Make It or Break It Down: Season 3, Episode 3

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 3, Episode 2: It Takes Two 

Payson’s being interviewed for something called Gold Medal Stories and has apparently been dubbed the “Comeback Kid,” which she seems to like. 

Enjoy that feeling, Pay. I’m sure the interviewer will say something wildly inappropriate and offensive soon enough!

Mac and McGowan are talking, and I don’t like it… McGowan asks how he’s adjusting to “coaching girls” (because the sport is called GAG, not WAG). Mac says that it’s exactly the same as coaching guys, elite athletes are elite athletes.

Unsurprisingly, neither man notices the myriad of traumatized athletes left in their wake.

Gymnastics coaches are like T. Rexes: They can’t see you if you stay really still and hold your breath.

Right as Coach Mac assures McGowan that “the girls are really starting to respond to me,” they overhear Payson tell the reporter that Sasha is her inspiration and she doesn’t really know Coach Mac. 

Lauren tries to get in Kaylie’s head about why Gold Medal Stories picked Payson instead of her. Kelly Parker reminds them that an interview does not equal a spot on the Olympic team, “…and really, isn’t that what we’re here for?”

Of course the interviewer asks Payson to describe him in great detail just how humiliating that viral video of her kissing Sasha was. She declines, but is very unFocused™ later on during practice. 

Even Chellsie Memmel’s daughter would be like, “That’s enough chalk.”

Kelly Parker walks up and the Rock girls immediately clam up and refuse to make eye contact, which is great for her morale. 

McGowan shadows Coach Mac at the day’s practice, and it’s not great. From constantly screaming insults to using the gymnasts as pawns to humiliate one another, it’s basically Maggie Haney’s Little Shop of Gymnastics Horrors. Finally, McGowan pulls him and is like, “I think you and I need to have a little talk…” 

Back home, Mac is complaining to his doctor wife—who is his wife, not his mistress (thanks, reader Rachel!)—that McGowan thinks he isn’t “connecting” with the girls and how it’s not his fault that, “No one could land a damn trick.” 

Kaylie, Lauren, Payson and Kelly are comparing all their battle wounds and are understandably annoyed that they’re getting so banged up with nothing to show for it. They really dislike Wendy and Jordan (shocker) and have zero faith in Coach Mac. “He has a great track record with the boys, but hello! We’re not boys. What was the NGO thinking?!” 

Jordan sticks her head in asking if she can ice and Lauren literally says, “Go away. You’re dead to us.” 

Rigo and Payson meet up for exactly a minute and a half in between their respective training schedules, and are still as adorable as ever. 

No option but to stan.

Kaylie reassures Kelly that Lauren and Payson weren’t gossiping about her earlier but discussing The Kiss photo and what an evil POS Ellen Beals is. Kelly says she always assumed it came from someone at the Rock because how would Ellen have accessed the film. Kaylie’s like, “No way! No one at the Rock is that petty and vindictive and horrible… Right?” 

Kelly offers to have her mom find out since she’s tight with the NGO, which Kaylie declines. Kelly does it anyway. 

Payson asks Lauren for advice on boys. She wants to know how to tell if Rigo like-likes her or just wants to hook up. Lauren says that, “If he like-likes you, he’ll ask you on a real date and make time for you,” which is shockingly sound advice by Lauren standards. On cue, there’s a knock at the door, and it’s Rigo making time for Payson and asking her on a real, official, off-campus date. 

Jordan walks in on Lauren primping and tells her, “Glitter and ponytails don’t win gold medals.” 

Jordan also tells Lauren not to trust Kaylie because, “All she’s good for is deserting people.” 

Payson stops McGowan as he’s leaving and tells him she’s concerned about Coach Mac’s effect on the athletes because, “we’re not advancing as gymnasts or as a team.” He recommends they try talking to Coach Mac directly and reassures her that “the NGO hears you, OK?”


At practice, Kaylie decides she does want KP’s mom to snoop and find out who ratted out Payson to Ellen Beals, but they’ll just keep the findings to themselves for now. 

Lauren doesn’t like Kaylie and Kelly being all buddy-buddy and tells Payson she’s worried Kaylie is going to ditch them just like Jordan said she would. Payson tells her to chill and that everything will go back to normal once they all make the Olympic team. 

During her beam routine, Lauren has another one of those psychedelic dizzy spells and face plants on the mat. When she comes to, she tells Payson, “I’m fine! My hand was just sweaty, no big deal.” 

Love to Eat, Hate to Exercise: Incapacitated

Oh shit 😲 McGowan told Coach Mac that one of the girls ratted on him sucking and the NGO is giving him 48 hours to make things better. 

“Which. Girl.”

McGowan won’t answer and leaves with, “I really hope you can pull this together, but they’re the commodity. Not you.” 

Coach Mac calls a mandatory evening meeting at his house at 6 p.m., exactly when Payson’s supposed to be going on her real date with Rigo. 

Lauren is really anxious and obsessing over what to wear to the meeting with her coach and teammates, as one does. Payson admits that she spoke to McGowan and Lauren is terrified of the consequences. 

Dr. Mac has pulled together a lovely last-minute dinner for the team and still has time to listen to her husband complain about how his shortcomings are the gymnasts’ fault, offer advice AND fluff his ego.  

How like life.

Payson hears Lauren tell Dr. Mac that she hasn’t had any more dizzy spells. 

As she and Kaylie are leaving for the meeting, Kelly gets a text from her mom revealing that Lauren sent the photo to Ellen Beals. They’re in utter disbelief. (I’m in utter disbelief that anyone would be in utter disbelief over this revelation.) Later at the dinner meeting, Kelly’s mom forwards her the actual email that Lauren sent. They agree not to tell Payson because it’d crush her. But oh wait, guess who’s overheard this entire conversation? 

Coach Mac is reviewing training videos with the gymnasts and isn’t yelling, which is good. He’s still being an asshole about everything, which is bad. 

Sensing he’s losing his captive—and I mean “captive” as in “being held against their will,” not “captivated”—audience, he tells them that they’re going to watch “Remember the Titans” as a bonding exercise just like he used to do with his MAG team.

Dr. Mac calls her husband away for a little chat, and Lauren seizes the opportunity to stop the movie and say, “Way to screw things up, JORDAN!” Jordan lashes back, “You’re all pathetic… Also, Payson might like to know who sent the kiss pic—” Wendy interrupts with, “Can’t we all just get along?” 

Imposter Syndrome Can Control Your Life. Here's How To Escape Its Grip. |  FYA

Seeing Payson getting upset at Kaylie, Kelly yells, “IT WAS LAUREN!”

Payson says, “I already knew that, but thanks for sharing,” and storms off. OK, I’m sorry, WHAT?!

Dr. Mac is once again telling Coach Mac to get it through his skull that he can’t treat his female athletes like his male ones, and he seems like he maybe gets it? 

Lauren goes to check on Payson. Turns out Payson didn’t know Lauren sent the pic, but she “wasn’t going to be embarrassed by anyone else.” Lauren admits she has no idea how deeply she hurt Payson, not having human feelings of her own. 

Come on, Payson, what did you expect?

She reassures Payson that it wasn’t anything personal, that Payson was just collateral damage in her attempt to keep Summer from abandoning her.

That's okay....this is your one bad take per year on CB. (StarMan) -

Oh dunk! Payson actually asks, “And why do you think people leave you Lauren?” 

Lauren gives Payson the whole spiel about how she’s a better person now and how much their friendship means to her, blah blah blah. Payson, very calmly, says, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can be your friend.” 

Lauren runs away in tears only to get accosted by Kaylie, who wants an explanation for all the horrible things she’s put Payson and everyone at the Rock through. Lauren’s all, “I don’t have to explain myself and you’re a bad friend just like Jordan said!” Um, OK. You’re the one walking away, Lauren, but go off..

*I* thought it was a perfectly reasonable request.

Coach Mac comes back into a living room filled with sullen, tear-soaked teenagers and is like, “Did I miss something here?” 

Coach Mac opens up and acknowledges that he’s baffled by girls and their team is falling apart because of a lack of trust. He asks who went behind his back, and Lauren takes the blame. He starts to go off on how, “I’m trying to coach the next gold medal-winning Olympic team, not a bunch of preschoolers,” but Kelly interrupts him and tells him he’s a bullying piece of shit. 

He asks if anyone else feels that way: 

This opens a flood of criticism and candor. Coach Mac reveals how inspirational he finds them, and offers up some insight into why he does certain things as well as pledging to being less of a bully and more of a partner moving forward.  

Doorbell rings and surprise, it’s Rigo! He just wants to talk to Payson for five minutes. The newer, softer Coach Mac agrees they “can have five minutes… FIVE MINUTES!” 

So, Rigo is leaving on some big trip and just couldn’t bear the thought of waiting another week to do this: 

Back at the dorms, Payson asks Lauren why she took the blame about talking to McGowan. Lauren says she feels like Payson is the first person who’s ever liked the “real” her, and she doesn’t want there to be any more lies. She tells Payson that she’s scared because there is something wrong with her, but she’s more scared she’s going to lose her Olympic dream. Payson says she’ll keep Lauren’s secret as long as they go see a doctor. Even though things aren’t OK between them yet, “They will be.” 

Aww Alexis Rose GIF by Schitt's Creek - Find & Share on GIPHY

The next day, Jordan falls doing a back tuck on beam. Coach Mac laughs and says, “Forget about the fall. This is the first time I’ve seen you square your hips!” as McGowan looks on. 

How much you wanna bet his wife dosed him?

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 Having Trouble Believing Lauren Sent the Photo 

  • Coach Mac going from absolute ogre to Tellytubby in a matter of hours. Minus 5. 
  • I was a teenage girl when “Remember the Titans” came out, and teenage girls LOVED that movie. Minus 3. 
  • The NGO letting a MAG coach with ZERO experience coaching WAG anywhere near their Olympic team, let alone naming him head coach. Minus 7. 

Total: -15

Realer Than the NGO Saying, “We Hear You, OK?” 

  • “I turn to fashion when I’m anxious.” Plus 5. 
  • Wendy calling Dr. McIntire “Mrs. McIntire.” Unfortunately, plus 4. 
  • Rigo asking Payson if he can change his FB status to “In a Relationship.” Plus 8.  

Total:  17

Rating: Honestly, I’m a little leery of rating this episode… 

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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