MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 2.11: The New Normal

The second half of the second season of ABC Family’s MAKE IT OR BREAK IT is off to a rollicking start, mixing a serious issue like eating disorders with lighter material like club rivalries – as well as a generous dollop of romantic complications.

No doubt you remember the unforgettable cliff-hangers from waaaaay back in August: Kaylie (Josie Loren) had collapsed as a consequence of her eating disorder; Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) was arrested after stealing medication for her brother; Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) discovered that her father Steve (Anthony Starke) had lied about keeping her late mother away from her meets; and Sasha (Neil Jackson) hauled his trailer outta town amid the scandal of Payson (Ayla Kell) kissing him. Oh, and there was some gymnastics, too: With the help of the legendary Bela Karolyi playing Sasha’s dad, Emily, Payson, Lauren and Kaylie all made the World team. Now, Emily and Kaylie must fight to keep their places on the team: Can Emily stay out of jail, and can Kaylie get sprung from rehab in time to get in shape for the Worlds?

Kaylie’s problem is not going to be handled quickly or simply, which is good, because too often TV series make any sort of rehab look like a cakewalk for a main character. But not here; as Loren has noted, lots of young girls look up to her and her character, so this is a great opportunity for a teaching moment. Eating disorders are truly life-threatening problems, and the show is treating this plotline with respect. Kaylie not only has to worry about getting medical clearance to leave rehab, she has to get out in time to get back into shape. Here, she got visits from her teammates and from would-be suitor Austin (Zane Holtz), who all urge her to get healthy. Too bad a fellow patient shares Kaylie’s conviction that she has been unfairly condemned to the facility.

Emily’s legal woes mean she can still roam free and (presumably) even work – provided she wears an ankle-monitoring device. How slimy was Sean Maher, FIREFLY’s erstwhile Dr. Simon Tam, as a creep from the NGO snooping into Emily’s home life while waxing eloquent about watching out for the welfare of the national team? He was just a mean-spirited midlevel functionary, and I was waiting for Chloe (Susan Ward) to finally stand up to him. The sequence in which Em was humiliated when the ankle bracelet was exposed during an exhibition in Denver (after her teammates donned leggings in solodarity) made me feel bad for Emily. However, Em grabbing a microphone to publicly confess her sins and profess love for her mother struck me as a bit stagey.

Of course, wherever the Rock Rebels perform, Kelly Parker (Nicole Anderson) is never far behind. Denver’s favorite little stuck-up psyche-out artist was right there, getting into the head and under the skin of the Rock girls. I loved the sexy dance-off between Lauren and Kelly, but I did not expect Carter (Zachary Burr Abel) to suddenly show up as Kelly’s newest plaything. Glad to see he’s not off the show entirely. It would fun to see him turn into a dedicated antagonist for his former teammates.

Was anyone else was shocked to see Sasha “hiding out” in Denver, in a boxing ring, of all places? I guess he figured no one would look for him there – and he was right about that (Kim got tipped off, which was cheating). Still, visa woes or no visa woes, Sasha should have gone farther than Denver if he was truly trying to leave the Rock behind. And one would think he would have been aware of the gymnastics component of the gigantic Olympics rally, and at least skipped town temporarily. Then again, maybe he’s getting his brains scrambled during those sparring matches.

On the other hand, maybe boxing will knock some sense into him. At some point, Sasha has to realize how tortured Payson is. He has to figure out that she wouldn’t have kissed him if she wasn’t feeling some pretty powerful emotions, and that those feelings would be playing havoc with her psyche. We saw that Payson was feeling guilty for driving Sasha out of town, and even the slavish attention of new guy Max (Josh Bowman) who, while he is a combination photographer/gymnast, is not gonna cure Payson’s particular blues. The way she talked about Sasha as the friend who made her believe that she truly is beautiful made it clear that she’s still got it bad for the guy. She’s still trying to live up to his view of her, and the show is finally playing up Kell’s natural beauty.

The premiere did its job, because I can honestly say that I want to know what happens next…

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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