MAKE IT OR BREAK IT 3.4: “Growing Pains”

What’s the matter with Lauren? I mean, seriously. Well, after last week’s tease, MAKE IT OR BREAK IT finally got to the bottom of it when Payson made good on her promise to force Lauren to visit a doctor. And, wouldn’t you know it, it also happens to be Parents Weekend at the USATC, so Payson has problems of her own.

But not as big as Kelly Parker (Nicole Gale Anderson), whose megalomaniacal mom Sheila (played once again by Kathy Najimy) came to town intent on making KP captain of the Olympic team at any cost. Sheila finagled an invite to stay at Coach McIntire’s (Dondré T. Whitfield) house while his wife was conveniently out of town, then pretended to cook him a meal, then blatantly offered to bride him with lucrative endorsement deals! What a nightmare for poor KP.

Lauren’s father Steve Tanner and Summer were unable to make it, and Mark Keeler (Brett Cullen) came without Kim, meaning that the only pair of parents to attend were the estranged Alex (Jason Manuel Olazabal) and Ronnie (Rosa Blasi) Cruz! They started the weekend tolerating each other, but seeing Kaylie (Josie Loren) and Austin (Kyle Holtz) together triggered memories of young love, and suddenly Alex and Ronnie were back in the sack. Which made Kaylie hope for a reunion, but her mother quashed that in a nice scene in which she and her daughter discussed the fragility of love — something Kaylie is has been starting to realize.

Mark, meanwhile, had to tell Payson (Ayla Kell) that he and Kim want to move back to Minnesota because he has a great job offer. (Wow, Minnesota must be booming economically, judging by all the job opportunities that get lobbed at Mark!) Payson was worried about continuing at the Rock, but Mark said they arranged for her to stay with Kaylie until the Olympics. Payson eventually saw the wisdom in letting her parents move on now that her dream is on the verge of reality, hwever, since she’s still furious with Kaylie, Pay asked to stay with new bestie Lauren (Cassie Scerbo), instead.

Ah, Lauren! Payson wouldn’t relent and allow Lauren to wriggle out of her promise to see a doctor; in fact, she wouldn’t let Lauren put it off for even one more day. But, of course, Lauren was still Lauren, so she tried to fool Payson by lying about her diagnosis. (Like she would be a simple potassium problem was to blame…) It might have been unethical for Payson to impersonate Lauren — wait, Lauren was lying about her identity anyway, so… Pay was just playing the role as well — she finally discovered what we’ve been dying to know: Lauren has an irregular heartbeat! A cardiologist has to assess how bad it is, so the show can still squeeze some drama out of that aspect. It cannot be nothing, since it’s severe enough to cause blackouts, but maybe she can still go to London.

Great to see the parents back, since they have been such integral pieces of the series before this season. And, of course, there was no shortage of soapy drama from the ‘rents, either. That’s one of the things I’ve always enjoyed about MIOBI — the seamless integration of the parents into storylines. They were never there just to frown and ground and forbid their daughters from doing stuff; they had their own stories, whether it was strife in the Cruz marriage or financial woes for the Keelers. And talk about the contrast that Sheila provides.

Apparently, since she’s no longer managing her daughter, Sheila no longer has the huge bus with KP’s portrait on the side — otherwise, she wouldn’t have needed to stay with Mac. Speaking of the coach, he really has taken a shine to Jordan (Chelsea Tavares), who is still struggling to make inroads with the team. If she wants to make friends, she better learn to play nice; these girls thrive by keeping secrets, not spilling them. Or, I guess, in Kaylie’s case, not not telling!

I assume the character absences were the results of actor availability; I find it hard to believe Kim would miss this chance to see Payson — especially considering the bombshell that Mark dropped on her. And to get the news that her little sister is giving up on gymnastics via a third party had to be tough, as well. I must say I was disappointed that Lauren did not get to see her father and Summer again. And then there was Sasha. Or, rather, there wasn’t. He must have been pretty damn busy elsewhere to miss an exhibition like this. It would have been nice if one of the Rock girls had mentioned him. And wouldn’t this have been a great opportunity to bring back Bela Karolyi? The team was honoring a few of his former pupils, after all!

As a final point, I thought it was adorable that Payson scolded Lauren for having a fake ID and made her promise to get rid of it! It showed that Payson is still coming out of her shell after her sheltered childhood.

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