Make It or Break It Down: Season 1, Episode 2

The abrupt end to the 2020 NCAA gymnastics season was a shock to everyone, us included. And while we understand and support the measures being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it means that a lot of us are suddenly left with extra time on our hands…

Which is why we’ve decided to embark on an important journey, one that will take us back through one of television’s most important series to date: Make It or Break It. Every Saturday (and a number of other bonus days) from now until the 2021 season, our editors Katherine, Kalley and Claire will be breaking down and recapping each episode of everyone’s favorite gymnastics show. 

Want to watch along? You can find MIOBI on Hulu and the Freeform app, all you have to have is a subscription/cable login. You can also buy the DVDs or purchase seasons or single episodes on various platforms, like iTunes. Join us in the cheesiness and the early 2010s TV gymnastics by using the hashtag #MakeItOrBreakItDown on Twitter as you watch.

You can read our S1E1 recap here.

S1E2: Where’s Marty?  

It’s a typical morning at Casa Kmetko. Mom’s obviously dressed like Erin Brockovich and, shockingly, can’t find her résumés. I’m trying to focus more on the positives, so I’ll say I’m glad she’s finally decided to get a job! Anyway, Brian finds them for her because, as he so astutely notes, they’re Day-Glo pink and sitting on the dining room table. With one crisis averted, Mom wonders aloud, “Maybe I should wear something just a little more POW,” and the kids make these faces:

While dropping off Emily at The Rock, Mom apologizes for being so “stressed out” lately because she can’t find a job. Uh huh. Unlike her mom, Emily has actual problems that aren’t of her own making. With Coach Marty gone, Emily’s scholarship is in jeopardy. Also, is anyone else super curious about what that picture of Coach Marty was?! Feel free to speculate in the comments.

Rings Boy and Kaylie are in the gym texting each other. Granted, I was never anywhere near an elite-level gymnast (and cell phones weren’t a thing when I was training), but I’m guessing texting during practice is frowned upon. 

Kaylie’s parents have apparently assumed leadership of the gym. Dad is panicking because, “the list of [coaches] as good as Marty is this *holds up pinky finger* long.” Mom’s more pragmatic about the whole thing. “Honestly, you think anyone with an Olympic medal is so virtuous? Marty was just a man.” 

Checking in with Payson the Focused™ on beam, and she does a legitimately impressive front toss with a quarter turn, but lands with a significant waist bend. Some second-tier non-Marty coach tries to give her feedback and she eviscerates him with her eyes and her words.

We also learn that Payson’s parents have had offers from other gyms, but are reluctant to deal with uprooting their family yet again. 

Payson and Kaylie are understandably frazzled and pissed that Coach Marty and Lauren bailed on them, and hatch a plan to go to Denver and confront them face to face. And yes, they are in their respective signature colors.

Meanwhile, Emily’s doing conditioning on bars while wearing a Flashdance sweatshirt and camo cargo pants. Like, they’re made of khaki and have pockets.

If she loses her scholarship, maybe she can get an endorsement deal with PacSun?

Kaylie’s brother Leo, who’s been away at college, arrives at The Rock and makes an extremely tone deaf comment about a slave ship. 

All the girls are swooning over him despite the fact that he’s wearing a polo and Members Only jacket and has 1992 John Roethlisberger’s hair.

He’s flirting with Emily despite The Rules. Tbh, I would be super into watching a fight between him and emo Pizza Shack kid.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cruz informs Emily that all of her American Gymnastics scholarship forms need Marty’s signature and then gives her a reassuring Martha Karolyian neck grab. 

Cut to Coach Marty and Lauren’s new club, Denver Elite. Literally everyone is wearing red, white, and blue, including Lauren. Lauren’s Daddy is explaining to DJ Tanner that, “[Lauren] just needs to get her confidence back.” Maybe the orange leos were the source of her power? As Lauren nails a double twist beam dismount, two of her new teammates have this conversation: 

I mean, they’re not wrong.

Lauren walks in on Daddy and DJ Tanner necking in the gym office. “Oh please… You’re banging your secretary?!” 

DJ Tanner and I simultaneously yelled, “EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT!” 

Emily’s Pizza Shack gig (and by “gig” I mean “opportunity to flirt”) is going well when her mom shows up and says, “We have to GOOOO! There’s a big meeting at the Cruzes’.” Emily tries to explain that she’s working and can’t just leave in the middle of a shift, but this concept is beyond Mom’s comprehension. She repeats,“But we have to go!” before making googly eyes at her daughter’s 17-year-old coworker. Seriously, I can’t understand why this woman is having such a hard time securing employment…

Emo Pizza Shack boy graciously offers to cover for Emily so she too can go to this meeting that I’m pretty sure is for parents only. 

The Keelers arrive at Chateau Cruz for the big parents’ meeting with Focused Payson and Unfocused Becca in tow. Mrs. Cruz says, “Oh… I don’t recall inviting children,” (told ya) and immediately becomes my favorite character on the show.

In Kaylie’s bedroom, she and Payson look at pics of Marty from his Olympic days. I’m trying to figure out whose body they (poorly) Photoshopped Eric Paladino’s head onto. [Editor’s note: Thanks @Myott86 for correctly identifying this as Paul Hamm!]  I’m pretty sure the second picture [featured in the header] is just a photo of Jair Lynch.   

While the parents meet, Kaylie, Payson and Emily head to Denver; Becca’s with them because they told their parents they were going to Jamba Juice and Mrs. Cruz insisted all children vacate the premises immediately.

Back at the parents’ meeting, Mr. Cruz says, “Since I’m the only one here that was a professional athlete, I think it’s pretty clear I should be managing The Rock.” You just know some USAG board members watched this episode and thought, “This guy is making some solid points.” Mr. Cruz continues, “Gymnastics is a sport of perception. The Rock needs to continue to be maintained as an elite facility or else all of our girls’ scores are going to suffer.”  NCAA judges beg your pardon, sir…  

The girls arrive at Denver Elite. Payson confronts Coach Marty, who—like the very worst of dudes—tells her to calm down.

Kaylie and the others deal with Lauren, who says, “[Emily is] the reason you all don’t have a coach!” Kaylie tells her she’s a backstabbing bitch. 

Payson blames Marty for having lost her confidence. Marty actually does something decent and lies to her, saying, “It’s not always about you, Payson. I think these girls are better than you.” Payson, being 16, falls for his ploy, which restores her Focus™ and reignites her competitive fire. She responds that she’s going to kick the ass of every girl there. Well played, Marty, well played. 

As the girls leave, Payson also takes care of Emily’s scholarship business. Can Payson become an emancipated minor and adopt Emily? Lauren betrays a tiny impulse of missing Kaylie, but Kaylie is out of fucks to give.

On the ride home, The Rock girls stop for gas and a bunch of grotty drunk dudes repeatedly call them “Pretty Princesses.” Emily tells them to back off, to which they say, “Whatchu gonna do if we don’t?” I kid you not, what Payson and Emily do is tumble at them until the dudes scatter like roaches in a combination of fear and secondhand embarrassment.

Kaylie and I have the same response to this exchange. 

For some reason, it takes the girls about six hours to make the 90 minute round-trip drive to Denver and back. Only Mr. Cruz cares. The other parents are, like, “As long as you were doing something fun!” 

Leo drives Emily home and flirts by making some truly bizarre comments about her hands. 

Emily’s mom decides to go get ice cream for Emily, Brian and herself. Her kids know this is well-beyond beyond her capabilities, and place bets on how long it will take her and whether or not she returns home empty-handed. So far, my favorite part of this series is how little respect Mama Kmetko’s children have for her. 

Mrs. Cruz pulls up to a seemingly random house, and Marty answers the door. Oooh snap! I THINK WE KNOW WHAT WAS IN THE PHOTO!   

Mama Kmetko conveniently drives by at that exact moment and makes this face. 

How she recognizes them is beyond me; this is the woman who couldn’t find her highlighter pink résumés in broad daylight. Maybe she has mutant night vision capabilities? But also, Marty and Mrs. Cruz, what are you doing?! YOU KNOW THERE IS LITERALLY A PRIVATE EYE MONITORING YOUR DUMB ASSES!

In the episode’s final moments, we see all the girls lying in their respective beds: Payson the Re-Focused is practicing her choreo. Emily is touching her calluses. Kaylie is texting with Rings Boy. Lauren is looking at her old photos, including one with Rings Boy.

Finally, Marty calls Lauren’s Daddy and tells him, “I’m done being your little monkey.” Lauren’s Dad says, “I’ll ruin the sport for you.” Marty says, “You’ve already done that.”

Roll credits.

Balance Check

Every week we will break down the little moments that stood out as being extremely on point and those that wobbled a bit too much. Shout out to Vulture and its Gossip Girl Reality Index for providing the template for our version. 

Faker Than Top Gymnasts Tumbling at a Gas Station to Frighten a Horde of Angry Drunk Guys

  • That picture of Marty’s head on Paul Hamm’s body. Minus 7. Even pre-high def, that pic is embarrassingly bad. 
  • Leo—who is himself supposedly a high level gymnast—thinking Emily has palm calluses because she doesn’t “wrap her hands.” Minus 3
  • Emily wearing khaki cargo pants to do gymnastics in. KHAKI. CARGO. PANTS. Minus 5
  • The Denver elite girls wearing official gym warmups for a regular practice day. Minus 2
  • Chloe Kmetko still doesn’t have a job. Minus 10 every week until she gets one.

Total:  -27

Realer Than a Horde of Drunk Guys Thinking Bhs Losos are “Actual Superhero Stuff, Yo!”

  • Carter texting Kaylie, “WHEN CAN I C U?” Plus 2. Can confirm, people actually texted like this in 2009. 
  • Coach Marty telling Payson to calm down when she rightly calls out his shitty behavior. Plus 10 because every single woman on the planet has been told to “calm down” at least once by a clueless dude.
  • Kaylie, after hearing a loud door-slamming type noise while making out with Carter in the laundry room, asking, “Did you hear that?!” and Carter responding, “No, you’re being paranoid.” Plus 5
  • JAMBA JUICE. Plus 3 because these places used to be legit hangout spots in 2009. Is this still a thing? Please tell me this is still a thing.
  • Overconfident man thinking being a professional athlete makes him qualified to run an organization. Plus 5 because of course he does, but also minus 3 because of course it doesn’t.
    Marty reverse-pyschologing Payson into thinking she’s losing her touch. Plus 4 because good coaching, given the circumstances.
  • Parents having zero clue what their teenage children are actually up to. Plus 13.

Total: 39

MIOBI stuck the landing in this weeks’ Balance Check with a grand total of 12. 


1: The Feeling After You Find Out NCAAs Is Cancelled (Too Soon?)

2: The NCAA Banning Chalk Blowing Choreography

3: Brandie Jay’s Accidental DTY

4: Kelly Garrison Squeal After a Stuck Oklahoma Vault

5: It was beautiful, it was lovely, we went out there and ENJOYED THIS

Recap by Claire Billman and Kalley Leer

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