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

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.

We’re officially onto season 2! You can read our S1E1 recap here.

S2E1: Friends Close, Enemies Closer

The Rock girls are in the midst of a magazine photo shoot that’s apparently designed to promote the movie “Hustlers.”

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show “rebel” look is inspired by the girls and Sasha throwing the middle finger to the NGB, our favorite member of which, Ellen BEEN Beals, appears to be lurking in the background. With that nondescript look, I guess they mistook her for a PA and let her in.

Beals announces that they can keep up the rebel look all they want, because they’re all officially kicked off the team. Sasha says that’s too bad because they’ll all still be going to France and any other international assignments. Wouldn’t you trust someone as sane-looking as this to lead you through such an uncertain time?

Emily brings to Sasha’s attention the minor detail that she is poor and can’t afford basic human needs, so she needs her scholarship to continue doing things worthy of photo shoots. Sasha says he’s looking for “private” means to fund her extravagant lifestyle. AKA…”Hey Steve Tanner, want to open your wallet to install some new foam pits at the Rock?”

Payson’s like, LOL, looks like I picked a good time to be injured and not have any competitions to stress about! She’s not deterred by the NGB’s foolishness and still wants to petition onto the team. Sis, a few months ago you were thriving and living a normal life.

Kaylie gets pulled over for one last picture at the photo shoot, and Payson and Lauren take the opportunity to discuss how cute it’s going to be when she’s not the favorite anymore. Lauren takes comfort in knowing that, after all this, she has the one thing Kaylie can’t have. And what a SNACK that thing is:

Is he landing a rings dismount or ejecting a bowel movement? I’d believe both.

Emily goes home to find *takes a deep breath because the 2009 television of it all* her mother making herself look pretty so Steve will pay for their rent.

I’m going to idealize that this is commentary on financial domination, which is a very legitimate sexual kink, rather than the weird power dynamic it seems like it is. Suspending belief >>>>

At the Pizza Shack, Kaylie shows up to confront Carter about why he’s been avoiding her, and he basically admits it’s over. Well, not basically. He says they’re over. As someone who knows how hard it can be to not leave that door open, I’m thoroughly impressed.

Ready for potentially the most NFSW out of context moment you could imagine on a teen program? You’ve been warned.

Lauren’s in the kitchen of the Pizza Shack to remind Carter what he’s leaving her best friend for. Thankfully, Carter has the decency to keep it in his pants. I need to stop being excited for someone when the bar is on the floor.

Welp I guess the show runners heard my prayers because Carter immediately reverts to his usual self and issues Lauren an ultimatum: stay friends with Kaylie or break it up to be with Carter so they don’t have to lie to Kaylie. How about just…don’t be together and hurt someone you both “care about”?

But that’s too easy for this show, so instead there’s a messy near miss where Kaylie and Lauren see each other and Kaylie cries to Lauren about her newly broken relationship.

Across town, Chloe reverses course and decides to take Emily’s (lowkey misogynist) advice that accepting money from a man = lack of respect for yourself, so she turns down Steve’s request. Something about this happening amidst the background of such a grotesquely opulent restaurant feels like it incites class warfare and I’m here for it.

Payson’s at the Rock training late into the night with not one soul left. You’d think they’d have changed the locks on the place after Damon and Emily broke in back in season 1.

Sasha comes in and rains on her parade by telling her the fact that she’s grown an inch and gained a little bit of body fat means there’s no way she can think about the national team until she resolves those issues, which are obviously so insurmountable that she’ll never make it. Because Sasha’s definitely the person to be having this conversation with.

Payson then goes home and cries to her mom, who’s just happy because Payson is growing up and…you guessed it…getting boobs.

And so ensues some commentary in which Payson perpetuates harmful stereotypes about needing to be delicate to succeed in gymnastics and Kim equates having breasts with being a woman. Fun stuff all around!

Lauren and Carter are enjoying the proverbial “cigarette afterward” and Lauren feels like he’s not into it enough, so she asks why he’s not over Kaylie yet. He (un)convincingly says he is, and to prove it, he offers Lauren this extremely sexy and hot explanation of why he likes her.

“Yeah Lauren, you’re hot and fun, but ultimately, you remind me of my mom.” The Freud of it all is just too much.

Carter then outdoes himself and promises to tell Kaylie about the two of them after the meet in France. It’s all very reminiscent of the trope where the man promises his mistress he’ll divorce his wife and never does. Lauren seems like she’d watch shows where this is a central point of the plot. WAKE UP SIS.

The next day at the gym, Steve storms in and prepares to berate Sasha about maintaining the standoff that’s preventing the girls from being on the national team. Oh, to be a fly on the wall of this meeting of the minds.

We only get a quick glimpse of the meeting, but based on their track record, the fact that no punches fly is nothing short of miraculous.

While they’re in there cutting it up, the girls look on and talk about how they may have misplaced their trust in Sasha this time if it’s going to mean they’re permanently off the team. As in, just this once, Sasha was…wrong. Men can be wrong? My understanding of reality has been corrupted and I’m hurt.

Turns out they were correct in their assumptions, because they learn via a tweet from Kelly Parker that the national team did, in fact, have a practice without the Rock girls that very day. Here’s a quick look at the tweet in question:

Why are they surprised this NGB did what they said they’d do? Maybe I’d be surprised if it was something good they promised to do, but because they said up front they’d be jerks, of course they followed up on their word.

The girls decide to grovel and apologize to Ellen Beals behind Sasha’s back because they care more about their careers than Sasha’s reputation. WORK IT GIRLS. I don’t know where they suddenly found this independence but I’m not mad at all.

Okay. That’s one way to put it.

They head over to Denver Elite to make their case. Denver Elite is giving me serious “big box/furniture store on the highway outside your favorite middle-tier U.S. city” vibes.

Ellen is surprisingly willing to hear the girls out, though only on the condition that they repeat back to her this culty dictatorship drivel to prove they’ll be the little robots she wants them to be.

I hate that, to follow their dreams, the girls either need to follow Sasha’s nutjob antics or this archetypical headmistress of an evil boarding school. There’s truly no good actors here. Commentary!

Beals offers a sad little monologue about how she didn’t make the Olympics when she was a gymnast but it doesn’t matter because now she’s in a position to “make other girls’ dreams come true” (read: “ruin other girls’ lives with the stroke of a pen”).

After the meeting, the girls are all anxious because they went behind Sasha’s back and, worse, because he doesn’t suspect it at all. Thank God for men being dense.

Ellen Beals then comes to the Rock to test that denseness when she announces that the girls are all back on the national team. As a bigger bombshell, Kaylie will captain the team and Emily is ranked third overall. Lauren’s not on the team at all, which…well, we can’t have that and world peace at any given time, it’d upset the natural order of things!

So she loses her shit on Beals and asks why she’s not being rewarded for her loyalty to the team, thereby revealing to the whole gym the meeting they agreed to keep secret. Sasha looks genuinely hurt by the girls going behind his back, showing he’s capable of emotions I didn’t know he had. Look at that little glint in his eye.

By Sasha’s standards, that’s like Niagra Falls coming down his face.

In the smoldering ruins of the Rock, Lauren then tells her dad to figure out a way to get her onto the France team, which is like asking your eye doctor to help you understand the results of your COVID test. But money talks, so I guess he’ll find a way.

Then, to add insult to injury, the gymnastics photoshoot people come back to the gym and show the girls the finished product. Remember all those group pictures? Apparently they ended up on the cutting room floor.

If Lauren’s content with the fact that at least the magazine editors picked the most painfully ’80s-esque picture of Kaylie to grace the cover, she doesn’t show it. So she seizes the center of attention by telling Kaylie there’s one thing she’ll never have: Carter.

The sad thing is, Kaylie doesn’t look shocked. Maybe Carter *braces self* had a point when he told Lauren she can’t be best friends with Kaylie if their relationship is based on lies. Nope, admitting Carter was right still hasn’t gotten any easier in the last 30 minutes.

(Speaking of Carter, so much for letting him break the news (though, to be honest, that was probably smart). See, I I had to get a dig in.))

At Casa Kmetko, Chloe can only be happy for Emily for a few minutes because she’s late to another date with Steve. Little does she know that Steve is pregaming the date with a meeting with Ellen Beals…at the same restaurant.

They basically have the shady backroom dealings-esque meeting we’ve heard rumors of in the real gymnastics world for years, except it’s hard to feel like anything is stealthy when the bumbling Steve Tanner is involved. They definitely chose the correct opulent restaurant as a backdrop, though (Steve, have you no shame?).

Ellen basically forces Steve to engineer a coup and get Sasha out of leadership at the Rock. Steve seems pretty willing given that Sasha remains on his shit list. Can’t imagine how this will go down.

Also, Beals can’t promise Lauren a spot on the team but she *can* get Steve’s future daughter-in-law (I pray not) Emily the funding she so desperately needs, which she reveals to Emily over an ensuing phone call.

Instead of freaking out about how Beals got her phone number as I’d be ready to do, Emily’s simply thankful for the opportunity and then pulls out her scrapbook to symbolize that she’ll soon be reunited with Damon against the backdrop of beautiful France. I didn’t mention earlier because I thought it would be a throwaway detail, but he’s touring with Green Day in Europe, which reminds me of when the Game of Thrones show runners revealed they basically had no film experience before embarking onto the show. White male mediocrity is a helluva drug.

Emily, take it from a fellow clueless American who went abroad for a summer: it may look *that easy* to get to, but just because it’s Europe doesn’t mean it is. Plus, won’t you have, like, gymnastics to do?

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 Payson Not Realizing She Grew Boobs Until Her Mom Pointed It Out

  • Carter not giving into Lauren after she shows up like that to the Pizza Shack. We’ve seen his lack of restraint. Minus 5.
  • The fact that Sasha didn’t actually freak out the second he found out the girls met with Ellen Beals. The quiet sadness is unbecoming of. Minus 7.
  • Payson not immediately getting out of bed and running out of the room when her mom brings up puberty, because who wants to have that conversation? Minus 4.
  • Okay I get white mediocrity but HOW did Damon get a job touring with Green Day? Minus 5.

Total: -21

Realer Than The NGB Being Shady As Hell

  • FINALLY a Pizza Shack customer comments on the slow service. It’s season 2 and these patrons aren’t putting up with the staff’s bullshit anymore! Plus 7.
  • Ellen Beals’s entire personality feels well-suited to a high-ranking gymnastics official. I feel like she’s the most realistic individual so far. Plus 4.
  • Men’s egos being destructive to the point that women are negatively impacted is a common theme in gymnastics and real life. Plus 6.
  • Payson says “a perfectly executed Yurchenko 1.5 is worth more than a perfectly executed Tsuk Arabian” and that’s actually correct! According to the 2009-2012 COP, the former vault was worth a 4.8 and the latter was worth a 5.3 in D. Plus 5.
  • This quote. Plus 10.

Total: 32

MIOBI flew high and stuck the landing in its season 2 premiere for a grand total of 9.


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

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