Make It or Break It Down: Season 1, Episode 6

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.

S1E6: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

We open with Lauren on beam. Guys, Sasha’s putting a LAYOUT LAYOUT into her beam routine, and Kaylie and Payson are impressed.  “Her DOD is probably as high as yours now!” No lie, it took me a solid minute and to figure out that “DOD” means “degree of difficulty.” Anyway, Focused Payson’s like, “Pssh… Nationals are three weeks away. I don’t have time to be nervous.” Foreshadowing?

Emily tries to impress Sasha by chucking a FTDT bars dismount, which she lands like this:

He very rightly tells her that it’s not ready for nationals and that she’ll, “make a decent splash, but you’re not top 10 material yet.” What is with the coaches on this show being so reasonable and responsible?  

Emily counters that, “Marty believed in me,” to which Sasha says, “Marty isn’t here…” But wait, enter Marty! 

None of the gaggle of Gym Moms in the observation area know what to make of Marty’s sudden reappearance… None except for the ever-classy Khloé Kmetko, that is! She looks very conspicuously at Marty’s married ex-girlfriend Ronnie Cruz and actually says, “AWKWAAARD!” 

In the office, Sasha and Marty bust each other’s apple bags for being an alcoholic has-been and an adulterous silver medalist, respectively, before laughing and declaring, “It’s on,” while shaking hands.

This is my favorite scene of the entire series thus far. 

But what, you may be asking, is on? The Rock has challenged Marty’s new club, Denver Elite, to an invitational fun meet that doesn’t really sound all that fun. Whoever wins goes to Natties as the favorite; whoever loses, “Well… We won’t lose.” To make matters even more dramatic, THE Kelly Parker just joined Denver Elite. Seriously, what the mother of crap is with all these elite gymnasts switching gyms and coaches right before a major competition?!   

Since winning Nationals the previous year, Kelly Parker has become “a major celebrity” who not only has been at every film premiere and nightclub opening but also has her own lucrative cosmetic line. Guys, this reality is far superior to our own. 

Carter a.k.a. “Lover Boy” makes eyes at Kaylie and/or Lauren during practice. Kaylie’s all, “I’m so lucky! How many boyfriends would prioritize their girlfriends’ gymnastics goals ahead of having sex?” According to Lauren, “Just the ones who are getting some from someone else.” 

She would know. 

Speaking of dirty cheaters, Marty is waiting for Kaylie’s mom at her reserved parking spot. He tells her he misses her; she says it’s over but that she still thinks he’s still cute.  

Meanwhile, Lauren excitedly tells her daddy about her new acro series. For some reason, this irks Summer and she rolls her eyes and walks off. I’m sincerely confused by this reaction. Come on, Danny Tanner raised you better than that… 

Back in the gym, Kaylie asks Carter, “You wouldn’t cheat on me, right?” He responds,“Of course not!” because 17-year-old boyfriends always tell the truth. [Narrator: They don’t.] Then they hold hands over the chalk bucket while Sasha glowers in the background. 

Lauren and her daddy have a heart-to-heart on some mats. He says, “Oh Twelve is going to be our year!” and then tries to fist bump her.

So much to unpack in that exchange, starting with “Oh Twelve.” Lauren reiterates that he can’t be committed to both Summer AND her gymnastics career, which is some next level Electra complex shit. 

Yay, it’s Courtney Kupets! Glory, glory!

CKC’s pretending to be intimidated by Kelly Parker. Right, like she doesn’t have an impeccable Omelianchik in this sea of Yurchenko tucks. 

Speaking of, Payson does a vault timer Yurchenko lay then immediately clutches her lower back. Luckily for her, lower back pain is rarely a chronic issue.  

Yaaas, we’re back at Pizza Shack. Deadbeat Guy No. 2, whose name I haven’t bothered to remember, gives Emily a CD (i.e., a small, plastic disc used to store MP3s before iPods were a thing). Emily is almost as disgusted by this gift as I am by the fact that she put it directly on the food prep surface next to a piece of lettuce.

Noting her discomfort, DG2’s like, “Chill, it’s a burned CD, not a marriage proposal…” She finally relents and invites said dude to come to the upcoming invitational. 

At the Keeler home, Payson’s lying on the sofa when her mom walks in and says, “All in favor of fro-yo say, ‘Yo! Yo!’”

Kim realizes that Payson’s pained look is not from this comment but because she’s icing her sore back. Kim is appalled and wants to talk to Sasha (shockingly, Payson does not). 

The next day at the gym, Emily sticks an excellent double tuck dismount from UB and complains that “It feels too easy.” Sasha and I both say at exactly the same time, “THAT’S THE POINT.”

OK, something bad is going on. Lauren’s in green, Kaylie’s in silver… How the frack am I supposed to tell anyone apart if they aren’t wearing their signature colors?! My whole MIOBI world view is collapsing. 

Lauren tells Carter that he needs to break up with Kaylie so they don’t have to tell her about their Doing It. Carter’s adamant that he’s NOT breaking up with her and IS going to tell her, he’s just waiting ‘til after nationals. Lauren insists Kaylie won’t forgive them and will dump them both, which… Probably.

Sasha calls Payson into his office. He’s annoyed because she didn’t tell him her HERNIATED DISC is flaring up, and that he had to hear it from her mother. Now Kim’s reaction to Payson icing her back makes a little more sense. “Why can’t I just get a shot of cortisone? It’s been at least six months since I’ve had one…” 

Gee, I don’t know, Payson, maybe because Sasha wants you to still have all of your original joints when you turn 30?! Kim enters and reveals that Focused Payson is also Lying Payson and had a cortisone shot just two months prior.

After Payson storms out, Sasha says there’re no standards or protocols for cortisone injections (there very much are, especially for epidural injections). He reveals he himself had “at least five shots of cortisone in two months” after blowing out his knee…

Summer confronts Lauren and quite shittily brings up her having been abandoned by her addict mother. Lauren flips the script, though, saying “It’s cool. I know my dad won’t abandon me because he promised he’d never marry you.” Drag her, sis!

Elsewhere in the parking lot, Sasha gives Carter a talking-to about how his gymnasts are “off limits,” and if he doesn’t back off, “I’ll do my best to ruin you.” The power of this threat is somewhat diluted by the fact that it’s delivered while Sasha’s chilling in a gravity chair on his Air Stream’s AstroTurf lawn. 

For the record, I’m generally against this sort of overbearing and controlling behavior, but Carter’s a tool, so… 

**Trigger Warning: Eating Disorder**

Back at Chateau Cruz, Mr. Cruz is weighing Kaylie on an *actual medical scale.* This is the point at which I paused the show to go cram a piece of chocolate cake down my gullet in protest. Y’all think I didn’t… 

Suck it, Mr. Cruz.

Meanwhile, Kaylie’s mom tries to talk some sense into him about both the horror of weighing his daughter “for motivation” and the slow-moving train wreck that is their marriage. He is unmoved on either matter (I simply can’t understand why Ronnie cheated on him).

Speaking of which, Kaylie overhears her mom’s sexy phone call with Coach Marty and is understandably upset. She turns to Carter since, you know, she trusts him and knows he’d never do anything to hurt her. 

Finally, it’s the day of the high-stakes-and-not-at-all-last-minute, pre-Nationals Denver-area elite invitational. Daaamn, Summer just tried to ice Lauren with news that Lauren’s Daddy proposed to her the night before.  

Omg, Emily’s mom is sitting next to Carter. If they hook up, I’m DONE. Also, am I crazy, or do I detect a little hint of a spark between Sasha and Marty? I’d ship that.  

Here come the Denver Elite: Kelly Parker—who The Rock girls describe as even prettier and bitchier in person—tries to get in Payson’s head. Also, you can tell the competition’s about to start because they’ve turned the lights off.   

Things kick off with Lauren on beam (as is customary for the home team) while Kelly Parker simultaneously vaults. I love that the announcer is also doing play-by-play and color commentary. Kelly does what starts out as a Yurchenko tuck but ends with her facing forward… ? Still a better edit than this: 

Payson’s beam outscores Kelly Parker’s vault and The Rock is ahead of Marty’s gym by more than a point after the first rotation, so I’m going to say maybe Little Miss Parker should cool it with the smack talk. 

In the second rotation, The Rock is moving to floor and Denver Elite is heading to bars, so at least they’re going in Olympic order this time! 

Kaylie’s up on floor while Tasha or Jordan Schwikert does bars. Payson steps OOB on her final pass, “a costly mistake” according to the announcetator. And now Denver Elite (who, remember, was back by over a point at the end of rotation one) is ahead by almost two points. I guess in addition to the OOB, the judges also noticed that Payson performed that whip half to front full pass twice in the same routine. 

She rebounds by doing a massively huge Yurchenko full worth of a 15.7 (apparently, they’re using the SEC’s COP). Unsurprisingly, vaulting irritates her HERNIATED DISC. Payson begs her mom and Sasha for a cortisone shot so she can finish this super-important meet that only became a thing a week ago. Yes, because cortisone shots work that quickly and require absolutely no recovery time. Also, who exactly is performing this procedure that typically requires local anesthesia and an x-ray for guidance?

Heading into the final event, Payson needs a near perfect score on bars to beat Kelly Parker. She turns in a sufficiently awesome routine that includes a hop full and HUGE Tkatchev (CKC, is that you?), but takes a small step on her DLO. “Aaand Keeler sticks it!” Agree to disagree, announcer/commentator. In any case, she beats Kelly Parker in the all around, so it’s totally worth the massive headache and possible infection and/or paralysis from a hastily performed epidural injection. 

Lauren’s up. She does “a fairly routine move” that I’ve never seen before in my life (it’s a clear hip to underswing with a half turn, I think? Feel free to correct me in the comments!) and falls on the regrasp. Everyone is stunned except Summer, who’s valiantly trying to suppress a gleeful “WOOO!” I think Lauren did it on purpose to manipulate her daddy into not marrying that horrible woman.

With everything now riding on Emily hitting bars, Sasha tells her to stick to the double tuck dismount. Obviously, she doesn’t and falls flat on her face. Sasha is McKayla Maroney levels of unimpressed (see the header image), and Denver Elite pulls out the win by less than four tenths. No hard feelings between the coaches, though. Seriously, Smarty forever <3 

Lauren’s Daddy confronts her and asks why she just gave up during her bars routine. “You gave up on our dream, so I figured I could too.” Am I a frickin’ soothsayer or what?!

Sasha tells Emily she can’t go to nationals after pulling that crap, a decision I fully support. Later at Casa Kmetko, she tells her mom, who’s all, “Pssh, whatever. Let him blow off steam and he’ll forget all about it!” What’s a consequence? 

Right on cue, Deadbeat. Guy No. 2—who did NOT attend the invitational and see Emily eat mat and single-handedly lose the meet—comes over to deliver a postcard from Razor saying how much he misses her. There was some other dialogue, but I stopped paying attention because teenager relationships bore me.

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 an Impromptu Elite Invitational a Week Before Nationals 

  • Courtney Kupets being intimidated by anyone. Minus 2
  • A teenage boy (albeit a moody one) showing any sign of emotional vulnerability, let alone in the form of a postcard. Minus 1
  • Payson being given a spur-of-the-moment epidural cortisone shot—administered by god knows who—in the middle of a meet and not suffering significant nerve and/or spinal cord damage, let alone being physically able to perform a bars routine minutes after the procedure. Minus 5  
  • Summer, who up until this point has been going out of her way trying to win over Lauren, doing a complete 180 and telling her about the engagement right in the middle of a competition and before her final rotation. Minus 3.

Total: -11 

Realer Than a Teenage Boy Lying to His Girlfriend About Cheating on Her

  • Sasha telling Kim that, “Being a good parent to a regular teenager and being a good parent to an Olympic gold medalist aren’t always the same thing.” Plus 4
  • Every interaction between Sasha and Marty. Can confirm, this is how men in their 30s  generally behave. Plus 2
  • “What’s a doctor scale doing in my family room?” Plus 5 for Ronnie accurately pointing out the absurdity (and danger) of that.
  • Lauren’s Daddy being a total chicken shit when it comes to standing up to either his daughter or his girlfriend. Plus 3
  • A non-KJC commentator calling Payson’s dismount a stick when it obviously was not. Plus 1

Total: 15

Like Payson’s floor exercise, this episode scored a 4!


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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