We’re back. After the first three episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series‘ sophomore (no pun intended) season stumbled to find the magic from the inaugural season, they’ve found it.
“The Storm” does the simple trick of forcing our characters to all be stuck in the same place due to weather conditions. The best Season 2 moments so far for Nini, Gina, Carlos, EJ, Miss Jenn, and Ricky all happen this episode. Let’s break down those moments and why they stand out amongst the crowd.
First and foremost, Episode 4 brings Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) back into the spotlight. The heart-to-heart conversation she shares with Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) while trapped in the car is exactly what fans needed to build a deeper connection to the characters. Their chat also brought up the age-old High School Musical theme of being yourself and doing whatever makes you happy, not what the world wants you to do.
While the end of the episode wasn’t exactly Ricky’s declaration of love to Nini from Season 1’s finale, Nini deciding to stay and Ricky (Joshua Bassett) admitting to her that he doesn’t want her to go back was pretty great. It is surprising to see Nini’s journey at YAC come to an end so quickly, but I am not complaining. Bringing her back to East High is a great move for the show and I predict drama may ensue if she wants a part in Beauty in the Beast. Look out Ashlyn (Julia Lester), is the role of Belle back up for grabs?
Also, it’s sad to say but the back seat Ashlyn and Big Red (Larry Saperstein) took in this episode was a reason why I liked it so much. This new couple took up a lot of screen time in the first three episodes, and now that they’re established it felt like the show-runners knew it was time to refocus on the rest of our favorites.
A character who has been neglected so far this season, EJ (Matt Cornett), finally had a moment to shine this episode. It turns out, he did not get accepted into Duke University, despite his grandparents and parents all having attended. The scene between EJ and Mr. Mazzara (Mark St. Cyr) was some of the best acting in the series and got fan reinvested in both of those characters after a slow start for each this season.
Gina (Sofia Wylie) is all over the place this season, and I absolutely love it. Living in a new home with her classmate, not knowing what her feelings are towards Ricky, and having to fight for an equal chance to choreograph the musical with Carlos (Frankie A. Rodriguez). The argument between Gina and Carlos wasn’t something I knew I needed until this episode. The layers of emotion between the too was astounding, especially hearing more about Carlos’ fear of being on stage. The Gina saga is sure to continue on throughout the season and her being a wild card in the Ricky and Nina relationship will be necessary to keep that relationship from growing stale now that Nini is back.
To recap, this episode got back to what made the first season so memorable and beloved by fans. Nini returning to East High was the right choice, even though the YAC experience seemed way too short. Seeing the musical develop and where Nini will fit into the cast will be interesting to see play out. The North High rivalry is sure to be brought back up as the semester pushes forward and we inch closer to opening night. This Disney+ Original is back to thriving and next week’s episode “The Quinceañero” can’t come soon enough!