Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Gossip Girl, but I’ve gotten pretty used to shows using “The Party” as a vehicle for love, lust, breakups, drunken mistakes, deceit, and threats. In any case, the Make It Or Break It Season 2 finale featured a party of exactly this kind, where kids dressed like adults and adults acted like kids. It was great!
But the Tanner party was only one portion of an episode filled to the brim with emotional moments, personal breakthroughs, and team decisions.
In no other show I’ve seen, save perhaps an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras (that I assure you I only caught on TV by accident), have I witnessed a stage mother — make that “manamomster” — go as nuts as Kelly Parker’s mom in this finale. While the other Rock girls’ stories are all interesting to me, none are as intriguing as this new development between Kelly and Sheila, her emotionally abusive mother and manager. As I mentioned last week, Kelly’s behavior toward the other girls, while not exactly excusable, is at least understandable based on what she has been going through since the age of nine, when Sheila signed her life away to endorsement money. And she has never let Kelly forget that the decision to push her gymnastics at all costs has resulted in her failed marriage. How dare she blame that on Kelly, and make her own daughter shoulder the guilt that she herself feels but cannot admit?
It seemed as though honesty was the best policy for everyone last night. Let’s examine each character’s personal breakthroughs:
Kaylie’s decision to come clean about her eating disorder was well-played, in my opinion. That guy from the NGO didn’t seem too thrilled about it, but who cares? Kaylie has obviously become a stronger and more well-rounded gymnast as a result of being honest with herself and her illness. The anorexia is a part of her, and will always be — but it doesn’t define her, and that was made clear when she completed an absolutely stunning floor routine at Worlds with the support of all her teammates. That includes Kelly, who very nobly passed on the offer to compete on floor so that Kaylie could do it.
This development also nullifies any attempt that the manamomster might make to sabotage Kaylie’s career. Now that everything’s out in the open, what would revealing a personal journal entry prove, other than the fact that Sheila is a manipulative villain who is trying to ruin a young woman’s career for her own daughter’s benefit? And speaking of that, I really like the way that Kelly is slowly becoming integrated into the core group. And after the way her mother spoke to her these past couple of episodes — telling Kelly that she sacrificed everything for her and has “nothing to show for it” — I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly cut her out of her life in the near future, as both manager and mother. “A total and complete failure?” I’ll say. But that has nothing to do with Kelly.
The fact that the group is gradually warming up to Kelly is making it clear that Emily Kmetko is being replaced. It seems really sudden, and I was definitely surprised that Emily didn’t even show up at all in this finale. Not that she had the money to go to Rio, but I thought maybe she would have at least appeared to see the girls off. I guess that’s just not realistic, though, because she would have had to travel back to Colorado to say goodbye.
Onto the next confession, and my personal favorite character development of the last few weeks: Lauren telling Sasha about the video. I know she promised Summer she would, but it was really gutsy of her to do it at the final competition. And I love Sasha even more than I had before, because he responded perfectly. Honestly, I think he knew that Lauren is a troubled girl with lots of personal struggles, and that she acts out because she thinks it’s the only way to deal with her problems. I appreciated his pep talk with her to let her know that it’s okay for her to be a better person. And it really was amazing to see Lauren “perform” on the beam with the flair and sizzle that has become so integrated into her routines and, in a way, helps to define who she is as a gymnast. And Ellen Beals can go fly a kite for all Lauren cares now, because she’s got nothing on her anymore.
I don’t know what’s going to happen with Summer and Steve. That almost-kiss Summer shared with Sasha was H-O-T! But of course, she didn’t go for it. Then, it was all too convenient that Summer found a reason to break it off with Steve when finding out about Lauren and the video. But if Sasha can forgive Lauren, can Summer forgive Steve for hiding it from her? I really want Summer to be with Sasha and not Steve, but I don’t know if she’s ready yet. Maybe she should just be alone for a little while.
I’m glad Lauren finally got some self-respect with regard to the Max thing. I mean, sure, he and Payson weren’t a couple, but he clearly preferred her over Lauren and was just using her. I wish she had been a little more level-headed instead of storming out after their near-sexual encounter, and then driving recklessly with him in the passenger seat, but then she did very maturely tell Payson that Max obviously wanted her (which finally struck a chord when he said Payson’s name in the hospital room).
In an episode with a bunch of expected outcomes, the one out-of-left-field thing that I never expected was for Max to kiss Austin! And I know he was going to tell Payson right after he told her his true feelings for her, but she stopped him. I wonder how she’ll react when she finds out the truth about his sexual orientation. I am predicting that she’ll be a bit freaked out initially; then, she’ll be big about it as she is about most things; and then ultimately she will be second-guessing things so much that it will lead to their breakup.
Austin and Kaylie’s kiss was very sweet, and although their relationship was kind of inevitable, I was happy to see it finally take form. And, of course, I’m thrilled that USA took home the gold!
Next season (if there is in fact a next season) will undoubtedly find the Rock girls balancing more personal struggles and life choices with hardcore gymnastics as they head down the road to Olympic stardom!
What did you think of the finale? And what would you like to see happen in Season 3?
“Who is that horrible woman?” — Payson’s dad, pointing at Sheila
“It’s Kelly Parker’s manamomster. Manager,-slash mother, -slash monster. She’s the worst stage parent I’ve ever seen in this sport.” — Payson’s mom
“One of the biggest mistakes women make is believing your love can change a man … but I seriously doubt you love him.” — Sasha, referring to Summer’s engagement to Steve
“I wonder if [Max is] here yet. Although, if he was, I’m sure that Lauren would be licking his face.” — Payson, to Kaylie at the Tanner’s party