Make It or Break It Down: Season 3, Episode 4

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 4: Growing Pains

The facade of autonomy is broken this weekend when Mac announces the parents are coming into town for yet another sham “exhibition” to show off the girls’ progress. And the theme, to show that it’s all about these athletes, will be “showcasing previous Olympic champions.”

We won’t get to see much of our favorite cast of characters, as Kim has a Rock event to supervise and Steve and Summer are off…on a retreat, I guess. But that puts the other girls on par with Jordan, who makes up a story about her foster parents coming to mask the fact that she’s lonelier than a dollar bill.

Kaylie laments the fact that she’ll have to play host to her squabbling parents, so Austin offers his support for that evening’s dinner. I truly can’t imagine a better intermediary than the man who once put Kaylie’s best friend into a chair and asked her what turned her on.

Lauren is still dragging her feet on the topic of maintaining her health, so Payson gives her an ultimatum of making an appointment with an outside practitioner or she’ll make one with the training center doctor. It’s further commentary on both the American healthcare system and also on the institutional failures of artistic gymnasts.

Sheila may not be Kelly’s momager anymore, but if you think that means she can’t lie about not having a hotel to stay in so she can finagle her way into staying in Mac’s house and convincing him to make Kelly team captain, you’d better think again.

On this week’s segment of “Payson gets irrationally upset because Lauren has more of a line-toeing life than her,” Payson discovers the fake ID Lauren’s been using to 1.) get botox and 2.) secure another doctor in Boulder. So now we’re LYING to get good healthcare. #firstworldproblems

Mac asks Jordan why she lied about her foster parents coming as though there’s any legitimate answer other than “my life kind of sucks.” So he invites Jordan over that evening to kiki with Sheila. Maybe he wants to introduce them since Sheila is lacking a managerial client right now, or maybe he’s desparately seeking backup to avoid being in the house with this horrible human alone.

Mark wants to have lunch with Payson to drop the bomb about relocating to Minnesota, but Payson’s too busy committing medical identity theft with Lauren, who in turn ends up lying to Payson about her condition.

The amusing thing is that potassium deficiency can actually result in paralysis in severe situations, so good thing Payson’s not a medical expert.

So committed is Sheila to her daughter-but-no-longer-her-client Kelly that she lies about preparing a home-cooked meal for Mac by buying food and presenting it as such. But the joke’s on her when Mac shows up with Jordan in tow, and then this seems doubly racist.

Alex and Ronnie are making dinner with Kaylie and Austin as soul-crushing as possible, so it’s good to see Austin making an attempt to placate Alex and meet him where he is: needing his ego stroked.

At a dinner across town, Sheila is doing her own ego stroking on behalf of her daughter-not-client, and it’s quite the who’s-who of anecdotes used by elite gymnastics broadcasters to try and give you a sense that this person is a human being.

Mark and Payson meet, and Mark reveals the family’s plans. Payson reacts accordingly: crying and having no legitimate ability to express why she doesn’t like it.

Intrigued by the idea of stealing someone’s identity on a fake ID, Payson uses Lauren’s identity to get on the phone and call the doctor to learn her real diagnosis.

Kaylie reveals to Kelly that Austin said he loved her, and Kelly wonders what it’s like to have a real connection with someone other than this:

Conflicted, Kaylie decides to retreat to her parents’ hotel room to remind herself how poorly the course love can actually go. Hopefully she wasn’t expecting to see her parents back together because raw emotion is too powerf-oh.

Later, her mother hastily reminds her that love is a fragile thing and she shouldn’t get her hopes up about them getting back together. Sure, that’d make me feel better after seeing my parents who are supposed to be divorced getting summarily back together a la the Alec Baldwin/Meryl Streep movie “It’s Complicated.”

On the day of the exhibition, Jordan and Mac look on as the nutjob Rock parents gather in the seats. Feeling FOMO, Jordan looks to Mac for some encouraging words.

You may be surprised to learn I’m not the biggest fan of this. I get that Mac wants to be there for Jordan, but “cheering her on” when you’re expected to be a neutral observer and are picking the Olympic team? I hate that gymnastics has conditioned me to see compassion as a threat.

Anyway, the “exhibition” is a dramatic telling of famous gymnasts. Props to them for including non-American gymnasts, but no points for originality as this might as well have come from NBC’s Olympics coverage.

And I’m bored. Also, you’d think since Mac made this dramatic slideshow he could have picked a more impressive seeing as this shot is something I could be seen doing.

In terms of performances, Lauren wheezes through her beam routine and doesn’t die, but Payson wants her to know she’s watching her and is actively awaiting her demise if only to prove a point. Or something like that.

The exhibition ends with a tribute to the parents for sacrificing so much for their daughters’ gymnastics careers, which is made a little less wholesome when one of the parents tries to initiate one final shady backroom deal after the “soul food” incident went awry.

Me bribing the bouncer to let my friend in who forgot her ID

Kelly finally seems to be done with this BS and leaves, but considering the vile ways she’s treated people before, I wouldn’t be surprised if she crawled back to mommy sometime in the last four episodes of this infernal program.

Payson tells her dad she overreacted to his news and says he can take the job in Minnesota, because the entire thing was obviously contingent on her permission.

As I look back on this show in its penultimate episodes, it kind of feels like a theme—people acting like they know what’s best for those around them, when in reality, they don’t even know what’s best for themselves. And unless there’s some wild reversal of attitude, I don’t see that changing with the addition of OLY to some of these girls’ names.

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 Sheila’s Story about Kelly Being the “Play-Doh Queen”

  • Sasha really couldn’t carve a day out of his busy schedule to see his best gymnasts compete? Minus 5.
  • The idea that the training center doctor is so busy that the girls have to rush to make an appointment. Also, the fact that the girls have to make it themselves. Minus 4.
  • I find it hard to believe that these training center rooms would have kitchenettes when there’s likely a state of the art cafeteria just steps away. Minus 5.
  • Speaking of cooking, do any of these girls really know how to cook when they’re doing all this hosting? Minus 6.

Total: -20

Realer Than Thoroughly Detailed Brochures about Potassium Deficiency

  • Payson and Lauren not trusting the training center doctor to keep their secrets because he might tell Mac and thereby threaten their positions on the team. I said it was real, not healthy. Plus 7.
  • That friend who tells it like it is because you won’t. Even if this would apply to drinking, not gymnastics in most cases. Plus 8.
  • Mac inviting Jordan to dinner is like inviting your friend to a would-be date to make it clear that it is most certainly not, and I love that move. Plus 5.
  • Sheila mistaking gymnastics accomplishment of Jordan’s for Kelly’s is peak gym mom behavior. Plus 7.

Total: 27

MIBOI made a total of lucky number 7 this week, which is a congratulatory nod for Lauren because she made it through a beam routine without blacking out when it counted the most.

Recap by Katherine Weaver

One comment

  1. When Season Two returns, the girls cope with the loss of Sasha. After breaking down, Kaylie admits to having an eating disorder and seeks treatment. Austin supports her, and they begin a relationship. Emily is forced to wear an ankle monitor due to her probation after being caught stealing. The other girls train for the World Gymnastics Competition, a task made harder by the presence of their arch enemy, Kelly Parker, at The Rock. Sasha returns after the girls track him down in Romania, and Lauren starts to like him better as he begins coaching her directly. While in recovery, Kaylie offers her mother’s old recording studio to Emily’s boyfriend Damon, who has been struggling to make an album in order to impress his new record label.

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