Make It or Break It Down: Season 2, 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.

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

S2E2: All or Nothing

Lauren and Steve Tanner are driving to the Rock and discussing the upcoming invitational in France. Lauren tries to express in French how pissed off she is about being the alternate, but it’s incomprehensible gibberish. 

Steve recommends she “kiss Ellen’s derrière” and be grateful for the opportunity. Clutch fatherly advice, Steve-O. 

Kaylie walks by and pointedly says hi to Steve but not Lauren. He asks, “Is something going on with you two?” Lauren explains, “She gets one stupid magazine cover and thinks she doesn’t need her old friends,” totally leaving out the whole lying, manipulating and sleeping with Carter thing. Regardless, Steve’s takeaway from Lauren’s version is that, “Friends are overrated and time-consuming. More time to focus on gymnastics.” 

On the other end of the terrible parent spectrum, Chloe is aghast that her daughter isn’t taking an opportunity to see Damon perform in Paris while she’s in France. Emily tries explaining that she’s on thin ice with her sponsorship and is going to compete, not for fun. Chloe doesn’t get it (she also doesn’t get that Paris is not the Denver of France). 


The Rock girls (all four of them) are taking a chartered bus to the airport. Lauren sits behind Kaylie and starts to apologize, but it quickly devolves into, “You know Carter and I are having SEX!” and “Whatever, I have a magazine cover.” 

Lauren receives a text alert that Green Day will be playing in Paris during their trip and asks Emily if she’s going. Kaylie’s all, “No, because she understands that boys are a distraction.” Lauren counters, “Emily understands you can have gold medals and true love.” They’re like a shoulder angel and devil battling for control over Emily’s soul.

Steve is throwing a viewing party for the France meet, but asks people to “keep it on the down low; it’s for A listers only.” Oh myyy…

Kim is also having a viewing party, and invites Steve and Chloe. Steve says they’ll be busy (and also doesn’t invite Kim to his party). Well, Lauren comes by her dishonesty honestly. 

Sasha tries to convince Payson that she needs more time and offers to help her. She brushes him off and insists she’s ready NOW.

Lauren tries to divide the girls into “gymnasts with boyfriends” and “gymnasts without boyfriends.” Kaylie divides them into “gymnasts actually competing in France” and “alternate.”

Upon arriving at the hotel, a French fan whose French is almost as bad as Lauren’s asks Kaylie for her autograph. Lauren asks, “Do you want my autograph too? I’m on the National Team.” French fan declines. 

Dude gymnast Austin Tucker drives up to the hotel in a Lambo and is immediately swarmed by groupies. Kaylie goes up to say hi (from one famous gymnast to another). He has no clue who she is, but hits on her anyway. It’s pretty cringey.

Oh good, Ellen’s here… She tells the girls they’re not allowed to leave their hotel rooms at all. Also, Marty is on a “leave of absence pending committee review,” so Ellen herself is going to be “coaching.” 

Poor Kim, everyone has rejected the invitation to her viewing party and she doesn’t know why. Summer says, “You didn’t ask me…” so Kim does. Unfortunately, Summer has plans too.

Summer then reminds her that the parents’ board is electing a new president and suggests Kim run, but Kim’s not interested. I’m sure we’ll revisit this later in the episode.  

The girls are hanging out/fighting in their hotel room. Lauren tries to convince them to sneak out and go to the Green Day show. Payson shuts that talk down real quick because “Beals is going to be doing bed checks.”

Kaylie runs into Austin and some groupie in the hallway. Turns out he does know who she is (just not enough to recognize her face) and is a huge fan of the so-called Rock Rebels. He invites her to a party, which she declines. He claims, “Rules are for people with no self-discipline.” 

The next day, Austin’s pommel horsing in the practice gym with sunglasses on, as you do. Lauren tries to worm her way onto the team by convincing Ellen to bump one of the other girls down to the alternate spot. Ellen says she’s SOL unless someone gets hurt or breaks a rule. 

**TW: Weight Loss Discussed**

Kaylie takes a small step on her vault landing and Ellen tells her she would’ve stuck it if she’d drop a few pounds, then pats her on the abdomen. You know what, Ellen? Maybe if you aren’t such an asshole, your team would be better!

Lauren’s showing Emily pics of Damon getting his cheek sucked by some girl and encourages her to go to Paris. Lauren gonna Lauren. 

Emily knows Lauren’s just trying to psych her out, but she still balks during a vault much to Ellen’s dismay.

After practice, Kaylie, Emily and Lauren order Subway. In Paris. They get Subway in Paris. Emily orders the Classic Club because, “I need the lean meat and complex carbs for the competition tomorrow.” Get that sweet product placement $$$, MIOBI! 

Heeey, Nastia shows up and she’s eating Subway, too! She tells the girls the secret to her success is hard work and eating fresh. 

The girls start debating whether having a boyfriend actually helps or hurts your gymnastics prospects. Emily says that Damon’s really the only reason she made the national team in the first place (never mind her dedication and hard work). Kaylie ain’t having it and neither am I.

Somehow, Lauren has convinced not only Emily but also team captain Kaylie that buying train tickets to go to Paris the night before the big meet will give Emily closure and help her focus. 

Flash forward, she goes to the venue in Paris and sees Damon alone on the stage playing guitar and singing to a completely empty auditorium. For a guy who was convinced Emily did him dirty, he’s super excited to see her. I don’t think this is going to help her focus. 

Steve Tanner reveals his nefarious plan to become parent board president to Chloe. He also convinces her that the best way to do this is to pretend like they aren’t a couple. It’ll be their “secret alliance.” Why is she smiling about this?!

Damon and Emily are having a melancholy picnic and discussing why she didn’t say goodbye to him and all that melodramatic crap. She confirms she still loves him but has to say goodbye so she can be committed to her gym goals. She can’t make Damon sit around and wait for her blah blah blah. There are a bunch of tears and then Damon says, “Goodbye, Emily Kmetko.” Why do people on TV always use the full name? They kiss again and she leaves. 

Payson comes back to the hotel room and is livid that Kaylie and Lauren let Emily go to Paris and lists the many ways it could backfire.

And guess what? Lauren got Emily a one-way ticket (because obviously she did). Emily begs a conductor to help her, but he just shrugs and says, <<Je vous plaît>> which (aside from not being an actual phrase) literally means, “I am pleasing to you.”  

Back at the hotel room, Payson is done waiting for Emily and decides to go to bed. Kaylie’s pacing and Lauren is unbothered. Ellen swings by for bed checks at that precise moment. They cover by telling her Emily is in the shower. I’m sure that’ll fool her.

Emily is actually still at the Parisian train station doing gymnastics for change so she can buy a ticket back to Calais. Luckily, Austin shows up  and recognizes her as one of the Rock Rebels. He refuses to buy her a ticket unless she does a tucked full in this crowded station while wearing flip flops, which she does. 

This cute puppy in a transition shot isn’t relevant to the plot, but I’m including its pic anyway.

Turns out Austin was in Paris to catch Green Day, of course, and he realizes that Emily is the girl opening act Damon wouldn’t shut up about. He says he won’t make her pay him back for the ticket if she gives him a hug (oh, ffs…). Again, she does, and promptly gets busted by Ellen. 

The next day, Payson and Kaylie are getting their grips on and Emily walks in wearing her civvies; Ellen says, “Lauren will be taking Emily’s place today.” 

It’s time for Payson’s assessment by the NGB, and she’s starting on bars. It’s a fun little routine with a squat-on, a Markelov and a toe-on tuck half, and I am into it. 

Back in Boulder, Steve is pandering to his fellow Rich Gym Dads while Chloe trots out a platter of what appears to be mozzarella sticks and sushi. The meet coverage begins and commentator Nastia announces that Lauren will be competing for Emily. 

Lauren’s chalking up when Ellen comes over and thanks her for her “little tip” about Emily. Lauren says, “Between you and me, I’m not sure she’s capable of following the rules. It’s not her fault, it’s how she was raised.” Ugggggh.

Emily’s in the training room and has a meltdown that culminates in her throwing a trashcan at a locker. Damon suddenly appears and comforts her (aww). They have a heart-to-heart. Emily says, “I could just quit and we could be together… When does my life get to be mine?” Damon tells her she’s got to stick with it because it’s her passion. He suggests they meet in Paris in two years, after the Olympics, and they’ll decide if they want to say goodbye for real. In the meantime, “This is not goodbye.” 

Meanwhile, Ellen gives the girls who’re allowed to compete a pep talk that culminates in her chanting, “U-S-A! U-S-A!” 

Lauren and Kaylie have a little chat by the chalk bowl. Kaylie has figured out Lauren’s whole devious plan, but Lauren acts shocked, saying, “Me, conniving? I can’t believe you think so little of me!” She tells Kaylie that she’s going to prove that having a boyfriend makes you a better gymnast by outscoring her in the AA. 

After vault, they’re neck-and-neck. “Something is fueling these two and making them better.” 

Kim shows up at Steve’s secret shindig, which she wasn’t invited to. He BSes that, “You never RSVPed to my voicemail invite. Do I have your number wrong?” Kim says, “You can cut the crap, I literally don’t care.” 

Being an upper class white male, Steve can’t NOT have the last word and starts making excuses. This was the wrooong thing to do. Kim infers that he doesn’t think she matters as a human because she’s poor and her daughter is broken. She’s so confident in Payson’s comeback and offended by Steve’s douchebaggery that she decides she’s going to run against him for parents’ board president. Steve is SHOOK. 

Right then, Nastia announces that Payson’s petition has been denied. 

Back in France, the competition has concluded and everyone’s in their warm-ups waiting for the judges to announce the results, which have apparently been kept secret from the athletes and their respective federations. What is this, the final rotation of the team competition at the Atlanta Olympics?  

National champion Kaylie gets the gold. HAAA, some Romanian sneaks into second place and Lauren has to settle for bronze. 

Also, Romania wins the team gold. Aw, remember those days? 

Emily comes in to applaud the team. Naturally, Ellen blames her for them getting silver, saying, “I hope he was worth it. We could have had gold.” 

Poor Payson is sobbing in a dirty stairway. Her phone rings (it’s Kim), but she rejects it. 

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 the NGB Voluntarily Investigating a Coach  

  • Kim insisting Payson call her from France. These are the days before roaming and unlimited data, no mama on a budget would ever suggest her daughter spend tens of dollars on a call. Minus 3. 
  • Emily doing gymnastics in a train station for Euros. While slightly more realistic than Season 1’s gas station gang fight, it’s still a Minus 2.
  • A horde of French groupies waiting to swarm an American male gymnast. Minus 4.
  • Every single word of French spoken in this episode. Minus 5.

Total: -14

Realer Than the Girls Saying, “Yes, Ms. Beals,” in Robotic Unison

  • A couple of star-crossed teens being incapable of just breaking up and that being the end of it. Plus 5. 
  • The Steve Tanners of the world never knowing when to shut up. Plus 5. 
  • Pegging Nastia as a commentator all the way in 2010. Plus 5. 
  • Lukewarm French water. Plus 3. 

Total: 18

The Rock Rebels earned a respectable one point each, snagging a 4 for this week’s episode (that’s, like, a 10 in the U.S., Myanmar and Liberia). 


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

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

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.