At last, the two-part second-season finale of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT sent the Rebels of the Rock to Rio, where they represented the USA at Worlds. It was not exactly the team roster that anyone expected – with spitfire demoness Kelly Parker stepping in for the pregnant Emily – but it was evidently the team that was needed to pull off a miracle on the mats that would make the Harlem Globetrotters envious.
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?
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.
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.”
It’s been a while since I have been able to check in with the elite athletes of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, and this week’s episode reminded me of what I like so much about this series: It focuses on charming, complex characters in stories that manage to be simple yet compelling.
I’ve been away for a couple of weeks, but comforting to see I haven’t missed much. MIORBI’s “Previously, on…” montage caught me up just fine. The recap segment on serialized drama is very important, and I don’t think enough shows pay enough attention to them. It fits in with the old-fashioned, straight-forward storytelling; don’t look here for fancy camera tricks directorial gloss.