'Smash': 'The Workshop' hits the right note in spite of the heat

Ivy-mom-Smash-NBC.jpgThe potential investors may not have been wild about "Marilyn" based on the workshop performance -- a confusing notion, to say the least -- but "Smash" itself mostly hit the right note with Monday's (March 19) episode, guest-starring Bernadette Peters as Ivy's ( Megan Hilty) mother, Leigh Conroy.

Ivy continues to slip into the role of Marilyn Monroe in the least healthy of ways: a toxic romantic relationship, a disapproving mother, pill popping and a strong desire for stardom. But she still pulls it out for the performance -- as Marilyn herself often did -- despite a couple of literal stumbles in the too-hot rehearsal space during the workshop.

Were there supposed to be more downfalls in the performance than what viewers actually saw, though? Because the critics lampooning the workshop -- and Derek's ( Jack Davenport) harsh criticism of Ivy seemed to come out of left field, unless, of course, Derek's critique was supposed to be interpreted as payback for Ivy calling him out during rehearsal last week.

Peters was believable as the mother trying to out-Broadway her daughter -- though she later (halfheartedly) claims it was simply because she loves Ivy and doesn't want her to face the same world of hurt she did in the business. The relationship needs a little more fleshing out, though, in order for viewers to legitimately feel Ivy's pain.

Elsewhere after recording a demo for the mysterious music producer Bobby Raskin, Karen ( Katharine McPhee) quickly gets a call-back to meet with him, which she promptly turns down when she finds out the only time he can meet with her is during the workshop performance. Ever the romantic, Karen doesn't care that this meeting, rather than her role in the chorus of the workshop piece, could be her big break. Entirely believable from the perspective of someone wanting to make it in the business? Probably not. Believable for Karen, though? Yes.

Meanwhile, Julia ( Debra Messing) and Michael ( Will Chase) seemed to work best together as a couple when they were breaking up, which they promptly did after Julia saw Michael's wife and child and suddenly felt the weight of her decision to have an affair -- compounded, of course, by having her own son, Leo ( Emory Cohen), confirm to her that he had seen her and Michael kissing. The scene between Leo and Julia in the kitchen was one of the most emotionally resonant of the series thus far.

Despite being great for the part of Joe DiMaggio, he wasn't right for the part of Julia's extramarital affair, so Tom ( Christian Borle) and Debra decide to cut him from the production. And in an act of quiet reserve, Eileen ( Anjelica Huston), who has been clued in on the affair by Ellis ( Jaime Cepero), allows them to make the decision. But will he go quietly?

And in perhaps the cutest of story lines, Eileen may have found love -- or at least like -- with the bartender, Nick ( Thorsten Kaye), maker of "the best $7 martinis in Manhattan." Mid-life crisis or is Eileen ready for a change?

What did you think of tonight's episode?
Photo/Video credit: NBC