It’s the night of nights as the Wildcats have a night to remember at Camp Shallow Lake in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series 3×07, “Camp Prom.” The characters take big swings in their personal lives on the eve of the performance that could transform their professional ones. And the penultimate episode turns up the heat on and off the dance floor.
“Camp Prom” introduces JoJo Siwa as Madison and welcomes back Joe Serafini as Seb. With Siwa, HSMTMTS exemplifies how well it knows its target audience. Siwa is widely popular with people of all ages — especially Gen Z. Also, Siwa holds cultural significance as a multi-hyphenate who proudly embraces being a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Community is one of HSMTMTS‘ biggest themes, and it shines throughout most of “Camp Prom.” It’s fitting to reinforce the Wildcat’s family ahead of the Frozen show. Before the more prominent examples, like the girls rallying around Kourtney while the guys do the same for Carlos, the show finds quieter beats to bake that theme into the episode.
One of the best examples comes from Frankie Rodriguez and Julia Lester when Carlos gifts Ashlyn a pride pin to welcome her to the LGBTQ+ community. Ashlyn’s sexuality is never a topic of debate, and rightfully so; it’s entirely normalized within the narrative and amongst the characters. HSMTMTS creates an undeniably supportive environment for her.
“Camp Prom” does the same for Carlos as it peels back the layers of his self-confidence struggles he spoke with Miss Jenn about in HSMTMTS 3×06, “Color War.” The setting of the camp prom and the return of Seb play as emotionally similar to when Carlos felt comfortable enough to dance by himself in Season 1.
Though the scenes aren’t a 1-to-1 comparison, their similarities confirm how complex and non-linear self-confidence is as a teenager. HSMTMTS examines that ever-evolving journey through multiple characters’ perspectives. It’s clever to pair that narrative with the original song “Here I Come,” which Dara Reneé impressively co-wrote for the show.
So, “Camp Prom” brings more originality to the series that fosters the talent of its young stars, but it also continues down its tried and true path of recontextualizing beloved scenes and songs from Disney Channel Original movies. The entire episode pays homage to High School Musical 3: Senior Year — look no further than EJ’s outfit and dance move!
Furthermore, Camp Shallow Lake brings more of Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam to the party with a performance of “Wouldn’t Change a Thing” that subverts expectations. With the trajectory of the love triangle, it’s easy to assume HSMTMTS will give EJ, Gina, and Ricky at least one of Camp Rock and HSM‘s romantic ballads. Instead, it goes to Jet and Maddox.
There’s a high probability that Jet and Maddox won’t return to Utah with the rest of the Wildcats for Season 4, and the high stakes of the season finale likely won’t leave much room for a resolution to their arcs. So, “Camp Prom” brings closure through Jet’s grand gesture and the Camp Rock 2 song, and the lyrics couldn’t work better for the pair.
Equally so, the little bit of the song that Carlos and Seb duet sparks so much joy; it’s a reminder of how missed Serafini as Seb has been this season. Even the smaller comedic beats with Seb play as if no time has passed, like Seb dressing as a 70-year-old because that’s how he interprets the theme. The dig at Quibi is just as silly and wonderful.
As it turns out, Seb’s comedic timing becomes even more necessary when “Camp Prom” channels one of the HSM franchise’s best songs — even though no one sings it. Gina and EJ get the “Gotta Go My Own Way” treatment when Gina breaks up with EJ; their conversation and situation are very similar to that of Gabriella and Troy in HSM 2.
Sadly, Gina and EJ’s breakup is inevitable after their inability to hold a conversation in HSMTMTS 3×06, “Color War.” The narrative continues to point to an eventual romantic relationship between Gina and Ricky, so Gina and EJ’s relationship ending isn’t surprising. The unfortunate aspect is that EJ and Gina’s relationship is too abrupt.
HSMTMTS never effectively showcases the “great” portion of their summer that EJ brings up to salvage their relationship. There’s a bit of it in 3×01, “Happy Campers,” but not enough to sustain a belief that EJ and Gina work as a couple. The time jump between their first kiss and the Season 3 premiere skips to the pair painfully struggling to communicate.
That disconnect starkly juxtaposes the development Gina and EJ experience in Season 2 when they discuss their fears and heal from their heartbreak together. That season shows how good they would be as a couple, setting up their relationship for Season 3. All of that falls apart too quickly, especially considering camp takes place over two weeks.
Gina argues that it’s because she and EJ are in different phases of their lives, which is a standard conflict for YA couples in their position. However, their breakup is the most they communicate about that topic the entire season, and still, it feels disjointed. It’s as though they aren’t hearing each other, despite their fine-tuned ability to do so last season.
It’s challenging to reconcile with that extreme shift, especially because much of what EJ does this season is for his relationship with Gina. Their breakup is tough to watch; Sofia Wylie and Matt Cornett always work so well together. But, as bittersweet and strange, Portwell’s end in “Camp Prom” may be the best thing for all involved with the love triangle.
With one episode left, there’s still a chance that EJ and Gina can rekindle their relationship, a la HSM 2‘s “Everyday.” It wouldn’t be shocking for Ricky to do what he can to make Gina happy, like help her fix things with EJ. Ricky even avoids telling Gina how he feels because he knows the timing isn’t right, even though the doc’s trailer would be worse timing.
That decision has to be scary (A win for the bucket list?) because Ricky actively lets Gina slip through his fingers again. However, how it parallels Olaf’s line to Anna from Frozen, “Love is putting someone else’s needs above your own,” bodes well for Rina’s future. Plus, the delay in Ricky’s confession also teases that it could be the Season 3 cliffhanger.
Regardless of whether Gina and EJ get back together, that cliffhanger will allow Gina to come back around to her feelings for Ricky on her own time — presumably in Season 4.
“Camp Prom” acknowledges Ricky and Gina’s compatibility and chemistry at multiple turns, including when Dewey Wood attempts to nip PDA in the bud while the pair affectionately look at each other. The writing is so finely on the wall that it would be odd for HSMTMTS never to explore a romance between Ricky and Gina.
No matter how it shakes out, this love triangle’s fallout will present a complicated future for all its participants next season. But, until then, HSMTMTS has enough on its hands with how the impending Frozen docu-series pans out for their personal and professional lives. There’s no pizza oven to burn the only copy of the production this time around.
The team must put their community in action to deliver their best show. Optimistically, the Wildcats will support EJ’s directorial vision more than they have. This penultimate episode questions if any of that will be entirely possible with all the behind-the-scenes (romantic) drama. Never count out any surprises on HSMTMTS. Buckle up, Wildcats!
Other Fabulous Moments:
- EJ and Maddox’s friendship is underrated.
- The joke about Madison not being able to dance despite JoJo Siwa being a great dancer shouldn’t have made me laugh as much as it did.
- “I’m still me. Just more.” Ashlyn, I love you.
- “Hey, we don’t do hazing here. Whatever makes you happy, okay?”
- Ricky enthusiastically telling some random person at the prom about how he got the role of Troy is so good.
- Seb taking the photo of Carlos is too sweet.
What did you think of HSMTMTS 3×07, “Camp Prom?” Let us know in the comments below!
New episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series premiere Wednesdays on Disney+!