Review: Smash Season 2, Episode 5

The spotlight shines on Ivy in "The Read-Through" but that just lets the disappointing changes in her character.

Ivy’s part has been largely weakened this season. Partially it is because she is no longer in Bombshell, acting as Karen’s competition as she did in last season. Her character used to be a perky, rash young girl, and has now become a considerate and wizened lady who gives incisive advice. “The Read-Through” grants viewers some time with her and new guest star Sean Hayes, as they prepare for another show, Liaisons.

Hayes plays Terrence Fall, a famous comedian who stars the leading man in the play. Without knowing that Liaisons is a drama, Fall performed his part as a comedy. Ivy informs him that it is a drama and receives a reply with raised eyebrows and sighing at the end, all too reminiscent Hayes’ character in “Will and Grace.” Hayes, at this point, fulfills his mission—reuniting half of “Will and Grace.” However, for Ivy, these moments detract from her character.

Among the few scenes she appears each episode, she acts more and more like a mentor from Chicken Soup for the Soul, saying things like “you’re doubting yourself, you don’t do that, remember?” She implies that Tom can be a director (which looks like a set-up) and points out to Veronica that although Derek’s a jerk he guides Veronica the right way. Wise as she may seem, she is backing off from the turmoil and chaos; she is still an outsider.

“To you, this is only a concert. You’ll move on to other shows. This is Ronnie’s life. She wants to grow but she’s scared,” says Ivy to Derek in last episode. And Derek, all ears asks for advice on the next step. The season-one Ivy, untamed and passionate, who has friends around her when depressed, who fights with all her effort has softened, and become understanding.

Consequently, Ivy just doesn’t feel like the counterpart of Karen any more. Being fired by Derek is her rebirth, and being hired by Liaison production is Ivy transcending Bombshell production and any Broadway musicals. Her firmly serious acting against Terry’s hilarious acting reveals her talent and experience. Up to now, Ivy is shaped into a grown-up, a pre-star, and even worse, an adviser. Ivy’s journey ends while helping out everyone, in this musical rehearsal and later in that concert rehearsal. She doesn’t seem to be fighting any more.

But maybe that’s why Hayes comes up in this episode—create barrier, to mess up—so that Ivy can hit the road again. Her character deserves a little more than that.

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