After a pilot episode that just delivered – By meeting its expectative but not doing anything ground-shattering – Smash’s second episode builds upon having already established its premise and cast by going deeper into the story and delivering a more impressive, more emotive episode than the pilot.
What made this episode so good is quite simple, however: Following the formula established by the previous episode while spending the episode developing the characters and their inner worlds instead of introducing them to the audience (Something that was necessary during the first episode). By doing this The Callback became an episode that kept the charm of the first one (Actually, making it even more charming by having the performances mean a bit more than they did in the previous one) while actually delivering a storyline, something that was pretty hard to do with the pilot, as it often happens with TV pilots.
The episode is mainly centered on the task of choosing who the right actress to play Marilyn is – Either Karen or Ivy. Following suit with the issue described during the Pilot, the qualities of both actresses are considered useful for the character, since the experience Ivy has gives her an edge of sorts but the innocence found in Karen makes her feel a bit more Marilyn. After the producers, particularly Derek, recognize they lack some information on Karen’s development to be able to choose, they call both actresses for a second callback destined mainly to test Karen’s dance abilities.
In the meantime, Julia and Frank keep progressing on their bid for adoption (We learn it’s a Chinese baby they want to adopt), though Frank is disheartened to learn the process can take two years at best, making him doubt he wants to go on with it since he’d be in sixty-five years old by when the baby graduated from High School, which he seems to believe is a little too old (Something that shouldn’t be an issue to begin with considering he’d be sixty-three had he gotten the baby the following day, though I believe there could be a bit of a mid-life crisis going on him considering his age and the position he’s in).
Eileen also has her share of troubles by having her husband try to get into her musical and try to convince her she’s wasting her time with it – And reminding her she doesn’t really have a way to fund it, while Karen starts facing the hard truth of working on show business that is not having time for many other things when she’s forced to stand up her boyfriend on an important dinner due to having a rehearsal run late.
In the end of the episode, it is shown that Ivy got chosen over Karen, partly because of her experience and partly because she slept with Derek. Nothing is shown regarding whether Karen was offered any part at all on the musical, though her continuing her rehearsal along with a scene where Eileen advises Derek to keep an eye on Karen since she could become something seems to suggest she’s meant to be around the musical somehow (Not to mention the very premise of the show guarantees this will happen anyway).
Not only was the plot quite good by offering us insight on the characters and how their lives separate from the stage go (And how their work on the stage affects them), but the music used was also a step up – I had a couple complaints on the first episode that, thankfully, I don’t have this time around and even the visual performances were in general more appealing than in the Pilot.
If anything, the only thing I guess I can criticize (If that can be called criticism even) is just how much more likeable McPhee is over Hilty and how much better she works the camera – I personally have never been a huge fan of Hilty (Though I do recognize her talent, having seen a recording of Wicked with her), and sadly I believe her general delivery as an actress that makes her characters look a bit fake (This happened in Wicked as Glinda too) could be an issue for the series in the long run, since it paints her character as the clear villain when ideally both girls should be as likeable and charming, making the audience root for both or even take sides for each character.
Nevertheless, Smash managed to keep up with its already great job in its second episode – And I honestly can’t wait until the third one is out.
Final Review Rating: 4.5/5