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.
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.
This could have been MAKE IT OR BREAK IT’s ODD COUPLE episode, an all-out comedy about clashing personalities, but instead, the script played it straight and tackled the idea of what it means to be a team: self-sacrifice for the larger good of the team.
There is no “I” in team, but there is a “me” — so that’s probably why Coach McIntire decided to convince the elite gymnasts that nobody qualifies for the Olympics alone; they need to be part of a team.
It’s been almost a year since we had any new episodes of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, and the dawning of the new season means a new location, new storylines, new cast members — and the relegation of some characters to the back burner, while others were shown the door.
The Big Three — National Champion Kaylie (Josie Loren), Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) and Payson (Ayla Kell) — arrive at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., after just barely qualifying back in last season’s finale. At the OTC, they meet Coach McIntire (Dondré T. Whitfield), who will put them through a grueling eight-week regimen and only the survivors will go to London.
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.