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‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ 2×10 Review: “The Transformation”

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 2 Episode 10, “The Transformation,” takes the mission to outshine North High and turns it into a lesson on the importance of personal transformations. During the episode, Nini says something along the lines of that day’s theme being secrets. Though that does appear to be the case, it’s more significant that the opposite is true. “The Transformation” lets the Wildcats essentially put everything on the table so that there’s just enough drama teed up for the remaining episodes of the season. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity for them to reconnect with themselves and each other. 

HSMTMTS the TransformationIt’s Never Just a Box of Chocolates

This episode introduces tension between Gina and Nini regarding the box of chocolates from HSMTMTS Season 2 Episode 3, “Valentine’s Day.” Both Sofia Wylie and Olivia Rodrigo expertly play that tension with the support of everyone else in Ashlyn’s living room. It’s so easy to feel the awkward energy filling up the space that it almost makes you squirm a bit. But, the believability of this moment makes it feel more necessary than if it had come up any other way. 

The chocolates could have stayed a harmless secret for the remainder of the season, if not the entire show. That trajectory was more unlikely than not, but it felt possible. HSMTMTS does a great job at having so many other moving parts that we, as the audience, let that box of chocolates slip to the back of our minds when Gina starts to do so, too. That’s why we’re taken aback equally as much as Gina and Nini when it comes back up in conversation. It makes us feel like active participants in the show, which is rare. 

Furthermore, HSMTMTS sets this infamous box of chocolates up as one of the potential sources of content for the remaining episodes. Ideally, this will result in a storyline that doesn’t pit the two girls against each other. Instead, going off of Wylie and Rodrigo’s performances, the chocolates could be a way for Gina and Nini to find common ground they haven’t had before. 

Nini doesn’t look mad that Gina misread a situation with Ricky. Rather, Nini seems disappointed that her friends have an inside joke she doesn’t know. Gina has struggled to fit in since arrival and is only starting to feel comfortable at East High. Nini was gone for a good chunk of the year. Her time at YAC was short-lived in the show’s timeline. However, in the lives of teenagers, those few months can change everything. Now Nini’s finding her footing with her friends again. 

Finding your place in the world isn’t a unique experience, but its universality could lend itself to an alliance between Gina and Nini. There is a commonality in their experiences now that can go beyond their feelings for the same boy. That would be a more constructive and honestly more fulfilling route than stirring up other drama between Ricky and Nini right now. Maybe this is all too much wishful thinking because I genuinely think Gina and Nini could be great friends.

HSMTMTS the TransformationThe Power of a Good Song

“The Transformation” gives us much-needed exploration and resolution to the drama that’s been brewing between Carlos and Seb all season long. It’s lovely that Seb feels comfortable revealing his relationship issues at the sleepover with the girls. Nevertheless, it points out how rarely we get to see him interact with anyone other than Carlos. The most we’ve seen this season are Seb’s scenes with Kourtney and Gina. So it’s a welcome aspect of this sleepover that hopefully means scenes like those won’t be so few and far between anymore.

Alternatively, at the other sleepover, Carlos gives out some great advice that he ends up taking in his style. To refrain from rambling on about Portwell, I will say that it is heartwarming to watch the guys encourage EJ to take another chance on love, to fight for it. It’s fantastic to see how Ricky, Big Red, and EJ’s experiences with love all collide at the end of the night in a way for Carlos to know what he needs to know to save his relationship with Sebastian. While that’s happening, the girls remind Seb that he’s someone worth fighting for because he’s not the default — he’s the one. It’s delightful to watch this found family rally together to support their friends.

Carlos and Seb realizing their relationship is something worth fighting for is symbolic of personal growth for both of them. Seb can go into this new phase of their relationship more confident in Carlos’ love of him and his love for himself, to know that he’s enough. As for Carlos, he’s more aware than ever that vulnerability doesn’t have to be scary (at least not all the time) when you’re vulnerable with the right person. It’s never cheesy to let the people you care about know that you care about them.

Both Seb and Carlos are characters who don’t say how they feel often. So when Carlos sings how he feels instead of saying it in “The Transformation,” it’s impossible not to see it as a defining moment for them. They’re both changed by it. That’s the power of a good song.  Carlos and Ricky’s song “In A Heartbeat” will be one of the standout songs this season because Frankie A. Rodriguez nails every note. The line, “But all I know is everything that I need, I have with the boy who chose me,” is especially beautiful.

It also doesn’t escape me that it’s special to see a gay character sing a love song to his boyfriend on one of the biggest shows streaming right now — representation matters. There have been plenty of love songs shared between Ricky and Nini (and EJ) over the last two seasons that it’s well past time for Carlos and Seb to get some love songs of their own. It’s exciting to think of what Seb will eventually (Fingers crossed!) sing to Carlos. 

HSMTMTS the TransformationRicky Starts a New Chapter

It feels as though Ricky’s genuinely entered a new chapter of his life. He’s still grieving his relationship with Nini, which is expected. Still, he’s trying to be kinder to himself without losing any sense of accountability he should have after such a situation. Ricky shows remarkable restraint in realizing that singing “Let You Go” to Nini isn’t the best idea. It’s thrilling to watch Ricky channel that creative energy into a way to help his friend heal his relationship. I’m very proud of Ricky Bowen and the progress he’s made so far this season. 

That’s why it’s heartbreaking to watch that all come falling down by the episode’s end. Ricky’s journey as Beast becomes more paralleled as the season progresses, and it’s shocking to watch Ricky and the Beast be denied that final epic transformation on stage. The good thing is that even though Ricky may be injured (and hopefully, he gets better soon), there is still an opportunity for Ricky’s transformation to continue off the stage. If “The Transformation” is any hint of where Ricky is headed, it appears as though it may have something to do with Lily. 

Their FaceTime call is so bizarre and unexpected. It’s weird enough that Ricky answers random phone calls from numbers he doesn’t recognize. Regardless, it’s a good thing that HSMTMTS at least has Big Red and Ricky acknowledge how weird it is that Lily called Ricky for advice despite them never having a meaningful conversation. Earlier in the season, there were smaller moments where Lily tried to get under his skin, but nothing like this. 

Some cynical part of me believes that this North High competition will extend into next season (if HSMTMTS gets a Season 3), and the Wildcats will get split up. It could very well be that Lily only called Ricky to get in his head, but there has to be more than meets the eye here. Right? There are still two episodes left this season to make a viable case for Ricky wanting to transfer schools. Maybe he’ll do it because he thinks it’s best for Nini. But if he does go, I hope he does it because he believes it’s best for him. Suppose that happens around the same time that EJ graduates; that’s already two core members of this found family not being at East High anymore. That sounds like an exciting way to either end this season or launch a new one. 

Other Fabulous Moments:

  • I sincerely adore every time one of the Wildcats checks in with each other during this episode. They ask each other “Are you sure?” in the least judgemental and genuinely curious way.
  • Ashlyn covering Ricky with his cape so he can get the mask off is hilarious.
  • We’re getting a Portwell date! It’s happening!
  • “Chip, this is your mother speaking. Go call your mother.” – Kourtney to Seb
  • I’m starting to like Mr. Mazzara and Miss Jenn. The journey is shaping up to be a good one.

What did you think of HSMTMTS “The Transformation?” Let us know in the comments below!

New episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series drop weekly on Disney !

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