Make It or Break It Down, Season 2 Episode 10

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.

Season 2, Episode 9: At the Edge of the Worlds

**TW: Numerous Instances of Disordered Eating/Exercise; references to sexual abuse**

Emily wakes up Chloe, who’s asleep on the sofa wearing her trench coat while clutching her stripper heels and “Bambi” name pin. Emily’s court date is the day before worlds team trials, thank goodness! “Can you imagine me trying to explain to Ellen Beals that I can’t compete at worlds because I’m in jail?”

Kim and Payson are sitting in the parking lot at the Rock, and a bunch of girls are staring at Payson and giggling because the Sasha kiss pic is out. Some mom walks slowly and pointedly past their car, so Kim lays on the horn and yells, “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?!”


Kim offers to take Payson home, but she says she has to show up so no one thinks Sasha did something wrong. She goes into practice and says, “Let’s get it out of the way. What’ve you got?” 

Lauren and Kaylie give her some shit, which she handles like a champ with,“Yes, we’re getting married and moving into his trailer. If we have a baby, it will be called Sasha II.” 

The Rock parents are meeting with Ellen Beals to discuss whether or not Sasha should be sanctioned for Payson kissing him. Ellen says the NGO can’t sanction a potential pedophile working with their national team members. 

Only Kim and Chloe stand up for Sasha, with Chloe adding, “He is super kissable.”  

Ellen and Steve Tanner go down to the elite girls and unceremoniously announce that Sasha is suspended from the Rock and that any girl who continues being coached by him will be removed from the national team. Ellen is going to coach them in the meantime. 

Ellen also announces that trials have been moved up a day, and she will not budge on the time for Emily. “No more second chances for you!” 

Austin corners Kaylie after practice and tells her she’s in no shape to compete. She disagrees. “I know you mean well, but…”

Kaylie’s convinced her gymnastics career is the only thing holding her family together so he needs to butt out. 

Sasha meets with the Keelers and says he’ll honor his pledge to coach Payson to the Olympics. Mark is like, “But think of the innuendo!”

Mark is insistent that, “If Payson makes it to the Olympics, it won’t be with you.”

Summer and Sasha are talking outside his trailer. She says she’ll get petitions, have the girls record a video or whatever it takes to have him reinstated. Sasha insists he’s a bad coach and he should have anticipated Payson’s hormonal surges and Lauren’s acting like Lauren. 

Don’t be such a martyr…

Summer tries to convince him that he’s a “righteous and honorable man,” and that’s why she loves him. He says he loves her too and takes off his shirt. 

He puts the kibosh on things before it gets really good. “If I let you sacrifice your values, I won’t be any good for you either.” MARTYR!

Steve tries to convince Lauren to go to her mom’s memorial service, but Lauren’s glad she’s dead. Seriously, is anyone surprised? 

Summer is crying in church because she really wanted to sleep with Sasha. She asks God, “Why would You allow me to have an attraction to a man I can’t have? WHY?!” 

Summer, honey, do you really wanna tug at that thread?

She then asks for a sign of who she’s supposed to love. Just then, a crying Steve Tanner shows up in tears and flops down in a pew.

Steve doesn’t know how to tell Lauren that he kept her awful mom away, but feels like he has to ‘fess up she’ll go to the funeral. Summer offers to come with him to tell her. He asks Summer to pray with him.   

Damon and his manager are at the strip club where Bambi Chloe is working as a bartender. It’s so deliciously awkward! Sometimes this show is really, really good and this is one of those times. 

Chloe also tells him that “Emily’s in trouble… She’ll kill me for telling you,” which definitely doesn’t make it sound like she’s pregnant with Damon’s baby. 

Payson’s dad enters her dark room in a not creepy way. 

Kim told him he never listens to anyone, which is accurate. Payson tells him Sasha did nothing to lead her on, and she developed feelings for him because Sasha made her feel beautiful and protected and special. 

Austin is having a meeting with Kaylie’s parents, begging them to take her anorexia more seriously and not assume everything is cool. 

Kaylie crashes the party and is obviously pissed. She asks what gives him the right to stick his nose in her business and talk to her parents behind her back. His response is so amazing, I’m including it in full: “What the hell… The first time I saw you, I knew there was something special about you. Before you get a big head, it’s not the way you look because I’ve dated cuter girls. And it ain’t your ‘zesty’ personality, because you can be a real pain in the ass. I haven’t figured the rest out. I haven’t figured you out, but I want to because I think once I do, I might fall in love with you.” 

I AM SCREAMING!!!! Of course, Alex promptly tells him to GTFO. 

Damon and Emily are discussing her court date/worlds trials conflict. He says she shouldn’t be ashamed about getting arrested, she should let love lift her up or something. He also offers to get his douchebag lawyer stepfather involved. He hasn’t spoken to either him or his mom since they got married, but he’ll do it for Emily. 

Mark apologizes to Sasha and thanks him for “being there for Payson when I couldn’t” OK… He’s also rented a freaking gym for the two of them to train at for the next month. Where did all this money suddenly come from?!

OK, wow, if anything, Damon undersold how much of a douchebag his stepdad is. 

Who hurt you, Cory Matthew’s dad?

Walter gives this whole spiel about, “I know you like to act superior, Damon, but I knew you’d come crawling back when the chips were down.” However, he does get the court date moved because the judge is a friend of his “from the Club.” 

He tells Emily he’s happy to help her because she’s exceptional, unlike his loser stepson slinging dough at Pizza Shack. Damon drags Emily out before she can spill the beans about his thriving music career. 

The judge calls the Rock to verify that Emily is on the national team and gets Ellen. Ellen’s all, “Oh no, judge. Emily has no respect for the rules. The best thing you can do is punish her as harshly as possible.”

The next day, Kaylie is waiting outside the Rock for Lauren and Emily to show up. Ellen Beals approaches her and says she shouldn’t worry about them, besides the whole “team” thing is overrated. Emily shows up right then, so Ellen Beals can suck it. 

Trials are beginning, and Ellen is saying a lot of stuff about survival of the fittest and the “weak” ones getting left behind. She announces that Emily’s up first on beam. Also, “I know about your little brush with the law. Don’t let it rattle you.”

Sasha and Payson are in their rented gym working on her FX, and she nails it. She says she feels bad for the girls having to go through trials without a coach, and he assures her he left them “in good hands.”  Then he asks, “Are you ready to embrace your destiny?” 

Ellen is bragging to the selection committee that Kaylie is doing a round-off Arabian mount on bars, which only Genji Cho has done in competition. I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS OLESYA DUDNIK ERASURE! 

Anyway, Kaylie immediately crumples and falls because she’s been starving herself. Her parents are stunned. Austin says, “Yeah, that’s what happens when you’re weak from starving yourself,” and then they’re really stunned.

Well? Where’s the lie?

The selection committee is pissed at Ellen because everyone looks so shaky. She insists it’s not her fault and that everything will be fine once “that Sasha Belov is out of our sport for good. He’s even crazier than his crazy father…” Ugh. 

Sasha’s pinch-hitting coach comes marching in right then and womp womp, it’s his “crazy” father Dmitri Belov. 

Need Help Reacting To Something - Community GIF - AbedNadir NeedHelpReacting HelpMe GIFs

OK, obviously, this cameo did not age super well… Let’s get past the moment.

Ellen Beals comes over and is like, “I’m coaching these girls!” Dmitri straight up says, “You are not. Get lost.” 

He gives the girls a super motivational speech about ignoring everything Ellen has ever said to them and embrace the team ethos.

It’s a testament to how much I hate f***ing Ellen Beals that I’m rooting for Bela’s character.

The girls’ performances immediately improve, much to Ellen’s chagrin. Around this point, the Keelers and Sasha show up; he’s going to “make” the committee see Payson. Chloe Kmetko is all of us, saying, “I don’t know ‘bout y’all, but I’m not about to miss this!”

Sasha marches right up to the committee and demands they judge “Payson Keeler, the artistic gymnast.” Ellen starts to protest that, “Payson Keeler is a power gymnast, we know she’s not graceful—” but one of the committee members tells her to shut up. 

Payson’s performance is flawless. She gets a standing ovation from the crowd AND the selection committee AND makes her dad cry.


Sasha starts to leave, saying, “I don’t belong here.” The girls stop him and approach the committee, insisting that whatever they are is because of him. Even Lauren (who—let’s not forget—started this whole witch hunt in the first place). 

The committee tells Sasha he can stay. Honestly, I think it’s more about sticking it to Ellen Beals than doing what’s right, but I’m not one to split hairs. 

Lauren is getting ready for bars and starts crying over her mom, saying, “I can’t do this, Sasha.”

Steve comes down to comfort her. He confesses that her mom kept trying to see her (even at nationals) and he kept her away. He gives her a picture that her mother left for her right before her accident. 

(Btw, I love how skeptical Emily looks during this whole sequence.)

Steve’s confession and her mom’s picture gives Lauren the strength to do her routine. She gets a standing ovation, too. 

Now Kaylie’s up on beam and things get a little squiffy… 

Well, that’s not good.

Austin senses something’s amok and runs onto the floor to catch her as she falls. How poetic. 

Um, so… Damon’s stepdad apparently “didn’t come through” so the cops are at the Rock to take Emily in. He convinces them to let her vault before they arrest her, which he then proceeds to tell her. Geez, talk about icing the kicker….

She nails it (and it’s actually a Yurchenko full). Ellen Beals says, “That was just an anomaly,” and the committee shushes her yet again. Damon tells Emily he loves her, gives her his leather jacket and she gets taken to jail. 

Don’t worry, Emily. You can always compete for an SEC school!

The committee announces the six woman team: Kaylie, but only if she’s medically cleared to compete (if she isn’t, she’ll not only lose her spot on the Worlds team but also get kicked off the national team!), Lauren, Emily and—by special vote—Payson. 


So, to sum up this episode: 

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 Anyone Walking Away From A Shirtless Sasha Belov

  • I know in this case Sasha is innocent, but I got really icky vibes from Summer saying she’ll get the girls to sign petitions and make a video to prove his innocence. Dear adults: Please don’t try to coerce minors into publicly supporting someone for any reason. You don’t know what you’re asking, so just don’t. Minus 8.
  • This whole separation of “power” gymnast and “artistic” gymnast like its actually a different discipline is so stupid. It doesn’t matter if she’s powerful, artistic or both—if she’s good at gymnastics she’s good at gymnastics. Minus 4.
  • Ah yes, I do believe cops are more than happy to let someone finish their vault prior to being arrested. Fake but makes sense for TV drama, so only minus 1. 
  • On that note: The cops were willing to wait for her to vault but unwilling to let her put on pants? Minus 3. 
  • Where in the hell did Sasha find money to rent a whole gym for Payson to work out in? Minus 5.

Total:  -21

Realer Than Parents Not Being Allowed at a National Team Selection Camp

  • Payson’s entire attitude when being confronted by Kaylie and Lauren about the photo is epic. We have no choice but to stan. Plus 10. 
  • Moment of appreciation for Austin, who is the only person in this entire episode acting like a freaking adult. Plus 3 
  • Plus 3 for the leos in this episode!  Payson’s especially.
  • Of course Summer thinks seeing a weeping Steve Tanner in church is a sign from God to get back together with that douchebag. I’d love to take away points here, but honestly it’s so on brand for Summer I can’t. Plus 5.
  • Emily being super skeptical of and uninterested in the emotional messes of this episode is a whole mood. Plus 4.

Total:  25

This episode lands in the real category like a college stick earns a 10.

Rating:  4

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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