Though the East High Wildcats may seem to be able to resolve anything with a musical number, the sixth episode of the second season of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” demonstrates that perception is not always reality.
The East High students find themselves in a panic after watching North High’s promotional video for their production of “Beauty and the Beast,” in which it is revealed that Lily (Olivia Rose Keegan) is both a co-director and the star of the show. Ashlyn (Julia Lester) is especially stressed, as she is overtly aware that her performance as Belle will be compared to Lily’s at North High. But Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) plans for the Wildcats to outshine North High through maintaining the emotional integrity of their characters, something she hopes to accomplish through a weekend acting intensive.
The East High theater kids do have one trick up their sleeve: Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) is in the show now! But instead of taking over someone else’s part, she will be playing the Beast’s rose. Utilizing Nini’s immaculate songwriting skills, Miss Jenn sends her away from the workshop to focus on crafting a duet between the Beast and the rose. Though Ricky (Joshua Bassett) can’t stand the thought of them being apart, Nini takes off to the pizza shop to get to work.
Instead of crafting quirky rose metaphors, Nini finds herself with a major case of writer’s block, leading to her involvement in Kourtney’s (Dara Reneé) love life. Having witnessed Kourtney and Howie’s (Roman Banks) flirting firsthand, Nini persuades Kourtney to finally ask him out. Following many cringeworthy Harry Potter references, the two finally admit their feelings for each other.
Meanwhile, Miss Jenn and Ricky’s father (Alex Quijano) have a romantic first date in her office. Although the pair’s relationship seems to be thriving, Miss Jenn ultimately decides to end it once she realizes how much it has affected Ricky’s emotional well-being. Though Ricky later apologizes for his outbursts during the acting intensive, his conversation with Miss Jenn exposes his fear of change, something exemplified throughout the episode in his interactions with Nini.
Gina’s (Sofia Wylie) inner turmoil similarly disrupts the acting workshop. The fifth episode revealed that Gina wishes to return to her mother who travels for work. Having lived with Ashlyn for the semester, Gina finally admits to her that she is planning to return to her mother in Louisiana. Upon hearing the news, Ashlyn apologizes for her flaws as a roommate, leading to Gina’s confession regarding her true motivation to move. In a flashback from the first season, it is revealed that Gina openly admitted her feelings to Ricky on the opening night of their performance of “High School Musical.”
However, Gina stayed at East High and Ricky rekindled his relationship with Nini, leading to awkward unresolved tension that has convinced Gina to depart from the drama. This decision distresses Ashlyn who, having connected with Gina, does everything in her power to make Gina stay. In typical “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” fashion, her persuasion comes in the form of a song from “Beauty and the Beast” entitled “Home.” Gina embraces Ashlyn in tears and, given their interaction, it seems Gina may be staying with East High after all.
In the theater, Nini’s frustration with Ricky’s clingy behavior roots itself in her original song for their production of “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Rose Song.” Written by Rodrigo herself, the song is meant to represent the Beast’s relationship with his rose, but instead, it highlights Nini’s frustration with Ricky’s idealization of her. The song adequately puts the strength of their relationship in question, something further exemplified when Nini tells Kourtney over the phone not to tell Ricky about the song.
But when Nini finishes rehearsing, it is revealed that Carlos (Frankie Rodriguez) has been recording “The Rose Song” the entire time. Considering how enthusiastic Carlos is to outshine the competition, it is almost certain that this video may get out to threaten North High. Or, at the very least, accidentally interfere with Ricky and Nini’s relationship. After all, it wouldn’t be East High without drama in the drama department.