Merci-fully, MAKE IT OR BREAK IT did not drag out the French invitational storyline. Just a week after being named to the national team for the special event, the ladies were sent to Calais this week, which proved to be the site of triumph and heartbreak for the girls from The Rock.
Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) was upset about going to France as an alternate, so her father, Steve (Anthony Starke) challenged her to do better. Instead, she did her worst: She waged psychological warfare on her teammates on two fronts. Lauren tormented Kaylie (Josie Loren) by talking about how happy she is with Carter (Zachary Burr Abel), emphasizing that they are having sex. Kaylie wanted to focus on the meet, but we could tell she was rattled. Then Lauren went to work on Emily (Chelsea Hobbs), needling her about Damon (Johnny Pacar) being in nearby Paris with Green Day – and tons of groupies. “As far as he knows, you blew him off,” Lauren hissed. Lauren’s twin objectives were to get Emily to screw up and get kicked off the team, then to destabilize Kaylie so Lauren could win the overall gold.
In pursuit of her lofty goal, Lauren hatched her most evil plan ever: She convinced Emily to sneak off to Paris to see her boy toy, and then arranged for her friend to be stranded there by pocketing Emily’s return ticket! What a horrible (yet delightfully inventive) thing to do! And it worked like a charm. The worst part? Emily went all the way to Paris only to break up with Damon so she could concentrate on her gymnastics career. This decision mirrored the choice that millions of teens make every day regarding relationships and careers. Despite the intervention of gymnastics bad boy Austin Tucker (Zane Holtz), Emily got in after curfew and was booted off the squad, clearing a path for Lauren. Mission: accomplished. And she came close to winning the gold, settling instead for the bronze. Lauren had boasted to Kaylie and Emily that she could have a boyfriend and medals at the same time. So it didn’t quite work out that way. Things also did not work out at all for Payson (Ayla Kell), whose petition to be added to the national team was rejected. Payson was reduced to tears, the evil Eleanor Beals (Michelle Clunie) took that occasion to stir up anti-Sasha (Neil Jackson) sentiment by blaming him for rushing Payson. What a pair Lauren and Miss Beals make! Schemers through and through. Still, Emily did break the rules, and there must be consequences, or the viewers will not invest in the fate of the characters. “When does my life get to be mine?” Emily moaned, echoing the universal cri de couer for teens.
The announcement of the medalists took a few liberties in order to build the tension by making the girls unaware of the standings until the final scores and medals were announced. At least Kaylie won, as she deserved. I love Scerbo’s Lauren as a bad girl, but it would wrong to see her prosper too much for stabbing her friends in the back.
The strangest part of the entire episode was the product placement: Emily praised
the Subway Club a foot-long fast-food sub as a great source of lean…er, something-or-other, and then perky Subway pitchwoman Nastia Liukin, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, just happened to stroll by to encourage the girls to “keep eating right” and working hard. Subtle, MIOBI. Wait, maybe the weirdest part was actually the fact that the-powers-that-be hoped that a loaf of french bread and a CGI Eiffel Tower could convince viewers that a windswept, empty field somehow overlooked “Paris.” Yeah, I don’t think anyone bought that. (Still, it was cute how Damon and Emily made a date to meet underneath the Eiffel Tower in 2012, after the Olympics. “You better be wearing gold,” he warned her.)
So, in the end, the French invitational was great for Kaylie in that it reinforced her position as No. 1 and the dominant athlete on the team. Lauren was somewhat bolstered by taking third, but it’s significant that she didn’t back up her boasts. However, Lauren did solidify her position as Eleanor’s pet, and with Eleanor now targeting Sasha, that could be a very good position to be in.
Not quite as good a position? MAKE IT OR BREAK IT’s new time slot. As of July 13, MIOBI moves to Tuesdays at 9 p.m. That is such a crowded night! Wednesdays could use some love…