“The Phenomenon” – Smash

Smash - Season 2We weren’t quite sure what to expect from this week’s episode. After that major cliffhanger in “The Producers”, we were uncertain about how Smash would be dealing with the fallout of Kyle’s accident. Turns out that (a) we need not have worried, and (b) they would be dealing with it with no shortage of drama and tears, and with no pulling of punches.

We went into the episode wondering whether Kyle had survived. We didn’t have to wait long to find out. He didn’t. And then, suddenly, our uncertainty doubled as, up until now, the most serious storyline the writers had had to deal with was a whole lot of backbiting and some parental drama. Would they be able to produce an emotional and honest after-the-fact episode? Apparently so. This episode of Smash was remarkable as it genuinely moved us to tears, and also because Katharine McPhee somehow summoned up a few emotions to throw at the screen. There’s a first time for everything.

The episode on the whole was quite touching. The grief of the cast members of Hit List, and of the broader Broadway community, was ably dealt with, and the flashbacks to previously unseen conversations with Kyle were a nice touch that enabled us to truly appreciate his generosity of character and spirit in a way that hadn’t been possible before. That was, perhaps, the most unique aspect of the episode – up until this week, Kyle had been a background figure, most frequently playing second fiddle to Jimmy. Now, far too late, we have a whole new appreciation of who he was. It was an interesting method to use to make us feel sorry to see Kyle go. And, by episode’s end, we certainly were.

The tears didn’t start flowing, however, until Jimmy’s big number in that evening’s performance of Hit List. “The Love I Meant to Say” was the only original song of the episode – an episode during which, for the first time in a long time, the music was perfectly selected to capture emotion, mood and story, setting the exact right tone – and was the perfect send off from Jimmy. The tribute from the showrunners at Bombshell was touching, too, and was a great way to bring the whole cast into the mix.

The episode, while it did revolve around Kyle’s death, was not solely confined to that single arc. Also touched on were Karen and Derek not having sex, Jimmy’s sobriety (lack thereof and attempts to return to), the dissolution of Tom and Julia’s partnership (for all the right reasons), the breakup of Scott and Julia, Jerry Rand deciding to take Hit List to Broadway, and Karen telling Jimmy (finally) that she’s in love with him. These were rather in the background, and rightly so, but will undoubtedly be addressed in future episodes.

We leave this episode in a bit of a mess, emotionally. We’re looking forward to a return to form next week. We’re anticipating Jimmy in rehab, Julia slinking back to Tom with Gatsby in hand, and much drama surrounding Hit List’s move to Broadway. We imagine this will be the end of Karen and Ivy’s tenuous friendship and may also create some tension between Tom and Derek. It will be nice to get back to some straightforward drama and theatricality. – K

Quoteworthy: “To Kyle.”

 

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