The biggest question the Golden Globe-nominated Smash will face is whether or not it can return to the level of the first handful of episodes it offered last season. Will it be able to get rid of all of the annoying and murky subplots that drove fans and critics who loved it away before we even saw Karen take on Marilyn Monroe?
We’ve known for months that certain characters have been cut or reduced to recurring or even guest star status and that the show would refocus and fight to get us all back on board. “On Broadway” and “The Fallout”—the first two episodes of the second season—focus on making things right. The plot in these episodes details how the creative team must work on certain changes to Bombshell to appease the audience and look for a new Joe DiMaggio now that Michael Swift is no more (yay!).
Of course there’s still a lot of drama brewing: Karen is still furious that Ivy slept with her ex-fiance Dev, Tom is worried Julia—who hasn’t read the reviews of the preview in Boston—won’t make changes to her songs that were blasted by critics, plus her relationship is on the rocks.
The first episode back answers a lot of the questions and resolves a lot of the leftover drama mentioned before. It seems as if Ivy’s dramatic apology to Karen softens up the actress regarding their relationship, but it doesn’t really matter. Eileen’s husband screwed her over once again and tipped the government off regarding where she was getting the money to fund Bombshell, and the show is temporarily up in the air. Meanwhile, Julia’s marriage goes from being on the rocks to basically over. She moves in with Tom a la Will & Grace, and the two say they’ll work hard immediately, but Julia becomes depressed and doesn’t get out of her pajamas for a week.
The second episode begins with Karen trying to befriend Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan), a bartender who is writing a musical, but he’s determined to make it on his own with his writing partner. The early sexual tension will propel the two into the type of relationship that was a missing ingredient from the first season. Her relationship with Dev was one of my least favorite parts of the show, and I’m glad she kicked him to the curb. The inevitable relationship with Jimmy could really launch the actor to stardom. Jordan brings a different aspect to the show and has already earned a Tony nomination for his leading role in Newsies. If he’s not the newest heartthrob by the end of the season, then I don’t know what’s wrong with America.
While Karen is awkwardly singing at a house party in Greenpoint, the creative team is trying to save face in the theater community, but it isn’t working. The fallout regarding Eileen’s mistake continues to build, making it very uncertain if the show will actually go on, but in a desperate moment, they call Karen to come crash a gala event to sing and impress the community. Of course she’s drinking PBR and talking about The Strokes in Brooklyn and can’t make it. Enter Ivy to steal the moment and possibly the role away from Karen.
The two-hour premiere was a terrific welcome back for Smash and felt very refreshing for a show that grew so stale so quickly in the first season. My favorite addition is the guest role of Jennifer Hudson’s Veronica Moore. She’s a two-time Tony winner and good friends with Derek, who might direct her in the revived The Wiz. I mean, first of all, two American Idol alums tearing it up on a primetime show? Love it. Even better is the fact that these two stars never won their season. Where’s Ruben or Fantasia, hmm?
Last year I was this excited for the show after a few episodes, but then it dropped the ball. I doubt Smash will make the same mistakes twice. The series really has a lot to prove now that it has a Golden Globe nomination under its belt.