Make It or Break It Down: Season 2, Episode 15

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 15: Hungary Heart

In the wake of last week’s disastrous performance against Pinewood, and in the wake of Darby not being Sasha, Payson is seeking her immediate removal. But there seems to be a new Darby in town.

Swearing? Sh*t is getting real.

Damon shows up at Emily’s house unannounced as she’s packing for Hungary, so she promptly sends HIM packing because of his shady relationship with Kaylie and him being a general loser.

I have to laugh that his various criminal indulgences and constant time on the road were fine, but his daring to look at her friend in the eye was the final straw. Either way, it’s basically the gymnastics version of breaking up with your boyfriend before you study abroad so you can be free among the hot men Europe has to offer.

At the airport, new Darby makes it perfectly clear she’s not to be messed with anymore, so everyone’s pre-flight snack budget is promptly docked by two dollars. Kidding, but it does seem like she means business. The ghost of Sasha beckons.

Kaylie is at what appears to be a much healthier therapy session than prior ones, namely because her parents aren’t there. She’s parsing out her problems with her therapist who immediately defies my previous thought by telling her to “just put down” the negative thoughts she has about eating.

On the plane, Payson in her unrequited stupor of love for Sasha, cooks up a truly deranged plan to change their ticket from Budapest to Bucharest, where he’s currently exiled, so that he’ll come back and coach the team.

Lauren is tasked with bankrolling this fool’s errand with her father’s gold AmEx and she does perhaps the one noble thing she’s done all series long by saying yes. It’s also perhaps the dumbest thing she’s done, but for the moment, it’s redemptive.

In a sequence reminiscent of the stealing the Declaration of Independence scene in National Treasure, the girls evade Summer and Darby at Heathrow, but they encounter an obstacle as they prepare to board their secret flight.

Kelly Parker is like an ad on Hulu; she comes up when you least expects it and interrupts your creative flow. Turns out she’s coming along to Hungary at the invitation of the NGO because they weirdly like taking gymnasts who they know will do well.

Somehow the girls escape Medusa and make it on the flight. Sorry to make it about studying abroad again, but I miss the thrill of rushing to make a flight, even if it wasn’t to locate my erstwhile gymnastics coach.

To cope with the stress of embarking on an international errand to nowhere, Emily chugs an energy drink that may or may not also be a container of shaving cream.

Payson jumps on her to stop guzzling down a potentially banned substance, which is scary because she’s almost certainly right. I know there’s tons of burgeoning medical research that supports Red Bull leading to better amplitude on Tkatchevs, but sometimes it’s best to hold off.

Next on the checklist of bonding activities in the midst of being reckless, the three girls have a little heart to heart where Emily comes clean to Lauren about sleeping with Damon. Because providing sex-related fodder to this girl never seems to go wrong.

Back at the Rock, word of the international scandal has reached the parents. Steve assures Chloe and Kim that if anything, the situation will reflect poorly on Darby, which is pretty charitable considering it requires the assumption that the girls just slipped out of her grasp. When denying women of their autonomy goes postal.

Meanwhile, Kaylie and Damon continue to get close over him reading her journal and her trying to justify her problems. What is it with recent episodes of this show and uncomfortable closeups?

The girls arrive in Romania and have the issues you’d expect them to have given the fact they planned this trip about twelve hours ago. They wind up in a vaguely Westernized bar where they wish they could take advantage of the fact that the drinking age is 18.

This looks like Epcot.

But there’s no time to drink anyway, because guess who the barback is? That’s right, this Bucharest dive is home to the temporary employment of one Mr. Sasha Belov.

You have to hand it to this man for being willing to stoop below his station. Living in a trailer, working at a bar abroad, dressing in J Crew instead of Armani…I’m really impressed.

Like M discovering James Bond in Turkey after he faces his death, it’s clear the girls have stumbled upon a man who wishes not to be deserved. No amount of pestering him with images of his gold medal and Emily and Lauren leaving in protest could convince him otherwise, except…

Looks like the girls aren’t the only ones capable of navigating the wrong Eastern European nation. Clearly it’s time to stop underestimating this woman, not after she tracks down Sasha and the girls at a random bar in the middle of nowhere Romania any far distance from the airport.

except **Summer

Summer tells Payson to get her act together and abandon the whole “Sasha might still be in love with me, a 17 year old” act, but not before she can have a similar heart to heart with Sasha and potentially salvage the love they shared. Spoiler: It doesn’t work.

Everyone somehow makes it back to Hungary in one piece. Hopefully they don’t need sleep or anything because Sasha wakes them up in the middle of the night—he changed his mind! Wow, I really thought he was going to stay stowed away in Romania for the rest of his life and never touch a piece of gymnastics equipment ever again. I’m like…in shock.

Time for the main event! Ivana Kirilenko is leading team Russia, serving Brooklyn Starbucks barista realness.

Lauren goes up on beam, followed by Ivana, who we learn keeps a low public profile, likely at the behest of the Russian federation’s strict standards. Ah yes, because we know so little about the real Russian gymnasts and their non-problematic ways IRL.

Emily goes up on bars and falls. The not-Sasha-but-also-not-Darby coach says he’s putting up Kelly for the rest of the competition, but she only does vault. Weirdly, this competition appears to feature “one up, one count” on each event, because we see no other routines from any gymnast.

Payson goes up on floor and Kim and Steve are truly channeling their inner Lynn and Rick Raisman from home. Thank God they tracked down that stream.

Alas, it’s not enough to win, but hopefully the girls have a new fire in their veins going into…whatever made up event is next.

Later, the chairman of the Hungarian National Committee summons Emily. Recalling her moment of energy drink weakness and knowing said chairman looks like this…

…Emily is worried. And rightfully so. What in the Twilight Zone fresh hell?

The chairman informs Emily of some crazy news regarding her urine sample: It turns out she hasn’t broken any rules, but she is casually pregnant. Whatever anyone does: Don’t panic. And don’t tell Summer.

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 Three Last Minute Flight Changes Only Costing a Thousand Dollars

  • Summer and Darby might have questionable level of street smarts, but to allow three girls to escape them in an airport? Not buying it. Minus 6.
  • Speaking of airports: Airports with names written in Century Gothic font. Minus 4.
  • Kim and Steve being able to watch a stream of an obscure meet in Eastern Europe when even the most high profile meets in reality are nearly impossible to access. Minus 8.
  • Sasha being allowed to coach in Indiana Jones-esque attire. Minus 3.
  • The girls existing in non-NGO sanctioned attire. If they truly care so much about their every move, wouldn’t this be an infraction? Minus 5.

Total: -26.

Realer Than Nationalist Criticism of Non-American Gymnastics Federations

  • Damon writing random, not-that-deep lyrics and Kaylie treating him like the next Elton John tracks with the way white male mediocrity is consistently rewarded on this show and in real life. Plus 4.
  • Payson pulling the true American move of screaming at top volume to get someone who doesn’t speak a word of English to magically understand it. Plus 6.
  • Kim Keeler being a wine mom. Plus 6.
  • Gymnasts being rebuked/disqualified for goofy substance reasons that have no bearing on their performance. Andreea Raducan, we salute you. Plus 5.

Total: 21.

MIOBI earned a -5 this week, which represents the number of people who would normally have access to a meet like this in the real world. Still can’t get over that.

Recap by Katherine Weaver

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