TV Recap — “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” – Season 3, Episode 1 “Happy Campers”

After a full year of personally listening to Seb’s cover of “The Climb” incessantly and considering what nominations the East High Drama department could have received for their production of Beauty and the Beast, HSMTMTS is back for season 3. The season is off to a banging start with this week’s episode, bringing us into the thick of summer vacation and the world of Camp Shallow Lake.

The wildcats are spread all over this summer, with some not making the trek to camp to experience musical theatre in the woods. Can we…blame them? If I have the option of staying in consistent air conditioning and looking into community theatre around East High, I’m gonna take that. Is this my Boy Scout PTSD talking? Quite possibly, yet I don’t want to worry about mosquitos whilst performing a Sondheim ballad.

While Seb is working the farm and Big Red is busy, some of our beloved faves are taking a road trip to Camp Shallow Lake to start their vacation on a good note. EJ is beyond excited to show his second home to his friends. Gina is beyond excited to spend the summer with EJ. Ash is beyond excited to take her Belle stardom into a lead at camp. Kourtney and Carlos are beyond excited to…who knows, ‘cause the outside world isn’t really their vibe.

Ricky has decided to skip out on camp this summer while he tries out his new relationship with Lily. I say this on behalf of the entire HSMTMTS viewing community: You better get outta there, Ricky! Luckily, before I was able to jump into the screen and personally pull the plug on the relationship, Ricky finds the Beast harness Lily stole at the end of last season. Understandably so, he’s livid and he races to camp to quickly avoid his bad decision making.

Meanwhile, Nini is about to embark on a SoCal road trip with her moms to kick start her music career. Her manager has instructed her to write a song a day, but she can’t find the inspiration. Add in her nostalgic depression about missing out on camp and Nini’s emotions are not prime for working towards stardom. A quick trip to Miss Jen’s brings her prime advice that disruption isn’t always a bad thing. “Be safe and take risks” sends Nini on her way to her goals and future.

Camp Shallow Lake is hyped to open camp with the first campfire of the season, accompanied by a special celebrity guest. Camp Director Duey Wood (what a name) introduces Corbin Bleu to the campers and, understandably so, the wildcats in attendance are over the moon. He announces that the camp will be the first in the country to perform Frozen as a community production. On top of that, he will be filming and directing a Disney+ special following the campers bringing the world of Arendelle to the stage. C’est meta.

Thanks to a healthy dose of confusion, Corbin is not directing the production itself, leaving the camp without a director for their performance. Thanks to EJ’s proximity to Duey when the news hit, along with his knowledge of how the camp operates, he’s thrown into the directing job. EJ is livid, but that’s show business. Happy summer vacation!

Extra Credit:

  • Ricky’s “Finally Free” is an all-timer. I don’t make the rules.
  • Two new characters were introduced this episode: Maddox, who seems to be the spirit of Camp Shallow Lake, for better or worse. We also meet Jet, who would rather be anywhere else and has no discernible personality. I can’t wait to see how this turns out…
  • Carlos living in “The Yurt Locker” and trying to connect with the “boys” is sending me. Puns and too-real experiences hitting me like a brick wall? This show is perfection.
  • Remember Corbin Bleu’s “Celebrate You” music video? Ah, good times.
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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.