What began as a quirky television series inspired by the original “High School Musical” film trilogy has gradually become a painstaking descent into redundancy and chaos. The season finale of the second season of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” attempts to “bop to the top,” but given its messy and incoherent narrative, the episode highlights why this season of the show has been, overall, a complete disaster.
Episode eleven left off with the Wildcats in a panic backstage after realizing that Ricky’s (Joshua Bassett) harness was missing, leaving him unable to complete the Beast’s transformation as rehearsed. Without showing audiences the aftermath of this catastrophe, the final episode of the season opens with a standing ovation for East High’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.” Apparently the transformation succeeded, leaving the Wildcats exhilarated and ready to celebrate.
What follows is a collection of scenes that do little to cohesively conclude the season’s narrative. Big Red (Larry Saperstein) surprises Ashlyn (Julia Lester) with a gift, Kourtney (Dara Reneé) reconciles with her ex-boyfriend Howie (Roman Banks) and E.J. (Matt Cornett) utilizes his father’s job to recommend Mr. Mazzara for the California Institute of Technology’s doctoral robotics program.
Though E.J. has continuously engaged in acts of kindness this season, his dismissal of Gina’s (Sofia Wylie) feelings result in heartbreak. The two have gradually grown closer, but following comments from Jamie (Jordan Fisher) regarding their relationship, E.J. ends his relationship with Gina.
Having dealt with the ramifications of a brutal breakup herself, Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) comforts Gina and restores her confidence. As they recount their history, Gina’s admiration for Nini and her songwriting results in an offer; Gina encourages Nini to contact her brother, Jamie, who works as a famous music producer.
While Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) waits to see if East High will be nominated for awards at the Menkies, Ricky is finally able to turn over a new leaf and tells her to give a relationship with his father a second chance, something that is blatantly referenced as he leaves the room and bursts into song. Literally titled, “Second Chance,” the song features Ricky, Nini, Gina and E.J.— four characters who have drastically changed from season one. Donned in their wardrobe from the first season, the four Wildcats look back on their past and sing of opportunities that grant them second chances. Admittedly, the song is one of the only highlights of the entire episode given its exploration of its leading characters; from here on out, the rest of the season finale is a complete mess.
The entirety of season two of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” has centered around defeating North High at the Menkies. Yet, at Salt Lake Slices, the Wildcats decide to forfeit the competition altogether and instead find contentment in their friendships with one another. While this is a sweet sentiment, dropping out of the competition altogether makes the entire season pointless; the money and acclaim they could have received from winning the competition apparently does not matter, thus terminating the stakes and the purpose of the entire season. The Wildcats, instead, throw the Menkies nominations into a hot pizza oven — a symbolic representation of the season finale itself.
From this point on, events in the episode feel entirely inconsequential; Nini calls Gina’s brother to further her music career, Ricky calls Lily (Olivia Rose Keegan) who told him she had feelings for him, and Gina has her first kiss with E.J. However, without properly concluding the season’s largest and most endearing plot points, the show fails to leave audiences feeling satisfied.
“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” may have introduced its second season as the “start of something new,” but given its departure from the sincerity and charm of its first season, it may have been best for the show to “stick to the status quo.” If the series continues, audiences can only hope that it can redeem itself from the chaos of season two; though, it is perhaps more imperative that audiences are able to learn from the title of this episode and give “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” a second chance.