Dreams – resurrected, deferred and destroyed – were at the heart of this week’s episode of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT. Emily saw her Olympic hopes potentially snuffed out, while the other girls rededicated themselves to making their dreams of gymnastics glory happen – together.
Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) had a sonogram and learned she is about six weeks pregnant. The doctor barred her from doing any more gymnastics. Speaking as a former teen mother herself, Chloe (Susan Ward) encouraged Emily to have an abortion, but the elite gymnast wasn’t sure, so she turned to her coach, Sasha (Neil Jackson). Typically, he wanted her to make the decision herself – but he was so adamant about it that he refused to offer her any advice at all, even though she begged him. Emily decided to put off a decision until her place on the Worlds team was decided, however her respite was short-lived: Marcus (Sean Maher) soon arrived to announce that Emily was cleared to participate in worlds. Later, Chloe enlisted Marcus’ help in trying to persuade Em to terminate the pregnancy, but his business-as-usual attitude turned her off. Meanwhile, Damon (Johnny Pacar) told Kaylie (Josie Loren) that the record company wanted him to record a song – the one he wrote and performed with her. In the heat of the moment of celebration, they kissed, but Kaylie instantly regretted it.
This week’s episode was about reclaiming one’s mojo: The girls of the Rock got their Sasha back; Sasha got his groove back; Damon found his songwriting chops again; and Kaylie made strides toward reclaiming her life.
Payson (Ayla Kell), Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) and Emily (Chelsea Hobbs) were on their way to a tune-up meet in Budapest, Hungary, when Pay convinced the other girls to make a side trip to Bucharest, Romania, where she learned that Sasha (Neil Jackson) is hiding out. The trio ditched chaperones Darby (Meagan Holder) and Summer (Candice Cameron Bure) and tracked down Sasha, who was pulling pints and serving borscht in a tiny pub. Each of the girls pleaded with him to return to being their coach, because they all realized that they have no chance of winning Worlds, let alone Olympic gold, without him. But he turned them down, feeling guilty over being blind to the turmoil in their personal lives. Even Summer showed up, and pointed out that just because he ran away, doesn’t mean it was the right decision. After some personal soul-searching, Sasha showed up in Budapest at 3 a.m. to take the reins once again – provided the girls could prove they are worth coaching again. Meanwhile, back in Boulder, Kaylie (Josie Loren) came to terms with her eating disorder by realizing she honestly cannot blame it just on making weight for gymnastics. And she had to deal with Damon (Johnny Pacar), who was dealing with Emily’s latest break-up with him. Ems was upset that Damon sang with Kaylie, so he responded by writing Kaylie a song to sing! Passive-aggressive much?
The big idea in this episode of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT was to have the girls pair off and learn to perform each other’s routines. I’m not exactly sure what that was supposed to accomplish (beyond the obvious “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” metaphor), but Payson was assigned to mimic Lauren’s beam routine, which is all about playing to the crowd with sex appeal – something power performer Payson does not do naturally, so the lesson was probably something about reaching beyond your comfort zone. (Blame Darby’s space-cadet approach to coaching for the muddled message. Surprise!)
Of course Payson (Ayla Kell) tackled the assignment head on, almost instantly learning the mechanics of Lauren’s (Cassie Scerbo) routine, but she could mimic none of the sensuality that made Lauren’s beam program so appealing. And Scerbo made the hip-swinging, moneymaker-shaking performance look so effortless; Lauren is a young woman used to utilizing her sex appeal to full advantage. Full marks, on the other hand, to Kell for making Payson’s experiments with rolling her shoulders and wiggling her hips look desperately stiff and not the least bit sexy. Kell’s face was a study in concentration and frustration; Payson had never come up against a problem she couldn’t power her way through. She appealed to Austin (Zane Holtz) to teach her how to be sexy, but she simply could not grasp the way he explained it. She was looking for some kind of formula she could execute; while he was trying to convince her that sexy is a state of mind. Payson made him promise not to laugh, but she extracted no such vow from the audience! Still, as amusing as it was, I was embarrassed for her.
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
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.)