Okay, so even though there have already been 4 episodes, I figure it’s best to start from the beginning…
Cue the Gymnastics montage and the music “Let It Rock” which seems to be the requisite TV show music of the summer. Enter the “It” girls of the rock who sit down to stretch on some mats. I love the little girls asking for Payson’s autograph and her not realizing until Lauren shoves. We learn a lot about her character in 3 seconds. (Though considering that Payson’s supposed to be so dedicated why does she arrive after most of the gym seems to already be in full swing.)
They talk about Nationals (their bodies being on their last legs–the question about how Payson’s back is doing makes me wonder if that will be a plot point later. Injury would be an interesting thing to see one of them deal with.) They talk about making the Olympics as a given. Maybe 6 people make it in the country. The odds of 3 from one club going are pretty slim. And afterwards? Kaylie will get fat and do parades, Lauren will become a jet setter, and Payson wants to think about Nationals rather than consider the end of her career.
There’s a line that for the life of me I can’t figure out who said it-
Kaylie: we are going to dominate in Boston
Lauren: we have to, it’s our last nationals
mystery voice: we can squeeze another one out
Kaylie: I don’t think my body could handle it
Payson: I hear that
I guess Payson is mystery voice, but she seems to agree that her body can’t take more. Imagine being 16 and contemplating retirement. As Kaylie says “It’s so weird, all this work and it can be over in just one weekend.”
Enter the first of many over-involved parents, Lauren’s dad Steve Tanner. (Rumor has it he’s a lawyer but I see no evidence.) He starts coaching Lauren while standing next to the actual coach who just says The Rock is awesome. The entire system of how girls qualify for Nationals is confusing (and false). What does it mean to go as Top Flight? Are they the only ones who compete? Later they say 18 girls go. So what does rank matter? If every gym brought 18 girls… Sports Illustrated wanting a cover on girls who have not made it onto the National Team yet also seems far fetched, but I think they just wanted to namedrop something the audience would recognize rather than say something like “Inside Gymnastics” or some other gymnastics-specific magazine.
Emily Kmetko is wearing a non-shiny leotard (btw I love that the girls are color coordinated, Payson in purple, Lauren in orange, Kaylie in pink) and does a few floor passes that intimidates the other girls (really just Lauren). I can’t help but wonder why Emily just arrived and has already done more than the three top girls. We learn that Emily was found “on a playground” (she worked out at the local Y in Fresno). This is supposed to be a throw to Nadia Comaneci discovered by Bela Karolyi at age 6 in a schoolyard (Six not sixteen!). Nadia was the first ever to get a perfect 10 (no longer possible with the new code) so we’re supposed to know Emily will be GREAT. Some random guy tells Carter he thinks Emily’s hot. Eh.
Point of fact, Payson is the first to approach Emily and be friendly so I don’t know why everyone says they’re all mean. It’s just Lauren. I love when Emily says to Payson “I saw you at the Northern Open…on tv.” Another hint that Payson’s well known in the gymnastics world. (But she is never the one to say she is great. Kaylie is the one who points out that she is number one.) Lauren is snarky to Emily. “I see that you don’t have any endorsements. For clothes. Or anything.” The others seem nice enough. They tell her not to be intimidated. We knew Lauren would be the mean one. Maybe because her smiles always look sarcastic?
Finally the girls actually work (they watch each other do routines). Payson does basically nothing to write home about, but she doesn’t fall on her simple landing so that’s good. I know they can’t be expected to do much, but given Ayla Kell’s background you’d think they would try to give her something that at least requires some strength and flexibility (which as a pro dancer she has). Lauren does a couple things that are more impressive (she’s supposed to be best at beam, so fair enough.) It seems Lauren has the best stunt double of the group. She manages to be good AND give Emily the evil eye throughout her routine, kudos there.
Bathroom scene–Lauren vomits. But it screws with your electrolytes! (I doubt most teens know why it matters so they could have done better here). Who with bulimia lets everyone know? There was potential for a storyline here, though apparently the issue is completely forgotten after this. Kaylie complains that she looks like a butterball and is turning into Mary Lou. Mary Lou Retton? She’d be lucky to turn into her, since she was a phenomenal gymnast. None of the actresses can make the “all muscle” claim just yet. I agree with complaints that Emily doesn’t look like she could possibly be a gymnast. Cut her a break, she’s poor. Maybe she has nothing to eat at home!
Lauren freaks out about Emily taking one of their spots. Payson tells her to focus on herself to which Lauren says she’s awesome so she has nothing to worry about and Kaylie “smiles and pulls it out of her ass.” Kaylie humors her with an “I don’t know what we’ll do” because she’s a bit of a follower. We discover Emily’s fear of the vault. Why? She’s going to compete the next day without a practice run? (This could be interesting if we had seen her learning gymnastics. A flashback could’ve been nice.) More hints that Payson is awesome (she’s the only one who stays late, she hasn’t wobbled in months). Lauren ignores Emily and Kaylie follows suit.
No dating is the only rule Coach Marty gives Emily, which seems odd. What about partying, drinking, working (we learn in the 4th episode that an outside job is grounds for expulsion)?
Lauren and Kaylie’s parents won’t leave them alone. Kaylie’s reminded she has a photo shoot (she’s a no-name gymnast!), Lauren’s dad taped her routines for review. And GASP Lauren’s dad is dating DJ Tanner! Ok, her name is Summer and it’s a secret. For all the people commenting on how the actress who played DJ Tanner is dating a Tanner (a Steve no less, wasn’t that DJ’s bf’s name?), it was purely coincidence since she was cast after they had filmed numerous scenes with the name. Payson tells her mother she has to focus and can’t talk. Her mother, as the only non-pushy parent, tells her she needs to do chores and talk to her family. Lauren actually smiles at Emily waiting for her mother in a “ha my dad is more prompt than your mom kind of way”. Emily walks home and sees Kaylie and supposed to be hottie gymnast Carter kissing in a not well hidden spot right outside the gym.
We meet Emily’s family–trashy mom in trouble with the law, sarcastic wheelchair bound brother. Her father isn’t around, though we don’t know why. Can we make her life any more tragic? Actually, yes. Her mom almost schedules something at the same time as her nationals trials. Dinner consists of something scooped from a can. Emily has to help pay the rent by working at the Pizza Shack (I don’t think a job like that would really contribute much to the rent, but who knows?)
Carter wants their relationship to be public (umm it would destroy your careers so stop fighting about it.) Their relationship is the realest thing in Kaylie’s life. So what’s gymnastics? Lauren sees them together. “I don’t mean to get up in your Kool-Aid but watch your butt, Marty will wig if he catches you two.” (Yes, that was Lauren’s line. Shocking, I know.) Kaylie denies it. Why does she hide it from her friends, they wouldn’t tell? Right? Lauren’s dad is going to “take care of Emily” but they’re still going to give her “the chill”.
Emily gets suckered into a late shift at the Shack. She serves meth heads and flirts with a slightly cheesy guy (named Razor–he looks like a boy next door type so what’s with the name?) who tells her she “rocks the shack”. He asks her out, she evades and keeps her gymnastics stuff a secret. Why is beyond me since it isn’t such a big deal that she trains at the Rock.
Competition day. Time to find out who will be top three. Payson’s parents talk. Normal parents worrying about their children–Is it fair to either kid that gymnastics is their whole lives (it’s clearly Payson, not the parents, who made this their whole lives). Payson’s busy visualizing. Emily’s mother lets her sleep late and they end up, once again, coming late to the gym. Lauren comments on Emily’s mother’s sleaziness and on Emily’s second bad leotard. I love how the gym has an announcer. Rather than sitting in their own corners preparing for their own routines (as we see normally at competitions) they cheer each other on. They’re in their designated colors though, no worries there. We don’t get to see Payson’s new floor routine even though it’s supposed to be awesome. Kaylie flashes a smile at the judges. Becca, Payson’s little sister, is in twentieth and is all “I just want to have fun.”
And then LAUREN EATS MAT ON BEAM even though no one should be able to do what she can on four inches of wood. Emily has a shot at top three. Payson cheers for her and everyone joins in. Lauren runs to her dad to fix things and he doesn’t even try to console her.
Payson does the hardest vault of the day, but we don’t actually get to see the olympic preview! Instead we see…Lauren changing Emily’s vault setting. This is where the show goes too far in my book, because a fall could be deadly. And the fall is truly terrifying as Emily smashes into the beam and lands on her neck. Oddly there doesn’t seem to be a medic around. Lauren’s dad, being super sensitive says “wow, I guess she does have vault issues” which makes it sound like he was the one who sabotaged her. (Still though, why does she have vault issues and how is she suddenly okay with it when the day before she wouldn’t even attempt it?)
Emily’s mom tries comforting her as she lies on a couch with her neck propped up (safety hazard after that spill). After floundering for words, Emily’s mother says she supports her. While no coach would let her compete before she’s at least seen a medic, Marty says he can’t stand in her way. YES, HE CAN! (Emily says if they don’t get out of her way they have to deal with her mother, who is possibly the least intimidating person ever.) She sets the board herself this time. Mom’s all proud. She does a perfect vault with no hesitation even though she’s supposed to be scared of it or something. It’s enough to let her win (your two vaults are averaged. What did she score on a single vault to make up for the zero it’s averaged with? Especially considering that a fall on beam is only a .8 deduction.) Point of interest, the results are 62.250 Payson, 60.925 Kaylie, 60.8 Emily, 58.05 Lauren. For comparison, at the 2008 Olympics qualifying scores for the all around finals ranged from 57.15-62.725 and final scores ranged from 59.55-63.325 and while Payson is the only one close to medal contention (the 2008 medalists all scored higher than her though not by much), all three of them scored well. Payson tells Emily she was awesome. Lauren spasms. “This is my whole life” and then she rats on Kaylie and Carter. I guess Kay was right to keep it a secret. Emily vouches with a lie saying Kaylie was helping her with home school stuff so Kaylie’s secret is safe for now.
Steve Tanner pays a little visit to Marty’s office to reveal that while investigating Emily (they’re not Little Girls, they’re Big Business!) he uncovered dirt on Marty. (Stay tuned to find out what!) The plan: Marty will head to the Denver gym with the 4-7 ranked gymnasts including Lauren, effectively “gutting” the Rock. The gymnasts discover Marty gone the next day. (Payson is wearing a purple shirt!) Becca is now 17th and going to Nationals. (What?) Unexpectedly, Payson flips out. “I did everything right! I haven’t had a weekend off my whole childhood!” Lauren continues to be mean–Kaylie shouldn’t be top three, Emily blew the gym to pieces, Emily is inconsistent…
Kaylie says “so what do we do now?” and the lights go off. Which I don’t really get seeing as it’s morning, but point made. CHAOS.