Make It or Break It Down: Season 3, 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.

You can read our S1E1 recap here.

S3E1: Smells Like Winner

The girls arrive at the USA Training Center, an athletic utopia where all Olympians in all sports train together. It’s supposed to be happy, but it’s giving me major Black Mirror vibes. Too perfect.

You know what else could stand to be a little more perfect? Sasha’s new look.

Those red eyes. Did he take a hit before he arrived?

The hot-but-clearly-a-jerkoff national team coordinator is trying to get the dirt on the girls from Sasha, and it’s pretty clear that Ellen Beals has been dragging their names through the mud behind their backs. Clearly the girls will have more to compete with than Kelly Parker and poor cell service.

We then cut to a new edition of “Thelma and Louise.”

It’s not clear at first who this scrappy hitchhiker is, but as they pull up to the Training Center, it’s clear she’s there to make a statement. If that statement is “I have my choice of 18-wheelers as a means of travel,” girl, you did it.

Before Sasha departs from the NTC, he gives Payson one last token of his gratitude? Remember that Olympic medal? Yeah, selling it on Ebay didn’t go as well as he’d hoped, so here it is for Payson.

And won’t it go well with that gaudy necklace?

To suit a newly Emily-less plot, we’ve also got a newly Emily-less title sequence. I kind of feel bad that it doesn’t depict the awkward falls anymore.

As the girls decorate their room, they discuss the state of their love lives. Max is writing Payson “romantic” love letters (read: “mis [sic.] you” and Kaylie doesn’t need to pine for her boy because he’s right there with her. Yup, because the two of you being next to each other means nothing will go wrong.

“I almost feel sorry for the two of you being stuck with boyfriends” said Lauren Tanner and, by extension, no one ever. The lies we tell ourselves.

Carrying on the trend of new looks, Austin is giving me full “associate of the Aprile crime family from the Sopranos” vibes.

Back in the bed of a truck, street Waif No. 4 turns out to be Jordan Randall, “junior champion from 4 years ago” who’s come to the training center to try and get back into the spotlight. Now I’m fantasizing about Bailie Key hitchhiking from Tuscaloosa to compete at nationals if that ever happens again.

Lauren is up to her typical awful ways and steals a letter to Payson from Max, likely because she wants their relationship to shipwreck while they’re apart. Awkwardly, though, the letter says Max wants to break up, and Lauren’s now in the awkward position of having to choose between ruining Payson’s life or ruining Payson’s life.

As karma for this deed, Lauren is subsequently placed in two odd social situations: First, in a sort of reverse-Karen situation, she’s implicated by this random athlete who accuses her of stealing his phone.

It begins a playful banter between the two where this man, who’s a wrestler and whose name I didn’t bother to learn, consistently calls Lauren and the gymnasts Barbies. When flirting is both degrading AND misogynist! 😍

Speaking of flirting, we unfortunately learn that hot but jerkoff NTC from earlier has something to hide that kinda makes him the pot calling the kettle black in shading the girls…he’s cheating on his wife with a team doctor.

I’m sure that won’t be baggage that will resurface later.

Next, Lauren gets cornered by an annoying nerd who is also a junior national champion, but very much a current one. Which makes it really weird to think about the fact that Lauren has no idea who she is.

This girl turns 16 on the day the team leaves for London and is ready to take it by storm. First of all, she looks like Joan Cusack. Second of all, as problematic as it is, the Barney reference gives credence to the whole “every gymnast is 12” thing.

Lauren tries to get the hell away from this imp by breaking into the training facility with Kaylie and Payson. And the state-of-the-art of it all is just…jaw-dropping.

I hope my sarcasm comes through. It looks like the inside of a Build-a-Bear workshop or some other similar children’s store.

The next day at practice, the smol bean gymnast from earlier comes up to the girls and tries to curry favor and they’re like:

And can you blame them? Who shows up to a national team practice in this look straight off the sales rack at Justice?

Practice is about as verbally abusive and strenuous as you’d expect. It’s a national team camp. My favorite part is the fact that hot but jerkoff NTC was clearly watching Dance Moms to get inspiration for this Pyramid-esque ranking of the girls at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, Jordan-not-little-orphan-Annie is cosplaying the emo girl who camped outside the bookstore for her copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince as she continues concocting her plan to make it onto the team.

The girls go to socialize at a party on NTC grounds (sanctioned fun? FAKE). We see Lauren’s Amy Cooper-esque figure and a Hozier-looking fellow called Rigo who Lauren blows off.

Rigo is one of the first people I’ve seen to stand up to Lauren and read her in the process. Someone on the show please date him instead of the other losers in their rotations.

Payson ends up dipping out early to finally read her letter from Max and finds its true contents. Wouldn’t you too, if he said this?

After sneaking into the training facility to record some ~videos~ Jordan attempts to make a statement with hot but jerkoff NTC.

Hasn’t she seen Love Actually to know this method doesn’t work? No points for subtlety; she might as well have done this.

The next day at practice, Payson is pretty shaken and can’t even do her typical illusion turns. She also can’t do her “delusion” turns of trying to convince herself Max is worth the time of day.

Practice gets shaken up when Jordan blows past all previous attempts and takes matters into her own hands, storming into practice.

No one:
Simone Biles on Twitter one day:

Hot but jerkoff NTC can’t believe she’d go through with it, and the girls can’t believe they’re in the presence of Jordan Randall. Kind of amusing how Jordan hasn’t been in the picture for a minute, but Lauren knows who SHE is.

Later, the girls commisserate on Payson’s breakup, and Austin tells her the truth about Max’s sexuality. Then, because it’s MIOBI, they pull off a heist to break into the training center and…mess stuff up I guess.

Hot but jerkoff NTC evicts Jordan from her tent. He then reveals she’s going to come to the dorms and live on the campus, giving her the chance to train. Girl, you had the chance and could have gotten AWAY.

At the end of the night, an anonymous leaker informs hot but jerkoff NTC about the girls’ insurrection, and he brings them all together for a little chat/bonding exercise to show who’s boss.

Yup, those are burning Rock jackets because hot but jerkoff NTC is DONE with club affiliation and needs for everyone to be perfect little robots who follow the same mission. And apparently, that mission is “flush that gym tuition money down the drain.”

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 NTTC Lodgings Being Nicer than an Ivy League Dormitory

  • The NTTC looking like the headquarters of a major tech corporation. Minus 7.
  • Jordan being able to pitch a tent and make her home outside a private headquarters without problematic law enforcement or local authorities coming to remove her sooner. Minus 3.
  • Jordan being able to keep a rabbit alive after months of hitchhiking from place to place. Minus 5.
  • Those jackets bursting into flames the moment they touch the fire…the dramatic effect of it all. Minus 4.

Total: -19.

Realer Than National Team Administrators Trying to Break You Down by Removing Any Last Shred of Individuality

  • Gymnastics administrators continuing to express shady, philandering tendencies. It was only a matter of time until it turned sexual. Plus 5.
  • Men stay breaking up with women over the medium of literal paper. Plus 5.
  • That posterboard with rankings of the team…hello lineups on college team Instagram stories! Plus 6.
  • As problematic as the fire scene was, at least we know part of it is realistic. Plus 8.

Total: 24.

This week, MIOBI made a score of 5, which…and I don’t want to shock you with this insane fact…is the amount of gymnasts on the Olympic team. I’m sorry, was that too groundbreaking?

Recap by Katherine Weaver

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