Everyone likes to see characters grow and change – but not for the worse. And that was exactly what I feared on the freshman season finale of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT this week, when Kaylie decided to blow off the China meet in order to protect her endorsements and make the dictator of the national committee happy.
I know she was having issues with Lauren (Cassie Scerbo), but had never seen Kaylie (Josie Loren) be so mercenary before – and the other girls did not deserve to be shafted. And her decision did not seem to be a matter of putting food on the family’s table, either. Miss Beals from the national committee was all about saving face – ostensibly for the USA, but it was really about her and flexing her muscles. In her way, she was as much a corporate toady as MJ (who at least has the excuse of being an agent). Still, no matter how many endorsements she may have been endangering, Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) was surrendering her scholarship to compete. Then the truth came out: Kaylie was insecure about being able to prove that she deserved to win the national title, so she was looking for any excuse to avoid competing.
One of the best scenes of the night came when Kaylie once again met with her friends and talked things out. I know keeping secrets and laboring under false assumptions are soap staples, but after a while all that baggage piles up to high and becomes ridiculous. It’s great that this show milks a secret for only a limited amount of time before releasing the pressure. It shows viewers the value of talking to one another.
But my favorite scene came when Kaylie made her dramatic, last-minute appearance to save the day – following the clichéd introduction of the opposing teams in a slow-motion homage to The Right Stuff. As team captain, Kaylie made the de rigueur inspirational “St. Crispin’s Day speech” that also summed up the soapy appeal of MIOBI: “We have our issues with parents, with boys, with other. That’s part of being a family,” she explained, adding “We have our fears.” But if she can overcome her fear, then so can everyone else, so get out there and win some medals!
And Kaylie was not the only one who needed to overcome personal demons. Emily was afraid of performing a particularly tricky vault, and Payson (Ayla Kell) was just plain terrified to perform at all after breaking her back on the uneven bars at nationals. But when Lauren hurt her ankle landing off the balance beam, Sasha (Neil Jackson) called on his injured former star. Luckily, Payson was able to trust herself and her coach enough to get through her first basic routine since the accident. She drove home the theme of the night, which was trust – trust in yourself, trust in your abilities, and trust in your teammates.
And trust me when I say that I am looking forward to the second season of MIOBI this summer.