Previously: Ivy got the part of Marilyn, while Karen was relegated to THE CHORUS. Meanwhile the show cast Julia's one-time affair partner Michael as Joe DiMaggio, and Eileen was getting repeatedly screwed over by her estranged husband, the pain of which all the Manhattans-thrown-in-the-face could only begin to assuage.
Currently: Are you ready to WORKSHOP? The cast assembles to start working on the show (which is still unfinished; Derek is constantly shooing Julia and Tom away to go finish writing the scenes/songs). Julia is "SO GLAD" to have Karen there as part of the ensemble, but she's pretty much the only one. Everybody else in the ensemble is solidly on Team Ivy, including her inner circle (Dennis, Jessica, Bobby), who gossip about Karen just barely behind her back ("could she BE more Midwest?").
The only member of the ensemble who gives Karen the time of day is Sam, a friend of Ivy's from back when they did Chicago together. Ivy gives him a bit of a stink eye when she sees him drifting over to Karen, but he isn't cowed. Probably because he has the moral fortitude of a heterosexual. What's that, you say? A heterosexual male in a Broadway ensemble? Smash wants to make damned sure you know it! Within a 45-second span, we see Sam reading a Sports Illustrated, talking about the New York Mets, calling Ivy "woman" (rather than "girl," I guess), and tells her that she looks hot. I'm not quite sure Smash is making its point perfectly clear on this. Sam could use an I *Heart* Pussy t-shirt to really put a button on it.
But Broadway's bitchiest have nothing on Miss Ivy Lynn herself. She had no idea that Karen got cast in the show -- despite her BFF Tom and bedmate Derek both being in a pretty good position to warn her -- so she's immediately thrown by Karen's presence. Ivy's response is to get territorial as fuck. She keeps getting flustered during rehearsals and makes repeated reference to Karen throwing her off. In Ivy's semi-defense, Karen really is pushing herself out in front of the rest of the ensemble, vocally. Ivy plays it exactly perfectly, if the goal is to terrorize a novice actress and rival. She plays the innocent -- she totally loves how the chorus sounds! -- but she keeps getting messed up by the background and the path of least resistance to getting this number workshopped is to cut Karen from it, so that's what Tom and Derek do.
Meanwhile, Derek is making no secrets about smoothing up on Ivy in public. The dancers start talking, and it takes about seven seconds for the gossip to drift over to Karen -- and nobody even LIKES Karen. So no secrets are safe on the Great White Way. Got it. Karen's response to all this is to do a whoooole lot of whining about it to Dev while he's taking Important Mayoral Office Business Calls. She gets so pathetic that Ivy's girlfriend, Jessica, finally pulls her aside so at the very least her whimperings aren't heard inside the rehearsal studio. I'm really concerned about the directions they're taking Ivy and Karen. Ivy's the more complicated character, which makes me like her more, but episodes like this (and really every episode after the pilot) are writing her as the simple villain in Karen's story. Meanwhile, Karen's being written like we're already in love with her and we don't need any more reasons to root for her. We actually do. And watching her respond to adversity with whimpering and whining is NOT going to do it.