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Season 3 "Make It Or Break It" Recap: Don't Wait To Have Your "Happy Ending"...Or, STILL, Sasha Sees A Shrink...Better Still, Boulder Teenagers Engaging In A "Mutual Admiration Society"...BONUS STILL, Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery While Under The Effects Of Spruce Juice, Alcohol May Intensify.

"Mr. Belov why are we here exactly? And, do you validate parking?"
First Darby, now Emily – is this MIOBI or Harper’s Island? After last week’s brutal and emotionally charged episode, this week’s chapter in the Rocky Mountain Gymnastic Center saga had to handle us with care; a transition episode, really, a sort of Phantom Menace where the seeds are sown for future developments. It was nice to just hang out with the gang and take a bit of a breather, but I gotta tell you, the specter of Emily’s absence hung over the proceedings like the glory of the Old Republic. Can this team, this show, proceed without its anchor, our everywoman Emily? Time will tell.

"Soooooo, we're cool Gene? And, do you validate parking?"
Time that ticks by ominously, as Kaylie sits in Doc Brown’s garage as Einstein gets fed. No, wait, she’s in Dr. Gene’s office, the richest therapist in town, as he just keeps wanting to get rid of patients by telling them they’re “All Fixed”. He’s THAT good - as you will see by the variety of acronyms he’s collected over his years of shrinking heads and lining them up on his shelf like a Shuar warrior later in the show. Kaylie is unconvinced, anxious about returning to elite gymnastics, and the way the room is set up at an angle, it’s no wonder she’s feeling uncentered. But Gene left-handedly writes her off – she came to him with Anorexia, she’s leaving him in recovery. Shoo, Kaylie, shoo. I haven’t seen this much drama about flying out of the nest since Rabbit found Cassie in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Perhaps Gene makes his money on the side designing banners for The Rock, which has added two more to its walls that are all decked out for the press to announce Sasha’s appointment (for no good reason whatsoever) to be coach of the National and World Team. Payson is trying to be all business, which libidinous Lauren dismisses as she sees the return of shutterbug Max, who presumably still has the hots for Payson. Follow that? Repeat it to me. Anyway, all the boys are back in town, as Austin appears out of nowhere to ask Pay about Emily and Kaylie. He’s not sure Kaylie is ready to come back, yet here she is, walking in to the gym for the first time in six weeks, and every crack reporter in Boulder misses it. Though the flashbulbs pop when Kelly Parker enters like Darth Sidious with her new Sith apprentice, Tessa. 

This disturbance in the Force is not enough to distract Lauren, who is so blind with love that she hands out Kaylie’s unsealed pink envelope invitation to Payson and Payson’s to Kaylie. She’s planning a surprise wedding shower for Summer, even though Summer isn’t wearing her engagement ring. Could it be that her stammering around Sasha is an indication of second thoughts? Or is she just nervous about revealing her master plot to go through all the men at The Rock alphabetically? Sasha has no time to be tongue tied, though, the press is here, and the boys jog over to hear him announce that Kelly Parker is replacing Emily, much to Lauren’s chagrin. He also takes a moment to tell Kaylie she’s not going to Worlds, now DRINK!
Trust us ladies, you may not want an envelope Lauren has licked. Or, come to my Mommy Party!! 
This starts the first in a run of a repeated motif in this episode: the practice of being in conversation with someone and then, when you are finished saying what you have to say, simply turning and walking away. Does this work with people in real life? Have you ever successfully done that? By the way, how is it that both people know the conversation is over? It’s like when they finish a phone conversation and hang up without saying goodbye. Does anyone ever really do that? And when they do, don’t they get a call back instantly by the person who got hung up on saying “Did we just get disconnected?” New game! Watch this episode again, and drink every time someone makes a declarative statement in conversation and then simply turns and walks away. Drink!

Or if you’re into long term games, drink every time someone heads over to The Thinking Bench (full disclosure: The Thinking Bench is Bob Duvet’s new favorite character and hopes to see more storylines focused around it),which Kaylie does this week, trailed by incestuous Austin who can’t decide if he has the hots for Kaylie or if he loves her like a sister. Kaylie is steadfast in her recovery and says she will accept what Sasha tells her about not competing. Austin is still not convinced. Why can’t he talk to women like he talks with Max, in pop music shorthand? It was so much easier to understand Max in the gym as he talked about Payson. “Payson’s all Katy Perry,” says Max. “Get all Young MC on her,” says Austin. Problem solved. Now, you dear reader, pull a Keith Moon.

It wouldn’t be a week at The Rock without a competition, so Sasha announces he’s holding auditions to fill Kaylie’s spot on the Worlds team, and he will pick two people. Why two people, you ask? Because every Jedi needs a padawan, of course, and Kelly Parker, who has perfect endurance and flexibility from feeling Carter’s Force flowing through her, knows just the person to be on the team: Tessa, her evil twin with the matching hairstyle. Sasha tells her he won’t play favorites – and turns and walks away. DRINK GODD@#N IT!

Meanwhile, Kaylie is trick-or-treating in her own house, knocking on the studio door to find Damon recording his guitar and vocals simultaneously, a kind of 21st century Edie Brickell, and she wants to know why he’s here and not with Emily. Damon saps that it’s always all about Emily and she didn’t even tell him where she went, and Kaylie blames herself, revealing that she told Emily about their meaningless kiss. Damon is deflated – how could it not mean something when we made such beautiful music together? Damon’s running his own personal version of The Bachelor, giving his rose to both girls. 
 MEEP! MEEP! Wile E. Max thwarted at the bridge again! I should have used Spruce Juice instead of birdseed!
But the Rock Girls are being true to thineselves, as evidenced by Payson, who jogs along the Ronette Pulaski Memorial Bridge at the exact same time every morning. Max, hiding like a Jawa, appears out of the ravine to coincidentally jog along with her, but Payson isn’t biting. She straight out says that he’s into Lauren and the dude has to yield, and off she goes without even seeing the sign on the pile of free bird seed he had placed in the middle of the road. Frustrated, Max opens his package from Acme to get the big rock to fall on Payson but he ends up getting hit by a truck. Wait, I’m sorry, I think I’m misremembering this. But it’s close.

Kaylie, who has been banned to the weight room, is innocently doing flips on the beam, which flips out Sasha who sends her away in a scene reminiscent of every single morning in my home when my dog hops up on the couch and I have to tell her to get down. Lauren still hasn’t found the time to seal the envelopes she’s handing out, although I guess she’s been busy changing the invites to read the party is this Friday instead of next Friday, because the faster she gets Summer married, the quicker –uhh…the quicker she…I’m not entirely sure. She sure wants Summer and Steve to get married, though, and Kim, ever the voice of reason, heads up to the office to out-notebook Summer. Kim’s mighty 3 ring binder is too much for Summer’s spiral to handle, so Summer reveals that she is engaged to Steve and just can’t tell everyone yet. And by everyone she means Sasha. And by surprise party, Kim means spoiler party, as she spills the beans about Lauren’s John Hughes themed plans. Hope Duckie will be there! Drink just because it makes this recap go down that much smoother.

By the way, get ready to drink as Damon goes to talk with Chloe, who dismisses his selfish ramblings about his own dreams by walking away from him. I’m not sure that apartment is big enough for that to be an effective strategy. But it seems to have an impact on him, and I can never get enough Chloe, so I’d like to think this scene was just for me. Thanks, MIOBI writer’s room. You can go about your business. Move along. Oh! And, have a drink on me!

Write a sappy ballad about how I KICKED YOUR ASS!!
Kaylie still can’t keep herself out of the gym, and she witnesses Kelly Parker being abusive to Tessa, who I’m now going to call Kelly Parker Jr in the hopes that she will start to sing the theme to Ghostbusters. Kaylie goes to help Kelly Parker Jr on her uneven bars routine, which sets Payson off – how can Kaylie just lie down and take this? Why isn’t she fighting for her position on the team? Before she an answer, though, Damon saunters in, like Luke Skywalker entering the Mos Eisley cantina. No one wants to see him, least of all Austin, who has the little devil in his ear of Kelly Parker telling him of Damon’s Brad Womacky ways. (She then gets up and leaves – drink). Damon has actually come to tell Kaylie he has had a change of heart and is going to see Emily, and he gives her a hug, which is too much for Austin who appears out of nowhere again to slug Damon in the stomach. Cue the clarinets! 

Now, being an avid follower of this show, much hullaballoo was made about this punch before the episode aired, and quite frankly, I was hoping for a George McFly – Biff Tannen kind of punch. At least, something in Damon’s cocky jaw. But Austin really is a master, knowing just the right way to hit someone so there’s no visible bruising. Is there nothing Austin doesn’t know? Like the location of the secret Rebel base? I’ll give you a hint – it’s not on Dantooine. This fracas causes Kaylie to fess up to Payson that she don’t want to be no Cinderella waiting in a dark cold dusty cellar and she’d rather rescue herself. So she states her thesis that she will fight to get on the Worlds team. Drink! Because that is what Sasha must be doing every night after coaching these ingrates who refuse to follow direction.

The conspirators meet at the most clandestine place in town, the extremely popular Spruce Juice, which has made money hand over fist by the town of Boulder and can finally afford their own logo cups. They hatch a plan to meet after hours in the gym to train – hey, isn’t that what Emily and Damon used to do? – and before they can even finish their sprucey juices, they’re on their way out the door. Someone better snap up that table, because it’s the only place on the patio that isn’t being ravaged by the wind. Before they go, though, Lauren catches sight of a photo of Payson on the wall. Looks like Max is getting his work shown, and he wants to show off Payson.  Remind me when this starts to get creepy?

Princess Leia from hell spills beans to Solo...Or, DRINK!
We’re then treated to an inspiring Team American style training montage which ends with the girls dousing their tired feet in an icy bucket of Spruce Juice. The following morning, Austin bops over like one of the Cosby Kids to apologize to Kaylie for being overprotective. She invites him to the late night training, which is overheard by Kelly Parker Jr. This causes Kelly Parker to do the talk-and-walk-away (drink) to Sasha, cloaking her insidiousness in concern but nonetheless revealing the late night plans. 

Somehow Max found out, too, because he’s there to see Sasha show up and powerfully lay down the law without taking his hands out of his pockets. The girls protest, saying he should just watch her, but Sasha sticks to his guns, turning to go, only to be blocked by the Barbarian Brothers. He agrees to see one apparatus, which Kaylie does tentatively at first as Pay and Lauren mime her routine along with her. But then Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice echoes in her ear, telling her to use the Force – well, actually, telling her to trust herself, and I think it was Jedi Master Gene’s voice – and Kaylie executes the cleanest routine on the uneven bars Sasha has ever seen. He still won’t bow down, though, saying it’s not the physical ability he’s worried about. He doesn’t want to be responsible for Kaylie’s emotional state, taking a page from Howard Stern’s anxiety about letting Artie back on the show. Drink for Gene wringing more screen time than Bob Duvet’s beloved Thinking Bench – both of which are ripe for a spinoff. Maybe, Gene hosts sessions on the magical thinking bench - think Mr. Ed meets Bob Newheart. Now DRINK!

All the girls go home to bed; Payson, to hear from calm Spruce Juice loving Kim that “admiring” a boy does not necessarily equal having “mutual admiration” (i.e SEX), which then leads to giving up gymnastics; and Lauren, to read Chubby Bride magazine, which talks about relatable women topics such as being an Elf ranger in Dungeons and Dragons or being Tom Brady in Madden Football. Summer comes in to say she has something she wants to share, but Lauren, taking in Max and Austin’s way of speaking from bands, gets all Me First on Summer and tells her she wants Summer to legally adopt her, and then Summer will be her real mom, no longer made of wood. Summer is touched and hugs Lauren, but the expression on her face is akin to finding out that Lauren has just eaten the fish on flight 209. Drink for Summer…she’s gonna need more than Spruce Juice to cage this hellcat.
Now we can all not listen to Sasha all the way to Worlds TOGETHER!!!  Sasha's Ingrates
Fortunately, there’s LMFT Gene’s sideways office, but it’s not Kaylie that is getting the advice this time, it’s Sasha, who is receiving some ethically questionable advice from Gene about letting Kaylie compete and some free therapy that Sasha didn’t ask for. Maybe Sasha is preventing Kaylie from going to Worlds because he’s punishing himself for not seeing the future and catching her before she fell. This must go to heart for him, because the following morning, he makes the  announcement of who won the Replace Kaylie competition to the Worlds Team – which Kaylie is not a part of, because she took three steps back and is therefore not part of the team. To no surprise, the winners are Tessa aka Kelly Parker Jr. and someone named – Alice, I think? She seemed pretty happy, whoever she is. But then – shocker! – he also adds Kaylie’s name to the list. Protests of “didn’t you just say two people?” go unheeded, although now I have my concerns that he wants three instead of two, because how will that bring balance to the Force? Drink for the 35 year old gymnast extra standing in the back as Sasha makes his announcement, as she wonders when they are going to break for lunch and she can get in line at craft services?

Finally creepy Max stalks Payson in the parking lot to find out if she saw the photo at the Spruce Juice, and Payson tells him she can’t be thinking about boys. She just needs to focus and if they could just be friends, that would be fine, and Max falls to his music quoting self to channel Bette Midler to say that’s fine with him. Because he strikes me as a big fan of Beaches. Nonetheless, Lauren, the most schizophrenic character in television history, is waiting for him on the driver’s side door to give him an open mouth kiss, and Max is all too eager to return the favor. 

This just leaves a sweaty shirtless Sasha working out in the dark, which hypnotizes Summer into telling him that she really is engaged to Steve. Sasha takes it fine, and she walks away to her unsurprise party, putting on her engagement ring as the credits roll, surrounded by the prettiest in pinks. So what do we think, MIOBI Nation? Are we going to catch up with Damon and Emily in Las Vegas before the season’s end? Is Summer really moving into happily ever after? Will Payson be okay with Lauren and Max locking lips? And will Kaylie get on the Worlds team?  Only three weeks left until the big two-hour season finale – what could possibly go wrong? Hit up Costco because you’re gonna need a bigger bottle of hooch!  And in the meantime, be sure to listen to last week's podcast featuring our exclusive interview with Kaylie Cruz herself as Josie Loren sits in for some intense questioning - listen here:

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