For longer than GAME OF THRONES has been promising that “Winter is coming,” MAKE IT OR BREAK IT has been milking the crucial reveal to Payson that Lauren sent the NGO pictures of Payson kissing Sasha — nearly ruining both their lives. The time of reckoning finally came this week, and it hit with the force of a blizzard.
Alfred Hitchcock famously said the key to suspense is giving the viewing audience more information than the characters have — and, in the best Hitchcockian tradition, we fans have known forever (well, since the season two episode “If Only…”) that Lauren was behind the stunt, so we’ve been in suspense waiting for the catharsis of the other shoe dropping ever since.
The whole sordid misunderstanding was dredged up during an interview Payson (Ayla Kell) was doing, when the reporter asked about her kissing Sasha. Payson was taken aback and mumbled a “no comment,” but she was clearly shaken. Later, Kelly (Nicole Gale Anderson) helpfully suggested asking her mom to track down the source of the leaked photos, and persuaded Kaylie (Josie Loren) to go along with it. When KP uncovered Lauren’s (Cassie Scerbo) guilt, Kaylie insisted they not tell her. But Jordan (Chelsea Tavares) overheard, and forced a confrontation in front of the whole team. Kaylie was compelled to reveal the guilty party, but KP jumped in and told Payson it was Lauren (thus sparing Kaylie from being the bearer of the bad news). Stricken, Payson pretended she already knew and fled.
Lauren followed her to admit she wasn’t thinking about Payson back then — she just wanted Sasha gone so he wouldn’t distract Summer from marrying her dad. To her credit, Lauren called it “possibly the worst thing I’ve ever done.” Lauren felt so bad about it now, after finally becoming friends with Pay, that she begged forgiveness. But Payson couldn’t bring herself to do it, instead rushing off in tears, leaving Lauren a sobbing mess. Kaylie grabbed Lauren and demanded an explanation. But Lauren instantly reverted and bared her claws and accused Kaylie of using people and throwing them away (words Jordan planted in her mind). Naturally, that made Kaylie cry. Luckily for Kaylie, KP was there to pick up the pieces.
I think the big reveal and the resulting emotional fallout lived up to the promise of the situation. Payson had to relive the embarrassment of the photos all over again — in front of her new teammates — with the added bitterness of betrayal by a friend. I was glad to see the overwhelmed Payson break down, because it’s been well established that she doesn’t deal well with emotional crises. And Lauren losing it meant she really grasped the seriousness of what she did. This time, she wasn’t just angry because she got caught, she was devastated by the damage she wreaked on her friend. Still, the girls did seem to make peace a little quickly — even if it wasn’t total forgiveness. Yet.
The other big problem this week was Coach McIntire’s (Dondre T. Whitfield) inscrutable, imperious leadership style not meshing with the team. We learned that Mac got his reputation from coaching the men’s team, where his gruffly enigmatic style was unquestioned — and unquestionably successful. But, as his wife, Annie (Bre Blair) noted, girls are different than boys, and need to be handled differently. That’s why none of the girls have been improving under his tutelage. (In fact, many have been getting worse!) Unfortunately for Mac, Marcus (Sean Maher) from the National Gymnastics Organization had just come to town to evaluate Mac’s program, and he wasn’t impressed. After Payson told him that none of the girls are advancing because they don’t trust Mac and are too scared to talk to him, Marcus gave Mac 48 hours to change his stripes and whip the team into shape.
Mac called a “meeting” at his house and tried to bond with the girls the same way he did with the guys: but the gals didn’t connect with training videos and a screening of Remember the Titans. Annie had to remind Mac that, like her, girls need to know what he’s thinking and why he’s doing something. And they need feedback. Lots of it. Preferably in the form of encouragement, not threats. “We feel like you’re just messing with our heads,” Kaylie summed up. How can Mac be married and not know that women need compliments every now and again? Nevertheless, the message got through, and the next day, Mac patrolled practice with a smile and encouraging words for everyone as Marcus looked on approvingly and declared his job safe.
Someone who is definitely not safe is Lauren. She suffered another dizzy spell, this time on the beam, and fell off it — hard. My compliments to the stunt girl who took that fall, because she really crashed, landing on her chest in a way that looked really painful! Later, when Lauren insisted that she and Pay have no more secrets, Payson countered by bringing up Lauren’s dizzy spells. Lauren confessed that something is wrong, but she doesn’t know what; she just knows her lifelong dream is only six weeks away and now it’s in danger because of her health. Payson resolved to go with her to a doctor and help her deal with whatever it is. “We’re a team,” Payson reminded her. “You fall, I fall. Get it?”
Now that the air has been cleared between them, I think Lauren really does get it. But is it too late? And is this really the end of her scheming? We shall see…