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  • Writer's pictureNicole Grace

HSMTMTS Season 3: Episodes 1&2 Reactions!

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

After much anticipation, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is back for a third season! I love to analyze this show, and there is already so much to unpack from the first two episodes, and I am sure there will be much more to come, so I wanted to put together some of my thoughts from Episode 1: Happy Campers and Episode 2: Into the Unknown. Let’s begin (light spoilers ahead)!

cover photo from this post from @timfederle on Instagram.


  • "What Time Is It/Start the Party" (E1)-I heard both "What Time Is It" and "Start the Party" teased in the Season 3 trailer, but I didn’t realize they would be featured as a mashup! That’s such a fun choice. I love the staging of this number as the cast jamming out to their road trip playlist. I just wish they would have used the full version of the song that’s in the soundtrack. Also, background visuals for the road trip scene seemed to be an obvious tribute to Ryan and Sharpay Evans driving to Lava Springs in the beginning of High School Musical 2.

  • Finally Free (E1)-I’ll go into this more in the character section, but I’m happy with where Ricky is in Season 3 (so far).

  • Shallow Lake (E1)-Usually this kind of song wouldn’t make much of an impact on me, but Maddox’s voice is so precious that I really liked listening to it.

  • Balance (E2)-This was a FANTASTIC number. I loved the song, the choreography, and what it expressed about Gina’s character.

  • For the First Time in Forever/Do You Want to Build a Snowman (E2)-Such a precious audition number!

  • For the First Time in Forever-Oh my goodness! Jet’s voice! This was amazing.

  • You Never Know (E2)-I enjoyed Nini’s solo song more than I thought I would, because of the new ways her character is being developed in Season 3.


  • EJ-I really love jolly, goofy EJ. Seeing him excited about camp makes me excited as well. I’d love to see flashbacks of his previous Shallow Lake roles, but I don't think that's likely. I don’t understand why he seemed to know about the secret celebrity before everyone else, though. It’s not really explained in the script. He’s also so sweet to Gina!

  • Gina-I am so happy for Gina. When we were introduced to her character in Season 1, Gina was intense and ambitious, to the extent that she was willing to scheme to get to the top. Her East High peers didn’t like her for it, but she didn’t care, because she moved schools so often it didn’t matter what people thought about her. She was incredibly self-reliant, to the point that she wasn’t used to collaborating with others, or even having friends. In Season 2, her struggle was learning to work with others and develop meaningful relationships as she put down roots at East High. By the beginning of Season 3, she feels good about her place in her friend group, and is excited about her relationship with EJ. However, she is ready to tap back into her pure ambition and reliance on her own skills to compete for the role of leading lady (it is unclear whether she wants to be Elsa or Anna in Frozen). Her big solo, "Balance", shows how you can grow as a person while still staying true to who you are, and it represents her character arc thus far perfectly.

  • Nini-With Nini going on a road trip with her moms to California, I thought it was going to be the same storyline for Nini once again: Her dreams being too big for Salt Lake City. However, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw in Episode 2. I felt that the revelations about Nini’s family breathed new life into her character, especially since it looks like Olivia Rodrigo is heading towards the exit of HSMTMTS.

  • Ricky-Being single looks good on Ricky Bowen! For the last two seasons, Ricky has been in agony, whether it be all from the changes that came from his parents’ divorce, or the heightened emotions of his on-again, off-again relationship with Nini. By the end of Season 2, I was convinced that what he needed was to have some time to figure out who he is and what he is passionate about, without the influence of anyone else. By this point in Season 3, he is doing exactly that. Just as he sings in his big solo song, he is “Finally Free,” and you can tell he is so much happier by how goofy and light his presence is at camp. Also, the way that it is obvious that he has never seen the Frozen movie is one of the funniest parts of Season 3 so far.

  • Maddox (Gadget)-I have such a soft spot for this girl who is nice and excited to be at camp but doesn’t realize when she’s being off-putting. She’s adorable, and Tim Federle (HSMTMTS creator) revealed that the actress was a finalist for the role of Nini, which makes me like her even more. I am also very curious to see what will unfold between her and Ashlyn after their brief scene in Episode 1.

  • Jet-I am intrigued by his character, and it looks like Ricky is intrigued by him as well. I am looking forward to learning more about him.

  • Dewey Wood-As someone who grew up with Hannah Montana, I was so excited to see Jason Earles in HSMTMTS. I know he will do a great job in the role of grumpy camp director.

What’s happened?

  • I mentioned in my previous post, "4 Reasons to Watch High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (Season 2)" that I thought the antagonist from Season 2 was “delightfully wicked” and that I was excited to see more of her teased backstory in Season 3. While Lily did make an appearance in Episode 1, I was slightly disappointed. In Season 2, Lily was ambitious, competitive, and clearly under pressure in a way that I was hoping would be explored in the future. Instead, the Lily we saw in Season 3 was more of a vain and shallow stereotype that needed to be written out quickly. There was a lot to like in the premiere, but I was hoping for something more satisfying for Lily.

  • It was revealed in the trailer that EJ would be the director for Camp Shallow Lake’s production of Frozen. I really liked the way that plot point was set up as something that happened by chance, an unexpected circumstance for EJ himself.

  • They’ve had auditions, but the cast list is yet to be revealed! Both Maddox and Carlos are up to something!

What comes next?

  • In the first episode, it was mentioned that everyone gets a “camp name” (EJ is ‘Rocketman,’ Maddox is ‘Gadget’). I am looking forward to see the names our Wildcats are given.

  • A lot of the social media buzz surrounding Season 3 has been about how EJ and Gina’s relationship will be affected by a potential love triangle with Ricky. I am more curious to see what impact the disrupted power dynamic of EJ’s appointment as director will have.

  • I am so excited for the reveal of the cast list for Camp Shallow Lake’s production of Frozen, and to see what comes next!!

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