Warning: Spoilers

After gracing our screens for the first time in January 2022, Cheer is back. Whilst Season 1 focused solely on Navarro, a junior college based in Corsicana, Texas, Season 2 also documented the lives of cheerleaders at Trinity Valley Community College, who have long been Navarro’s archrivals. The dynamic of splitting screen time between two colleges was perhaps a brave creative decision, considering the immense success and popularity of the show the first time around.  This doesn’t seem to have changed viewing figures though, as the show currently stands at Number 1 on Netflix US exactly a week after its release. 


Although it is ambiguous as to whether focussing on both teams was supposed to increase support for Navarro, equal it out, or make you root for TVCC, it certainly provides some great drama, and makes that awards ceremony all the more tense. Personally, the change in dynamic just made me root for Navarro more, but I can see how the glimpse given into the lives of the TVCC cheerleaders made them a likeable underdog team. If the show decides to return for a third season, however, it will be interesting to see how many people are desperate to see (spoiler) Navarro reclaim their title from TVCC for 2022.


Anyway, here is my episode by episode review of Season 2 of Cheer:


Season 2, Episode 1: Everybody Hopes

The filming for this episode is believed to have started all the way back in February 2020, shortly after the show was initially released. We see the instant rise to fame that many faces from the show got, including fan favourites Gabi Butler, Jerry Harris, Lexi Brumback, and head coach Monica Aldama. The episode does a nice job of highlighting the pros and cons of overnight fame, and depicts how hard it was at first for them to adjust to having all these TV appearances and photo shoots in an already busy schedule. They all seem to be enjoying riding the wave, though, especially Jerry, who is seen multiple times interacting with fans in a very excited and friendly manner. When you consider that there were only two months between the series hitting screens, and the first COVID-19 lockdown, it seems remarkable that all these things happened within these two months, perhaps reflective of the way people immediately connected with the show, and how it became so popular so quickly.


We are also introduced to new flyer, Maddy (who, spoiler, becomes top girl in a later episode) and given some background on her and her childhood. Crucially, we are introduced to TVCC, who lost to Navarro at Daytona in Season 1, Episode 6. Whilst we were all aware in Season 1 that TVCC were Navarro’s archrivals, we are given more of a history between coaches Khris and Monica, as well as the ongoing rivalry between the teams, and how Navarro has been successful over them 6/8 times between 2013 and 2019. 


Overall, I think the season had an extremely captivating introduction, and was a good reminder of all the things we loved about Cheer Season 1, although I would have liked to see a few more stunts!


4.5/5 stars


Season 2, Episode 2: Here’s to We

The main point of this episode is to show us the rivalry between both teams for the first time in person. At a collegiate basketball game between the two, TVCC and Navarro cheer on their respective colleges, and things get heated when Navarro lose narrowly in the last quarter. Monica isn’t impressed with her teams sour faces, and encourages them to chant and smile despite the loss.


Monica also announces to the team that all star Gabi Butler is coming back, which will be particularly thrilling for long-time cheerleading fans who have seen Gabi essentially grow up in the public eye. With Gabi’s return, however, comes the unfortunate reality that someone’s spot must be filled by her, and it is particularly heartbreaking that the spot given up is that of Brooke Morosca, who was very briefly seen on Season 1 of the show. When we see her finally make mat at the beginning of this season, it is very quickly snatched away from her, and it is hard not to feel for her. In a particularly poignant moment, we see Gabi’s mother, Debbie, comment on how it’s sad that “it’s sad that it’s always the underdog they want to win” while Brooke is sitting right in front of her. It could simply be a trick of editing, as Brooke and Gabi are supposedly very good friends, but Brooke looks slightly hurt at this, as though she is the underdog and she doesn’t deserve people rooting for her over Gabi.


Perhaps the most shocking detail of the episode is that former Navarro choreographer, Brad Vaughan, known for his sparkling dance routines, has switched side and will be choreographing for TVCC. It’s noted that in previous years, the dance section of Trinity’s routines is what has often let them down, and so it seems that this could be the final thing they need to reach the top once again.


4/5 stars


Season 2, Episode 3: Dracut Girl

Maddy Brum, who was new for the 2019/20 season, is properly introduced to us, and we get to know a lot more about her and her cheerleading journey thus far. Throughout the episode, Maddy struggles with a few of her stunts, and the decision is made that she won’t be flying in the routine, but instead just part of the pyramid and some tumbling sequences. We empathise with her when she runs out of the gym crying, but do not fear, this is not the end of Maddy! (cue the lyric “It’s not the end of me” from the 2019 winning routine)


In Athens, TX, all the focus is on Jada, who is the team leader for TVCC. Whilst some have criticised her for her unsportsmanlike attitude, others have applauded her for her strong leadership skills and clear skill. We get to know her some more during the rest of the series, and she definitely becomes a very dominant leader for TVCC, so, it’s a tossup.


Even with all this switching around on mat, Monica and Javontae are still confident that their routines will be perfect for Daytona, which is only a few weeks away. This is when we are very briefly introduced to how COVID-19 was starting to circulate in the news at the time, and doubts about competing are planted in our minds.


Overall, I thought this was a cleverly constructed episode, and I particularly enjoyed getting to know Maddy.


4.5/5 stars


Season 2, Episode 4: Hell Week

We all remember Hell Week 2019. The determination to go full out 41 times, the injuries, the mental strain and stress. If it seems that the pace of this episode is faster than that of 2019, it’s because (spoiler), neither team were able to compete in Daytona 2020. That’s perhaps why there’s less emphasis on seeing the full routine, and just bits and pieces that we see them working on consistently. Although, with all the talk of how amazing the routine was, I am of the belief that we should get to see one of the recorded attempts of the full out routines from practise!


Notably, La’Darius Marshall has a moment during the episode where his old frustrations come out and him and Monica have to have a small heart-to-heart before he rejoins the team on the mat. I think this moment really shows the contrast between the dynamic of Navarro and TVCC; Monica is definitely a mom, mentor and friend, as well as head coach, whereas it seems Vontae can be very harsh on his athletes, and doesn’t have that same bond with his team (although it must be said that we can’t assume this from a 9-episode series). 



The episode concludes with the announcement that Daytona 2020 is cancelled, and this is the end of the spectacular routine we were promised from the season. In a particularly emotional moment for long time fans of the show, Morgan Simianer tells the cameras that that’s how her cheerleading career came to an end. It just seems like such a huge blow, when everything was lining up perfectly. 


There’s now a new sense of frustration at the virus for Cheer fans as we will never know the outcome of Daytona 2020, and will likely never see the routine that Monica believed was better than ever. This episode definitely brings up some old emotions from the beginning of the pandemic, and reinforces this sense of loss we have all experienced over the last two years. For this reason, this episode is one of my least favourites from the series, as it brings up some perhaps unfinished emotions from a very unique time in history.


3.5/5 stars 


Season 2, Episode 5: Jerry

Arguably the most anticipated episode of the season, this episode deals with the allegations against former beloved Cheer star, Jerry Harris. While the team is already is disequilibrium because former assistant coach Kapena Kea gets fired, Monica is off doing Dancing With the Stars, and veterans Lexi, Morgan, and Allie have all chosen to leave Navarro, and fan-favourite Jerry Harris is accused of soliciting sex from minors. 

As this episode deals with such a hard and sensitive topic, I felt the producers dealt extremely well with the line between being shown to support the team whilst simultaneously demonstrating how this behaviour is absolutely unacceptable. While it seems unfair to comment on the actual situation, it seems only right to congratulate directors on how they pieced the episode together in order to let the victims have a voice, but also show the reality of having someone close to you accused of the unthinkable. 


In terms of creative choices and how the producers chose to address the situation in such an honest and true-life way, this episode deserves five stars. 


Season 2, Episode 6: Tumbling

This episode is the exact moment we realise that TVCC might actually have a chance of beating the team we have so loyally followed over the last two years. Tumblers Angel Rice and Dee Joseph bring a fresh tumbling talent to Trinity, whilst Navarro copes with losing star tumbler Lexi, and La’Darius Marshall.


For some, the underdog strengthening their team will make them remain team Navarro: are Navarro technically the underdogs now? For others, this will completely make them switch sides as they realise the battle will be closer than ever. And for others, including me, this will make the ferocity we support Navarro with even fiercer, highlighting how much we truly want this victory for them.


Wherever you stand, La’Darius’s shock exit may not actually come as that much of a shock. In the previous episode, we see La’Darius clashing with new assistant coach Kailee Peppers, and we have seen him previously having major conflicts with other cast members. 


This episode had may twists and turns, as well as lots of drama, giving it 4/5 stars.



Season 2, Episode 7: Mining for Tenths

The stage is here! Clearly putting the Ellen check to good use, Monica installs a practise stage, explaining that it’s more representative of the the bandstand in Daytona, and will help the team get a feel for what stunting on a raised platform is like.


Over at TVCC, Dee is confronted about his attitude towards the routine and his total lack of facial expression. It does bring up an interesting conversation surrounding sexuality within cheerleading, though, and helps viewers understand why Dee may be self-conscious about giving his all to a a routine.


Back at Navarro, Maddy and Gillian talk about their difficult childhoods, and I think I speak for everyone when I say it made us fall in love with them even more. Side note, how adorable is Gillian and Cassadee’s friendship? It’s so cute how they quarantined together. 



Season 2, Episode 8: Daytona Pt.1 : Don’t Be That Guy

The time has finally arrived where both teams head over to Daytona! 


In contrast to Season 1, prelims are filmed, shown, and explained, so we have more of an understanding of where the final scores come from. 


It’s worth nothing that backstage I felt there was more team spirit coming from TVCC (disappointingly for Navarro fans), but ultimately Trinity couldn’t hit a zero day 1. Dee fell on a tumbling line and so did one of the stunts. 


Navarro hit an extremely clean zero, and the routine looks incredible from what they show us. A good start for Navarro, and a joy so great start for Trinity, but prelims only make up 25% of the overall score, and this means there is still a lot of room for Trinity Valley to fix mistakes and clean up their deductions. 


Something fans commented on was how Navarro display a lot more sportsmanship, headed up by Monica of course, and how Trinity don’t seem particularly bothered by how they come across to other teams. Whether rightfully or wrongly, Trinity display this innate confidence that could arguably be described as arrogance. 


Season 2, Episode 9: Daytona Pt.2 : If the Judges Disagree

The Season Finale of Cheer Season 2 is here, and it’s made very clear that anything can happen. The added element of intense competition gives a lot more anticipation to the outcome than that of Season 1, which definitely makes it more binge-worthy.


Trinity take the stage first, and hit an incredibly clean zero. The routine is phenomenal, exciting, energetic. Dee hits all his tumbles perfectly and I was quite frankly blown away when I saw the full routine from the front angle (which you can watch on YouTube). 


Navarro come out looking nervous, admittedly, and start their routine. It all goes well until the moment Gillian falls from the arabesque, costing the team a .75 deduction. Although this fall is put in slow-motion, and made to look like the be-all-and-end-all of cheerleading, when you see the routine from the same angle the whole way through, it actually takes a couple of tries to spot the collapse of the stunt. It’s so subtle and quick, and Gillian should definitely not take responsibility for what happened next.


Awards. With Navarro in a hotel lobby, and Trinity in a hotel room, awards is bound to be a different experience compared to previous years. Navarro’s cheerleaders are on the floor holding hands in a circle, on their knees, as though they’re praying that their name will get announced last.


For Navarro, it’s not meant to be. They get announced first and that means they’ve lost. Stuck at 14 titles. Not bad, but also not the outcome they wanted. Maddy starts crying, and that’s where the emotion hit for me. They’ve been through so much. It seems unfair, mean even.


For TVCC, though, it’s a moment of victory. Everyone, as you can imagine, is ecstatic, and deservedly so. You can’t help but feel happy for them no matter which side of the rivalry you fall. They’ve waited a long time for this feeling again, and it does feel like their time. 


One thing about this episode that frustrates me is the way all the blame is placed on Gillian. Not from the team necessarily, but from the way the episode is edited. When you compare the YouTube footage from Daytona day two, it’s clear that TVCC’s routine is just better. While cheer is subjective, you can tell that TVCC’s raw score deserves to be higher than Navarro’s, whether you like it or not. In the instance that both teams hit zero both days, it’s hard to know what the outcome would have been, but comparing the two routines side by side, it’s honestly likely that Trinity still would have won anyway.


Of course, to conclude the episode there’s the highly emotional talk between La’Darius and Monica. It seems the issue has deeply affected Monica personally. Since the episode aired, La’Darius has been very vocal on social media, often posting ambiguous quotes about unrequited relationships and honesty. He’s even hinted that the conversation was scripted or manufactured, and that he was asked by producers to attend Daytona. So while it’s hard to confirm any of these things, it’s also hard to confirm that what was shown is representative of the situation. Don’t forget, this episode was filmed in April of 2021, and although they may have made up at the time, it’s been over 9 months at the time of writing this, and things can change in this time. The two don’t currently follow each other on Instagram, and La’Darius doesn’t seem to associate himself with Navarro much anymore, except occasionally posting about Gabi Butler, who he remains friends with.


So there we have it, another season of Cheer over. Many fans are already calling for Season 3, and with Daytona 2022 approaching quickly, we should hopefully know soon whether that’s on the cards. 


You can follow the progress of the Navarro and TVCC teams on Instagram, as well as watching the NCA champs live in April.