Make It or Break It Down: Season 2, Episode 14

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 14: Life or Death

**TW: Numerous references to disordered eating/exercise**

Kaylie’s reading an article about Maeve’s death that was written with a level of care and attention to detail usually reserved for Men’s Health gymnastics articles.

Emily is still annoyed at Chloe for not mentioning her new job is at a strip club (as a bartender, thankyouverymuch). “What if that NGB ogre McGowan finds out?!” Chloe reassures her that “Marcus” won’t find out, but he wouldn’t care even if he did. 

/f.r.i.e.n.d.s phoebe buffay gif

Max is taking pics for the upcoming meet against “best club in the country,” Dallas. Lauren says, “I hope you’re saving some room on your memory stick for me.”

“Show me something worth shooting.”

Lauren tells Emily to let her have the beam so Max will want to watch her, but Emily refuses. In retaliation, Lauren talks about Damon until Emily leaves. 

Simple yet effective.

Damon has a slideshow of Emily pictures on his laptop. Kaylie is listening to him sing about how much he loves her and gets bummed out. She asks if his song is about Emily: “Aren’t they all?” She starts singing the song he was writing and accidentally improves the lyrics. 

Payson is complaining to Emily about how if they don’t get their asses in gear, they’re going to look “just as foolish as Darby does.” Guess who’s standing right behind her?!

Darby has some good news and some bad news… The bad news is that Dallas canceled. The good news is that Pinewood—”one of the worst-ranked teams in the country”—has agreed to come last minute to give them a competition before the big meet in Hungary. Lauren says, “We might as well compete against the Tumble Tots,” to which Darby snaps back, “Well, it’s not always about you… CAN I GET A ROCK ON?!”

Moments like these are why I’m #TeamDarby

Payson’s being a real asshole, and Darby calls her on it. In fairness, Payson correctly points out that she’s not “the new girl on the team,” she’s their coach. Darby says, “Yeah, but I need a friend who will have my back with the rest of the girls.” 

This is going to end so poorly.

Darby floats a deal: If Payson can drum up some support among the other elites, Darby will help her turn her FHS tuck half vault into a FHS tuck full in time for this janky Pinewood meet. 

Kim and Summer are bitching that Darby agreed to foot the bill for Pinewood to come visit and that she’s too young to coach. Lauren interrupts to ask Summer if she can go shopping, and Summer goes full-on Tiger Mom (which Lauren responds surprisingly well to). Apparently, Summer’s staying with Lauren while Steve’s out of town and is taking this mothering gig very seriously. She says she likes feeling needed. Kim says, “Well, if anyone needs you, it’s Lauren…” and Summer’s like, “Ugh, I know, right?”

“It’s called ‘tough love’ for a reason.”

Lauren’s still flirting with Max and asks him to come over to take her head shots after practice, “So we can take our time.” 

Damon is much happier with Kaylie’s version of his song. He’s telling her about his chronic stage fright when she gets a call from Maeve’s mom, Musette (reallly?). She wants Kaylie to speak at Maeve’s funeral tomorrow, just to “say a few words about how she was getting better.” 

This is a “Hell no!” on so many levels.

Damon tells her to just “say what she feels,” and she’s like, “Dammit, I don’t know what I feel!” He suggests she write a song about her feelings. Oh god, she’s going to sing at the funeral, isn’t she? 

Max willingly goes to Payson’s to shoot her head shots. He keeps telling her to lick her lips, which makes me hella uncomfortable but Payson seems into it. After he leaves, Kim’s like, “I think that boy likes you… And I think you like him.” Payson starts panicking and Kim tells her to get her shit together. 

Emily is cyberstalking Damon when he IMs her. Aww, remember IMs? Of course she uses hot pink Papyrus font, OF COURSE. 

Kaylie’s trying to write and it’s not going well. Apparently, she hasn’t told her parents Maeve died because she thinks that will make them take her anorexia seriously.

Damon offers to go with her to the funeral for support.

While I’m all about empowerment and embracing one’s sexuality, the outfit Lauren’s chosen to wear for her HEAD SHOTS is inexplicable. 

Max has way more tact than me and says, “Maybe you should be a little less… Expressive.” Oh boy, can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

While she goes to change, and Payson calls Max to thank him for taking her head shots and suggests that maybe they can go running together. “It’s a date. I mean, a plan. A plan to do something.” 

Holy forking shirtballs. Lauren’s back and it’s so much worse than I feared. 

She asks Max to take some boudoir pics of her for her “private collection,” JFC… OF COURSE Summer walks in right then. 

Summer goes OFF and says, “Your father is going to be furious…” Lauren begs her not to tell him, because, “I promised him I’d change.” Summer screams what we’re all thinking: “THEN WHY HAVEN’T YOU?!” 

Lauren starts to cry about how nobody loves her blah blah blah, asking, “Why doesn’t anyone want me?!” I don’t know, Lauren, because you’re a wretched, conniving shrew?!

Still, she manages to manipulate Summer into not telling her father by asking, “How am I supposed to trust you that you won’t abandon me again?!” Summer agrees to keep the debauchery a secret as long as she swears off boys. Summer’s about as good at keeping secrets as Lauren is at not having sex, so Steve Tanner is definitely going to hear about this. 

Payson tells off Emily for hanging up posters for Damon’s gig at the Rock. Emily says, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Mmmhmm… Lauren pretends to be stretching, but as soon as Summer’s back is turned, she invites Max to Damon’s show. He asks if Payson’s going. Lauren says, “No clue. I’m pretty sure she’s a lesbian.”

He’s totally in lesbians with Payson.

Kim is telling off Darby because she doesn’t want Payson doing the dangerous vault and demands she tell her no. Darby does, and Payson flips her shit. Darby retaliates by making the entire elite team spend the night at the gym, which feels highly questionable even for Darby. Lauren, of course, tells Payson, “Ugh, this means I can’t go on my date with Max.”

Kaylie and Damon arrive at Maeve’s funeral. Her mom “refuses to believe anorexia is what killed her because she was all better.” She also thanks Kaylie for being so supportive during Maeve’s recovery and getting her back on the right path.”


Kaylie can’t deal with this and flees the funeral in tears. She breaks down and confesses to Damon that she and Maeve had been lying to everyone and were/are decidedly not better. Kaylie fiiiiinally admits she’s sick and that she doesn’t want to die like Maeve.


Later at the coffee house, Damon reassures Kaylie that her feelings about Maeve are valid and suggests she keep writing poetry (especially if he can use said poetry as lyrics). He also convinces her to sing with him so she can formally say goodbye to Maeve. 

Darby has made a big bowl of popcorn Truthcorn ™ and says she’s going to get the elites psyched up for the meet against Pinewood by letting them air their grievances.  

Lauren manipulates Darby into taking them to Pizza Shack for Damon’s show. 

Oh. My. God. Lauren is showing Payson her boudoir pics as “proof” that she’s in a relationship with Max which breaks Payson’s heart. 

Damon brings Kaylie up on stage and Emily is not impressed. She’s even less impressed when they hug after the song. 

Summer is at The Rock to check in on the girls because she doesn’t trust Darby to chaperone. Marcus, who apparently only works after 9:00 p.m., has also shown up at The Rock. Thanks to the posters Emily hung everywhere, they put two and two together about where the team has gone. 

Summer busts Lauren for talking to Max. She’s so pissed off she even tells Lauren to “zip it!” 

This may be my favorite screen shot of all time.

Summer tells Emily that Marcus is on his way and she needs to leave ASAP. Payson intercepts him, giving Emily time to slip away and a chance for Darby to come strolling up with a big ass beer saying, “PAY PAY, COMING HERE WAS A GREAT IDEAAAA!” 

The next day, Pinewood arrives wearing the least flattering warm-up suits ever made. 

I get they’re supposed to be garbage, but do their outfits have to be?

Payson pumps up the Rock Rebels and says, “We’re sending those underdogs back to Iowa with their tails between their legs. Who’s with me?!”

I smell foreshadowing!

Unfortunately, the Pinewood team has actually been practicing instead of going to coffee houses and slumber parties. They lead the Rock by a point after the first rotation. Second rotation doesn’t go much better… Or any of the other rotations. Darby tells Payson they need a “Hail Mary” to have any hope of winning, so she should try the FHS tucked full (which she’s literally never done on a competition surface). 

Kim figures out what’s going on and lays into Darby. Darby tells her, “I don’t need some Gym Mom telling me how to coach my team.” Kim responds, “If you put my daughter at risk, I’ll be your worst enemy.” 

Aaaand Payson lands the vault like this. 

She’s fine, but it’s super embarrassing and they lose to Pinewood by a lot. Like, a lot a lot. 

Who’s garbage now, Rock Rebels?!

Payson tells Darby off and makes her cry. I mean, what she said was completely true (“We need a real coach who’s not afraid to be the bad guy and doesn’t take us out to party the night before a meet.”) but damn, Pay Pay… Cold-blooded. Darby leaves without a word. 

Kaylie, meanwhile, rips out the pages of her calorie and weight tracking journal and writes this:

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 That Single Tear Running Down Lauren’s Cheek

  • Darby getting in trouble with the NGO for having a beer around the team. It’s definitely against the rules, but they definitely wouldn’t do anything about it. Minus 3. 
  • 16-year-old Lauren’s seemingly endless supply of elaborate sex clothes. Minus 5
  • Damon’s level of emotional intelligence is off the charts for anyone, never mind a 17-year-old rock star. Minus 9. 
  • Pinewood’s warm-up suits. I’m still not over them. Minus 5. 

Total:  -22

Realer Than a Meddlesome Gym Mom

  • Max taking those boudoir pics of Lauren even though he’s repulsed by her. Plus 5. 
  • Maeve’s mom convincing herself that her “healthy” daughter’s heart failure was completely unrelated to her eating disorder. Plus 3. 
  • Emily being extremely annoyed that Kaylie and Damon hugged. Plus 8. 
  • Payson’s awkward flirting. Plus 10. 

Total: 26

Rating: Just like Payson’s vault, this episode scores 4 whole points. 

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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