Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Smash recap: Musical Chairs

Smash reaches new levels of self-referentiality as Bombshell and Hit List each find a star

Posted on

Will Hart/NBC


TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:

Start your musical countdown clocks, Smashochists: It’s officially the beginning of the end.

Well, maybe not officially officially. NBC hasn’t yet confirmed that its onetime Great White Hope will go the way of The Playboy Club once season 2 is through. But given the ratings — and, oh yeah, the show’s imminent move to Saturday nights — cancellation’s about as likely as Derek throwing a hissy fit, or Jimmy being difficult, or Kyle hanging around Hit List rehearsals even though he is literally contributing nothing to that show.

This grim reality brought a new dimension to the conversation Ivy and Terry had before Liaisons‘s disastrous opening night. To refresh your memory: Ivy, sick of being tied to a sinking ship, finally confesses that she simply hates the show in which they’re starring. Terry responds that he, too, wishes she would just leave Liaisons: “You’re too good in it. It’s annoying.” Forget that crack about the scarves, or Eileen referencing her old drink-tossing ways; this scene may be Smash‘s most meta moment to date, even if the parallels between Megan Hilty’s situation and Ivy’s situation are purely coincidental.

Interestingly enough, Ivy and Terry’s talk was constructive as well as cathartic. After unloading their complaints, the two Grinches got a wonderful, awful idea: Why not make their musical as insane as possible before its inevitable flameout? As Ivy muses, “If we’re going down, we should go down in a blaze of glory.” In other words — if you know you’re going to flop, be Dance of the Vampires, not Bonnie & Clyde (which, as a commenter points out, also starred Jeremy Jordan).

Let’s hope that Smash ends up taking its own advice. Burning out beats fading away — especially if the latter option means more episodes like “Musical Chairs,” which took an entire hour to reach the forgone conclusion everyone predicted weeks ago. Karen has finally ditched Bombshell for Hit List; Ivy, in turn, has finally been restored to her rightful place as Marilyn Monroe, though we were cheated out of seeing Tom deliver that good news. All is well in Smashville… minus some snoozy Karen/Jimmy/Derek love triangle business that brings to mind the work of Eve Sedgwick.

We’ll get to that ish in good time. First, though, there’s the matter of a Derek-less Bombshell, which has reverted to Rebecca Duvall-era levels of badness in just three weeks. Karen says at one point that the problem is Tom, who’s trying to respect Derek’s work while also putting his own stamp on the material. From what we’re shown, though, the issue appears to be Karen herself, who questions Tom’s every instruction and just doesn’t seem able to deliver the performance he’s asking her to deliver. Naturally and logically, this eventually leads to a scene in which Tom apologizes to Karen. How dare the director direct his star!

NEXT: Delightful Liaisons