The Fun has arrived! The girls have finally gotten to Boston (apparently they drove the whole way) and Sasha warns them that everyone will want a piece of them. What’s sad here is that the real nationals are so much less spectacular then the show’s, you kind of feel bad for the real gymnasts. The biggest news about this year’s Nationals was the reunion of the 2008 Olympic team and even that didn’t garner much beyond the immediate gymnastics world. I’m kind of sad they played Let It Rock in episode 1 because now would really have been the time to use it.Payson of course, is the one the press jumps at first asking if she can beat Kelly Parker again. Count on it. Chloe is dying of excitement. Emily is nervous. Lauren tells the press her mother is dead. Kaylie plays the “let’s see what’s in your gym bag game and they find Carter’s necklace which she grabs and leaves. Her dad tells her to give the press some love. Emily’s being ignored and calls Damon about how she wishes Brian could have come because Joe didn’t pay for him.
In comes Kelly Parker. Payson and Kelly are the face off everyone’s been waiting for. What was the key that unlocked Payson’s win? “Being better.” Kelly makes a comment about how she doesn’t use drugs but it’s okay for others. Her dad pretends to be a report and is all cute for the family reunion.
Emily looks mopey while on the podium by herself in the dark. How did she even get there?
Brian watches tv where MJ talks about the upcoming talent and in comes Damon who of course has a plan to get Brian to nationals. He has a bus for Radiohead. I don’t even want to talk about it.
Sasha says no distractions and gives rooming. Payson and Emily, Lauren and Kaylie. Kaylie objects with the excuse that Lauren snores so they end up putting Emily and Lauren together. Lauren’s mean and Emily points out she has no friends. Payson’s upset about the back injury. She’s sick of it all, she’s starting to feel like a fraud. Emily visualizing her floor routine (she’s uncomfortable with her floor routine) and then for some reason now is troubled by all the falls she’s had that never bothered her. Emily does what she’s good at, running away like a pixie.
Kaylie talks to her brother about how gymnastics isn’t fun anymore. Leo reveals that Carter loves her and he’s here to see her. Which is sweet in a “dude you cheated on her!” kind of way. She tells him the worst person is that he lied to her and let Kaylie confide in Lauren about their “amazing” relationship, making her look stupid. Everyone needs her to do things, what about what she needs! (I’m not liking Kaylie so much these days, her problems are just so mundane…)
In comes the apparently only 3 teams with gymnasts competing (each team with like 15 people). Weird choice…I HATE Payson’s make up. Just saying. Sasha gives them a pep talk about forgetting their troubles because today they inspire others. Today they live their dreams.
Emily performs first and no one is expecting much. She just has to fight off nerves. Her vault looks no better or worse than ever but we’re told it’s bad. Lauren does her routine well but doesn’t show personality. Summer’s sorry about what happened with Lauren’s mother and goes to make it right. Summer calls and finds out that Steve threatened Lauren’s mother which is why she didn’t come. (No one can challenge Payson or Kelly for the title. “No one is ready to step up to challenge them.)
Payson does her bar routine while everyone who’s watched the previews holds their breath. But no, she’s fine. It puts her in first place. Kaylie does her beam routine and finally we see her do some moves. Payson and Kelly have the same beam dismount and Kelly edges her out for the top spot on day one. (Love how the people who do the commentating hit every comment Sasha’s ever made.) Emily looks uncomfortable with her routine. She makes 20th though.
Steve finds Summer packing her bags. She’s leaving Steve, she’s furious that he lied to her. She admired his relationship to Lauren but it’s really unhealthy. Well, yeah, we all knew that. Where has Summer been this whole time (though admittedly, after the whole blackmail thing he’s sort of dropped off).
The Rock girls wander together, all miserable. Kelly comes and manages to hit on every girls issues. She’s somehow able to know even more than Sasha when it comes to the goings on of the Rock girls. Kaylie’s dad says she doesn’t even need to medal (speaking as her agent) they have to think realistically…Ouch. Lauren discovers that Summer left and is upset. Kaylie and Lauren fight about nothing and Payson (the non-team captain) gives them a speech to stop acting “like a bunch of little bitches.” Kelly says Emily is an unknown. Cue Brian and Damon entering and riling the crowd to cheer for her.
Emily tells Damon she’s choking. She sees herself falling on her landing whenever she approaches an apparatus (she even imagines the crowd booing, like that would ever happen in gymnastics). Damon blindfolds her and has her imagine herself as different animals, a cobra striking the bars. (Interesting animal choice, not a monkey or something?) This scene is so corny it’s upsetting. On the plus side, Damon’s like the best guy ever now. (It really doesn’t help that I can’t stand much about Emily…) Isn’t Damon supposed to be in LA? Won’t this hurt his career?
They all worry about their chances for Day 2, Payson debates taking more cortisone. Lauren manages to steal Kelly Parker’s bag. They have 5 minutes until lights out. They run out of the room and are immediately caught by Sasha. They say they need…girl stuff from the gift shop…and Emily promises they’ll be back. They’re going for tampons. (Funny thing about that excuse, gymnasts don’t get their periods…) As they go, thinking they finally got something by them, he asks what’s in the bag. Kelly Parker’s head. “Carry on.” Giggles and running away.
Day 2, Kaylie approaches MJ about representation because her dad doesn’t take her seriously. MJ says she agrees, she doesn’t see the desire to win in Kaylie she sees a girl wanting to be a normal girl. Does she want a day off or to win? Who are you Kaylie Cruz and what do you want?
Kelly Parker is approached for the “let’s see what’s in your gym bag.” The Rock girls have snuck tons of embarrassing things into her back and it’s shown on the jumbotron. Sasha’s speech- clean routines for Payson will give her gold, Lauren needs to show joy and she’ll get a medal, Emily isn’t expected to do anything so she has total freedom to make the podium her playground, and Kaylie needs to give more, more fire, more passion…MORE YOU! (The other Rock girls do not get pep talks. Also, remember Becca Keeler? She’s supposed to be hear and is conspicuously and sadly absent.)
Carter is on the jumbotron with a sign about not doubting herself. She gets her gym bag and calls him down. Ronny smiles (why?). Kaylie returns Carter’s necklace. It’s over and she’s meant to be something just about her. (She’s so me me me…) She then calls her dad over and returns the necklace he gave her because it represents his dreams and not hers. Kaylie says she has to be her own person. Ronny doesn’t know what the conversation is but she looks proud. Kaylie tells MJ she knows hwo she is and what she wants. MJ looks pleased (like that’s what she was planning all along). Kaylie does a vault scoring the highest score so far at nationals.
Lauren’s vault is solid but she’s still not smiling and Sasha tells her to pretend to care. Lauren calls Summer to ask why she didn’t stand by her like she promised. Summer explains she left Steve not Lauren, she’s still at Nationals. Summer gives her a good pep talk and Lauren finally looks happy.
Payson is up on vault she does a great vault but is obviously in pain. When asked, she says she has to go to the bathroom. She is about to take the cortisone when she hears Kelly getting injected despite saying she doesn’t take any. (Which begs the question, if Kelly needs someone else to do it in her foot where she could easily reach it herself, how did Payson inject it into her own back?) Kelly says everyone lies and Payson says “not all of us” and throws out her cortisone instead of taking it.
Lauren performs on beam and smiles, which the announcers comment on. Lauren’s routine is 2 moves long but she gets the highest beam score of the day.
Payson steps up to bars which could make her champion and on a very simple move she collapses, unconscious and unmoving. Everyone gasps, her parents tun to her. The paramedics are called. Everyone is scared. While on the stretcher Payson mumbles something about not taking the cortisone. Sasha looks paranoid. Kaylie is in striking distance of the title. Are the Rock girls too shaken to continue? Sasha says that Payson wouldn’t want them to jeopardize their gymnastics and they should do it for her.
Emily is given her old floor (lyric filled and therefore not allowed) music in order to have something big (cue entrance of Trisha, remember her from Stick It?). This is Emily’s last chance to make the team. Kelly’s snarky but Emily shows her up with some silly looking dancing and a tumbling pass for skills.
Payson waits anxiously and in walks her parents. They keep sidestepping what the doctors say. Finally they say she has a fracture that is inoperable. The good news is it’s inoperable. A fracture can heal. But though gymnasts overcome injuries all the time, this is one she can’t overcome. If she does gymnastics she may never be able to walk. (Where is Becca in all this?) Payson cries (Ayla Kell does a good job here).
Kaylie tells Kelly she wouldn’t have beaten Payson and she won’t beat her either. We see her do some arm flutterings and some off center/diagonal tumbles. At the end of the final routines…it’s close. Really close. And sure enough…KAYLIE CRUZ IS THE NEW NATIONAL CHAMP! Kelly looks sad, Alex looks like he’ll cry, Carter looks proud. They announce the national team (which wouldn’t be done for months…) Emily claims the final spot. Even Lauren cheers her on. Kaylie, Carter, and Alex each grasp their respective necklaces/medals.
MJ approaches Kaylie with endorsement offers and Kaylie says she has somewhere to be. Leo contratulates Emily and they’re interrupted by Damon. Cue hormonal stare down. Leo’s moving back as Damon is moving away. Leo will be coaching at the Rock. Emily kisses Damon. (So they can have boyfriends before Worlds but not Nationals?) Emily then joins Lauren and Kaylie.
Payson’s asleep in her hospital bed and in come the Rock girls looking serious and stricken. They take her hand and she wakes up. They’re all crying and Payson says “way to kick some ass.”
I’m really unsatisfied with this ending for a few reasons:
1- Kaylie winning to me is both tainted by the fact that it’s likely only a victory because of Payson’s injury and also because I think it’s a little disrespectful to regular gymnasts in that she’s the only one who didn’t care and broke the rules all time and she can just decide on Day 2 to care and win the whole thing? Does she even have the difficulty to legitimately do this?
2- I think Lauren should have medalled. I would even have been satisfied with her in the top. But I think they did a great job with her (and Summer and Steve’s) overall arch for this season. I’m the most satisfied here.
3- Emily, I’m really upset that she made the National Team. Again, this is a case where I think her triumphs diminish how hard real gymnasts work. I’m not saying unknowns can’t do well at nationals but the fact is that a) big names get higher scores because they are often given the benefit of the doubt while unknowns have no history to back them up and are therefore typically scored lower and b) she just hasn’t had the training for long enough. 49 days at an elite gym shouldn’t be enough, talent or not. I would have liked to see her not make it and fight her way up next season. But it’s not just that. It’s that Emily only made the National team by Payson being injured. So again, tainted victory. (In real gymnastics this is typical that people are out due to injury but here it just feels unfulfilling.)
4- Payson’s injury. I knew this one was happening, but I’m still upset. Then again, it was the best choice for the writers so I can’t fault them here. I truly believe that Payson will come back. Maybe it won’t be as bad as they thought, there will be some crazy experiment treatment or amazing surgeon…something that will allow her to make a comeback. Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised if she kept trying despite the possibility that she might not walk again if she does. (I think they didn’t explain her injury well enough in truth so that’s part of my problem…) I know that Ayla Kell has said in interviews that Payson has to deal with real life outside of gymnastics next season but if she can’t do gymnastics at all then it doesn’t make sense for her to remain on the show, which takes place largely in the gym (she’d never see her friends, she’d have no reason not to go to school, etc). And I don’t think fans would stand for her to be completely out of the picture…Bur who knows?
5- Why wasn’t Becca Keeler there? There’s no way she would have missed it (and though she might have missed it by placement when Sasha rearranged things, she would still have come with her parents) and having her not there when Payson gets the most devastating news of her life seems odd…
6- No Marty. I know he’s not a real cast member but dude, his team was at nationals and he wasn’t. Plus, it would have been nice to see him run over with concern for Payson considering he’s not supposed to be such a bad guy…
Well, you can tell the show did a great job, look how worked up I am! For all my frustrations about it’s issues (I don’t mind that the gymnasts have different uniforms, I understand that they tried to get the most flattering one for each girl), I can’t wait to see it back in January and only wish it would return earlier than that…
Two consistency issues. 1- Leo makes this huge deal out of Emily not wearing grips when she does bars, yet every time we see her do bars she wears grips and 2- episode one was all about how important making the top 3 spots were and now all four of them are going. how did they suddenly get another spot?