Make It or Break It Down: Season 1, Episode 9

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.

S1E9: Where’s Kaylie?

This is the second episode to be called “Where’s XX?” A little originality would be appreciated.

Emily and her mom wake up at 6 because Joe was allowed to sleep in Emily’s bed. Oh no WAY a drifter would be spending the night in my bed. If he could afford to bail out the Kmetkos, he could afford the nearest Motel 8.

Joe, apparently, has overstayed his welcome and cooked up egg white omelets and lattes all around. I have to say, the trope of a man surprising me with breakfast in my own house has never been that romantic to me…what if I wanted to use those eggs for something else? Emily’s not impressed either since she spurns said omelette and leaves immediately.

At the gym, the original three are commiserating on last night’s crazy events. Lauren apparently decided her party hair was too good to wash out for a pedestrian gymnastics practice.

She perks up as Kaylie mentions she hasn’t talked to Carter since last night, but attention is quickly stolen as Payson whips out a full bar routine complete with a full-in dismount. But because that dismount was only impressive when Emily did it as a plot point, we move on.

The moms are also sharing their thoughts. “Kaylie’s miserable, angry and…she hates us,” admits Mrs. Cruz. “Of course,” says Mrs. Keeler helpfully.

“Payson has issues of her own.” “Not the kind that come with your husband punching a teen in your living room.” Idk, Mr. Keeler’s from Minnesota…I can totally see him bottling up that Midwestern rage and saving it for a rainy day.

In a dramatic speech to the gym, Sasha reveals that the critical “no dating rule” has been broken and Carter has been suspended from the gym. As for the other offender, “[his] source refused to name the girl involved.” Did you guys know Sasha was also the third journalist who broke the Watergate scandal?

Artistic parallels:

He also drops the bombshell of gym event rankings for nationals, which triggered trauma from middle school musical casting calls I didn’t know I had.

I love so much about this. It’s not in Olympic order, there’s no last names listed, two of the random alternates could also double as suburban moms (hey, Kim and Robin)…too good. If I was a cast member and could steal a prop after the season wrapped, this might be it.

Mrs. Keeler lays into Sasha for that little charade: “How can we give them some responsibility for an athletic career and not give them responsibility for basic decisions about their lives?” But Sasha tunes out the moment he starts hearing common sense.

Payson comes in and loses her mind for a brief moment about why she’s not ranked first on beam. I mean, I can’t think of a single more problematic decision he’s made as coach, so I get her anger.

Meanwhile, Summer walks into the gym with a bombshell of her own for her dope of a boyfriend: “I did an internet search for Leslie Tanner, and it only took me about 20 minutes to find her.” Oh dang, she broke out the big guns…the INTERNET. Maybe there’s another budding investigative reporter in this show we don’t know about. This is how I imagined her scrolling to the second page of Google:

Kaylie’s mom breaks into the fortress of Angsty Kaylie’s room and announces she’ll help her see Carter one last time before nationals. “Just don’t tell your dad because he’ll kill us both.” The duo apparently sees no issues with this statement and hugs it out because the bond of being attracted to scumbag men is truly one of the strongest there is.

Joe and Emily’s brother have a bonding moment that comes with this truly crackling dialogue: “At least you don’t hate me.” “That’s because I never expect anything from you, so when you leave you don’t disappoint me.” Why does the most wisdom from this show come from throwaway characters we barely ever see?

Lauren’s dad gives her her mom’s phone number because he gets she really wants to talk to her. All these men spewing wisdom makes me wonder if I’ve actually tuned into “The Wire.”

Behind every snobby girl is her sock monkey. Remember that the next time your rude coworker makes a pass at your outfit.

Kaylie bounds out to Carter’s jeep and announces she’s skipping nationals in solidarity with him. He rewards that solidarity with a demonstration of his own loyalty: revealing he cheated on her the night of the kegger.

This show loves sweeping shots of gymnasts running from the gym to nowhere. Very Aaron Sorkin.

Emily arrives home to find her mother wearing an outfit that tells Emily right away she was up to some Working From Home™️.

I’m laughing that she came out in this hideous robe and Joe had the wherewithal to pull on his dad at a BBQ outfit.

After Emily loses it on the on again-off again-on again-off again-on again lovers, Joe decides to tell Chloe he loves her, but she tosses him aside because she knows her daughter doesn’t approve. No worries, Joe, you’ll be getting a “U up?” text the minute Emily gets on that bus for nationals.

At the bus station, Lauren awaits her mother, who doesn’t show up. Maybe she can find something to comfort herself in this her giant, incongruous bag.

Undeterred, she shows up at Payson’s house and reveals that Kaylie has run away all the way from the Rock to who knows where. They use their deductive reasoning skills to discover she’s at the gymnastics camp they used to go to when they were kids.

The three are really considering not going to find her because of Sasha’s 10 hours of sleep rule (if these were my friends…) but make the 3-hour trek.

So like, no one else was around this whole time? I might pick a slightly less harrowing destination to reassess my life choices.

Carrying on the trend of people sharing news when it’s warranted the most, Lauren chooses now to tell Kaylie she slept with Carter. Blah blah you slept with my boyfriend blah blah team work blah blah we’re all in this together and somehow car keys get thrown into the water and the girls have no way of getting back.

The moms get together, note that they haven’t been able to contact any of the girls, and pretty much just say ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ to it all. And why not, because the girls have it all under control.

Like what happens at much more low stakes campfires than this, the secrets are starting to come out.

“Why would my dad blackmail Marty?” “Because Marty was sleeping with my mom.” Basically the equivalent of-

-except in the middle of the woods with not-as-smart people.

Back in civilization, the moms are also in the spirit of sharing secrets as Kaylie’s mom drops the cheating with Marty bombshell after one too many barbs from Chloe. She does it with the weapon of all the finest drama queens in hand:

Summer’s just like, adultery? Where are my rosary beads? She tells Mrs. Cruz to ask God to help her, and I’m wondering at this point…does the separation of church and state not apply to major US TV networks? Anyway, if I was Mrs. Cruz:

Keeping up the trauma bonding in the woods, Lauren comes clean: “If it’s any consolation, my mom’s a drug addict.” Payson drops the Cortisol bombshell and Emily just stares like…

The girls decide they’re not going to let drama tear them apart in the face of impending doom, and in the face of being trapped in the woods. Instead, they rally around the tree they carved their initials in all those years ago.

As Emily ponders what it must have been like to possess the family stability required to send her to gymnastics camp, she reveals she has a key to the car after all and they can all leave. If I was one of the other three, it would take a lot for me to not leave her there at that point.

They arrive at the gym the next morning to take nationals by storm.

Artistic parallels:

Emily is announced as team captain, everyone hugs and NONE FOR THIS GUY.

Best ending of an episode thus far.

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 Producing a Roaring Campfire Without Notice

  • Yeah…that campfire. No way these girls had time for Girl Scouts. Minus 8.
  • All that juice flowing at the moms’ get-together and no wine drunk moments where all their drama comes to a head? These aren’t the same people I know. Minus 2.
  • Lauren not having something in that giant bag that could be remotely helpful to the girls as they are “stranded” in the woods. Namely, a phone charger. Minus 4.
  • Also, Payson leaving her phone at home. I know it was a different time, but you wouldn’t bring it for a 3-hour trip? Minus 7.
  • Now that I think about it…how did Emily have the gas money for a 3-hour trip? Minus 3.
  • The girls wearing those outfits to a team-sponsored travel day. Where’s the licensed apparel? Minus 3.

Total: -27

Realer Than Craving Attention so Much You’re Willing to Put Others out to Get Them to Care (…no? just me?)

  • Kaylie blasting heavy metal music to which she probably doesn’t know the words, just to Feel Something™️. Plus 7.
  • Summer finding Lauren’s mom on Google, thereby confirming women have more media literacy. Plus 5.
  • Chloe stopping at home for a little afternoon delight. That tracks with her character development thus far. Plus 4.
  • There really is something about the glow of a campfire that brings out those deep, dark secrets you never thought you’d share. I can’t relate to the Cortisol shot part, but…I get it. Plus 6.

Total: -5

MIOBI may have had a negative total this week, but the surprising lack of annoying males throughout the narrative was a positive in my eyes.


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 Katherine Weaver 

Like what you see? Consider donating to support our efforts throughout the year!

One comment

  1. I enjoy reading these recaps so much! They’re way more entertaining and better than actually watching the show. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.