So the girls of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT’s Rock got a new coach this week, and while the lady may be a former Olympic gymnast, the lady if no coach. And that’s a problem. For everyone.
In an effort to get the Rock rolling again, Steve (Anthony Starke) hired a new coach to replace the departed Sasha (Neil Jackson). Unfortunately, all the experienced, A-list coaches are already under contract, so Steve settled for Darby Conrad (Meagan Holder), a perky former Olympian. She’s like an overgrown kid, and I hated her from moment she was introduced. Way too bubbly to be trusted…
Darby is a longtime pal of Lauren’s (Cassie Scerbo), so naturally the spoiled brat figured she had it made in the shade. She even tried to appoint herself team captain. But when Payson (Ayla Kell) objected, Darby’s Achilles’ heel was exposed: She hates confrontation of any kind, and thus refused to “take a side” by designating a captain. She decided to let the gals compete for it. True, Sasha would have done the very same thing, but he would have done it as a way to toughen up Lauren and Payson; not as a way to avoid making a tough call.
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?
MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, one of the most entertaining (and unexpected) nighttime soaps, returned to ABC Family last night, and befitting where the series left off at hiatus, the series was in championship form.
Following the triumph and tragedy of the national team finals, Kaylie (Josie Loren) learned that it is very crowded but oh, so lonely at the top, while Payson (Ayla Kell) struggled to control her emotions after learning that her back injury will prevent her from ever competing again. Haunted by the fear that she wouldn’t have won if Payson hadn’t been injured, Kaylie found a target painted on her back — both from the media who want to interview the reigning national champion as well as her local rival Lauren (Cassie Scerbo), who took their competition over Carter (Zachary Burr Abel) to extremes both on and off the mats. Their rivalry illustrates what makes MAKE IT OR BREAK IT more soap than sports show. The girls are just as focused on affairs of the heart as they are on honing their gymnastic skills, but the emotional turmoil has to be kept simmering beneath the surface because they are forbidden from having romantic relationships while training. Lauren delighted in twisting the knife in Kaylie’s back by getting her cheating boyfriend Carter reinstated from suspension — and right back in Kaylie’s face.
Lauren also stuck her nose into Payson’s newly-shattered life by uncovering the secret that Nicky illegally supplied Payson with cortisone for nationals — which could land Nicky in jail. Payson was trying to deal with her injury by avoiding the gym and shutting down emotionally. Her father praised her ability to compartmentalize her emotions during competition, but pointed out that in real life she should express her feelings. Which she finally uncorked with a cathartic wrecking of her trophy case. You don’t see releases like that on ESPN. Payson also confronted her anger at Kaylie, admitting, “I am filled with rage and bitterness and jealousy,” because her friend took the crown. But Payson also encouraged Kaylie never to be ashamed of winning — hinting that perhaps Payson has a future as a coach.
Meanwhile, Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) could use a romantic coach. No sooner had Damon set up “the world’s most romantic date” than her old flame, Razor, strolled through the door. How (in)convenient that Damon is leaving for Los Angeles now, with Razor back in town. Will Emily be able to resist temptation? Tune in next week…
Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com
The midseason finale of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT was sadly lacking in true make-it-or-break-it moments, but it was still entertaining when treated as just another episode of an entertaining series. Tryouts for the Worlds team were the fulcrum of this week’s episode, with the girls from the Rock competing with a lot of emotional baggage around their necks, but without Sasha in their corner.
Payson (Ayla Kell) made the brave decision to return to the Rock, where the other girls were pointing and laughing at her because of scandal over kissing her coach. She took a proactive approach and tried to preempt the jokes from Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) and Kaylie (Josie Loren). Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) predictably defended her (glass houses and all that). Meanwhile, Kim (Peri Gilpin) told the parents’ council that as Payson’s mother she was okay with Sasha (Neil Jackson) continuing as coach as the innocent kiss with Payson. However, the borderline sociopath Ellen Beals (Michelle Clunie) called Sasha “a potential pedophile.” Chloe (Susan Ward) defended him, but Alex (Jason Manuel Olazabal) was against. Ellen and Steve (Anthony Starke) delivered the bad (but expected) news: Sasha was suspended, and Beals was taking over. Before leaving, Sasha told the girls, “All you have to do is follow the rules and stay focused.” Oh, is that all? That is certainly easier said than done for this group. I mean, have you met Emily Kmetko? Loved that Sasha refused to treat his retreat as a walk of shame, preferring to stride out (in slow motion) with his head up.
There’s no better way to describe this week’s MAKE IT OR BREAK IT than to call it a tear-jerker – because there was a lot of crying going on.
The storyline I am most invested in is the Payson (Ayla Kell)/Sasha (Neil Jackson) relationship, and last week ended with her impulsively kissing him and running off in shame. He’s 35 years old and she is 16, so naturally things were awkward between them. She couldn’t help noticing how he was hesitant to even touch her during practice. “I’ve ruined everything,” she growled in frustration. Sasha finally decided to confront the elephant in the room by talking about the normally complex relationship between coach and athlete. He explained that his father was actually disappointed that Sasha won the gold because he was competing for England, not Romania. So he split with his father – who was also his coach: the legendary Boris Belov. But Sasha praised his replacement coach, because he “made me an Olympian.” (He even admitted that had his coach been female, he probably would have kissed her!) The most important aspects of the coach/athlete relationship are trust and communication. “I trust you,” she declared. “You didn’t ruin anything,” he smiled.
Some characters may have bottomed out this week on MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, but it wasn’t for lack of aspiration on Payson’s part and, like all good bad girls, Lauren proved she is never without a plan.
Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) was beyond furious at dad Steve (Anthony Starke). So was Emily (Chelsea Hobbs), who brought him a big chunk of change and vowed to pay back every penny of the rest. Meanwhile, Chloe (Susan Ward) told Lauren she will not keep her and Carter having sex a secret, so either Lauren comes clean, or Chloe will. Cornered, Lauren turned to Carter (Zachary Burr Abel), who resolved to tell her father together. But Lauren always has something up her sleeve: She told Summer (Candice Cameron Bure) that she needs to marry Steve and be her stepmother. Thanks to her determination to pay back Steve, Emily was literally searching the couch cushions for change to pay for the bus. Which was kind of the last straw for her. She railed about carrying the family on her back, and demanded that her mother get another job. Chloe managed to get a word in edgewise to announce that she already secured one. (But we don’t know what it is… hmmm.)
Sometimes it feels a little exhausting just watching MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, because the girls have such a demanding schedule of national team practices, assorted auditions, special meets, showcases, invitationals, international travel and even World team try-outs (not to be confused with the Olympics or whatever it is the national team does). Then pile on all the personal intrigue of boyfriends, friends with secrets, rivals, frenemies and a job at the Pizza Shack, and I’m out of breath!
This week, bids for the world team took the focus off a full national team practice at the Rock, meaning pint-sized bitch-queen Kelly Parker (Nicole Anderson), who is worth twice her weight in snark, was back in town. It’s almost funny the way she can get inside Kaylie’s (Josie Loren) head so effortlessly. But more than a psyche-out artist, she is a straight-shooter, so while I was glad that Kelly instantly diagnosed Kaylie’s eating disorder, I was stunned that she volunteered to keep Kaylie’s secret. At least she expressed sincerity when cautioning Kaylie to “be careful.”