High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 2 Episode 8, “Most Likely To,” is a turning point for basically every character. The dominos have been set up all season for HSMTMTS Season 2 Episode 7, “The Field Trip,” to know them down. “Most Likely To” is the emotional fallout of all of those stories, and for the most part, it sticks the landing. Everything feels like a meaningful progression of what comes before it.
The biggest grievance is that there isn’t enough time to spend with every character in this ensemble. Each character and their dynamics are so compelling that it’s frustrating not to see every corner of their stories explored. However, knowing that’s unlikely with the time constraints and an ensemble this large, “Most Likely To” succeeds at building the stakes of this season not on the competition waiting for them but the core relationships that mean the most.
A New Chapter for Rini
“Most Likely To” finally does what needs to be done by letting Ricky and Nini go their separate ways, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. It’s one of the most heartbreaking scenes on HSMTMTS so far. Nini asking Ricky, “Can I just hold you now?” broke me. Ricky whispering, “It’s okay. I’ve got you,” to Nini as they held each other shattered what was left of me.
Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett bring their A-game in every scene, making even the smallest beats feel charged. Their confrontation is long overdue, and it’s a good thing that it happens before they break up. It’s nice that HSMTMTS gives them the space to let those grievances out before the two of them sit down to have a much more difficult conversation. It wouldn’t feel right to have all of that hanging over them while they have to make such a hard decision because it’s so clear there is so much love there still.
It is tough to see Ricky and Nini break up so soon after getting together without having a real chance to be together. But it would be a great disservice to both of them to keep them together after everything. The way the events of Career Day intersects with Ricky and Nini is pretty fitting for where they should head for the rest of the season. Nini is independent, and she shouldn’t see that as a fault but a strength. She’s happy with the choices she’s making regarding her future, and she should lean into that.
It is concerning to hear Ricky interpret his results as having “no profitable skills” is harsh, but it works if HSMTMTS follows through with him. He’s angry, confused, and lost because so many aspects of his life are uprooted without his say. That’s a lot for any person to grapple with, let alone a teenager. Those changes are making not so great sides of him manifest themselves. It’s reassuring to hear him voice his disappointment in his actions and genuinely apologize to Nini. That feels like a necessary move for both of them to heal. It also makes me feel more confident that Ricky becoming more self-aware may mean that he’ll reach out for help.
It’s not a weakness to admit you need help when you’re struggling. However, HSMTMTS is geared towards a younger audience. Therefore, it could be beneficial for a younger generation to see their favorite character have a positive experience with therapy or other forms of help. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s never a bad time to remind people of that.
This Is What Dreams Are Made Of
HSMTMTS rebounds with the odd drama between Ashlyn and Big Red with a meaningful and relatable story about the fear of not being enough for the people you love the most. This story plays out much better than the forced relationship drama that came with adding Antoine to the mix during “The Field Trip.” If the series wanted to lead up to this doubt building in Big Red, it could have done so by developing his character on his own. There is no need to shoehorn Antoine into a stable relationship for the sake of drama when it still feels like we’re barely getting to know Big Red.
Ashlyn talks about Big Red’s epic tapdanced talent, which makes it all the more evident that he’s only actually tapdanced once outside of the mid-credits scenes. Big Red has an affinity to foodservice that is special to him, and Larry Saperstein sells it even though HSMTMTS hasn’t given him much of an opportunity to show it in other ways than him saying it. In that sense, it’s difficult to even fault Ashlyn for believing that Big Red has dreams of tap dancing in Paris. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to see Big Red be in his element at Salt Lake Slices more before “Most Likely To.” It would have added a lot more weight to these scenes.
Similarly, it would have been nice had everything with Kourtney and Howie be dragged out a little more. Their enemies-to-lovers trope is back into play now that Kourtney knows the truth about Howie being the Beast in North High’s production of Beauty and the Beast, which is fun. It’s also empowering to watch Kourtney voice her unwillingness to waver in her belief in herself. Plus, Howie’s grand gesture of singing “If I Can’t Love Her” is lovely.
I wish HSMTMTS had dedicated more time developing their relationship before we got to this place with them. Their back and forth is a lot of fun to watch, but it didn’t feel like it needed to get this intense yet. Kourtney’s motivations to keep her distance are believable and true to her character. That part of their scenes is terrific. Still, it hits the ear a little wrong to hear Howie so confidently say that Kourtney knows the real him when we don’t even know the real him yet. Hopefully, HSMTMTS can give us more Big Red and Howie before the end of the season to make all of this pay off more effectively.
Portwell Is a Gift
Every episode keeps getting better for Portwell shippers like us, and we could not be happier. “Most Likely To” points directly to one of the many reasons why this duo would work so well together. EJ’s whole life is planned to the most minor of details. Gina’s never been afforded that luxury, but she’s experienced the freedom that can sometimes come with not knowing what comes next. They have different lived experiences that allow them to bring different perspectives that challenge the other’s ideas. That’s some good framework for what could be a great ship.
Their smaller moments are adorable even when they don’t necessarily need to be. EJ’s talking head where’s so smitten about what could happen between him and EJ is heartwarming. It gets even better when Gina walks in on him talking and darts out of the room as if no one saw her. He even jokes with her about how she snorts when she laughs. It’s simply fabulous to see EJ and Gina be unabashedly happy, especially Gina.
Unfortunately, much of EJ’s growth has been via smaller moments that end up being the grandest of gestures, like buying Gina that plane ticket last season. However, it works in EJ’s favor to pair him with Gina this season, romantically or not. It fills in some of those gaps for EJ and lets Gina take a step back from the Ricky of it all. People need people, and people change people. EJ and Gina are changing each other for the better, and it’s a joy to watch.
EJ and Gina’s scene towards the end of the episode of Ashlyn also makes it obvious that EJ hasn’t opened up to anyone (besides Mr. Mazzara) about what’s going on with him lately. Gina keeps her cards close to her chest, too. Both lean on Ashlyn, but they found it just as easy to rely on each other. Their honest confessions about each other are spot on. EJ only sees his mistakes. Then Gina stops him by pointing out how incredible it is that he keeps trying to be a better guy. To make this moment even more romantic and fantastic, EJ follows that up by saying that Gina is one of the bravest people he knows. This is what ships are made of, people. If HSMTMTS doesn’t give us Portwell after all of this, then what was it all for?
Other Fabulous Moments:
- Maybe I’m starting to get on board Miss Jenn and Mr. Mazzara’s ship.
- It’s so good to see Larry Saperstein and Matt Cornett perform on the show. They crushed “Gaston!”
- I’m proud of EJ for standing up to his father.
- Seb trying to figure out how to keep his chin down and his head high is too funny.
- Roman Banks is ridiculously talented.
- I’ll never get tired of seeing Nini and Kourtney being the best of friends.
- EJ’s father having the name Cash Caswell is perfect.
- Ashlyn in the Salt Lake Slices shirt is very sweet. At least things ended well for them.
What did you think of HSMTMTS “Most Likely To?” Let us know in the comments below!
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