Just when Ricky and Nini kick-start their blossoming relationship, they are about to face their first roadblock when Nini gets a slot at a prestigious music conservatory -- something Ricky is unaware of (for now). With all 10 episodes now streaming, Bassett and Rodrigo reflected on their favorite Ricky and Nini moment of the season, which happens to be the emotional climax from the finale.
"There is the big season payoff, of right after we finished the show and all the trouble that happens at the show, it's all over. We powered through it and there is a long-awaited moment between Nini and Ricky," Bassett tells ET of Ricky's heartfelt confession to Nini after they successfully pull off the High School Musical school production.
In the scene, Ricky tells Nini that he meant to say he loved her the moment she bared her soul in the premiere and that he had been in love with her since the seventh grade. It only took him a few months -- and a well-timed conversation with his mother -- to finally muster up the courage to bare his soul. They then exchanged adorable post-show gifts: Ricky a dog tag necklace from Nini and Nini a personalized guitar pick from Ricky.
"It was such a thrill to film because it felt like the whole season was leading up to that moment," Bassett recalls. "And I remember filming that day, I felt so alive and we were both so in it and it was so intense, and so surreal and yeah, it was a dream to film. I'm so excited for people to see it. But yeah, episode 10 was probably my favorite moment between Nini and Ricky."
Rodrigo revealed that Bassett improvised a good portion of Ricky's speech to Nini, which added a genuine spark to the scene.
"I remember there was a monologue Ricky had to say to Nini about different memories that they had shared together, and [creator] Tim [Federle] told Josh, 'Just improvise it.' And he just improvised the most beautiful monologue," Rodrigo says. "And he didn't tell me that he was going to improvise it and so they got my reaction to him improvising this beautiful monologue on-camera."
"I was just so taken aback. It was one of the most beautiful scenes that I think we've done in the series," she marveled. "I love that [moment]. And also in episode nine, there's a really beautiful moment where they're standing and they're all holding hands, and Ricky and Nini are sneaking glances at each other. I just think that's so sweet. Episodes nine and 10 are a good payoff for Ricky and Nini fans."
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'High School Musical' Series Stars Joshua Bassett and Olivia Rodrigo Perform Co-Written Ballad (Exclusive)
Following the finale, ET spoke with Federle about how the final scene of the season, which shows Nini grappling with staying at East High with Ricky and her friends or choosing to go to the music conservatory school, will affect season two.
"I think what's going through her mind is the same thing that goes through the mind of anybody who has ever said the phrase, 'When it rains, it pours.' At the very moment she has forgiven Ricky for falling apart on her all those months ago and accepted him back in her life and he's finally able to say the word 'love.' She's also... given this extraordinary opportunity," Federle says. "The first thing she's thinking is, 'What am I going to do now?,' which is the very question I hope the audience leaves wondering too."
To see original High School Musical cast member Corbin Bleu interview the cast for ET, watch the video below.