Make It or Break It Down: Season 1, Episode 13

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.

S1E13: California Girls

Kaylie and Nicky are doing a photo shoot with Seventeen magazine dressed as a bride and groom, with Kaylie doing an arabesque on the beam while Nicky kisses her hand (he seems utterly repulsed at having to do this). Ngl, pretty impressed with Josie Loren’s technique!

Chloe and Emily drive up to The Rock and flip the hell out because they have their own reserved parking spot. Chloe says (and I quote), “Do you know what this means?! WE’RE A FANCY-PANTSY ROCK FAMILY!!!!” 

Lauren’s pissed off because Kaylie’s photo shoot is cutting into her (Lauren’s) practice time. Plus, as she tells Emily and Carter, she finished fourth at nationals, which is basically like first, and she has better bone structure than Kaylie, so where’s her photoshoot?

When the shoot finally ends and practice begins, Payson walks over to the beam, closes her eyes and starts wiggling her hands over it. Sasha gave her a book on visualizing recovery—much to Kim’s chagrin—and so she’s back in “training.” She tells him, “I just landed a perfect gainer full!”   Riiiight.

Summer asks Sasha why he’s so convinced that some “larger force” won’t heal Payson and allow her to do gymnastics again.

He tells her that he puts his faith in facts, not “mumbo-jumbo larger forces.” 

Chloe’s in the observation booth bragging to all the lesser gym moms about her life-changing new parking spot. 

MJ invites Kaylie and Nicky to a supercool party in LA, hoping to fuel to speculation that they’re a couple. Nicky’s not into it, especially since Kaylie isn’t a “serious” gymnast… OK, silver medalist. 

Meanwhile, Payson gives Emily tips on her bars technique and unsolicited advice on how to visualize her way to becoming a winner. It’s all very Elphaba/Galinda. 

After practice, Nicky tells Payson he got his dad (the orthopedic surgeon he stole cortisone from, remember?) to pull some strings and get her in to see the best back surgeon in the world, conveniently located in LA. You might know him…

Lauren’s still jealous of Kaylie’s photoshoots and parties, and tells her exactly how stupid all of it is. Well, turns out Kaylie’s got a private jet with room for a couple of friends. A couple, as in two.

To be fair, she probably wouldn’t have picked Lauren anyway because of the whole betrayal thing, but dumping on Kaylie’s photoshoot didn’t help her odds. 

As a result of getting left out, Lauren calls in her blackmail favor with Nicky and forces him to take her to the LA party as his plus one. 

Payson is trying to convince Kim to let her see the UCLA doc. She’s convinced everything is lining up for her because of positive thinking. When Kim and Mark discuss, they agree to go but insist, “This is the last doctor.” I smell foreshadowing… 

As she’s leaving The Rock, Lauren figures out that Carter is living out of his Jeep. Long story short, his dad’s a stereotypical rancher dripping in toxic masculinity who booted Carter from their home for insisting on doing this sissy gymnastics stuff. Lauren offers him a place to stay and is also wearing a fabulous valour track suit.

She lets Carter stay in her old boathouse or something. True to her shit-stirring roots, Lauren tells him how Kaylie and Nicky are “the new gymnastics power couple,” which bums him out, and he declares he’ll be gone by Monday.   

Back at Casa Kmetko, Brian extends his streak as my favorite character by asking his mom why she’s listening to classical music and waving a fondue fork in the air. She says it’s because they’re a fancy Rock family living their best life. Dear lord, she’s also making Brian set up an online dating profile for her with this picture:

The cool non-Laurens have made it to LA and are being chauffeured around in a red Mustang taking selfies with a camera. It was a simpler time. 

The girls arrive at the big party and are star-struck by tennis pros like James Blake and Anna Kournikova… Sure. The paparazzi are all over Kaylie. They ask Emily if she’s anyone and she says, “I’m nobody.” Payson the Visualizer ain’t having that, and shoves her back out there to tell them exactly who she is. Damon shows up and is super happy to see Emily claiming the spotlight. Then Lauren and Nicky get there to ruin their “carefree, drama-free weekend.” 

Back in Boulder, Chloe arrives at a fancy restaurant for her first online date and it turns out to be freaking Steve Tanner. 

Steve suggests he and Chloe cancel their date because “it was made under false pretenses.” She’s all, “At least I used a real picture of myself!” He counters that he was forced to use a photo of a Calvin Klein model of comparable attractiveness and stature because he’s a prominent figure in this town with a certain reputation to maintain.  

 After flinging a few more jabs at each other, they laugh and decide to stay and at least enjoy the fancy food. 

As their date concludes, Steve Tanner offers to help Chloe get a new car. They both agreed that they had a surprisingly good time, but that they should never tell anyone about this (Steve, to protect his precious reputation; Chloe, because she thinks The Rock’s “no dating” rule applies to parents as well as gymnasts). Gotta say, I actually don’t hate this pairing. 

At the LA party, the girls are moping because Lauren’s there. Nicky reassures Payson that he only came to the party because he heard she’d be there, and Lauren Laurened her way into coming with him.

MJ introduces Kaylie and Nicky to the host of the party. He’s weirdly invested in the relationship of two 16 year olds for a middle aged billionaire… Btw, Payson’s totally cool with their fauxmance (seriously) because it’s such good PR. 

Meanwhile, Damon keeps avoiding answering Emily’s questions about his alleged new record deal. Eventually, he goes on some OOC rant about Razor and how all these guys want to be with her and it’s so frustrating for him. Turns out he’s pissed because some hugely successful female pop group wanted to record his music, and that would go against his artistic integrity. She asks why he doesn’t just sing his own songs then: “Because I’m not as brave as you.” 

Kaylie helps some blond dudebros kick a bottle of champagne and they all go to an after-party where a bunch of athletes are passing around a joint.

Lauren overhears several paparazzi planning to crash said after-party and get pics of all these famous athletes doing drugs. Lauren pulls Kaylie from the apartment right as the pap raid begins, sparing Kaylie’s reputation and endorsements.

Nicky goes to say goodnight to Payson, whose pajama game continues to be on point. She thanks him for believing in her recovery. He talks about how hot her triple full is, so she kisses him. Oh ew, he calls her Butterfly. 

Kaylie and Lauren have a heart-to-heart. Lauren apologizes (seemingly sincerely) for sleeping with Carter, but gives the full context: She was drunk, sad at being alienated and that—far from being empowering like she told Kaylie—”It was quick, weird and when it was over, I felt like crap. The guy didn’t love me, and there was no one to tell… And I lost my best friend.” 

Kaylie thaws a bit, admitting she misses Lauren too. She agrees to “see how things go,” as long as Lauren agrees to never again have anything to do with Carter. Lauren promises but leaves out the small detail that he’s living in her attic.


Back on the roof, Emily tells Damon that she doesn’t care if he’s a successful rock star or Pizza Shack cashier, but he can’t lie to her any more. He agrees, and decides that having Pinky Promise (y’all, they named the girl band Pinky Promise) record a couple of his songs and earn him a metric crapton of fame and fortune wouldn’t be the worst thing. Ya think?

They make a pact to both go for their dreams and totally support each other and tell each other the truth from now on. 

The next morning at Payson’s appt, the doc calls her x-rays “interesting,” which Payson and Kim assume means “good” (pro tip: “interesting” in medicine is almost never good). Called it: He agrees with the Boston doc that her condition is inoperable. Oof. 

Back in Boulder, Emily tells Chloe all about her trip, and Chloe shows Emily her new Kia Sorento Crossover because they can’t pull into their bougie new parking spot in a beater. Get that product placement money, MIOBI!

Kaylie gets home and sees the pic she should have been in.

Lauren brings a sandwich to Carter in his new attic home. They agree that no one should know he’s staying with her. Dammit, Lauren!

Mark flew back home to grieve Payson’s prognosis with the family minus Becca who’s disappeared again. Kim admits she let herself hope despite knowing better. Payson crawls into bed dejectedly and ignores a call from Nicky so she can focus on crying while also channeling a major quarantine vibe.

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 $5 Valet Parking

  • The idea that anyone in town would dismiss Steve Tanner because he was on a dating app… That kind of rage is saved for women, sweetie! Minus 4.
  • A successful female pop group wanting to record DAMON’S songs? Are they mistaking him for Justin Bieber? Minus 7.
  • That female pop group being called “Pinky Promise” and somehow vaulting to Billboard Top 40 fame. Minus 8.
  • Rooftop heart to heart chats are a standard TV/movie trope that I have yet to experience for myself, so I’m calling BS. Minus 5.

Total: -24.

Realer Than Dads Who Hate Their Sons Playing Any Sport Except Football or Baseball

  • That photo shoot. Twelve-year-old me had a poster of Shannon Miller doing a scale on a horse while wearing a white unitard and lots of really long scarves blowing in the wind. Plus 7.
  • Chloe using unrealistic pics for her online dating profile… We’re all guilty. Plus 6.
  • That party host being invested in Kaylie and Payson screams major Dan Schneider vibes. Run while you can, ladies! Plus 6.
  • Caring about a worthless man enough that you’re willing to house him in your attic… Well, maybe not the second part. 😅Plus 3.

Total: 22.

This week’s total is equivalent to how many friends it feels like Lauren Tanner has at any given time: -2.


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  

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