Dance Moms Season 3 episode 11 recap: Don’t Ask, Don’t Yell

Lori Acken

Here’s the good news, Dance Moms faithful. We had two hours to fill tonight and, once again, a decent portion of it was a pretty good time. Flirty, happy Abby. Booze-a-riffic moms. Another “Invitational featuring the Abby Lee Dance Studio” competition — this time in Minneapolis — so I can attribute all the losing to the part where you can’t really invite a bunch of people to your party and then win all the door prizes. I think I’m sensing a theme/business deal here in Season 3 — but whatever.

Even if it was our party last week in Jersey, too, Abby is still put out by so many second place finishes. But she’s not going to yell <wink, wink>. She says the girls looked exquisite in the group dance, but she didn’t see a love story. Even so, she still has love for her dancers. Then she tells everyone about going to Minneapolis, which I’m guessing they knew anyway, and we get to the pyramid.

Bottom of the bottom is Big Mac. She missed out on first place in the mini solo division by 11 whopping points.

Next is Nia. At first I worried that Abby was going to yell at her for wanting to dance when she was sick — which should thrill Abby to bits. And it does. She gives the girl a pass for performing under less than ideal circumstances.

Then Paige — she still has noodles for arms.

Row two begins with Maddie. She bobbled easy moves, but she knows how to perform

Next is Kendall. Abby says sometimes her mother harms her, sometimes she helps. This time she helped. Abby says Jill wants Kendall to overtake Maddie and Abby is all about it. Holly says that seems a little cutthroat. Exactly, says Abby. Welcome to competitive dance.

Top of the pyramid is Brooke. And somewhere a little corner of hell has frozen over.

Chloe raises her hand to ask why she still is not back in the stack. Publically, Abby says it’s because she’s still on probation. Privately, she says its because the lengthy punishment is starting to make Chloe realize that if she wants back in there, she’s going to have to work hard and ignore her mother.

Group routine is called Don’t Ask, Just Tell — Abby’s salute to the demise of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and also her entreating the kids to always be themselves and be truthful. Because that’s what this show is all about. Being truthful.

First solo goes to Brooke. Kendall gets one, too. Final solo goes to Maddie. It’s called Uphill Battle because that’s what Maddie has ahead of her to get back to the top of the pyramid.

Then Abby dismisses the kids to go warm up in the den and tells their mothers to take their place on the firing line. Then she launches into a diatribe about nice moms finishing last. Or daughters of nice moms, anyway. She wants mothers and daughters to stop focusing on all the other things — I’m guessing we’re talking about the trappings of fame, right here — and get back to eating, sleeping and breathing dance. Then she excuses them to go tell their daughters to march right back in here and be brilliant.

And they do.

Abby starts running them through a conditioning routine, saying that, from here on out, if they’re not sweating, bleeding and crying, they don’t want it bad enough. Upstairs in the mom loft, the ladies are quiet for a spell. Then Melissa breaks the silence by saying that she spent the entire day before scouting locales for her and Greg Gisoni to go on a little honeymoon. The other mothers are all like, “Wait, wha’?! Because if you’re married, why didn’t we get an invite?!!”

Melissa says they aren’t married yet, but soon. It’s going to be teeny tiny. Abby might be invited. But probably not the moms. Undeterred, the ladies volunteer to take her wedding dress shopping.

While the mothers are debating what Abby really means by Don’t Ask, Just Tell, Big Mac is struggling mightily with the hip-hop choreography. Speaking of struggling, Holly still can’t quite wrap her around the idea that Jill is praiseworthy for her sneaky methods of making Kendall outshine Nia in last week’s duet. Kelly doesn’t get it, either. Christy tries to explain that it shows the drive to get your kid ahead, even if it’s a warped way of doings. Things escalate between Holly and Jill until Jill gets up and leaves.

Next day, Melissa and Abby are discussing the details of the upcoming spring concert (remember, Abby doesn’t call ‘em recitals) when the phone rings. Gia answers. It’s a man. Calling for Abby.

Ooooooohhhhhhhhhh! A boy is calling Abby! Ooooooh!

Abby giggles  and prowls around, talking, talking, talking and miffing the mothers as practice time ticks away. Finally she puts herself in the naughty corner for her bad behavior, but she doesn’t hang up on her man friend. Finally the mothers give up their crabbing and mock.

When Abby finally gets off the phone, Holly, Melissa and Jill head down to pry her for the details. Was their speed-dating outing successful? No. But Abby’s trip to the gas station afterward was. (Booooooo! I want me some more Darryl!) In any case, Mystery Mr. Wonderful pumped Abby’s gas for her and scored himself some digits for his effort. The moms want to be her glam squad for their big first date, but Abby is doubtful.

Kendall’s solo is called Secrets and Lies. Abby says she’s dead in the face, which should be good for keeping secrets. Jill says that’s just her style.

At group rehearsal, Big Mac says her foot hurts, but she doesn’t want to let Abby down. Abby is suspicious that she just doesn’t want to do the dance. Melissa tells her to put on her hip-hop boots and go out there and give it a whirl.

Upstairs, Jill wants to plan a little bridal shower for Melissa to go with the dress shopping trip. Christi, still smarting from last year’s whole cease-and-desist thing, isn’t so sure that’s a great idea. Jill protests that things are different now.

After dance (or maybe it’s the weekend, Abby goes to get her nails did for her date. Jill, Holly and Melissa show up, too. Jill starts draping a scarf around Abby’s neck just for funsies and Abby delivers the line of the episode — “Jill, I got one thing going for me and that’s cleavage. I’m not going to cover it up.” I don’t care that we still have 60 minutes left in this thing. That’s still the line of the episode.

Abby tells us that the mothers are trying to live vicariously through her, because she’s still on the market and they’re not. She tells them that on the inside, she’s a size 6 Prada and she’s all about the L.A. guys. And the dumb jock guys, too. The gym rats if you will. Apropos of I’m not sure what, Jill starts doing the Single Ladies dance.

Oh-oh-oh. Lord.

Back at the studio, Abby says that Maddie’s solo will be darker and edgier than what she’s used to doing. Melissa says that’s great because she looks at those kinds of dances on the YouTube and covets them. Since we’ve watched Maddie do variations on the same Suffering Child dance for three seasons now, I covet the prospect of finally seeing something a little more grown up from her, too.

Then it’s time for Abby’s date, who turns out to be Louie/Louis. He says “Loo-ee” so I’m going with the “ie” version until I find out otherwise. Louie is a scruffy stud muffin in a bowtie. Abby mainlines a few Tic-Tacs. Holly, Jill and Melissa go out to scope him out, say hello and give the man a few pointers. Louie says he’s a gentleman and all around helpful guy.

Then we find out that Abby never actually got out of her car when she first met Louie — and now she’s discovering he’s a little more petite than she thought. Given the circumstance, one wonders what Louie thinks, too, but I guess we’ll find out.

Turns out, not only is Louie taking Abby to Flowers In The Attic, he rented the entire joint just for their date. (Remember Flowers in the Attic from last year‘s Brooke and Abby tea date, Dance Moms diehards?) Louie jumps right to the heart of the matter and asks Abby what she’s looking for a man. They both ’fess up to having long-distance crushes. Then Louie says he’s writing a book about relationships because he’s very good at figuring women out. How hard does that make Abby laugh? This hard.

Dessert is called Chocolate Eruption and Louie says that “eruption” is one of his twelve favorite words. Abby asks him to name the other eleven. He can’t quite come up with them off the top of his head. Then he spoons some eruption into Abby’s mouth.

Louie apparently told Abby that he has a dance background and now Abby wants to know the deets. Oh. That kind of dance background. Seems They made him do it. No word on who They are, but Abby wants to see what They taught him — right now, atop the table. Louie declines. Abby calls him a wuss. Louie begs to differ. He’s 180 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal, and the table can’t handle that much man-ness, thank you very much. I get the distinct impression that “sex” is one of Louie’s favorite words, too.

Next day, Abby gets to contend with this.

She calls them the wicked stepsisters and bids them be gone. They don’t go. Abby says Flowers in the Attic was too kitschy for her, but Louie was funny. She was mostly laughing at him instead of with him, but she doubts he noticed. At any rate, she needs more laughter in her life and he’s good for that. So she might just keep him around.

Time for Brooke’s solo instruction. The dance is called Arm Yourself and is about having a secret weapon to get out of any situation. Abby says Brooke was born to dance and she knows it, but she doesn’t embrace it. Phhhft! More Louie! More Louie!

Nope. Jill and Kendall. On a field trip to get new headshots. As Mr. Photo snaps away, Jill reveals that she aspires to more than just dance for her daughter. She would love her to be in commercials and print ads and the like, as well. Then the flash of the camera proves too much to resist, and she sneaks into a shot with her girl. Then she shoves Kendall out of the way and smiles pretty.

Time for the dress-shopping trip to The Exquisite Bride, complete with surprise mini shower. Melissa says she’s fine with letting the moms into her life now. This outing might change her mind.When the parade of dresses begins. Christi pronounces them all very lovely, but much too virginal for a third-time bride. Then she tests out the mirror. “This is the skinniest mirror in all of America!” she proclaims.

All the better to sell your pampered pal an overpriced frock, my dear.

Melissa reveals that she wears Spanx. Christi reminds us that Kelly doesn’t wear underwear. Holly spills her drink. Finally, Melissa comes out teary-eyed in a sparkly frock and veil. She says yes to the dress. Whoops. Wrong show. Man, that would have been an awesome net/show crossover, though.

Next day, Big Mac’s foot is bugging her, so Melissa tells Abby she’s taking the kid to the doc. Abby says she can’t have a wounded soldier and gives them her blessing. Upstairs, the moms doubt the validity of the wound. Just then, Melissa calls Kelly to see if she can keep Maddie for the night, while Melissa tends to Mackie’s wound. Kelly says sure, then hangs up and leads a discussion of the enduring mystery of Melissa’s wedded state. Just like old times, huh, Dance Moms nation?

The group dance looks like fun, but Abby isn’t sure that the girls get the crux of the message. She calls the moms down to ask them to discuss it with their daughters in an open-minded and respectful manner. Holly says Nia loved learning her death drop from Shangela and that it opened up an opportunity to discuss alternative lifestyles in a non-threatening way. Christi says she, too, discussed it with her children … and then explained it to Kelly.

Kelly decides to take up the matter with Paige and Brooke in the studio store. She does a lovely job of it. Brooke and Paige say what’s the big deal because the gay people they know are more fun than the straight ones and that takes care of that.

Kelly delivers Maddie back home and goes in to scout Mac’s injury. Melissa says it’s a bad sprain. No dance for 72 hours. Elevation — which is not one of Louie’s favorite words. Icing. Mac says she’s sad and upset, but Kelly is still suspicious.

It’s a snowy day in the Minne-apple when the ladies arrive to the cheers of their competitors. In the get-ready room, Abby notices that Big Mac is trooping around just fine. Melissa hands her the required doctor’s excuse. Abby tells Mac she’s going to sit with her foot elevated for the entire time they’re there.

While Christi gives Chloe a pep talk about showing Abby that she’s dead serious about being back on the pyramid, Abby leaves and comes back with a wheelchair for her wounded soldier. Mac is devastated.

OK, Mac is totally amused. Abby says no having fun; it’s just a seat for someone who shouldn’t be standing. Then she turns her attention to Kendall, whom she says is still not being expressive enough. Maddie’s turns are not sharp enough. And Abby will not accept second place again.

Kendall is up first.

She dances beautifully, but keeps her same old hopeful Kendall smile on her face throughout. In her defense, the song does say, “When we kiss, I feel nothing.” So she should have the right to look like it, no? No.

Abby says she did ok, but it wasn’t a first place performance. That should be coming up now.

It’s nice to see Maddie in something other than a pastel little-girl dance, doing something more expressive and intense than a tormented-little-girl dance. For those of us who feared she was a one-very-good-trick pony, this should go at least a little way in making us feel better.

Also, high-five, producers for giving us a such a good long look at the entirety of everyone’s dances. Now cut the drama in half and I think we might be on to something.

Abby tells both girls that they did a good job and asks them what they thought of their performances. Kendall says she thinks she did good and Abby asks her why she didn’t do excellent. Then she asks Maddie if she made it up the hill. An unsmiling Maddie looks like she has no idea what the correct answer is and nods her head uncertainly. It’s answer enough for Abby.

Then Abby turns her attention to Brooke. For about 4 seconds. Then she tells the kid to keep doing what she’s doing and goes to wheel Mac back to the audience. Kelly is not amused. She says if Abby wants Brooke to act like a leader, she should support the mission.

Jill excuses herself to use the restroom, but she’s actually off to show Abby Kendall’s new headshots. The mothers briefly wonder what she’s up to, but they’re mostly interested in confronting Melissa about Mackie’s magical disappearing injury. Seems she’s been turning cartwheels and goofing with her wheelchair. Melissa tries to protest that she’s been yelling at her to sit down and elevate to no avail. Kids will be kids. She says Mack loves this dance and really wanted to do it, but the mothers say the evidence shows otherwise. Melissa starts doing the Million Expressions of Hooey, which pretty much says it all.

How good is it to see Brooke doing solos again?! Her dances are so much more physically complex and mature and elegant than the other dancers.

In the audience, Abby just looks haughty.

Backstage, Kelly says she doesn’t want to hear anything out of Abby if the dance didn’t go well enough to suit her. Fat chance of that, sister. Brooke looks typically zen. Abby says the performance was good, but it could have been great. It should have been great. Kelly pushes back a little, but everyone mostly looks over it.

Then Abby asks Mac how the foot is feeling and Melissa chirps that she thinks it’s doing better. Says Mackenzie is resting it, like a good girl. Abby says resting it from what — all the cartwheels she was doing? Busted. And here’s the cheater-cam evidence.

To be fair, I saw her only land on one foot. Melissa says she was hopping while tumbling. Abby tells her not to lie for her kids. Melissa says she wasn’t lying. Mac says so, too. Abby decides the only way to get to the bottom of this conspiracy is some good old-fashioned interrogation of the rank and file. She tells General Brooke to line up the troops. Isn’t this the cutest thing?!

Maddie says yes sir, sir, Mac did in fact go to the hospital. Nia says no sir, sir, she did not witness a cartwheel. Only walking.

Melissa says Mac has a sprained ankle, not a broken foot, so she can walk like that. Hold up now. What? Weren’t we looking at and discussing Mac’s sprained foot with Mrs. Hyland just a little ways back in the Gisoni livingroom? Weren’t nothing said about no ankle then.

Finally, Abby gives up the individual queries and addresses the entire line. Raised hands, who saw Mackie doing tricks?

And also…

Next week’s pyramid should be a fest.

Speaking of which, Abby pulls Chloe aside and tells her that she will be watching her especially during the group number and she better see a dancer who wants back in the stack. And also she better see a kid willing to stand up to her mother when Christi is doing something that goes against Chloe’s contract.

Then Abby’s ready for some hip-hop redemption. The dance is awesome — probably one of my favorite ever.

It has nothing to do with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and more to do with thank you for noticing that I’m single and ready to mingle, but anyway. We had our lesson back at the shop. Holly says it wasn’t perfect, but it was fun to watch.

Backstage, Abby lines up the army and asks them one by one what they did wrong.

Private Nia says she twisted the wrong way and gets 20 push-ups. She drops and does real ones, not girly, bent-knee ones. I salute ya, Miss Dangerous!

Private Kendall says her face and her spacing need work. Twenty push-ups for her, too.

Private Maddie says she accidently scooped her arms. Same punishment.

Private Chloe used her hand wrong. We don’t even find out what Private Paige did; its just straight to push-ups. Abby says Brooke was MIA through the whole routine. Uh uh. I saw her. Then Abby commands them to march out that door and says she doesn’t want to see them again. “Yes ma’am!” they holler happily, running out the door.

Awards time. I predict a lot of second-place finishes.

Brooke gets second in the teen solo division.
Kendall gets fourth in the elite junior solos.
Maddie gets second again. Melissa blames her only having three days to learn the dance. I blame the Invitational.

Hoooboy. The group dance gets seventh. The moms are happy, given that hip-hop is not their daughters’ collective forte. Christi says that if Abby wants the girls to win, she should give them choreo that they’re actually, you know, good at. And put them in a competition that doesn’t have their name in its title.

Backstage, Abby waves the white flag of surrender. The moms laugh, but Abby says it’s not funny. It’s time for the girls to reenlist in their passion for dance or hit the bricks and that’s final.

Next week, another two-hour episode, the group dance is about Rosa Parks and Cathy and her Lad Apples are back.

A new two-hour episode of Dance Moms airs next Tuesday at 8/7CT on Lifetime.

Images: Lifetime


  1. I have watched this show a few times, I like seeing them learn, dance. But I cant believe how Abby talks to the kids or how she talks to the mom in front in the girls. There is no way I would put up with someone this nasty be teaching my child. I wish the mother would pull the girls out of this class and find a new nice teacher. you can teach without being so nasty bout everything. I will not watch and sure will not let my granddaughters watch it.

  2. Leave off the first hour. That was neauseating. Seeing Abbe acting silly and Melissa in white *cough* gowns, just ewww. Second hour, what a treat, we get to see the kids entire dances! Only took 3 years! The group dance did have mistakes but I still loved it. And I could watch Brooke dance all day long and never get bored. I see a shift i do not like. The show is shifting to being about Abbe. Way to kill it Lifetime.

  3. I don’t think Abby should have put the Mom’s in the position to explain the dance. If it’s not her place to explain, then it’s not her place to tell them to explain it. Each Mom and kid has a time-line for “the talk(s)” they need to have while growing up. If one or all is to young to understand, then let older girls do that dance.

    • I disagree Amy. If anything, these issues should come from the parents, and not the teachers. Same goes for the birds and bees talk, the “there is no Santa, tooth fairy, Easter bunny” talk. There’s no way I’d want anyone BUT myself talking to my kids about something like that.

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  1. Dance Moms Season 3, Episode 12 recap: Everything's Coming Up Rosa - Channel Guide Magazine
  2. Dance Moms Season 3 Tell All recap: Children and Violence | Channel Guide Magazine

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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.