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 8: United Stakes
TW: Numerous references to sexual abuse and eating disorders.
Guys, how is it already the final episode? How?!
Kaylie has come to grips [pun totally intended] with Jordan’s revelation and is determined to report Ray Keegan. Payson isn’t so sure since, “You’re accusing him of a sex crime,” but Kaylie is pretty amped up (probably from all the pseudoephedrine smoothies).
Kaylie convinces Payson that they can’t let this happen to anyone else, so she tells Coach Mac. He asks if Jordan will go on the record, and Kaylie says, “Yeah… She’ll confirm it.” I appreciate what she’s trying to do and the difficulty of the situation she’s in, but JFC! That is NOT her promise to make!
Coach Mac promises the girls Keegan will never hurt anyone again. I hope that means he’s going to, um, “take care of it.”
Lauren walks in on Wendy making another meth smoothie for Kaylie. Wendy manages to hide the drugs, but Lauren’s still suspicious.
Coach Mac meets with Jordan and offers to stay by her side while she answers a few questions with the police. Jordan balks and says, “The only thing Kaylie Cruz is concerned about is me beating her at Trials. Coach Ray never molested me, and I’m not talking to the police.”
Coach Mac tells Kaylie that without Jordan’s testimony, there’s nothing he can do. Besides, given her history of “self-destructing,” they can’t even be sure she’s telling the truth. Kaylie very rightly says, “That’s bull… Maybe Ray Keegan is the reason why she’s had a history or self destructing.”
Kaylie confronts Jordan, who tells her to let it go. It’s her word against Keegan’s, and no one would believe her. Not to mention every time she has told an adult, they brushed off her claims and told her she was “lucky” to have Coach Keegan.
Lauren’s new heart monitor is totally harshing her practice vibe. Every time she does any kind of interesting skill, her heart rate “spikes.” If it spikes five times, she’ll die or something [that’s not how either heart rates or SVT work], so Dr. Mac is monitoring closely.
Coach Ray arrives and gives Wendy a big ol’ bear hug, which sets off Coach Mac. He takes Keegan outside and tells him he knows about his history of “acting improperly” with gymnasts and that he needs to GTFO. Keegan’s response? “Oh yeah? Then where are the police?”
After a few more barbs, Coach Mac is like, “How come you didn’t ask me which girl is accusing you? Because you already know?”
When Keegan refuses to leave, stating, “The NGO hired me. I don’t work for you,” so Coach Mac decks him. I don’t generally condone violence, but…
Dr. and Coach Mac are meeting with the NGO rep that evening. Surprise, surprise, she’s more annoyed that Coach Mac punched Keegan because, “Keegan is entitled to a presumption of innocence,” and that unless Jordan speaks up, “There’s nothing the NGO can do without exposing themselves to liability.”
Coach Mac says, “That’s fine. But if he sets foot in my gym, I’ll hit him again.”
Oy, Payson doesn’t understand why Jordan trashed Keegan’s car but isn’t willing to talk to the police. Kaylie thinks Jordan is worried Keegan is grooming Wendy and wanted to send him a warning. Payson suggests they turn to social media to find other victims who might be more willing to come forward (or at least show Jordan that she’s not alone). They even put a special alert on so they’ll know any time they get a response.
Jake tracks down Lauren and presents her with a bouquet of wildflowers. Her reaction: “It looks like you stepped on them and dipped them in paint. It looks like you’ve been dipped in paint, too. I’d rather rub Otis again.”
Jake calls out her “weak and cold, cold heart.”
Turns out he made the Olympic team and “for some reason even I don’t understand,” wanted Lauren to be the first person to know. He says, “I know you’re shy, so I’m giving you permission to hug me or give me a kiss.” She says, “I only kiss gold medalists,” but agrees to give him a handshake.
Rigo and Payson are at a salsa bar. He, like most of us, is wondering if this is the best way to prepare for Olympic Trials. Payson insists that Sasha taking her to the ballet was a turning point for her artistically, so this makes total sense. After some initial hesitation, Payson finds her groove.
The girls are awoken by the non-stop message notification alarm from their “To Catch a Coach Keegan” webpage. On the one hand, yay because Jordan isn’t alone! But also, ugh because Jordan isn’t alone… Jordan, upon learning of this new development, is understandably overwhelmed.
With Payson and Kaylie’s support, she reports everything to Coach Mac and the police. Keegan is arrested on the spot, and the whole horrific situation is well on the way to being resolved a mere 16 minutes into the episode.
Payson is showing off her new choreo to Rigo. He loves it! Especially the “flippy part” and the “double Iranian.”
Just then we hear dulcet yet hyper-masculine British tones say, “You’re not getting the proper set for the height you need to land the double Arabian. You’re falling out of the switch side. The dance moves need more flow.”
Rigo knows what he doesn’t know, so he called in reinforcements. Sasha reassures Payson that he knows she isn’t a “sacrificial lamb,” but that she could reeeally piss off Coach Mac by defying him and miss out on making the team altogether. Payson’s aware, but insists she doesn’t just want to “earn a trip to London.” Sasha says, “Fine, then I want my gold medal back. Since that’ll only happen when you win one of your own, so let’s get to work. Shall we?”
McGowan, Dr. and Coach Mac have called Kaylie and her parents in for a little meeting. The results of her latest drug tests are in, and she’s tested positive for pseudoephedrine. The Cruzes insist there must be some kind of mistake, but McGowan suggests she may be using it as an appetite suppressant.
Alex Cruz unlooooads and accuses McGowan and the NGO having an “agenda.” Hi, welcome to the world of elite gymnastics! Have you met Martha and Steve?
Alex insists they do a blood test, but NGO protocol forbids extra testing (of course it does). So basically, Kaylie is not allowed to compete at Trials or go to the Olympics because she failed the test and has no recourse.
It’s the morning of Trials and Coach Mac is giving the remaining gymnasts a stern talking to about how “now is not the time for questions; now is the time to focus and prepare your minds.” Lauren, Payson and Jordan are discussing Kaylie; Wendy comes up and says, “In a way, I kind of blame myself…”
Lauren especially isn’t buying Wendy’s innocent act. “She reminds me of someone: Me.”
They track down Kaylie and take her on a hunt to find Otis so she can rub his head and make her problems disappear. Using her vast knowledge of horticulture and powers observation, Lauren deduces that since Jake gave her a paint-smudged bouquet of flowers recently, Otis must be hidden near a recently painted water feature surrounded by larkspur.
Too bad Kaylie is being a total party pooper who refuses to rub Otis. I get her Olympic dreams were just crushed, but come on… It’s Otis!
Later on while packing, she gets a surprise visitor:
He apologizes for all the terrible things he said to her, but she doesn’t really care. To Austin’s credit, he doesn’t need or expect her forgiveness, he just wants her to know how sorry he is. Being completely out of the loop, he wishes her luck at Trials which causes Kaylie to break down and tell him everything.
Payson, Lauren and Jordan are meeting with Coach Mac and McGowan to try and get some justice for Kaylie. Jordan, Payson and Lauren threaten to boycott Trials unless Kaylie’s allowed to compete and take a blood test. McGowan’s horrified by “the worst act of insubordination [he’s] ever seen,” but Coach Mac seems pretty stoked.
Flash forward, the girls march into Trials carrying a freshly-stolen and polished Otis.
Kaylie thanks the girls for having her back as she kicks off the competition. Standing at the start of the vault runway is another surprise visitor:
Kelly Parker tells Kaylie that the Olympics are her destiny, and that she shouldn’t let anyone take that away from her. Well damn, I guess Kaylie took her advice to heart because she busts out a Yurchenko full on, full off.
Jordan’s next and turns in a fabulous level 10 bar routine with a stuck triple back dismount. Who needs a second SBR when you’ve got a
Wendy made a snippy comment about Kaylie, which pings Lauren’s Sociopath Radar. In another display of investigative prowess, she gets Wendy to implicate herself by knowing what drug Kaylie tested positive for even though that information was confidential.
After catching Wendy in this lie, Lauren does a solid beam routine, but her heart rate has spiked four times (FOUR) with her dismount still to come. She locks eyes with Jake in the crowd, which calms her down, and sticks the landing.
While Wendy’s going on beam, Lauren sneaks into her dorm to find evidence. And, boy, does she find evidence!
Payson is having a last minute chat with her dad. He tells her to stop acting like a Keeler and quit playing it safe, so she gives Coach Mac a CD with her new music and takes the floor. It’s a super saucy routine, though I feel compelled to note that it only has two tumbling passes and neither one is a double Arabian.
Trials have wrapped up and Coach Mac and McGowan are passionately debating the team roster. Lauren bursts in, evidence in hand, and yells, “It was that little bitch, Wendy!”
In the midst of all this drama, Sasha and Summer have a little heart-to-heart. He admits that he has regrets. She asks, “Emily?”
Emily sort of, but mostly Summer. She says something about how they just weren’t meant to be, but then they kiss and he asks if she still believes in miracles.
Wendy has been brought into Coach Mac’s office. She swears up and down that she ordered the cold medicine for herself and got rid of it when she found out it was on the naughty list. Lauren’s like, “I bet you did… RIGHT INTO ALL THOSE SMOOTHIES YOU WOULDN’T LET ANYONE BUT KAYLIE DRINK!”
Lauren finally connects the final dots and grabs Wendy’s tub of lip gloss containing powdered pseudoephedrine.
OK, now Summer’s now sitting and laughing with Steve Tanner, WTF is going on here?!
Coach Mac takes the floor along with the competitors and gives a longwinded speech about how special and inspiring all of them are. I’m only tolerating this because Wendy has been conspicuously excluded.
He fiiiinally gets to the part we’ve all been waiting for: The 2012 U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team is…
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.
Rating: Let’s cut to the chase: There was a lot of drama and a lot of loose ends to tie up in the series finale, and very little (if any of it) was particularly realistic. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a massively enjoyable way to end the show. Plus 10 for nailing the landing.
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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