We’ve finally come to the season two mid-season finale, Can it live up to the episode that was Nationals? The answer is…no, not so much. Why? Partially because it felt like a repeat of the Nationals episode without the awesomeness. Well, brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one:
Emily wakes her mother Chloe up on the couch where she fell asleep in her trench coat, which Emily notes, she has been wearing an awful lot. In case you missed why, it’s to cover Chloe’s skanky outfit for her new nighttime job. (We don’t know exactly what it is, but we can guess.) Chloe accidentally left out her Bambi nametag but she spots it and hides it before Emily can notice. Not that Emily is one for looking at things right in front of her (for example, not checking that her ticket in France was two ways…), so she really needn’t have worried. Emily’s court date has been set and luckily it’s one day before world team tryouts, which you know means something will happen to either push tryouts up a day or her court date back a day. Emily thinks she might go to jail but Chloe assures her she’ll be fine.
Payson and Kim get to the gym and everyone is laughing at her (because if you recall, last week they found out that she kissed their coach, Sasha). Payson is miserable but she calls Kim off momma bear duty. She recognizes that she made the mess and if she hides, people will think Sasha did something wrong. She goes inside to confront her friends and predictably, it is Lauren who starts with the teasing. Payson doesn’t back down though, instead replying with some sarcasm that she thoroughly enjoyed it. “Planning on eloping, moving into the airstream, and a boy named Sasha Junior.” Even Kaylie makes a dig (I thought you were the captain Kaylie. What kind of leadership is that?) and it is Emily who tells them to cut it out. (She is the one to know what it’s like to be teased after all.)
The parents meet to discuss the issue. Kim assures them Sasha did nothing wrong but Ellen Beals is having none of it (is this a Rock meeting or a national team meeting? Sasha doesn’t coach the national team…). “The National Gymnastics Organization must worry about their liability and employing a potential pedophile” Pedophile! Some parents, including Chloe exclaim (again, the NGO does not employ Sasha so this conversation is silly). Alex meanwhile is just concerned about the girls on the team.
Sasha tells the girls to stop watching the meeting and tells them to start training. Beals comes out to announce that the NGO doesn’t want him to be training any of the girls. If they train with him, they will be cut (not sure they can do that actually, I don’t think the NGO has any say in who trains who). Steve puts in that the Rock has decided to suspend him for the time being. Payson tries to stand up for him but he turns and gives them some words of comfort. Beals reveals that she will be coaching them in the meantime. Emily looks thrilled at that one. He says to follow the rules and stay focused and they’ll be fine. Right, these girls are famous for following the rules. No distractions for them. Beals can’t even fake hide her smirk. She does reveal that trials have been moved up a day, as expected and Emily tells her she has a family emergency. With a boy? Since it’s not a death, Beals expects her there. This is where your pride gets you Emily, I can’t pretend to feel badly. (Okay I never could pretend to care for Emily even without this.)
Austin stops Kaylie outside to say that he doesn’t want her to compete at the trials. She has too much to lose and needs to get her strength back. Kaylie says she’s been weighed and everyone thinks she’s fine. Austin knows there are ways to rig the scale (roles of quarters in her underwear, water weight). Kaylie thinks her gymnastics is the only thing keeping her family together. She’s fine and wants him to stay out of her life.
Sasha talks to Mark and Kim about intending to continue training Payson to get her to the Olympics. Mark wonders if he is doing it for himself because she’s the only one he has left. Sasha says if he thinks his present was harming her, he’d leave. Mark doesn’t want Payson to be put through the gossip. Kim wants to take time but Sasha says they don’t have time. Her window could be closing. Mark says if she makes it to the Olympics it won’t be with him.
Summer wants to start a petition. He thinks he should have known about Payson’s feelings, he failed, maybe he’s not such a good man. Summer tells him he is a good man, an honorable man, a righteous man, that’s why she loves him. She kisses him and the kisses goes a little further…until Sasha stops it so as not to sacrifice her values. She runs out all weepy.
Steve meanwhile wants to talk to Lauren about her mother’s memorial. Lauren doesn’t want to go, her mother never loved her, after all. Steve doesn’t tell her the truth of course, instead offering “she was your mother.” Lauren says she’s glad her mother’s dead, she doesn’t need to be hurt by her anymore.
Summer goes to church and this scene comes off as so incredibly preachy and over the top. (How is this more preachy than Seventh Heaven, which was a show about a minister? I mean, really ABC Family, that takes talent.) “I came so close to breaking my covenant with you, why would you allow me to have an attraction to a man like that?” Summer, I thought you were smarter than that. You’re how old now? Then she says she knows it was her and she needs his help, a sign. She will “read his word and wait for confirmation. Just…tell her who to love.” Of course, she immediately sees Steve crying behind her. Is that the sign, is Steve the one she would love? Only if she’s a complete moron, so we are testing Summer’s intelligence now. Steve is scared to tell Lauren the truth for fear that Lauren will never forgive him. Summer offers to come, Lauren needs to know she was loved. Steve asks for her to pray with him. How can she say no to that?
Cut to: strip club. For the unobservant, Bodacious Boulder dancers are wearing the same uniforms as Bambi was. Damon and a record exec are there to look for dancers and sure enough, there is Chloe/Bambi behind the bar. She gets all stunned and asks him not to tell Emily. She also tells him what’s going on with Emily.
Mark comes to talk to Payson: “you’re mother says I don’t listen.” Payson is in bed miserable (I think we’ve seen this scene with her a hundred times, she’s the only one who really goes to bed and cries). He wants to understand this thing with Sasha, did he do anything…No. After surgery everything was different, gymnastics, body, confidence. No matter what she did she was depressed and clumsy and stupid. Sasha was there, he never gave up…he made her feel beautiful and protected and special. She sits up and asks “did I ruin everything?” He tells her she didn’t.
Austin is talking to Alex and Ronnie, saying her anorexia is doing the pushing not Kaylie and it will keep doing that until it kills her. Kaylie of course is pissed to see him. What gives him the right to be worried? Alex has the look of “mhmm you answer that boy” which makes me want to slap him. There’s no such thing as having the “right” to make sure someone isn’t killing themselves. Ultimately he says there’s something about her that makes him think he could fall in love with her (and not because of her looks, because he’s dated hotter). This isn’t the type of thing that will get Alex on his side, not after Carter. Specifically he says “this isn’t about helping Kaylie, it’s about a testerone fueled jock sniffing around my daughter. again.” Kaylie looks less certain.
Damon says she can tell him anything, so what they’re not on top of the world together. Emily doesn’t know what to do about her conflicting appointments. Damon suggests going to his stepdad who he hates but is a lawyer.
Payson’s dad rented out a gym for Payson and Sasha to train in for a month. It’s not the Rock but…When she’s off to warm up, Mark tells Sasha he’s sorry and he’s thankful for how he’s been there for her. He’s like a father. Sasha wasn’t trying to take Mark’s place.
The meeting with Walter. Walter is smug and glad Damon was begging for a favor. He calls the judge to get the date moved. He’ll just get a call to verify who she is. She’s an exceptional person, the work ethic to become an Olympian. Damon could do to learn from her. Emily tries to defend him but Damon doesn’t even think its worth the bother.
Ellen Beals is of course the one to get the verification call and tells the judge she thinks Emily has a contempt for rules and needs to be taught about consequences. Really, you caught her sneaking out once allegedly to see a boy, your entire vendetta is based on that? I just don’t believe it. (There’s also no argument that Emily is inconsistent. She may not do it perfectly every practice–that is what practice is for after all–but she always turns up when it comes to competition…wait, did I just defend Emily?) She hangs up the phone looking very pleased with herself.
Kaylie is waiting for Emily and Lauren. Beals tells her not to count on Emily and that a team can be overrated, she should stand on her own. For the actual trials she says she wants complete silence and no team cheering. “The strong survive and the weak…do not.” Eloquent words Ellen. Emily is first on beam (isn’t that what she asked for?) and tells Beals that she’d rather go alone than have Beals coach her. (Maybe not in quite those words.) Beals reveals that she knows about her brush with the law. Emily gets up on beam and has a slight bobble on a really basic move but Kaylie calls out encouragement and she’s almost fine until a shaky dismount.
Payson and Sasha work in the dark little gym and when she’s done she asks him to give her the critique. It was quite excellent actually. She wonders how the girls are doing without a coach and he says he’s sent someone to look after them. But she should worry about only one thing: are you ready to embrace your destiny?
Kaylie on bars. Beals brags about the round off arabian mount that Kaylie does, pretending that she is the one who got her to do it. Beals, you’ve been her coach for what, two days? You have nothing to do with her routines. Kaylie runs to do it and immediately falls. In the room where the parents are watching, Austin explains that she is weak and tired, that’s what happens when you starve yourself. Kaylie finishes off the rest fine but the judges note that she looks shaky. Beals blames it on Belov. When asked if the rumors about him are true, Beals says it’s in his blood (like that’s how things work–judges, shouldn’t this clue you in?), his father is even crazier. No more Belov nonsense. Or is there…
In walks a man…”isn’t that” “it is” and they realize it’s Dmirti Belov, Sasha’s dad (known in the real gymnastics world as Bela Karolyi). The judges tell him it’s a closed session but he says he’s coaching. He tells Beals to get lost and then gives them an inspirational speech. They’re prepared physically and technically now they have to work on the mind. Work like a team! They say Beals thinks it is an individual sport but Belov Sr says there’s no such thing as an individual sport. Lauren’s turn on vault. Beals doesn’t look happy. Kayley’s vault is just as solid. At this point, Kaylie is fourth, Lauren is sixth, and Emily is eighth.
Payson isn’t sure she’s ready but Sasha is sure of it. He will make the NGO watch her. The parents want to see this so they all come inside despite not being allowed in. Beals tries to get the judges to stop, even saying Payson has no grace. She’s told to be quiet as they’d like to watch. We get treated to a sort of ballet show. Many people have griped about the fact that there’s no tumbling passes in this move. Presumably, there are and we’re just not shown them. I’m not bothered by this because if you think back to season one, Kaylie’s floor routines never really had tumbling passes either, just that silly end pose. She does actually do some other gymnastics skills. Payson finishes and gets a standing ovation from the judges’ table and the crowd and the other gymnasts. “They did it!” Sasha starts to leave and all the girls (led by Payson) stand up for him. Lauren is the one who says “we don’t care what people say, Sasha hasn’t done anything wrong.” Lauren make up your mind! You tried to oust him just last week? Despite Beals’s protest, they let him stay.
Lauren’s turn on bars suddenly gets her all weepy. Sasha comes to talk to her. She says her mom didn’t mean anything to her but her mom bought her her first leo. Clearly she’s more bothered then she says, as she starts crying. Steve sees how upset she is and comes down to tell her the truth. Her mother came by to see her every year. That’s all she needed to her, she was loved! He gives her the letter which is actually just a picture of Leslie with Lauren. Lauren decided that she was wanted and she can do this (that’s absurd, she’s not even mad at Steve! maybe that will come later, when it hits her). This was the least well done storyline. Her bars routine is solid (we see her make that skill that she intentionally let slip earlier in the show) and I can’t help but wonder why her vault and her dismount look identical. She also gets a standing o and then says “that was for you, I love you mommy.” (Not even the required–I don’t know if it’s official or just traditional–salute to the judges.)
Kaylie’s next on beam. She seems shaky. Austin mutters that she doesn’t have to do it, but it’s Kaylie so she does. She gets shaky and dizzy after the first tumbling series and Austin swoops in to catch her just in time (like that’s realistic). Gasps from the crowd make me think “this is a less crazy version of what happened to Payson, must every mid-season finale involve one of the girls going to the hospital?” (if Kaylie is in the hospital for a while gaining weight etc, does that mean she will have to go through the retraining process that Payson did?)
Emily’s turn on vault when the police come in to arrest her. Like they would even remember where she was and come this quickly to arrest her. How late is she even? The meet started before her court appearance was set (eleven am versus twelve pm). The visa championships, with 20+ girls takes three hours, this has only ten (11 if you count Payson), so how late can she really be? At least they’ll wait until she vaults. He says the other girls can’t hack it the way Emily can. (Horse metaphor, really Damon?) Oh no, it’s the vault! The event we never understood why she feared! But after a brief hesitation and some meditation while standing, she runs it fine with a perfectly stuck landing. Lauren is even the first to say good job. Ellen Beals tells the judges it was an anomaly but they shush her. Emily is handcuffed while still wearing her leo (they don’t even let her put on her warm up pants! Damon at least gives her his leather jacket.
The results: in second is Kaylie, held for her until they know her position (her coming in second doesn’t make sense). We get a glimpse of Kaylie being wheeled to the hospital and though Sasha’s dad says he can’t protect them forever, Sasha says he shouldn’t be hurting them either. Lauren comes in third. Beals is pleased with this one. Emily comes in fifth (I wanted her to be an alternate, but we all knew that wasn’t likely). Everyone looks around for her but she’s not around so they continue to the sixth and final spot, which was a special vote, Payson. Right, four girls from one gym. When was the last time that happened. Payson wonders where Sasha is, they all got in because of him.
Time for the fallout montage- Austin sits with Kaylie in the hospital. Emily is in her orange jumpsuit and gets to see Damon and Chloe. (That orange jumpsuit is much more fitting than normal.) Summer is having dinner with the Tanners (which means she fails the IQ test). Payson finds a note from Sasha saying he’s taught her that she can achieve her dreams as long they face things together. I’m a little confused b/c the envelope said Payson but the letter seems to address them all (“I have taught you all…no obstacle you can’t overcome….when you face it together.”–also, note to Sasha, three periods is an ellipsis, four is just a mess!) She starts crying, realizing this means he is gone. He drives off into the not-so-sunset.
And all I have to say about this episode was: Where is Kelly Parker?
(And a side note of, this episode doesn’t leave us with as many awesome “what will happen next questions,” everything is just pretty obvious. Well, I suppose we wonder if Kaylie will be okay, if Emily will get out of jail, if Damon sticks around and if Lauren gets mad at her dad for his lies, if Payson runs after Sasha, if we will ever see Becca Keeler again not to mention Kelly Parker, if the NGO will get rid of Beals when they see her harass Emily more…but it’s just not the same.)