“Dance Moms” recap: Benched

Lori Acken

First of all, let me say how thrilled I am to be wrong in saying last week that Paige would not be at the top of this week’s pyramid. Paige earned her spot, and Abby rightly gave it to her.

Then let me say how not pleased I am to be right that she would be made to pay in some regard for winning last week’s competition, which we’ll get into more in a bit. Suffice it to say for now that Abby’s ferocious vitriol toward a wisp of a girl whom she knows has one nervous-wreck cell for every talented-dancer cell in her body — and who can do nothing about who her mother is or how Abby feels about said mother — was disturbing. And for those of you out there who fill up my inbox which protestations that the show is fake and, thus, the bellering doesn’t count, I don’t care. I doubt any of these kids signed on to be actors in a pseudo-fictionalized TV series, and their fear of Abby’s wrath is real. Their tears are real.

<Climbs off soapbox. Takes swig of coffee. Feels a tiny bit better. But not much.>

One more thing before we get into this week’s armed-and-dangerous action. Did anybody else take a gander at Jill’s outfit in the opening segment of the show and immediately harken back to The Mosquitos on Gilligan’s Island?

I can’t remember if it was Bingo, Bango, Bongo or Irving back there on drums who favored the hairy vest over the poufy-sleeved shirt with colorful pants below, but Jill nailed the look. And it may not be entirely coincidental. The Mosquitos sent Gilligan and Mary Ann into a tizzy with the song “Don’t Bug Me” and Jill is sending Kelly and Christi into a tizzy right now by bugging the living crap out of them. So there’s some symbiosis here.


This week’s competition is another Hollywood Vibe, which, this time, is being held in the Hollywood suburb of Pittsburgh. Home turf for the girls, so losing is not an option. Losing is never an option, but this week, it is especially not. So not that the group number will feature fake pistols so that anyone who forgets that they’re there to blow away the competition has a visual aid to help them along.

And here comes the aforementioned pyramid.

Bottom of the bottom row is Big Mac, whom Abby says went from first to worst, even though her solo went perfectly well. I guess you had your moment in the sun, Mac. I hope you get another. Next, Nia, whom Abby says had a lovely dance with no problems. Er, just like Mac. I give up trying to understand. Next is Kendall, which causes Bingo Bango Bongo Vertes to make her “Grrrr” face, but surprisingly she says nothing. And what have we here to fill out the bottom row? Et tu, Maddie? Even you? Even a fall-down-go-boom you in need of Abby’s comfort? Abby tells her to quit pouting. Maddie straightens out her mouth.

Second- and third-place Chloe and Brooke in the second row. And there she is — a smiling Paige at the top of the crop. It’s a lovely moment.

Abby says the group number will not include Mac. Abby says Paige is back in the trio. Abby tells the ousted Kendall to get the look off her face, even though Kendall is completely expressionless. Jill is not.

Chloe and Maddie will be doing solos and one of them better win.

For a brief and shining moment in the mom loft, the ladies are united in their distaste for Abby arming the dancers and their hope that said guns will remain the thumb-and-forefinger representations that the girls are employing now. Brief moment. Real brief.

For then Jill’s intended minion Melissa twinkly-pies to Kelly that she’s so glad that Paige is back in the trio. Melissa’s no dummy. With Paige on board, the group never lost. With Kendall pitch hitting, they didn’t place. But Jill is appalled and takes her wrath out on … Holly. Take heart, Christi tells her, looking down on what appears to be Kendall getting a “special little part” in the gun, er, group dance.

“Then pat me on the back,” says Jill. “Maybe I’m doing something right.”
“Money well spent on those gifts,” says Christi, never averting her eyes from the dance floor. And it’s Christi for the win.

Next day, Jill shows up with a wooden bench emblazoned with a little brass plaque that reads “To Abby Lee, Love Jill and Kendall.” “Thank you so much!” says Abby Lee. “You know the others are going to hate you.”

Not quite hate. Mock mercilessly, yes. Hate, nah. Well, maybe. Christi calls Jill a conniving bitch, while the other mothers — having gotten their bench-chuckles out already — look on in silence. This may not end well.

The next day, Abby is wearing a shirt that looks likes it’s emblazoned with The Constitution and Christi is continuing the three-moms-this-episode fashion trend of long-sleeve shirts with the shoulders cut out. In the dance studio, Abby is punishing bent legs with push-ups — and Jill discovers just how little love her bench bought her. Abby dismisses everyone but Kendall and brings Jill down for some instruction on how to harangue her kid into straight legs, just like Abby Lee. Privates for Kendall.

And now the teardown of Paige begins. Abby says that the trio girls actually learned this routine months ago and that they should only require a refresher course to nail it. Paige takes three steps into the routine and is promptly eviscerated by Abby, who caps off the lecture with, “I’ve had it with you!” I’m not sure what just happened here. Besides three steps and, perhaps, some misplaced hands, even though all three girls had their hands in different places. Kelly ain’t having it. She heads downstairs, collects her girl in her arms and lets her cry, while Abby announces, “stupid is as stupid does.” Yes, Abby. Look in any one of the mirrors that surround you for confirmation. Eventually her ire spreads throughout the trio and she tells them they need to go home before someone gets hurt. Given the fury on Christi’s face, it might not be whom Abby thinks.

The next day, everyone has cooled off. Which is good, because the girls now have their guns. And they’re clearly delighted to have them. The mothers, not so much. But Abby wants her girls armed and dangerous, and so armed and dangerous they’ll be.

Poor Little Kendall runs the music for trio practice, which is the last straw for Jill — even though she saw nothing wrong at all with poor little Paige doing the exact same thing a few weeks ago after Kendall took her spot. And even though she threw a shoe at Abby Lee — an action I strongly doubt any of the other mothers would have even survived had they taken a stab at it. But this is Jill we’re talking about (No, not Kendall. Jill.), so it’s different and her daughter should really be involved in something productive and they’re going home to do productive homework. Atta girl, Jill. Way to learn from your mistakes. And happy shopping for whatever will buy your way out of them this time.

On competition day, Abby adds Cee Lo Green sunglasses to her coat of many feathers for that extra-special Hollywood look. Everyone else is dressed like a box of Good & Plenty — all fuchsia, black and white.

Chloe’s solo is lovely and lyrical, but I keep getting distracted by her music which is something about a blue balloon “falling this girl to her knees.” Pushing, maybe. Dropping this girl to her knees, perhaps. But falling? Chloe does fall theatrically to her knees a couple times during the routine, in any case, so whatever works, I guess. The dance is exceptional and Abby says so.

Now it’s Maddie’s turn to atone for her ill-advised Texan trick improvisation. She does your basic Maddie dance, all celebrating her girlhood and gazing longingly at nothing, it’s perfect and all is right with the world once more.

Before the trio takes the stage, Abby warns them about wonky spacing — after which they take the stage with extra-wonky spacing, Maddie crowding Paige and Chloe way off in the distance. Abby can’t look at this failure that bears her name.

At solo awards time, Maddie and Chloe take one and two in keeping with Abby’s warning that somebody better win. I’m guessing Maddie’s return to the top of the Pyramid is imminent, but with Abby, you just never know. You just never know.

The trio gets second place, which I think is awesome given their wonky spacing — but we all know by now how Abby feels about first runner-up. First losers, that’s what.

Backstage, the mothers present a united front against Abby in favor of offering hope and positive encouragement in the place of freak-outs. Abby reminds them that she’s been scaring more little kids than the bogeyman, strangers with candy and the dentist combined for more than three decades and she’s not about to stop now. Since that united front didn’t work out so well, the moms decide to assemble a different united front against Jill for talking to people from her old studio. Christi wants to know if Jill is a spy, or just a chatty traitor. Jill accuses the others of being captives. Score one for Jill.

Abby’s back, this time pretend-firing her pretend guns at the mothers while they dress their girls in gold trench coats and yank their hair into slicked-back topknots. Perhaps realizing that being fired on with fake and silent weaponry is a hell of a lot more pleasant that being fired on by Abby’s braying mouth, they let her have her fun.

The group dance, officially titled “Private Eyes,” is snazzy and jazzy and bouncy and infectious. Nia’s entrance is especially saucy. And much to everyone’s relief, the shiny gold pistols come off as nothing more than embellishments to the girls’ excellent dancing — the performance is adorable, not disturbing. And it gets first prize. But it does not get best overall performance, which goes to a group dance called “War” from another category. The PI’s got beaten by the war.

Still the mothers admit to Abby that they were wrong about the guns and that the dance was a triumph, and Abby is wondering how they don’t explode from eating so much crow. Well, most of the mothers are admitting it. One thinks the dance could have been more dynamic and that the girls were not used to their full potential. Especially one girl. One blank-faced little girl who clearly wishes that the floor would open up and swallow her when her mother opens her mouth.

One little girl who will not only be the bottom of the bottom of the pyramid next week, but will also be placed back on probation — because her mother would rather buy massages and jewelry and benches than trust her child’s talent to do the talking and to put said child’s well-being first. And do anything she can to keep the cameras trained on her. Bingo. Bango. Bongo. And irking.

New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesdays at 9pm ET on Lifetime.

Dance Moms images and video © 2012 Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A&E Networks. 



  2. I see these posts about Melissa Ziegler changing her name to Melissa gisoni. For the record she was born Missy sulo. Her first marriage was to dave guy so her married name became Missy guy. Unless she remarried to someone name gisoni she must be remarried yet again.

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About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.