yes, I’m talking about Leo (Emory Cohen).
Meanwhile the rest of the Bombshell gang is busy helping Veronica get her one woman show ready. Trying to shake her good girl image, Veronica tries her hardest to bring sexy back, even though she is clearly uncomfortable playing the sex pot. This is complicated with her ‘mom-ager’, Beverly, trying to keep things PG-13. Poor Ronnie is caught in the middle of her mother and Derek (Jack Davenport) who seem to have two visions of what the show should be like.
This storyline has been in the works since the first episode when we are first introduced to Veronica’s character. And while the whole mom-ager storyline is a little cliche, it can still work. That’s of course if you actually explore the concept. Instead Smash hints at the potential tension but then in one fell swoop, or one line, it’s over. Really?? Really Smash?? You are going to get Jennifer Hudson (Oscar winner) and Sheryl Lee Ralph (Broadway legend) together on screen and completely half ass it? What is this, season one?
It’s so frustrating to watch because they tease us with the possibility of great drama and then completely fail to deliver. This should have been stretched out over a few episodes.
Adding more frustration to this storyline is Ivy (Megan Hilty) who shows up to help out. And help she does. In one scene she tells Veronica to do the show like Derek wants and then just a few scenes later tells Derek to do the show the way Veronica wants it. Well which is it honey? It doesn’t make sense for Ivy to do a complete 180 like that, it feels completely contrived. Why not tell Derek to take it easy on Veronica instead?
In the background we also have Karen (Katharine McPhee) and her blossoming romance with Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan). While I like the addition of the two boys, I do wish we would get a bit more info on their background already. ‘Cause I am kind of getting tired of Jimmy’s tough guy/entitlement act. Plus that whole scene with him and Karen is painful to watch. I get that she is smitten by him, but would you really be okay if some guy showed up to your work that high on who-knows-what-kind of drugs? Honey, it’s called a dealbreaker. I don’t care if he’s the supposed second coming of Stephen Sondheim, get your sh*t together before you come to my work all jacked up. I certainly wouldn’t find it cute. Ugh, why do they insist on making Karen so unlikable?
And then there’s Eileen (Angelica Huston) who is dealing with the fallout over the funding of Bombshell. Nick (Thorsten Kaye) comes back to turn himself in but in the end Eileen has to step down as producer of the show in order to save it, giving the job to her ex-husband Jerry (Michael Cristopher). But the shocker of course is the revelation at the end of the episode that Ellis (Jaime Cepero) is the one that has been helping Jerry with his plot against Eileen. Here’s hoping this brief phone conversation is the only appearance of Ellis hinted at by Safran.
Of course the episode does save itself in the end. I know it seems impossible, but when you have Jennifer Hudson miracles can happen. Veronica ends up singing the song Jimmy wrote, foreshadowing the success of The Hit List which will be on Broadway in next week’s episode I am sure. The new song ‘I Can’t Let Go’ is definitely a showstopper and J-Hud kills it much like she did in her crazy good performance this past Sunday at the Oscars. (not the mention she was on the best dressed list) It washed away the bad taste I had in my mouth and gave me shivers. Well played Smash! Well played.
What did you think? Were you annoyed with the bum rush they gave to the Veronica’s storyline? Were you confused by Ivy’s advice? Did you love the new song? Sound off below.
Smash airs Tuesdays at 10pm EST on NBC.