Smash: Season 1, Episode 6
Smash, Season 1, Episode 6: Chemistry

First off, I apologize for my absence last week. I'm sure you all missed my Smashing commentary while I was off gallivanting through the streets of ye olde Londontown.


Last week's "Let's Be Bad" set off a chain reaction of shit hitting the fan, as Ivy falls deeper into her super-bitch compensation for her extreme insecurity. Things are getting heated. The Workshop is fast approaching and nothing is done. Julia is a mess, with her home life falling apart (her son got almost arrested last week, and then saw her making out with leading man Michael, who is apparently really close with her family. Weeeird) and her work is just not coming together. Ivy's voice is faltering as her confidence stalls, Tom still hates Derek, Ellis is clearly up to no good, Karen is being looked at as a fill-in for Ivy, which is just making everything worse, and Eileen is having issues getting the money for the show together while keeping herself afloat in the face of her divorce. I'm not pleased with her new-found friendship with Ellis, but Eileen is otherwise really owning things, finding a new apartment, securing funding for the workshop, and pulling together a strong invite list for the preview performance, all while coming to love dive bars and flirting with a hot younger bartender (get it, girl!). Potentially my favorite moment in the entire episode is when Eileen walks in on Ivy screwing up in rehearsal, and manages to display all the heightened emotion and stress of the scene with a simple set of raised eyebrows.


Michael spends most of the episode fawning over Julia and trying to force her to confront their clear feelings for each other. The inevitable love scene between Michael and Julia is sort of super awkward, although their earlier encounter is emotional and genuine (they just sort of get really close to each other and both look really shaky, which means they're having so many feelings all at once).


When they finally give into their feelings, however, Julia just looks completely ashamed throughout, which isn't at all sexy. Michael does take his shirt off (after awkwardly removing hers), which is a big bonus, because he's ripped. But he's also clearly reckless, and maybe not as much a nice guy as he's been portrayed (he lies deftly when his wife walks in on him talking with Julia on the phone, and doesn't seem to really consider his family, or hers, at all as he pursues the affair). But their moves between the sheets (or rather, on the prop couch) really stimulate Julia's creative juices, because she manages to get the sexy number between Ivy's Marilyn and Michael's Joe DiMaggio on paper.

Ivy has her little trials with drugs, as she struggles to avoid vocal exhaustion while trying to figure out her relationship with Derek. According to Tom, she's "super sensitive to prescriptions." Some of the sequences, of Ivy looking despairingly at those little amber bottles are particularly heavy handed: I get it, she's playing Marilyn Monroe, who famously struggled (ultimately unsuccessfully) with substance abuse. Also like Marilyn, apparently, she can't seem to figure out how to keep herself from losing herself in a man. Derek has never made any kind of major declaration of feelings to her, at least that we've seen, but Ivy seems to be reading very deeply into their interactions. And considering that Derek consistently degrades her in rehearsal, a point that she makes often to him, you'd think she'd get it together way before she finally does, in her Ms. Monroe "moment" towards the end of the episode, where she just completely goes off on Derek during rehearsal. Also, she's extra bitchy this episode, as Karen's name is bandied about as a solution to Ivy's vocal woes.

But my biggest problem with the episode was the choice of "Shake it Out" by Florence + the Machine for Karen's big musical number of the episode.

If you read this blog at all (or know me at all), it's clear that I'm a huge Florence + the Machine fan. My cross-Atlantic vacation last week was predicated largely on the fact that Florence was playing London when my best friend was on spring break. And Karen"¦well, she's no Florence. Her voice is superficial and doesn't have any of the qualities that make me love Florence Welch. This performance is pretty stale for me, although it's a big empowerment moment for Karen, which I guess I could appreciate if she wasn't doing that weird shake thing with her hand, which makes her look ridiculous. This is basically the response I had to the whole episode: sure, it moves things along, but nothing was significantly compelling, really, and even the interactions I've liked to this point are kind of stalling. Let's hope that things get kicked into gear next week.

Grade: C-

What is the hostility between Tom and Ivy's dancer friend Sam? Clearly the show hasn't figured out how they really want to use Sam yet, and he's kind of just"¦there. Someone should work on that.

"And you're not that good in bed either." "It's just a side effect from the steroids." O, Derek.

Eileen playing big buck hunter is just fantastic. I wouldn't want to cross this woman.

Looks like next week's episode will be chock full of dramatic, do-or-die moments for Marilyn: the Musical

Tags: Smash
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