It’s back! Your favorite, ever-inaccurate gymnasts have returned. So, with no further delay, the episode:
The girls come to the Rock for practice complaining about the late night practice. Kaylie gives them an obnoxious speech about how they don’t whine about missing other things so why whine about this. But at least the boys are around, Lauren points out. But…there’s something weird with the boys. They’re…vampires. Payson’s the first one bitten because she tries to lead them away. Smarmy comes to Kaylie but Lauren intercedes and she’s the next one down. Then comes Austin who attempts to bite when (Vampire Emily says he’s fine). But just in time comes Sasha. Only…Kaylie’s a vampire and kills him.
Reality check. Kaylie’s in a group therapy session talking about her weird dream. Does Kaylie feel like she failed as a leader? She says no it wasn’t her fault that they were all in chaos. What does Kaylie think when she thinks of the Rock. Home. And what’s happening at home? It’s falling apart. (Part of me wants to say, why did they explain the dream, couldn’t they have let the audience figure it out. The other part of me says most people wouldn’t have thought any more about it so maybe it was a good thing that they went into detail. This isn’t exactly Shakespeare after all…)
Time for practice. Emily doesn’t know if she’s on the team (Emily calls her mother out for being MIA). Payson meanwhile isn’t in the mood for practice or an exhibition. Sasha is gone so who knows what he would want for her. Lauren’s moved in with DJ because she’s angry with her dad. DJ wants her to forgive so she can heal. Lauren says “sometimes people do things that are so bad that no one will ever forgive him.” (Talking about her dad or herself–double meaning writers, good job.)
How did Ellen get the picture? If only they could get the whole video so they could prove Sasha innocent. Steve is having a hard time finding a coach because all the top coaches are under contract. Plus the gym has a bit of a “stink” on it at the moment. DJ doesn’t know where to find Sasha but she has a question. Before she can ask, Kim interrupts to ask if Steve leaked the picture. If he finds out who did, he will kill them out of the gym (but can he kick out his own daughter?!?!).
Back in counseling, Kaylie’s strict lifestyle is brought up. Kaylie is still in denial but one of the girls says admitting she had a problem helped. But when asked if she thinks she belongs in the group she says “sure, I guess.”
Payson is sort of training Emily but when that doesn’t work she calls Austin over for assistance and she sticks it. Well, at least now she knows how it is supposed to feel. No one has spoken to Kaylie, she’s not allowed to call, but she will be at the Denver exhibition. (Apparently all gymnastics takes place in Colorado.) Will Emily be allowed at the exhibition? Depends on her probation officer, who looks about as loving as Ellen Beals. They are assessing Emily’s progress. The guy on the National Committee is not supportive. The NGO needs to assess her position. Since Emily is restricted to home and gym only, so if she wants to go to the exhibition she will have to wear an ankle bracelet. (More info- Denver is bidding to host the Olympics. I don’t really believe the US would ever host the Summer Olympics there but let’s pretend. A trip to NY would have been more fun though.) Floor and Vault shouldn’t be affected by the anklet but people will see it!?!?
Steve tries to talk to Lauren while she is practicing but she refuses and Emily comes out wearing the anklet, which draws attention to her and away from Lauren.
In Denver now, the Denver Elite Team has passes that the Rock girls don’t. An guess who shows up: Kelly Parker! Her ankle injury is healed and she plans to get back onto the World team. The Rock is a cesspool of controversy, why would they want to showcase them? The girls decide they have to up their game. Lauren continues oogling boys. Austin introduces his friend Max, who Lauren immediately flirts with, but he’s more taken with Payson, whose face is perfect for catching the light (he’s a photographer). Payson doesn’t think he could like her. Austin is hesitant to see Kaylie with the other girls.
The girls wonder why they didn’t that Kaylie was in such a bad way but Lauren says she does. She then tries to pin her crime on Kaylie. “Kaylie was feeling really trapped by Sasha, maybe she took matters into her own hands.” Kaylie arrives though so that line of thought gets interrupted. The girls sit on one side, Kaylie on the other. Kaylie just wants to get out of there and get back to her gymnastics. (That sounds…healthy.) They get off-tangent on boys and then Emily decides it is time to leave. Shortest visit ever!
The girls show up to a party. Lauren is looking for Max. The press wants pictures of Kelly Parker. Max makes sure to give the “Rock Rebels” some love. Oh, by the way, Max is a gymnast too. Denver Elite just got a fantastic new rings specialist–Carter. He and Kelly are good friends. He comes off as smarmy as ever it’s sort of gross. Lauren dances like a slut on the dance floor but Max is too buy looking for Payson. (Carter is looking on in jealousy so he and Kelly hit the floor, making Lauren jealous.) Carter to Max: “The girls at the Rock are good but the women at Denver…” are both sluts. Austin sits with Emily (they sure seem to be together a lot) who is gloom and dooming about her boyfriend being far away. They’re both in the same boat (oh no, sympathy cheating!?!?). Emily fears that everything she worked for will be taken away and if she doesn’t worry the bill doesn’t get paid, the car gets taken away, her brother can’t take his medicine. Her only shot at living carefree is to be the Olympic gold-medalist. Of course, her real shot would have been not pursuing such an expensive sport in the first place. She’s angry at herself and at her mom. If Chloe were better at everything (or anything) they couldn’t be living this way. He gives her the lecture about having a choice (her choice was to let her brother possibly die, at least from her perspective, or preserve her record…not exactly a choice–I’ve been there for someone having a seizure and it’s really scary). Austin does point out that she should have called an ambulance and that she should stop blaming her go-go dancing mother.
Chloe gets a visit from the NGO guy (while she’s prepping for her dance). He wants to know what her job is and points out that Emily can’t maintain a job and her career. He notices Emily’s lack of bedroom (will they suggest she move out?). He says the girls are thoroughbreds and must be treated that way. She says the sport eats families alive and kicks him out. They’re both kind of right here. He says he isn’t trying to judge her but to save Emily’s dream. They want the same thing for her. He almost sounds sincere but where was this sympathetic ear all this time?
Back at the party, Kelly Parker spots Payson alone and chooses the opportunity to tease her. Rumors about how Sasha and Payson “carried on together.” Apparently, according to Marty, Sasha is hiding out in Denver. Payson demands her mother leave the party to find Sasha. Kim stands firm, Sasha has made his decision, let him go. Fine, She’ll let him go, her dream go, the whole damn thing. Max finds her sitting alone and decides to take some pictures. He makes it clear he’s not with Lauren. He wants to show her some pictures of Bode Miller but he instead ends up showing her the bazillion pictures he took of her. Ok, stalker much. But still kinda cute. He’s been a fan of hers since he saw her video online. What’s this you say? A video of me online? Luckily, he has his handy dandy internet phone to show her floors. Someone posted it so the world could see how beautiful she is. She admits that she has only just begun to see herself that way, thanks to a good friend.
Despite what she said, Kim has tracked Sasha down to a boxing gym? I guess it’s a good excuse to get him to take his shirt off. He’s going back to Romania. Kim wants to know why he’s running away instead of saying goodbye. He’s heartbroken. He tried so hard but he ended up hurting them instead. Gymnastics is so extreme. He asks if she’s ever wanted to give it up (of course she has!). What about Summer (oh that’s her name!)? Sasha doesn’t want her to know he’s around. He does say goodbye to Kim though which is almost like saying goodbye to the girls.
Lauren has some ideas to spice up the routine for the exhibition, but first, they all take up leg warmers as a show of support for Emily (Lauren does this on protest of course). Time comes and the Denver Elite club gets a ridiculous entrance about being the best performance of the night. This is sort of a ridiculous exhibition that feels more cheerleading than gymnastics at times. The dancing in leos looks even sillier than usual and Kelly Parker actually looks a bit midgety in Carter’s arms.
The intro to the Rock is unnecessarily awkward–“they’ve had a few issues but they’re here.” Max is snapping pictures at the word “go.” They get the “Rock the House” music which makes them more awesome obviously. But of course, as Emily does her handstand, her bracelet shows and she runs off (why didn’t you secure it better?). Everyone pauses for a moment so Max jumps on stage to distract them. Does that mean he’s made his choice? Kelly Parker gets all huffy and storms off. Emily steps up to the mic to talk frankly about her anklet. (This always looks good for Olympians to publicly apologize.) She says she disgraced the excellent Rock, her excellent coach Sasha, and her mother. (I still feel like though legally she’s gonna be in trouble, people should stop being so tough on her.) Austin gives her a hug of approval. Lauren says “So that’s it, you say you’re sorry and everything’s okay. And you forgive your mom?” Emily says it is just a start and that they both only have one parent, if they push them away, what do they have left. (What, a real heart to heart between Emily and Lauren? This was actually kind of a good moment.)
Austin goes to visit Kaylie who insists she’s doing great. She has a question for him. Was he seriously falling for her or just to get her to admit she had an issue? He was serious and ps, she’s falling for him too. He tells her to put it out of her mind for a while. You can’t date while in recovery. She takes this to mean he’s “that guy” which goes to show that she’s clearly not working the program. She tells him to leave because she has things under control. He’s not falling for it though.
Emily gets home to find her room switched with her mother’s. Well as long as she doesn’t bring any guys home that should be ok.
Lauren goes home. No makeup hug for daddy but it’s a step.
Payson stares at the medal Sasha gave her and then puts it away in her drawer.
Kaylie talks with her roommate. Well, talks is being generous, since Kaylie doesn’t want to talk. She’s sick of talking. At least she apologizes but only so far as to say being small is part of her sport. The girl says it is part of her sport too–she’s a model. She’s been acting this whole time. They have to be thin for their jobs, This is the girls’ third rehab and she’ll help Kaylie get out. Oh terrific. So you have to be perky to be healthy. (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope her eating disorder turns into a serious issue like kidney failure or something.)
Where I felt like no progress had been made in the Secret Life of the American Teenager, this mid-season return felt like things happened. We picked up on all the important threads from last season and resolved (or at least continued) them. This is also the first time I’ve ever felt the least sympathy for Emily. I agree that she was stupid and if she had been thinking clearly she’d have called an ambulance, but at the same time, it wasn’t entirely her fault. And her mom is still pretty crappy.