Musing Review: Smash – Let’s Be Bad (S1, Ep5) – VIDEO

This is a review of Smash Season 1 Episode 5 – Let’s Be Bad

This past week’s episode was an alright follow on from the previous week (which I really liked).  The episode was good, but not great.  It wasn’t quite “ugh” free but there were some good storylines and great scenes.  We are getting closer to a production of Marilyn: The Musical and tensions are heating up for the characters and coming out in various ways.  Let’s see how it went down and what I thought.

I’ll start talking about Eileen because she was the opening scene and pretty inconsequential to the episode.  The money problems we followed last week seem to have been taken care of but tension still exists with her ex-husband.  This time it seems she got the short end of the stick when her assistant (lawyer, I’m not 100% sure) was stolen.  All we really learned from her is that we’re only weeks away from needing a complete script and Julia is behind on finishing scenes.  I’m not particularly upset Eileen was inconsequential.  As producer she has certain roles and she just wasn’t needed this episode.  Up to now I still like her character.  She showed a lot of drive last week and is very passionate about Marilyn.  I’m guessing that we’ll continue to see those characteristics from her.

Let’s move on to the practice studio.  Basically Ivy isn’t performing to Derek’s standards and can’t sing the song to his satisfaction.  She didn’t have enough bravado (correct musical term?) in her voice.  Then comes the tense moment where Derek tells Karen to show Ivy how it’s done.  Karen, who is shocked is reluctant to perform in front of the group.  Derek goes ahead and condescendingly chastises both Karen and Ivy.  It worked because Karen goes ahead and sings “Happy Birthday” to demonstrate to Ivy what she was missing.  Lots of three way tension here.  To top it off Derek tells Karen and Ivy to get together so Karen can show her some things.  How bout them apples? Bam!  The scene with just Karen and Ivy (which I believe was the first one of the show where they interchanged words) was tense as well.  It’s just awkward.  Neither one of them want to be there.  I was cringing just watching.  Ivy ends it by telling Karen not to get too ahead of herself.  I kind of agree, we’re way to early in the show for Karen to become a star, at least not tragically (which wouldn’t be good either).

Let’s talk about Julia now.  So she’s not finished with her writing and is quite distracted.  Michael is still on the brain, my guess – they never quite explained that.  Michael is all about Julia though.  He wants to meet with her to discuss scenes, and really wants her attention.  In her defense she doesn’t want to sit down with him.  She knows it’s not in her best interest.  Enter Tom into the storyline now (though this isn’t exactly chronological) because it’s needed for a recap and he’s over dating the lawyer from last week.  I could see that reaction coming from a mile away.  Tom is this artsy broadway writer and the lawyer is quite frankly … a lawyer (no offense to my lawyer friends).  If I were Tom I’d probably see him as just a suit.  They do go out on a date though.

Back to Julia.  We already knew she had a tough home life with her husband no longer wanting the adoption and him wanting to go back to work.  This week it got tougher and it had to do with her son Leo.  Leo got himself arrested and couldn’t get in touch with his mom (more to come later) so he calls Tom instead.  Tom rushes to the police station, conveniently with his lawyer date, and is able to get Leo off with just a bench warrant.  (He was arrested for smoking pot out of a vaporizer by the way.)  Not only is doing drugs bad in and of itself but his arrest can complicate the adoption even further.  This of course upsets Julia and she has to parent him.  This leads to a scene in Leo’s room where she lays down the law. The conversation was normal, something I would have expected from my mom.  There was an “ugh” moment here though.  When Julia walks in Leo is listening to very heavy metal music.  That was just way too over the top.  He’s a teenager full of angst (he’s experimenting with drugs) but do you really have to tell the audience with heavy metal music, give us more credit than that.  Note that Tom liked the lawyer for saving Leo, they went out again, had sex, it was bad and then they laughed.  End of Tom story.

Karen was also having her own one on one tension with Dev.  On top of her being flustered by what was going on in the practice studio Dev found out he wasn’t likely to get the promotion he was expecting.  Dev was also getting his info from a pretty NY Times reporter and Karen was a little bit jealous.  Later on in the episode Dev wanted Karen to get all gussied up and accompanying to a dinner on the USS Intrepid.  All he wanted was to show off his hot girlfriend so he could try and get points at work.  Kind of chauvinistic though as a man I understand it and I’ll say that women can do that to men too.  I think Dev’s motives were a bit wrong here though.  This forced Karen to sing out her feelings.  It was a great performance but I didn’t like the fact that it happened.  It just made me feel like I was watching Glee and there was no need for her to sing them out.  I realize I liked last week’s performance in the bar with the ensemble but this was different because it was just her.  The tension went on to the dinner.  In an effort to get ahead in his career Dev didn’t even sit with Karen.  This upset her.  It turned out to be a good thing though as she was sitting next to Dev’s rival and mined him for information.  It was nice that she could get over being upset to do something nice.  I like the two of them.  I don’t think they’ll work out in the long run but they play the characters like they genuinely care for each other.

Back to Julia again.  More “ugh” moments abound.  I already alluded to the fact that Michael wanted to meet with her and she initially blew him off.  That was only initially. They ended up meeting at a diner and spent all night flirting and eating pie.  That’s why Julia was M.I.A. when Leo tried to get a hold of her.  If that’s all that happened this episode between them it would have been sufficient.  Fast forward some more and Michael shows up unannounced at Julia’s and Leo ends up inviting him for dinner.  He gets drunk and says stupid things.  Julia tries to rush him out multiple times but the car service conveniently didn’t come.  They end up sitting outside talking and the car service comes.  And there it was again, some more tension (the sexual kind this time) and Michael ends up singing his feelings to her.  UGH!  It was just too much.  It was a sweet song but again, we’re not watching Glee.  They kiss and Leo sees from the window.  More to come on this one I’m sure.  He’s a homewrecker, Leo will get upset, the husband will find out, the adoption will be even more jeopardized (they may even lose it).  I’m sure all of these things will happen.

Last but certainly not least is Derek and Ivy and their tension.  I already said he wasn’t satisfied about her singing.  That wasn’t all he was dissatisfied with.  Ivy’s confidence was still shaky and she couldn’t perform a practice round of “Let’s be bad” multiple times.  He chastises her and after she almost cries she pulls it back together for a performance that was quite spectacular.  They did one of those shift to the broadway stage version and it just worked really well.  It was long, there was story, the costumes and singing and dancing were great.  Afterwards everyone claps but Derek is dissatisfied.  This infuriates / upsets Ivy and she decides to go confront Derek (after some drinks and commiserating with her cast mates of course).  She shows up at his house and tries to yell at him.  He has this thing where he can turn it right back around because he’s an artist.  He goes on to say when he’s in the practice room it’s not about any particular person (whether he cares about them or not) it’s all about making Marilyn and he only expects the best and she needs to understand that.  This is now two episodes in a row where he drops some wisdom bombs.  He then follows it up with an “Are you staying?” comment and is sweet on Ivy which makes us think maybe he’s not that altruistic.  They sleep together and when Ivy wakes up in the middle of the night he’s not there.  He’s downstairs working on the play.  Now that’s dedication.  As much as he kind of annoys me I’m really starting to like him and he may in fact be my second favorite character in the show.

So it was an alright episode full of tension.  I’m still going to keep watching.  Who knows where we’ll be in a couple weeks and what can happen then. I hope the writers treat us a little bit better and give us less “ugh” moments by writing smarter but I guess I can deal. What did you think?

Watch Smash at 10:00PM Mondays on NBC.  Catch up on NBC.com, Hulu or watch below while the video still works.