Recap: High School Musical – The Musical – The Series Episode 3 “The Wonderstudies”

The opening scene of the episode is Carlos teaching the ensemble basketball choreography while blindfolded. He teaches for the worst possible scenario, so his cast is ready for anything as “dance is forever.” So, in one episode, Carlos has single-handedly reminded me of the jump-roping choreography from Legally Blonde the Musical, all while showing a dedication to the theater that is unmatched by anyone on television. Carlos and I are meant to be friends. Yes, he’s a fictional character. Lady Bird and the girls from Booksmart are also meant for the friend group, mkay? Let me live my life!

We get the official confirmation that Gina stole Nini’s phone, but immediately gave it to EJ. Nini’s boyfriend STOLE HER PHONE, let’s not forget this for the rest of the series. The disrespect! The audacity! The nerve! EJ starts off his stolen-phone-snooping by checking her public Instagram to see the song she posted for Ricky months ago. Weird flex, but ok? Why steal someone’s phone to search a profile you have access to already? EJ is a bucket of contradictions and specific convictions.

As EJ is searching the phone, Ricky gives it a call, trying to talk to Nini about the rekindled connection he felt when he saw her duet with Ashlyn in the auditorium. He can feel something there and he wants to verbalize it to make sure he’s not crazy, which is adorably confident. Nini, of course, doesn’t pick up, as EJ has the control and is clearly drunk with power. Oh, and Ashlyn has a patch on her jean jacket that looks like the What Would You Do? logo and I felt the need to include that here. Moving on.

While Nini is on the hunt for her phone, Mr. Mazzara is on the hunt for truth. *gives self high-five for incredible transition* He confronts Miss Jenn about her possibly sketchy past as a featured dancer in the original film. Miss Jenn’s answer leads me to believe she’s either not telling the full truth and is telling a small fib, or she’s going full Gone Girl. I’m kinda hoping for the latter, could be fun! Also, Mr. Mazzara has no redeeming qualities and that is a fact, not an opinion. My disgust for him grows throughout the episode, so take this as a warning for a rant to come.

Nini finally finds her phone (in lost-and-found) and is completely convinced that Gina stole her phone, which is half-true. Gina has to give her a quick choreo lesson after she was late to rehearsal while on the phone hunt and Nini is not, um, physically capable to do a single move taught. Gina is Twyla Tharp and Nini is the audiences seeing The Times They Are A-Changin’. In Nini’s words, “I know that Vanessa Hudgens walks out and just stands there.” Nini’s stress leads her to create an iPad-based PowerPoint (?) to determine how to get back at Gina (??). Sure.

While all this is going down, Ricky is convinced that the silence coming from Nini is because the voicemail made her feel angry, when in reality, the girl hasn’t even listened to it! Assumptions are deadliest for the human psyche. *realizes how good that last sentence was, brings it up to my therapist immediately*

Nini decides to steal Gina’s shoes as a “LOL, try me!” moment and when she brings it up to EJ, he tells her stealing seems a little low. Reader, I screamed “CONTRADTICTOR, SAY WHAT?!” so loud, dogs came running to me from miles away. The weight of his words hit and the guilt starts to lay on thick. Good. GOOD.

EJ decides the best way to apologize and come clean to Nini about stealing her phone is to write and perform a song for her. Nothing could go wrong! He asks Ashlyn for help and she begrudgingly agrees. She is also studying for AP Psych with nary a flashcard in sight and that class is based around flashcards and vocab terms so I don’t believe she’ll be passing that exam come May. Moving on.

The song ends up being…not good. Complete garbage. A total trainwreck. A spiritual cousin to this. Ashlyn’s reaction was something similar to this:

EJ knows he just needs to spill the truth, minus the song, to Nini. Yet, his plans are put on pause as he has a Troy/Chad rehearsal with Ricky that ends with a bucket of passive aggressive tension and a bloody nose. Sounds like my Tuesday night, HEY-O!

Miss Jenn is the confronted by Mr. Mazzara, as he found out that she was not a featured dancer, but a background extra in the bleachers. She also has no teaching credentials. She also fibbed a bit on her resume. Whoops a daisy! However, when Carlos enters the conversation to make sure she’s okay, Mr. Mazzara attacks him. A student. A child. Here’s the tea, though. I’ve experienced similar things from teachers. An adult fully attacking a student for their friends or their interests. It’s vile and disgusting and I love that it was discussed on the show. Miss Jenn gives a power rebuttal speech, telling him to never speak to her students that way again and that these kids, theater kids, all yearn for a community and that’s what theater gives them. It’s a beautifully written and succinct speech that made me feel some sort of way.

In the last 5 minutes, Ricky tries to apologize to EJ, but EJ won’t accept. EJ accidentally reveals he heard the voicemail. Ricky then sees Nini and tells her he finds it a tad rude that she let EJ listen, but as we all know, she never knew about the voicemail in the first place, so Nini now knows EJ stole her phone! ESCANDALO. Next week is gonna be juicy, y’all.

Extra Credit:

  • Nini stealing a bucket of Gina’s things and just complaining about their weight when returning them is my brand.
  • The continuing motif of the Gypsy cow head will never not make me laugh and I’m overwhelmed that we’ve received it 3 weeks in a row. This show is too good for this world!
Marshal Knight
Marshal Knight is a pop culture writer based in Orlando, FL. For some inexplicable reason, his most recent birthday party was themed to daytime television. He’d like to thank Sandra Oh.