High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 2 Episode 11, “Showtime,” is a fast-paced, stressful episode that tees up an eventful and optimistically successful season finale. The character beats in “Showtime” are ones to remember. They’re perfect reminders as to what all of this has been leading up to and why. The Wildcats are dealing with micro and macro changes, transformations even, alongside Belle and Beast (and the rest of the ensemble) in Beauty and the Beast.
“Showtime” completely sidesteps some of the cliffhangers from prior episodes in an active decision to leave them for the season finale. All of this is in favor of living in the moment with the Wildcats as they put on the show of their high-school career to impress a Menkies judge. The cast and crew of HSMTMTS do such a great job with every costume and each piece of the impressive sets on stage that it’s easy to slip into this world with them. It’s easy to assume the stressors surrounding such a pivotal performance because the stakes are believable for these kids and for Miss Jenn.
Season 2 started off rocky, but there’s no doubt that HSMTMTS won’t stick the landing next week. “Showtime” makes us lean into the chaos and the nerves so when that “To Be Continued…” fades into black, we are clamoring for a time machine to get us to next Friday. It’s a fantastic tool that proves how confident HSMTMTS is in our investment in not only the success of East High’s Beauty and the Beast but that the Wildcats themselves.
There’s No Going Back for North High
Lily’s weird phone call during HSTMTMTS 2×10, “The Transformation,” suddenly makes a lot more sense, but not for the betterment of her character. The events of “Showtime” pull back the curtain of her ruse and reveal her to be more villainous than Ricky chooses to believe. This week’s episode doubles down on Lily’s more maniacal tendencies through a convincing performance by Olivia Rose Keegan. It’s so convincing that at times it’s easy to second guess whether she should be trusted.
There are brief moments when she speaks to Ricky that Lily seems too genuine to be faking anything. If her interest in Ricky is feigned, her advice about getting through her parents’ separation can’t be. It can’t be because it’s difficult to believe the worst about this girl. She’s just a kid, and while winning the Menkies and shining at North Star is all that matters to her now, Lily has room to improve. It would be ridiculous to condemn her to a life of villainy when the “role models” in her life have no problem stealing Beast’s mask from the rival school.
It may be naive to believe that Zach put Lily (and Howie) up to sabotaging East High’s production because Lily may be the mastermind behind everything. It’s actually worse, for her sake, to believe that such an influential person in her life would use her as a pawn to destroy his competition. Assuming Lily is going to be around on HSMTMTS much longer than Derek Hough’s Zack, the journey Lily could go on from antagonist to ally is far more exciting than for Zack in the same light.
Regardless of where things go with Lily, it’s a shame that she uses Ricky’s kindness and vulnerability against him. The situation gets even worse by Howie being wrapped up in it, too. Ricky’s dilemma is interesting because he doesn’t know how Lily is playing him or that she stole the harness. There’s a great chance that they’ll become closer as friends before Ricky knows the truth.
Howie, on the other hand, is on his second chance with Kourtney. He’s not as good of an actor as Lily, and his attempt to distract Kourtney came across as disinterest instead. After everything, it’s hard to imagine a world where Kourtney will be quick to forgive him for that. He almost made her doubt herself and then he aided someone in sabotaging East High’s production. Either side of that coin doesn’t bode well for the future of Kourtney and Howie.
Miss Jenn Reaches a Breaking Point
Miss Jenn reaches a breaking point during “Showtime” which is a long time coming. She’s been putting everything, every drop of energy into this show. It would be absurd if she didn’t crack a little bit. There is so much pressure on her shoulders, and Benjamin notices all of that and tries to get her to take a second to breathe. Thankfully, HSMTMTS handles Miss Jenn’s outburst with the concern and severity it does. She is going through an immense amount of stress, but she should never speak to her students in such a way. Furthermore, it’s clear the second Miss Jenn stops speaking that she knows what she did is wrong. She knows she went too far.
The best thing about moments like these is that depending on the script and the actor a breaking point can also be a breakthrough. Kate Reinders leaves it all on the stage in that moment, and there’s no denying that this is a breakthrough for Miss Jenn. Things will be different now because she knows she can’t ever cross that line again. There’s also a bit of her that likely feels as though she will need to win back the respect and trust of the kids, especially Ricky. This could complicate an already complicated dynamic.
Miss Jenn will have Mr. Mazzara through all of that, though. I have resisted any romantic tension between the two of them because there wasn’t enough of Mr. Mazzara until about halfway through this season. He was too distant last season, but the Wildcats and Miss Jenn have won him over. Now, he’s in this with them, with Miss Jenn. I’m not sure what his mysterious phone call has to do with the grand scheme of things, but I do know that he’ll be there for Miss Jenn when she finally admits that she needs someone to talk to someone about something other than the next East High show.
Gina Gets a Surprise
In case you didn’t know, HSMTMTS is collecting Evan Hansens from Dear Evan Hansen like their Infinity Stones. They already have Roman Banks as Howie and Andrew Barth Feldman as Antoine. Now, they get to add Jordan Fisher as Gina’s big brother Jamie to the list. Fisher’s career is skyrocketing always but especially right now. Just this week, he was on The Flash and HSMTMTS. His appearance on “Showtime” all started with a tweet appreciating the show, which is an inspiring story within itself. Gina first mentions her brother on HSTMTMTS Season 2 Episode 9, “Spring Break,” and now he’s here!
Jordan Fisher is so genuine that he grounds Jamie in a way that this character is new but doesn’t feel like a stranger to Gina or to us. Even though Jamie is there to try and make up for lost time, the jokes about their heights and their mom’s mantra make it feel like no time has passed at all. Jamie is filled with pride as he looks on at his little sister. Jordan Fisher plays that moment with such depth that it looks like Jamie is almost afraid of his love for Gina and her love for him like it wouldn’t be enough. But it is. He showed up for her when she needed someone.
Then, HSMTMTS outdoes itself even more by having Gina go on stage during “Something There” to see EJ supporting her in the wings. The looks those two share during that song are enough to make anyone grin from ear to ear. It’s a cherry on top of the already amazing sundae that “Something There” basically encapsulates their relationship up til now. It’s all so perfect that you know something, somewhere has to pop their bubble and let them fall back down to Earth. It would be too easy for them to get to live in this bliss for a little while longer.
Enter: Jamie, again. Why only have Jordan Fisher around for just one scene when he can stir up drama in another? Jamie leaves the showing early as a proud brother, but he waits in the hallway as a protective one. It feels disingenuous to believe that Jamie would try to wreck Gina’s happiness more than he has in the past by leaving her so often. So I choose to believe that’s not what Jamie is doing by talking to EJ. Instead, I choose to believe this is Jamie wanting to shield Gina from the heartbreak that he, as an older brother, knows will eventually come from a relationship.
This is the most logical conclusion because Jamie says, “I suppose sometimes the family that you choose is better than the one you get.” Jamie doesn’t want Gina to lose anyone else like the way she lost him and their mom to life and work. He can see that her found family is better than what he can offer her right now. Jamie’s attempts to shield her from that heartbreak later is only preventing her from basking in the joy that comes with being in love now. It’s disheartening that Jamie sees how special EJ thinks Gina is and still goes through with his declaration of EJ being “a big brother” figure in her life.
It stings so much more after EJ admits to being starstruck in meeting Jamie, not because of his job, but because he’s related to Gina. Then, Matt Cornett breaks all the hearts with the look on his face when EJ asks if that’s what Gina said about him. But, Portwell fans, don’t get too disheartened just yet. That “To Be Continued…” has to do with Gina and EJ’s story as much as it has to do with everyone else’s. That means there’s still time for that risotto date and maybe even Gina’s first kiss.
Jamie may want to protect her from the hardships of love, but Gina can still choose to be happy with a guy who genuinely likes her back. I have to believe there’s a happy ending waiting for Portwell at the end of all of this. Because even the Wildcats deserve some joy after the last year.
Other Fabulous Moments:
- Nini hyping everyone up backstage is so sweet.
- Kourtney’s mom brining binoculurs so she could see both Kourtney and Nini makes my heart grow three sizes.
- The Wildcats’ good luck notes is such a sweet gesture.
- Ricky and Ashlyn only spraining their wrists after that fall is lucky.
- “It’s not a favor. It’s just doing what you can.” – Mr. Mazzara to EJ
- Ricky’s dad calling him “Rick” sounds silly. Everyone on this show has too many nicknames.
- Mr. Mazzara doing the voiceover for Beauty and the Beast is an excellent choice.
- Howie’s face while he watched Kourtney on stage makes me want to root for them in spite of everything.
- Nini giving Kourtney a pep talk that recenters the spotlight on them and not the boys in their lives is my new favorite thing.
- Seb knowing exactly what’s on Carlos’ mind is relationship goals.
- “The orchestra hasn’t vamped this much since Bop To The Top” – Carlos
What did you think of HSMTMTS “Showtime?” Let us know in the comments below!
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