High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 2 Episode 7, “The Field Trip,” is packed with shocking moments that make up for where the music lacks. Unfortunately, this episode takes a step back from the caliber of music given to us in HSMTMTS Season 2 Episode 6, “Yes, And.” The songs don’t add anything new to the story, but the dynamics within the numbers are fun enough to keep our attention.
East High vs. North High
Though, once again, sharpening the dynamics that make HSMTMTS work makes it very obvious which ones don’t. While it’s evident that some of the awkwardness and discomfort are supposed to be present within some relationships, it doesn’t need to be with others. For example, the drama between Ashlyn and Big Red is entirely forced next to Miss Jenn and Zack or Ricky and Nini.
Ashlyn and Big Red haven’t had nearly enough on-screen development as a couple (or individual characters on Big Red’s part) to make this drama feel like it has any real stakes. Antonine follows in Lily’s footsteps to turn the Wildcats against each other, making it feel even more useless. The end of the episode plays it off as though Ashlyn sees more humor in the situation because she knows she only has eyes for Big Red. It’s Big Red who seems to carry this with him as he leaves North High, but why?
There’s no reason for this shift in their dynamic to cause a rift in the Wildcats. That’s already happening with Nini and Ricky. That’s enough because HSMTMTS goes out of its way to make Rini the core of the Wildcats. If anything, this tension between Ashlyn and Big Red is a means to earn that between East High and North High more apparent.
Since the schools haven’t interacted much since Lily left East High, this episode has to bring a lot of that to the surface. We’re more than halfway through the season, so we’re more than halfway to the Menken Awards. Even if the Wildcats lose, they’ll find a way to carry on. It’s the Hornets who thrive on competition, and HSMTMTS hasn’t given us a reason to believe they could bounce back in the same way. That’s why they’re going for the one thing East High has that they don’t, not Nini’s songwriting abilities but the found family the Wildcats have.
There’s a New Beast in Town
It is unfortunate that HSMTMTS only brings in the Hornets now instead of earlier to prove they’ve been pulling strings all along. Their very Camp Rock vs. Camp Star showdown is entertaining and undoubtedly a creative use of a classic Beauty and the Beast song. It doesn’t pack as big of a punch as Howie revealing himself as North High’s Beast.
This twist is one domino that Lily and North High didn’t set up, and it’s the most unexpected twist in “The Field Trip.” It’s also smart of HSMTMTS to have that incessant ringtone be more than just that. It tees up many hilarious lines expertly delivered by Frankie A. Rodriguez, but nothing matches Dara Reneé‘s face when Kourtney learns the truth.
This is the kind of drama that works because it feels like a natural twist in the story. It feeds into Kourtney’s doubts about relationships, and it adds more to Howie, who has yet to see a lot on screen. This reveal turns a tide on HSMTMTS this season that could cause the Hornets to fall apart a bit and the Wildcats to grow even closer. You can see that already when Kourtney turns away from Howie and right into Nini’s arms. Their friendship is such a bright spot an already shining show.
From what we’ve seen so far, it’s difficult to believe that Howie won’t harbor some guilt and regrets for his actions or lack thereof regarding this secret. It could push him to resign from the production or not give it his all, causing Lily to wreak even more havoc to get that win. That could take us deeper into North High to learn more about their dynamics’ inner workings and what winning means for each of them.
Old Flames Have Burned Out
Zack Roy is all about winning because he doesn’t have a life outside of that. As simplistic as that is, it’s nice that HSMTMTS doesn’t make him entirely likable. There isn’t much there, but Derek Hough‘s talents make Miss Jenn (and us) do a double-take. He’s the “villain” of this story because he’s the one who stole the Beast mask. He’s the one fueling the flames between the schools rather than encouraging healthy competition like Miss Jenn tries to do.
Derek Hough is fun in this role because it’s always harder not to trust someone when they say all the right things and can sing and dance. Though, it’s more telling to listen to what Zack doesn’t say. Their duet “Around You” doesn’t add much to their dynamic. The lyrics are more of what we already know, which doesn’t make it a standout number this season, but it does prove the arm’s length Zack wants to keep Miss Jenn at for the time being.
There’s never a time when it feels possible that Miss Jenn and Zack could rekindle their romance, but there is a moment when something shifts with Miss Jenn. Zack disguises his motives in one hell of a misdirect with that musical number, but Miss Jenn awakens to the hard truth that he can’t be trusted when she finds that Beast mask. We didn’t get a rendition of “I Don’t Dance” during “The Field Trip,” and it likely won’t happen in the upcoming episodes because Miss Jenn won’t dance with the enemy after that.
Co-Anchors, Fake Dating, Yes Please
Sofia Wylie and Matt Cornett go from sprinkling in little moments for Portwell fans to discover to outright making our hearts swell during “The Field Trip.” If Season 2 of HSMTMTS isn’t leading to these two as a couple, that’s fine, we’ll buckle up for whatever journey awaits us, but we will be a little disappointed.
Are we not supposed to shriek when EJ swoops in to be not only Gina’s fake date but a fake boyfriend? This fake dating thing is different this time around. They’re better at it now, which could have something to do with how real feelings are involved. You can see this, on EJ’s behalf, by how he’s always standing near her and complimenting her. It’s so lovely to see EJ fall for Gina first because it’s going to be fantastic to watch those feelings sink in for Gina.
The most obvious sign of where HSMTMTS is going with EJ and Gina comes at the very end of “The Field Trip.” The Wildcats leave North High in pairs. Ricky and Nini are first, then Gina and EJ, and finally, Ashlyn and Big Red. There’s some actual conflict happening with Ricky and Nini. HSMTMTS is trying to make that the case for Big Red and Ashlyn. As for Gina and EJ, they’re happy. There’s no drama. EJ makes Gina genuinely laugh and smile more than we’ve seen all season.
Why would the show put Gina and EJ between two established couples if not to foreshadow that status for them as well? Gina is still working through her feelings for Ricky. It’s refreshing that HSMTMTS hasn’t moved on from this to advance a relationship with EJ before she’s ready. Until then, the show makes it clear that EJ is willing to drop as many hints as he has to, and he’ll wait for her. For now, EJ seems incredibly happy just making Gina smile and laugh. How are we supposed to not ship Portwell after that?
It’s Nice to Meet You, Nina
Things between Ricky and Nini reach a boiling point during “The Field Trip.” Regardless of Lily’s interactions, Ricky says things that he can’t take back. Ricky can’t be in a relationship until he heals himself first. Many changes in his life have caused him significant pain, and he can’t make Nini the glue for everything. That’s not fair to her or their relationship.
Nini’s introducing herself to her music-centric Instagram page (!!!) as Nina instead of Nini is the biggest, flashing sign that things are forever changed between the couple. Nina no longer feels comfortable going by the nickname Ricky gave her when they were kids. She’s different now; they’re different now.
Nina is ready to move forward and do things for herself, and she can’t do that if Ricky doesn’t trust her. Nina deserves to succeed on her own terms, and she’s doing that now.
That’s not hers to bear, and deciding to go by Nina again is symbolic of Nina letting go of that weight. Ricky keeps avoiding a challenging conversation that needs to happen sooner rather than later. For Nina and Ricky to ever have a fair chance in the future, they need to make a difficult decision that will be best for both of them.
Now, that appears to be letting go of what’s holding each of them back so that they can be better for themselves and then, eventually, be better together. That journey won’t be easy for either Ricky or Nina because there is so much love there, but hopefully, they’ll be better for it in the end.
Other Fabulous Moments:
- I’m so proud of EJ for being head of the AV Club.
- Of course, Nini’s video of “The Rose Song” went viral!
- “I built you some abs that would make Captain America proud.” – Kourtney to EJ
- All of the Marvel references being attached to EJ makes me love him more.
- EJ thanking Kourtney for giving his Gaston costume a padded tush is so sweet.
- “Are they a witch?” – Carlos
- I’m glad they brought the “What team? Wildcats!” back.
- EJ and Gina laughing about Ashlyn’s Diane disguise are the breadcrumbs I live for on HSMTMTS.
- I gasped when Antoine said, “fugly.” I didn’t know they could say that on Disney+.
- “Oh, yeah. What if we bop to the top?” – Seb
- “I assume it’s that dashing young man who looks like Tom Holland on stilts.” – Antoine to Ashlyn about Ricky
- I loved when the Wildcats poked fun at EJ for not having a sports metaphor ready when they needed it.
What did you think of HSMTMTS “The Field Trip?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series drop weekly on Disney+!