By Matt Ern, Columnist
Smash: "The Workshop"
Every week, the preview makes it seem like the following episode will be one fraught with drama and Ivy's inevitable meltdown, but somehow nothing ever seems to happen. This week, the workshop should have been a showcase for all the things Smash does well, describing what it's like to put on a Broadway musical. Instead, the action is bogged down the characters' personal lives and petty squabbles.
I could have done without Ivy's mom showing up, which didn't seem to have a function than antother way to cram a guest star onto the show. Sure, it highlighted Ivy's fraying psyche, but the show has done a good enough job with that in recent weeks.
I don't think I could care any less about Julia and Michael's affair, and I'm hoping the decision to fire Michael at the end of the episode will be the last we hear from him (although I really doubt this).
Not much changes by the end of the episode, Eileen is still a lot of fun and Ellis is still a conniving jerk. Derek and Tom remain interesting characters, and I look forward to them butting heads next week over Derek's interest in Karen- since you know, she's still a character on this show despite the fact that her storylines the past few weeks haven't interested much with the rest of the cast.
Justified: "A Guy Walks Into A Bar"
Justified's endgame is upon us. The pieces have carefully been manipulated all season and now all the criminals of Harlan County are about to start blowing each other away in the streets. The catalyst is Dickie Bennett being released from prison, a man with whom both Boyd and Raylan have a score to settle.
While Boyd is ready to kill Dickie, and Raylan is ready to throw him back in prison, Limehouse and his men are preparing for Dickie's inevitable efforts to get Maggs' money back. While the stage is set for these conflicts to boil over next week, the show was stolen by Quarles this week.
The only thing better than Quarles is Quarles off the deep end. After Boyd snakes the election away from him, Quarles appears to have snapped, snorting lines of oxy and making open declarations to shoot Raylan in the streets. Even Wynn Duffy is looking on in horror as Quarles' actions as he delivers a great monologue explaining how his father sold him as a sex worker until he was forced to kill him when Quarles was only 14.
The tension during Quarles' standoff with Raylan in the bar is palpable, and part of me wishes they had settled things right there, even if it would mean a Quarles-less next couple of episodes. But I'm sure however Quarles meets his end will be no less exciting.