You’ve come a long way, baby.
When I first sat down to recap the MIOBI pilot, I’d have never imagined that three years later, I’d still be here recapping the series finale. OK, I did, because I clearly hate myself and possess this bizarre compulsion to deconstruct bad TV shows in excruciating detail, but here we are. The end of an era.
So does MIOBI end on an appropriately absurd, cheesy, and ridiculous note? Of course it does!
So let’s jump right in for the last time.
So we’ve finally reached the Olympic Trials. All the drama that’s been building for 2 seasons and 8 episodes comes to a spectacular head here. And let me tell you, they pulled out all the stops. We’ve got Punches. Tears. Schemes. Sean Maher. Drugs. And not the kind being passed around the writers’ room.
So let’s recap a bit on S3 so far. Jordan’s just tearfully confessed to Kaylie about Coach Pervert McPervyson after spectacularly trashing his car. When last we saw the dynamic duo, they were running from the cops. Meanwhile, Lauren’s back at practice with a heart monitor, and must stop any routine before she exceeds 5 spikes. Kaylie just broke up with Austin and is unknowingly consuming smoothies Wendy has spiked with cold meds. She should’ve gone with Kalteen bars. And Wendy, of course, is continuing to be a duplicitous little bitch as well as the latest potential victim of Coach Pedobear. Oh, and Payson and Rico Suave are banging.
So at the opening of our finale, we find Kaylie about to blow the whistle on Coach Pervyperv. Payson, however, is hesitant. She points out how everyone thought Sasha was a total inappropriate creepface because he was behaving like a total inappropriate creepface, but it’s OK because he’s not supposed to be an inappropriate creepface. Kaylie, however, clearly believes Jordan, and it’s enough to convince Payson.
The girls go to Coach M but he reasonably points out that he can’t do anything right now, especially since Jordan has yet to come forward. Of all the coaches who have strutted and fretted their hour upon the MIOBI stage, I actually like this guy the best. Yeah, he does some stupid things and seems to spend more time sitting in his office than actually coaching, but when he is coaching he conducts himself fairly professionally, makes logical decisions, and isn’t fucking creepy. He’s also married, which means we don’t have to sit through a boring painful stilted romance with another boring adult character.
Wendy makes another spiked smoothie for Kaylie, and is nearly busted by Lauren in the process. Lauren starts to grab the smoothie but Wendy is oddly insistent that it go to Kaylie, which piques Lauren’s suspicions and awakens her inner Veronica Mars. Guys, let me just say that Lauren is awesome in this episode. A fitting end to a glorious character.
Coach M talks to Jordan about Coach Pedobear, but she heatedly denies the allegations. While this reaction is realistic for many victims of abuse, it kind of doesn’t fit with Jordan’s tearful confession to Kaylie just the night before. Coach M informs Kaylie of Jordan’s denial, but Kaylie remains insistent, inadvertently blurting out that Jordan trashed Coach Pedobear’s car. Coach M seems surprised to hear it, which makes me question the effectiveness of the Colorado Springs police department. It seemed pretty obvious that the cop who came to the scene saw Jordan and Kaylie. Maybe the cop thought they were another pair of petite female Olympic hopefuls?
More drama-rama at the chalk bin! Kaylie confronts Jordan, who predictably wants her to drop it. She admits that the first time she told someone, her then-foster parents, they blew it off. Honestly, I don’t have an issue with a sex abuse plotline since I can easily believe it goes on in gymnastics (Jennifer Sey even alluded to it in her book Chalked Up), but this is so Afterschool Special in its execution, that I’m just sitting here watching as they check off a “sex abuse plotline 101” checklist.
Coach Pervomatic shows up during practice, and Wendy immediately runs over to hug him. Coach M takes him aside and tells him to leave his gym. Coach Pervo refuses, so Coach M totally punches him. YES! It’s not a season finale until someone gets punched. Ryan Atwood would be proud. Later, Coach M goes to Regina about Coach Pervo, but Regina’s hands are tied.
Back at the dorm, Payson and Kaylie talk about the situation. Payson suggests using social media to find out if Coach Pedobear has any other victims. We see a shot of her laptop, where she’s on a facebook knockoff called “social lounge.” I can see it now. “Payson Keeler wrote on your wall: Hey! What’s up? By the way, Coach Keegan is a pervert. Hit me back if he touched you in your nono place!”
Catching up with Lauren, she’s been practicing with her heart monitor but has yet to make it through a full routine without 5 spikes. And this is a typical MIOBI routine, a few skills and a dismount. Later on, Jake presents her with a bedraggled bouquet of flowers that looks like he snatched them from a cemetery. They exchange banter and Jake tries to get a kiss out of her, but Lauren quips, “Only gold medal winners get kisses.” This would be news to Creepy Carter, I think. Has that joker ever won a medal in anything other than douchebaggery? Man am I glad he’s gone.
That evening, Payson and Rico Suave head to a salsa club. Because it totally makes sense to go party up on the eve of Olympic Trials. To the writers’ credit, Rico Suave does point this out, but Payson reasons that ballet lessons really helped her before, so why wouldn’t this? Yeah, somehow I don’t think that’s quite the same thing. But I guess the show wanted a Center Stage-esque scene of sassy salsa dancing, so make it so!
Later that night, Payson and Kaylie (and Wendy, but she goes back to sleep) are awakened by a ping on Payson’s laptop. It is the first of many, and Payson and Kaylie wander out into the darkened common room like a scene from an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Guys! Splash some water on Wendy! I bet it’ll kill her! So the pings are all replies to Payson’s inquiries about Coach Pervo. What is it, 3am? I get that some of these girls are probably on different time zones, but I find it strange that all those notifs are showing up in the middle of the night. Maybe “social lounge” was having some kind of software malfunction? Anyway Jordan shows up and breaks down at the sight of all these messages. Meanwhile, the hashtag “#notalone” shows up on the screen. I guess it’s the 2010s version of PSAs at the end of a Very Special Episode.
So Jordan’s abuse plotline wraps up in a brief montage of the events leading up to the arrest—the girls talking to Coach M, then to some lawyers, etc. In reality, these kinds of cases can drag on for weeks—they certainly don’t wrap up neat and tidy within a day, as depicted on this show. Even if every girl who answered Payson’s inquiry comes forward, the police still have to investigate, and due process still needs to be carried out. Not to mention the emotional anguish that Jordan must feel rehashing all this on the eve of Olympic Trials.
But hey, we’re on the last episode and we have other things to worry about. Let’s move on!
Now that Coach Pedo is gone, it’s time for another creepy and inappropriate coach to show up. At the gym that night Payson shows off her new floor routine to Rico Suave. Completely unsupervised, of course (unless you count Rico Suave). Unlike Jake, Rico Suave knows shit all about gymnastics. Guess he doesn’t really admire you, Payson! Sasha shows up looking greasier than ever (literally, his hair is all slicked back with enough grease to polish a chrome bumper). He kicks Rico Suave out of the gym before getting down to business with Payson’s routine. Nope, not creepy at all.
Kaylie’s drug tests come back and surprise surprise, she tests positive for a banned substance! Sean Maher’s also back and his character is a complete dick. He cites Kaylie’s past with an eating disorder and insinuates she was using the drug as a diet aid. Damn Sean, you are one Bitter Betty that your career seems to have flatlined with Firefly.
Coach M gathers the girls together and gives an Inspiring Speech, which includes this line: “A lot’s happened in the past 24 hours.” File that under “Sherlock, No Shit.” He also utters the line, “Your bodies are ready” which now has only one association for me:
Yeah, I don’t think that’s quite what he meant. Though on this show you never know.
Lauren gets the bright idea to find Otis, thinking he might bring Kaylie luck. Kaylie thinks this is every bit as stupid as we do but goes along with it, and Lauren’s so excited it’s kind of endearing. She deduces that there’s only one place at camp where the flowers that Jake got her grow (and it’s not a cemetery), and that Otis must be there. She leads the girls to a large fountain and sure enough, they find Otis buried under the rocks. Kaylie however, has humored them long enough and skulks back to her room to cry.
I honestly don’t understand why Kaylie has just accepted her disqualification when she knows she hasn’t been doping up, especially after all her inspiring speeches to KP and Jordan about never giving up and inner strength and whatnot. Kaylie’s family and friends seem far more invested in fighting for her than she does. At this point I kind of think she deserves to go home. But then I guess then Austin couldn’t show up, apologize for his epic douchehood, and give her an Inspiring Speech. I’m getting really f’ing tired of these girls’ characterizations being sacrificed for the sake of some male love interest. Emily fights against every ridiculous improbable tragedy thrown at her only to get knocked up by Damon and flee. Lauren gets slut-shamed for nearly two entire seasons, because clearly a badass bitch who knows what she wants has to believe she has no worth in a relationship other than sex. A supposedly career-ending injury can’t shake Payson’s slavish dedication to gymnastics, but a new boyfriend sure can!* Finally Kaylie, who’s been a rock for everyone else (no pun intended) completely self-destructs because her douchebag boyfriend takes out his insecurities on her. Congrats, ABC Family, you’re doing a great job with teen relationships!
*For what it’s worth, I do think the Payson/Rico Suave relationship is surprisingly healthy and functional for this show, but I have pointed out on several occasions that she’s been behaving as flakily and irresponsibly, career-wise, as her training mates have for the sake of it.
Meanwhile, the remaining Rockettes and Jordan threaten to boycott trials if they doesn’t let Kaylie compete. Sean Maher makes this great face that I imagine pretty much anyone in the real world would if gymnasts tried to pull this tomfoolery. Coach M stands behind the girls, calling them the “greatest team ever.” OK, Coach M.
Finally we’re at the trials. The women’s gymnastics team (I don’t know why the announcer refers to them as such, since the team has yet to actually be picked) triumphantly enters with Otis. I just love how bored some of these extras in the audience look. Apparently the boycott worked because Kaylie is competing, despite failing the drug test fair and square (even though she was set up, she still has the drugs in her system nonetheless). Just before Kaylie goes up to vault, KP shows up at the end of the vault runway to support Kaylie. Now, I am all for a reunion of these star-crossed lovers, but most gymnastics competitions have regulations that generally forbid anyone other than athletes, coaches, staff, and cameramen to be on the floor during competition. But I forgot, it’s MIOBI world, where security at gymnastics competitions is about on par with a K-pop concert.
In fact, I’m going to take this moment to bitch that I really wish it had been KP who showed up and talked Kaylie into fighting for her spot in the trials. It would be easy to accept her showing up a day or two early in order to catch up with her former training mates, and there would’ve been a nice symmetry to the pep talk Kaylie gave her at eliminations. Hell, even Jordan would’ve been a better choice to get Kaylie back on track than freaking Austin. Ugghghhhh.
OK so the Rockettes’ stunt doubles nail their routines, of course (for what it’s worth, Wendy’s does as well). Lauren makes it through her beam routine before hitting five spikes, and I have to ask what this means about her other routines. Is she trying out only as a beam specialist? Still, even specialists will usually be called upon to perform more than one event during team competition. I find it hard to believe Lauren only has to perform one event at trials. I also wonder if Lauren will still need the heart monitor to compete in London, provided she makes the team (um, who am I kidding? It’s MIOBI. Of course she makes the team). Furthermore, wouldn’t she have to keep training after trials are over?
Oh I forgot, she can train with her mind.
Lauren, our resident plucky girl detective, has been noticing Wendy’s suspicious behavior throughout the competition—mainly, her death-glares at Kaylie and catty remarks. Lauren confronts Wendy, who of course tries to play innocent, but inadvertently blurts out the substance that Kaylie was busted for. Lauren has this great “A-ha!” moment and, during Wendy’s beam routine, runs back to the dorm to comb Wendy’s room for evidence. She locates the envelope and website where Wendy ordered the drugs. Gotcha!
Back at trials, Payson is having a talk with her Dad, hemming and hawing over whether or not she should do her new routine. Kind of late for that, wouldn’t you say? Pa Keeler gives her a talk about how Keelers always “play it safe” and maybe it’s time to take a risk. So Payson goes up to the judges’ table and hands Coach M a CD with her new music. Coach M basically reacts like, “Guuuurl, are you serious?” Now, I know that judges already know what to expect from a gymnast’s routine before she performs it. At least, they know what skills are in it. I highly doubt a competition, especially one at this level, would allow a routine change this late in the game.
But whatever, it makes for good cheesy drama.
The next scene is just so amazing I don’t even think my recap can do it justice. Have all y’all seen Center Stage a.k.a. one of the greatest ‘90s teen movies? Well, quick—go watch it and then read the rest of this recap. Done? OK good. Tell me if you see some similarities here.
OK so I am not crying “plagiarism!” or anything like that, but the blatant cliché recycling is pretty hilarious to me. I’m kind of disappointed that there were no breakaway leos or simulated gymnastics!sex, but if Payson could perform with a partner, I’m fairly confident there would’ve been.
Also do I even have to mention the whole music with words not being allowed at the Olympics? Oh, I guess I mentioned it.
So it’s over, and the judges are conferring in Coach M’s office. So far, the final team consists of Jordan, Kaylie, Wendy, Payson, and some stranger bitch. In the meantime, blood tests are being conducted on Kaylie when Lauren bursts in with her evidence, declaring triumphantly, “It was that little bitch Wendy!”
You know how I was so pleased that S3 had saved us from another painful adult character “romance?” Well, I spoke too soon.
Basically this scene was for the Sasha/Summer shippers (I guess some might exist). The most amusing part of it to me was when Sasha listed “Emily” among his regrets. He just said a mouthful there.
Meanwhile Regina, whatever Sean Maher’s character’s name is, Coach M, Lauren, Wendy, and Kaylie are all in a room going over Lauren’s allegations. Lauren tries to grab Wendy’s gym bag and for a moment I was hoping for a catfight. It would’ve added some glorious drama to this already drama-rama finale! Sadly, Coach M intervenes. Lauren finds the lip gloss tube (because a criminal mastermind always keeps the evidence conveniently in her gym bag!) and hands it victoriously over to Coach M.
So now it’s time to announce the final team. Coach M announces the names and there are these hilarious reaction snapshots like a beauty pageant or the Spring Fling queen nominations in Mean Girls.
So the final team lineup is the same as it was before, only without Wendy and with Lauren. And while they’re all in their warm-up pants for the announcement, the photos are taken in just their leos and warm-up jackets. Payson looks hilariously out of place next to the rest of them in that ridiculous outfit. Got to love this show.
And there you have it! I know there are fans who wished we could’ve seen the MIOBI version of the Olympics. While I’m sure that might’ve been fun, in a way, I’m glad it ended this way, mostly because there will be enough drama and fuckery at the actual Olympics.
Thus ends my final MIOBI recap. My only regret is that we weren’t allowed to a proper goodbye for the most important character of the season, Juan Pablo the bunny. Juan Pablo, we barely knew ye.
So thank you MIOBI, for three years of lulz, my trainwreck syndrome for recapping this lulz, and you, dear readers, for experiencing said lulz with me. It’s been a pleasure. And on that note, I bid you all good night.