After last week’s Dance Moms debacle against Cathy and the Lad Apples, the only thing Abby is impressed with this week is how Asia and Kristie were the first to show up for practice. After that, she wants to know how four strangers, taught by some dude they never met, still managed to tell a story via dance better than her own yahoos who have performed together since forever. Let’s take our rage to the pyramid.
Bottom of the bottom is Mackie, by virtue of her injury. Then Brooke, who never works hard enough. Then Chloe, who shoulders the most blame for the trio finishing third. Christie says that she’s beginning to think that Chloe has to reincarnate as Anna Pavlova in order to place well on the pyramid ever again. Kendall rounds out the bottom row, also for the sins of the trio.
Last in the second row is Maddie — trio issues again. Then Paige, who never works hard enough. Then Nia, whom Abby says flies under the radar like Switzerland.
Asia is top of the tops. Her score got her there, not her technique, warns Abby, but Asia could care less. A win’s a win.
Then Abby notices that Mack is snuffling. Mack whimpers that that’s because she feels dizzy. Abby tells her to have a seat on the floor, then tells everyone else that since Mack was supposed to be Asia’s opposite in the group dance, Asia may be left out of the routine, too.
Said dance will be called Free The People and it’s about the Conservatives and the Liberals. Oh boy. Christi finds this hilarious because the ALDC is hardly a democracy. She says Abby is the very definition of Totalitarian. Here is the very definition of Totalitarian. Discuss.
This week, the Pitt Crew is going to Philly to Powerhouse Dance Competition, which I totally called back in the Rosa Parks recap. Abby says she’s done trying to spread the love — after last week’s assorted embarrassments, she’s only out to win. Therefore, Maddie and Asia get solos. Kelly says it’s odd that Paige is higher on the pyramid, but Maddie gets the dance. It’s not that odd, Kelly. Chloe will also get a solo, setting up our return to Maddie/Chloe competition, which I can’t decide if I’m happy about or not. In either case, I’m glad Chloe’s dancing solos again.
Up in the Mom Loft, the mothers discuss Mackie’s sudden ailment. Kelly says that it’s a fine coincidence that Mackie went down for the count only after Asia made top of the pyramid. Jill says Melissa is being strategic more so than motherly in pulling Mackie from the dance before we see if it’s just a 24-hour bug.
Downstairs, Abby Lee is explaining her thought process behind the theme of the group dance. We are not taking on the Obama administration; we are taking on all of the haters who say that who gets solos and who wins competitions is purely political. It’s that kind of political. And that kind of political is life, says Ab. Ultimately, it’s about whom you know, not how you dance. In other words — suck it up that Asia and Kristie are her brand new favorites, Pitt Crew.
The mothers see the light just in time for Abby Lee to tell us that the number actually is about patriotism after all, and that it is very important to her that the kids realize that their voices count. Originally four girls were going to be conservatives and four were going to be liberals, but, with Mack out of the picture, Asia might suffer a little voter suppression. Abby decides to think a bit more about her campaign strategy and on work on Asia’s solo instead.
Because she is one tough cookie, Asia will be playing Rosie the Riveter in a jazz routine called Ready For War. Chloe’s solo is called Am I Here To Stay. Because is she here to stay or what? Then Abby says the message of the dance is actually about Chloe hanging onto her national title. Like is she at the top to stay, not at the studio to stay. Abby is full of mixed messages today. Or I’m just easily confused. Could be both.
Maddie’s solo is called I’m Trying, because she’s trying to take Chloe’s title away. That’s one’s straight-up.
Upstairs in the Mom Loft, Kristie is pretending she has never watched a moment of Dance Moms and wants to know if Chloe and Maddie get compared a lot. The other mothers go along with it. Christi says it used to be that way, but not so much lately. Jill says that the two girls are undoubtedly Abby’s stars, but Christi corrects her and says that Chloe has been persona non Miller grata this year, because Abby hates Christi. Jill says she still thinks Abby gives Chloe a lot of opportunities. She swears she does!
Holly says nothing, but privately agrees that Maddie has the advantage because Christi isn’t Melissa. Downstairs, Abby reminds Maddie that sometimes in politics, people play dirty. I am sure that the child — if she is even still standing there — has no blooming idea what Abby is talking about. The message is really for the mothers. And for us.
Field trip to Melissa’s house, where she is cajoling her oldest to do her homework. Maddie doesn’t want to. Maddie wants to go to dance early and do homework later. Melissa says, fine, she can do the homework on the way to the studio. Then she reveals that she’s thinking of homeschooling her little superstars so that they have more time for dance and voice and piano lessons, plus more time for themselves. A lady named Tracy is coming over to talk about their options.
Tracy says if the girls were homeschooled, they would study four or five hours a day and then have the rest of the time to themselves. Mackie says it sounds pretty good, but she would still miss her friends.
Back at the studio, Abby Lee says Free The People is a hot patriotic mess. Therefore it needs Asia, because Asia is a firecracker. And she has figured out how to incorporate the little firework into the dance: Asia the Firecracker will come running onto the stage with a big ol’ American flag. Speaking of fireworks, upstairs in the Mom Loft, Melissa reveals her homeschooling plan. She says it’s a for-sure for next year. She’s still up in the air about the rest of this year. But she’s super-excited that she and Mackenzie might be able to take mother-daughter piano lessons, so that’s a bonus.
Dr. Holly is duly appalled. She says attending school is not just about keeping kids busy during the day — it’s about them learning to become critical thinkers and global citizens. Christi say, bottom line, it’s a parent’s responsibility to make sure the children get educated. And that means learning more than a tondue. Holly rounds out the argument by saying kids get one shot at an education and Melissa pouts about the criticism, while I nurse a sudden craving for fondue.
Downstairs, Asia is racing around in circles with her flag, with the other girls in bemused pursuit.
Even Kristie slaps her head in exasperation. She says the flag’s too big for little Asia is what the trouble is. Kelly says the trouble is the role makes Asia looks like she can’t do the rest of the dance. Kristie says she’s not so worried about that part because everyone knows her daughter can dance. Holly says hold up there, missy, do you really think that Asia is that much of a household name? Or at least a dance competition name? Kristie says the folks that count sure think so. Pa-dow!
Christi says that Asia might be a big deal on the interwebs, but so is a dog that can bark its ABCs. I devote five minutes trying to find one, but only find this person barking the alphabet for my efforts. It looks like it hurts. Meantime, Kristie’s expression says that she’s totally enjoying the fact that she has found a way to get the other mothers’ collective goat. And Holly’s goat is gotten most of all. She tells Kristie she’s being obnoxious and that if she doesn’t have anything interesting or intelligent to contribute, she should just hush her mouth. Kristie says lucky for them, every single thing she says happens to be interesting. Christi expresses her frustration by poking Kelly in the head.
To keep them out of trouble, Abby decides to give the mothers a job: making the girls’ red, white and blue costumes. And she knows the perfect, handy-dandy material to craft them from. Flags. Except even Kelly knows it’s “against the rules” to cut up a flag. The mothers decide to respectfully dissent on this command.
Then we talk some more about the Maddie/Chloe rivalry. And the beginning of the Mackie/Asia rivalry, which Abby decides to fertilize by making Big Mac watch Asia practice, then marveling to Melissa about how odd it is that Asia breezed into town right when Mackie’s foot went wonky. The way the universe works, I tell you!
In the studio, Kendall is not performing the act of chasing to Abby’s exacting standards. Abby decides to notify her of this development by blowing the roof off the joint and then returning to her inside voice to give her a snot-nosed lecture about the meaning of the word. Kendall tries to explain that she was waiting for Asia to finish a jump before taking her place in the pack of chasers, but Abby exiles her to go practice the dance alone.
How do you feel about that, Jill? Jill feels mad. Especially when she points out that she is the one who walked Abby’s dog and bought her gifts and still Abby favors Maddie, Chloe and Asia. What kind of political hoo-ha is this, exactly?! She intends to find out. Jill confronts Abby, who calls Kendall a crybaby who dit-dit-dit-dit-dits all the time. This is what dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-ditting all the time looks like, for those of you who may have missed it.
She concludes by asserting that Kendall is a brat. Jill is incredulous. Me too, frankly. Of all the kids who does her best to fly under the crap-flinging radar, Kendall would probably rank No. 1. Which pretty much makes her a crap magnet. See also, Chloe.
Come competition day, Jill is wowed by the venue and says it’s just like Dungeons and Dragons, which I’m sure she plays all the time. Then she mentions that Asia was crying in the dressing room the other night. Abby notes that it wasn’t because she was yelling at Asia. Jill says well no duh, because Abby never yells at Asia. Asia looks mortified to be called out as a crybaby. No word on her dit-dit-dit quotient, however. Jill admits that it probably wasn’t her business to mention Asia’s tears, but she felt like stirring the pot a little. Or at least stirring up Kristie.
Abby gives Jill grief for tattling on a 7-year-old and says that everyone knows who the real crybaby of the team is. Then we let bygones be bygones and the girls do a fashion show with their patriotic costumes, which the mothers put together from non-rule-breaking, flag-covered bandanas. Then Abby worries that Asia and Paige are going to fumble their flag props during the dance. Kristie says that won’t happen — at least from Asia. So you know Asia is going to botch her flag. You know.
To offer her teammate a little special encouragement, Maddie tells Asia that Abby said if the dance doesn’t win, it’s all on Asia. So don’t make any mistakes. Asia looks like this is certainly the first time she’s been privy to that information.
The girls dance. Asia runs. Paige gets draped in the flag and then folds it. I’m honestly not sure if this dance went well or not.
Apparently not. Kristie says Paige held the flag wrong, but Asia will probably be blamed for it. Kelly whispers to Abby what the real reason Paige improvised on her flag handling is because Asia draped it on her the wrong way and the flag would have been upside down if Paige didn’t take additional steps to right it. Abby blames Paige anyway. Even Kristie looks like she knows that might possibly be a little not fair.
Then Abby announces that because this week is a lesson in politics and democracy, everyone will be voting on whom they think did a better job of their solo, Maddie or Chloe. Hopefully Abby remembers the part where when you go to vote, you do so in private. Anyone want to take bets on that?
Christi calls Abby out and asks her what she hopes to gain by the vote. Abby says some feeble something about wanting to show them that when it comes to judging, different people see different things. And also she wants the girls to become more passionate and motivated about dance by acting like judges. I don’t think that’s really what she wants, but we’ll roll with it.
Backstage, Maddie and Chloe reminisce about when they used to go head-to-head every week, you know, back in the good ol’ days of Dance Moms. Kristie says there’s nothing wrong with fostering some healthy competition between the two. Mostly because her kid’s solo has been left out of the vote. All the same, she says she has always taught Asia to let bad comments slide off her back, so it wouldn’t matter either way. I’ll roll with that, too.
Speaking Asia, her Rosie the Riveter dance goes first. It’s typical Asia fierceness and reaffirms my suspicion that we will never, not ever, see Asia do a floaty, lyrical dance. Just like we will never, not ever, see Maddie do a fierce, contemporary, stage-stomper of a dance.
Abby is deliriously happy with the performance. Melissa says Abby is breaking Mackenzie’s heart. Then Abby passes out the ballots, while backstage the girls further ponder why she’s doing the voting thing. Asia chimes in that maybe it’s because they haven’t competed in a while and she just wants to see whom everybody thought worked the hardest for the win. Oh, my little baby sage! Abby’s sticking to her guns that this is still a lesson in giving the girls a walk in the judges’ shoes.
Chloe goes first. The dance is a stunner and she dances it beautifully.
Everyone cheers, including Abby.
Maddie’s dance is pure Maddie — leaping and reaching and beseeching — and she, too, is lovely.
In the audience, Melissa tells Kristie that she dreams of Mac becoming that kind of dancer. Christi tells the camera that she hopes everyone will consider how much of an advantage Maddie has always had over Chloe when they cast their votes. Aloud, she says that she personally would have loved to see Asia and Mackenzie go head-to-head, as well, so we have more races to vote in. Melissa says she’s sure they will someday, but Christi retorts that Melissa will make sure that it never happens.
Abby is jubilant when she returns to the get-ready room toting the little white vote box. Kelly asks if, when they are done with the vote, they can change the vessel into a suggestion box, because she has a couple and that, boys and girls, is a fact.
Holly is trying to be philosophical about the whole thing, noting that kids have to vote in school all the time, be it for team captain or student council, so, you know … the kids will live no matter what happens here.
Come awards time, Abby says the success of the group dance depends on whether the judges are voting for straight legs and pointed feet or a good piece of storytelling. Both, maybe, because Free The People takes second place. Asia looks a little worried, but I’m pretty sure professional scapegoat Paige is going to take the fall.
In Asia’s solo division, someone did a dance to “Get Up Offa That Thing,” which makes me unreasonably happy. They got third. Asia takes the win. Also, I don’t think our announcer is too snazzed about being on Dance Moms because he keeps his hat pulled low and his noggin even lower.
In Maddie’s and Chloe’s division, someone did a dance to “Stairway to Heaven,” which makes me unreasonably happy. They get third. Chloe gets second. Maddie gets first. Abby says they both danced great.
Let’s see how the amateur judges called it. Maddie gets a vote. Then Chloe. Oooof — Paige gets a write-in. Kellllllyyyyyyy! Abby says she’s making a mockery of the dance-mocratic process. Christi says the fact that Kelly didn’t vote for Chloe hurts her feelings. Then Maddie and Chloe each get another vote. Maddie goes up by one. Holly says she wanted to vote for Maddie because of her technique, but she also wanted to vote for Chloe for doing the best she could with what she’d been given. Then Maddie runs away with the election, 7-3. Not one person looks happy with the outcome. Or the exercise.
Abby says she’s shocked that more of the kids didn’t vote for Chloe. Me, too, mostly because not everyone earned their “I Voted” sticker. There are six mothers — Kristie, Christi, Kelly, Holly, Melissa and Jill. Leaving Chloe and Maddie out of the vote, there are also six children left to cast a ballot — Brooke, Paige, Mackenzie, Asia, Kendall and Nia.
Apparently Abby can’t be troubled with voter fraud. She tells Chloe to take the sadness that she feels about her loss and use it to inject more emotion into her dances. Then she tells everyone that her own mother and dad taught her to never discuss religion or politics, negating the whole entire episode in one snappy cliché.
Ever the diplomat, Holly says that she thinks the voting exercise was ultimately good for the girls, because it taught them that voting is not necessarily about popularity, but about who can get the job done best for the team.
Christi wants to know if Abby’s going to have a vote every time two dancers go head-to-head from here on out, or if this exercise was only designed to make Chloe feel bad. Abby looks a little rattled by her remarks, then says that it’s a competitive world, whether it’s in politics or dance or school. Christi says that would be great if hers wasn’t the only kid being punished by Abby’s version of that.
Abby tells her she’s welcome and leaves. And the polls — and the episode — are closed.
So what say you, Dance Moms nation? Was the vote a good lesson or a bad idea? Should Melissa home-school her girls to make more time for piano? Is there enough natural competition between Maddie and Chloe (and Mac and Asia) without Abby having to fan the flames? And who do you think leaked out of voting? Sound off in the comments section below!
Next week on Dance Moms, Abby gets invited to appear on The View and the f-bombs fly as Christi and Kristie call Melissa out on the reality of Mack’s foot injury.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.