It’s been a while since I have been able to check in with the elite athletes of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, and this week’s episode reminded me of what I like so much about this series: It focuses on charming, complex characters in stories that manage to be simple yet compelling.
I’ve been away for a couple of weeks, but comforting to see I haven’t missed much. MIORBI’s “Previously, on…” montage caught me up just fine. The recap segment on serialized drama is very important, and I don’t think enough shows pay enough attention to them. It fits in with the old-fashioned, straight-forward storytelling; don’t look here for fancy camera tricks directorial gloss.
This week, the girls had to come up with new floor routines for Worlds. Payson wais still struggling with the idea of becoming an “artistic” gymnast, insisting she’s not built to perform like a blooming flower. This is a fine example of the-powers-that-be tailoring scripts for their stars. Ayla Kell is definitely not built like a petite Chinese gymnast, so Payson’s body-image issues are very realistic without being disrespectful. But MIOBI did not neglect the soapier aspects of its storytelling: Kaylie (Josie Loren) is being slowly but surely consumed by her jealousy of Lauren and Carter (Zachary Burr Abel). When she isn’t snapping at her friends, she’s moping and mooning over Carter. She’s even jealous of Austin (Zane Holtz) paying so much attention to Emily (Chelsea Hobbs). Even worse, Kaylie is trying to repair her parents’ marriage. She made them her co-managers – with predictable results. And the bickering only made her even more miserable, and it translated to the mats, with a terrible performance at the showcase. But on the bright side, the mess inspired her parents to recognize the effect their unhappiness is having on their national-champion daughter.
Meanwhile, Chloe (Susan Ward) hired the top choreographer in the country out from under Lauren (Cassie Scerbo). Predictably, Lauren melted down for Daddy (Anthony Starke). Ironically, Emily could not grasp the instruction. So Lauren took the opportunity to steal the routine out from under Emily! “She stole my choreographer, so I stole her choreography,” Lauren sniffed to Carter. Emily was devastated, but Austin gave her his version of a St. Crispin’s Day speech and admonished her to believe in herself enough to go “all-in, Kmetko” Thus inspired, she went out and did her routine; she went out there and won one for the Gipper. And by Gipper, I mean for herself and her mom. She managed to do the same moves even better than Lauren.
In another bid to overcome the odds, Sasha (Neil Jackson) escorted Payson to the ballet, hoping she would take inspiration in a reimagining of Swan Lake. As Payson waited to be picked up, she adjusted her hair in the mirror, and suddenly there was a moment – Kell froze and stared at Payson’s reflection, and we viewers could see that Payson had suddenly realized how pretty she is. Even before reaching the ballet, the scales had begun to fall from her eyes. Her awakening was complete when she watched Sasha’s friend, Jaden, perform as the prima ballerina despite the fact that she was not built like a svelte dancer. Payson saw the possibility of being both big-boned and graceful. Jaden practically inspired a mania in Payson, and that translated into a commitment to dedicate herself to Sasha’s transformation plan. It was wonderful to see the fire in her belly again, the way that Sasha beamed at her… well, it’s clear that they have a very special mentor/pupil relationship. He really inspires her, like all the great coaches.
And MIOBI has inspired me to return to the fold full-time. I don’t want to miss another episode.