Dance Moms Season 3 episode 21 recap: While Abby’s Away, It’s Apples All Day

Lori Acken

Welcome back, Dance Moms nation. Quick poll before we begin. Raise your hand if you swore you were done, that’s it, finis, and never coming back after the end of last week’s episode … and you did it anyway. Raise your hand if you are checking the recap first to see if you can handle watching this week’s episode before you actually do. Raise your hand if you think what Dance Moms really needs is a whole lot less of Maddie and Mackenzie, Chloe and Kendall, Nia and Paige and Brooke and Asia.

You have been warned.

We start this week in Los Angeles where Abby informs us that she does not miss her students at all. Because that’s what you want in a dance teacher — someone who cannot wait to be away from her dancers. Abby and her buddy, Dance Moms co-creator John Corella, are on the hunt for a location for ALDC West. ALDC LA, if you will. And they’re starting at some place called Evo — fairy looking thing — ve dance studio. Where you can Get Fit & Sexy Now!

Oh. Hold the phone. It’s not a plain old dance studio. It’s a “Pole Dancing and Exotic Arts Studio.” Because that’s what you want to have on a show ostensibly about children’s competitive dance. But they do offer Groupon and Living Social deals and also pole parties, so that’s good to know.

Sure enough, the professional-cheerleader-looking receptionist agrees to give them a walk-about in the place, beginning with the Pole Room. Abby protests that she’s looking for a pole-free establishment, but she gives one a whirl anyway.

Abby decides that Kelly would make a better pole dancer because Kelly failed at regular dance (which I am sure would warm the cockles of the pole dancers’ hearts if they overheard her saying that), plus she’s always taking her clothes off. Then she heads for what I guess is the Silks Room and reveals a little secret: She’s checked with a structural engineer to see about getting some silks installed back in Pittsburgh. She wants to be among the first studios in the area to offer that type of dance. She’s got a little Cirque obsession going on.

Abby says she likes the space, but she’s not so sure it’s good for teaching children (clutch my head, clutch my head). Still, she might come back to take a class or two her own self, which I hope we get on film. Also, she’s pretty sure she’s coming to Cali one way or another, and that Maddie and Mack will follow her lead. As for the others, who cares? They can stay in Pittsburgh with the newly installed silks.

From Hollywood to Candyland, where the boys, Cathy and Anthony all got the ”wear red” memo and the latest three imports did not. Mick and Gino are gone. Hadley and Yvette Walts are here. Frankly, they both look a little dubious about the situation, but Yvette says that she was thrilled when Cathy called to invite her to join up with the Apples, because she and Cathy have the same goal: to tear Abby down the way Abby tore Hadley down on AUDC with her roadkill remark.

Then Yvette gets teary-eyed and says Hadley can’t wait to perform again for Abby and show her how much she has improved. Well that’s lovely, but you do know that she will be performing for Cathy, right, Yvette? And that as long as you’re doing that, Abby won’t give a herd of flying monkeys about how much Hadley has improved? Just so we’re clear.

Next newbie is Campbell, daughter of Alli.

Alli is big fan of lipstick and says that people fall in love with Campbell whether she’s onstage or off. Cathy says Campbell has amazing stage presence. I secretly hope Campbell also has a brother named Glen, just because I am like that.

Last of the newbies is a timid looking little muffin named Mari, who is the daughter of Gina. Not Zach’s mom Gina. The other Gina. We’ll call her Eyeliner Gina.

Eyeliner Gina is also a dance teacher, but she says she wants Mari to dance for Cathy because she is a leader in the industry and can make Mari famous, which apparently the home studio cannot. You sure you want this kind of famous, Eyeliner Gina? Because it doesn’t really have all that much to do with dance. Just so we’re clear.

Cathy says that even though this is the dream team she hoped to establish, the children’s places on said team aren’t secure until she says so, and someone may still go home after all. This is because she prefers to choreograph dances with uneven numbers. Also, she wants to be certain that everyone there has her back.

Look at this! The Apple Parents have a lounge of their own now! Or at least a sectional sofa and some tissues and Purell. In what looks like the costume room. Also, they have to watch what’s going on in the studio via a television. But you know. Baby steps.

The Apples group dance this week will be about the dawning of puppy love — which is what got poor Gino kicked out in the first place. While the kids begin to work on it, the parents talk amongst themselves. Eyeliner Gina — whom a) I’ve decided is my new favorite Dance Mom and b) whose name I am going to change to Gina Collins because she’s the very spit of Jackie Collins …

… worries that the dancer who does get eliminated is going to be totally humiliated. Plus she put her whole entire life and her businesses on hold to give Mari this big break. I predict Gina Collins will be gone by the end of this episode just because of that revelation. I hope not, though. I need you, Gina.

Gina Collins gets off on the wrong foot with Rick immediately by pointing out Jalen’s affinity for spinning on his head. “He can do a lot more than spin on his head,” Rick protests, while we watch footage of him spinning on his hands, break-dance style, for the purpose of example. Gina Collins is undaunted. She points out that you can pretty much take anyone off the street and teach him to spin on his head, while her daughter is a trained pirouette artiste. Rick says, well, you can also take anyone off the street and teach him how to spin like that, too. The conversation holds up for about another 40 seconds before Rick storms out of the room. Yvette says she’s glad for that, because yelling is not how she rolls. Nick’s mom, Donna, says Gina has to understand that Rick’s all hot-tempered like that because he comes from the street, yo. So I imagine we could probably teach him hip-hop pretty fast.

Back in L.A., Abby continues her dance studio tour, reminding us that she sure as heck does not intend to die in Pittsburgh, plus all the little wannabe stars in La La Land need her guidance desperately. She says that while she’s out here ramming around Cali-style, the kids better be back there in Pittsburgh working their left-behind arses off. And they are.

Their mothers, on the other hand, are at Mohan’s, shooting tequila. Mmmmm! Tequila! Right, Melissa?


Jill says the reason for the mom’s sudden conviviality is not having Abby around to terrorize everyone. Christi wonders how Abby is going to be accepted in skinny-obsessed L.A. Kristie says, believe it or not, they love her out there. And there’s a lot more tyrants just like her, so she’ll even blend. Kelly wonders what will become of them if Abby does go to L.A. and Jill says that the Pitt studio is all but doomed. Holly wants to know if Cathy will keep coming after them in the meantime. Christi says oh yes, even it means she has to enter herself in the competitions. Then we lift some Cosmos to an Abby-free world.

Back in Ohio, the cows are fighting, but Anthony is talking to the kids about love. More specifically, kissing. Ewwwww! Right, kids? Oh. I guess not. Campbell fesses up to having a boyfriend, until she realizes that her mother can hear her. Then she owns it anyway. People love her onstage and off after all. Jalen says he’s not sure if he’s ever been kissed on purpose, but one time someone’s lips accidentally slipped onto him, so does that count?

Oh no. Gina Collins and Mari are already missing. The hell!? I get Gina for 10 minutes of comic relief and that’s it? They fled already? From the look on Rick’s face, I’m also a tad worried she could be in the trunk of his car.

Donna volunteers to call Gina Collins to see what’s up and GC says that Mari is really sick and throwing up, but she should be back tomorrow, so no harm done. Plenty of time to perfect the dance. Cathy shows up to do a “mental head count” — insert your own joke here — and notices Mari’s absence. She isn’t pleased. The Apples are going to Dance USA in Youngstown, Ohio, and Cathy says if she can’t conquer her own backyard, how can she conquer the world? Full participation is mandatory. No room for barfing dancers. But we mustn’t be hasty, because Jalen and Campbell are in the weeds with Anthony’s choreography. Might be time to call in a backup.

Cathy doesn’t even bother with Kaya’s given name and just rolls with “Black Patsy.” She says Black Patsy is a lovely lady, far as she’s concerned. I start counting the seconds till Black Patsy and Rick get a load of each other and we potentially get our first-ever Dance Moms cage match, without the cage.

Well I guess this settles it: There’s an Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition makeup room. So we must be having a Season 2. Especially since Abby starts getting overhauled by a makeup lady. In the meantime, John Corella gossips with her about Cathy. John thinks someone from the Pitt Crew should go scout the Youngstown competition since the girls won’t be competing against them, just to see what they’re in for next time they do.

Back in Ohio, Mari’s back and Cathy’s ready to hand out solos. Zack gets one. Hadley gets one. Donna is irritated that Nick is always an also-ran. Can someone get her Christi’s number real quick?

Anthony’s dance for Hadley is called The Golden Couch and it’s about being a woman. Er, what? Oh. It’s about being glamorous. Not the casting couch. I’d still call it something else if I were him. Zack’s solo is called “Puppet.” Anthony’s pulling a Reverse Pinocchio and turning Zack from a boy into a puppet.

And here come the Wileys. Cathy apparently neglected to tell the rest of the troops that she summoned them, because everyone on the Parent Couch looks mortified — particularly Yvette, who has gone a round or two with the franchise’s other bully mama Kristie and almost got her block knocked off.

Nicaya has grown up a ton since we first saw her. She and Hadley both look like bona fide teens. Anthony’s nonplussed at the late entry into the field and orders Nicaya to get in the back row and understudy the other dancers. Kaya — who’s had herself a serious Jill Vertes makeover since we saw her last — comes back to the Parent Sofa and stares down the other parents.

Anybody else worried we are on our way to a completely Pitt-Girls-free episode? Atta boy, JC, Superstar Executive Producer. We tell you we want more of the girls and you treat us to none! That’ll show us!

When we come back from commercial, it’s time to find out who has been voted off First Kiss Island. Cathy takes little Jalen’s hands in hers and he looks up at her balefully.

Psyche! Cathy cuts Campbell, instead. Regular Gina doubles over with surprise. Campbell begins to cry. Cathy tells her to sit and watch the other dancers and learn from them, for all is not lost yet. Alli gathers up her wailing girl.

Come competition day, Jill has brought along Holly and Kelly for spy-tech backup. They marvel at how they’ve never done Dance USA before (and until it merges with in10sity Dance, they never will). The ladies get themselves a program and are disappointed to see that no actual names are listed — only “CADC dancer.” No shortcuts to be had here.

Backstage, Zack calls out “I’m changed!” and appears looking for all the world like Steve Urkel in red boxer briefs. Zack says he would prefer not to appear in public dressed like that. Cathy agrees. Gina agrees. Lori agrees. Cathy and Anthony have it out about the necessity of the “Speedos” to the success of the dance. Anthony says Zack will not do as well if he doesn’t go out there wearing the tighty-reddies. Zack and Gina begin to cry. Misery. It’s not just for the Pitt Crew any more.

Zack says the goofy outfit has undermined his confidence. Then he disappears and reemerges in regular old black dance pants. I’ll give Anthony this much: He now just looks completely like Urkel and not very much like a puppet, save for the red circles and black mouth lines drawn on his face. But he also doesn’t look like a miserably uncomfortable little boy either, and that’s much better.

I suppose after last week, we should really have known that Jill doesn’t understand the subtleties of being a successful spy. This time she decides to do it by marching straight to the consulate of the enemy and knocking on the door to announce her arrival.

Pretty exciting stuff, huh, Viv?

Yvette says she’s thrilled at the intrusion — mostly because I’m sure she was mortified to learn that her plan to show Abby how much Hadley had grown was solidly derailed by Abby not actually, you know, being there. At least someone from ALDC is.

It takes a minute for the Pitt trio to recognize Kaya beneath her Jillification, but once she opens her mouth it’s a done deal. She and Jill promptly get into it about whether or not Kaya was kicked out of the competition after their last encounter, or whether the Wileys left of their own free will. Kelly says she thinks Kaya’s makeover looks more like Holly than Jill, but I still think Jill. It’s the bangs.

This time it’s the Pitt Crew’s turn to take the row behind the Apples instead of vice versa. Cathy says they smell. Hadley’s solo goes first. It’s the sort of solo Abby usually gives Kendall, and she does it well. She’s also been practicing her turns since we saw her last.

Yvette howls her approval.

Zack’s next. Aggggh! Scary!

I love almost everything Zack does, but this dance isn’t my favorite. Let’s just call it an interesting experiment and go back to letting the boy do what he does best, which is beautiful, lyrical dances that show off his grace.

Jill says no matter how well they do, these dancers will always be imports, unlike the ALDC’s homegrown dancers.

Abby calls in from the AUDC set to see what Jill has learned thus far. Jill has learned this: Hadley (“You mean Roadkill?” exclaims Abby) and Yvette are here, and so are Kaya and Nicaya. And Cathy is still a pain in her ass. Abby is now updated.

Quick look at the ALDC dancers dancing with hats. Oh oh. Hats. Bad news for Chloe.

Backstage in Youngstown, Yvette and Anthony bond, which gets on Gina Collins’ and Kaya’s nerves something fierce. Yvette says her apple red dress proves she’s a team player. Right? Right, you guys? Then she drops the hooey and tells the other two to wise up: It’s the choreographer who picks the dancers, not Cathy. Kaya, forgetting to be Holly on the inside, too, says that’s why Yvette is up Anthony’s ass all day. Ouchie.

Then Kaya tells Yvette she’s just living vicariously through her daughter. This from the woman who gave herself a nickname culled from Patsy Ramsey, the horrifically doomed woman she considered the ultimate stage mom.

Whoa. What just happened here? All of sudden, Regular Gina throws her head back and hollers, “THE KIDS ARE COMING! DON’T YELL AT ME AGAIN!” No one was yelling at you, Regular Gina. Not that we saw, anyway. Also, you scared me! Stop! You’re the sane one, remember?

Cathy, wearing her girdle on the outside, or maybe her weightlifting belt, wants to know what all the bickering is about.

Everyone starts talking at once until Regular Gina’s voice rises above the din again to tell Yvette to sit down and be quiet because no one is going to let her win. Cathy says the only winning we need to concern ourselves with is the dancers. I want to know what’s gotten into Regular Gina.

Group dance time. Huh. I’m not sure what’s going on here. The girls are dressed straight out of a ’50s beach movie. The boys are in pink polos and cargo shorts. Now Zack is dragging Hadley. Now Nick is whirling Mari. The music is really loud for being about a first kiss. Tadaaaaa! Well OK. I guess you had to be there. I hope you had to be there, anyway. It would have been nice to see the dance as a whole. Kelly says they are still no threat.

Zack’s solo gets third in the junior division. Anthony stands by his Red Tighties For Victory assessment. Hadley’s solo gets second in the teen division. Cathy says that doesn’t upset her. I’m guessing because she never keeps dancers around for very long anyway.

The group takes the win. Even so, Cathy says she needs to pare down her team and before she does it, she needs to talk to her own personal dance Yoda about it. That would be Viv. And then — in the episode’s ultimate insult, if you ask me — we don’t even get to see her talk to Viv about it over some sort of dessert. Why must we be punished so!

Abby’s on the phone again, this time calling Gianna to see who’s been coming to class in her absence and who’s been skipping out. Then she doesn’t say word one about that. She tells Gia that she and John have found a potential spot in Beverly Hills for ALDC LA. She tells Gia she sent Jill to Youngstown to watch the Apples dance. She tells Gia she has to go catch some rays now. Then she hangs up.

Meeting up with the Apples in the hallway, Kelly asks Viv sociably why she didn’t dance today. Cathy takes offense. Forgetting that Holly would never say a swear, Kaya says they’re just a bunch of damn stalkers. Since she’s still upright and not bleeding, Kelly decides to push her luck a little further and tell Cathy she noticed that there were four girls dressed for dance on the stage, but only three actually danced. Cathy says they should mind their own business — and besides, where are their girls, anyway? This isn’t an in10sity Dance competition, Cathy. Duh. Jill says they are on vacation. Cathy says Jill’s mouth should be on vacation. I think every day is vacation for Jill’s mouth.

Jill and Kaya get into it all over again and — boop! — Kaya’s got Jill’s nose! Yes she does! Oh yes, she does!

Aaaaand … that’s where we leave it. I’m guessing we will find out next week that Kaya got in trouble for the laying on of hands and that’s the last we’ve seen of the Wileys for this go-round. But not the last we’ve seen of the Apples. Because next week, it’s still all about them, with no sign of the Pitt Crew.

So what say you, Dance Moms nation? Were you happy to have an Apple-centric episode, or sorely disappointed? Did you even stay tuned for the entire hour? Are you worried that we’re setting things up for Dance Moms to move to Canton for good, with something new in the works for the Pitt Crew? Or worse, Abby alone? Are you planning to tune in for a new season of Abby’s Ultimate? What else is on your mind? Sound off in the comments section below.

New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.


  1. Call me crazy, but I think the silks would be a good idea for Abby’s studio. I’m sure Brooke would love it, she wants to be in Cirque d’Soleil when she gets older, it would be great practice for her.

  2. The contracts are with Lifetime. Otherwise Chloe, Paige and Brooke would be history, along with Nia. The were signed by Lifetime and Abby can’t do anything about it. Cathy, on the other hand was also signed by Lifetime, but with the clause she could pick her own dancers. Abby is livid over that one.

    Lifetime is just trying to keep the ratings that the show gets when they should be out for the season. After the Chloe episode I won’t watch anymore. Rumor has it that Chloe did win the competition that Lifetime just reshot the ending for more drama.

    Reality shows are fine. Women screaming obscenities at each other is fine. Bringing kids into the fray is not fine. It is called child abuse. They (Abby, the producers, etc.) are harming the children. They will all need professional counseling for a long, long time.

    • That’s what I figured as far as the contracts, it’s sickening that these beautiful talented young ladies are being taken advantage of like that.

  3. I agree. The best thing about what I watched of this episode is the Blog Post here. Abby, grow up! Dance Moms, enough is enough. Lifetime, can’t we have a show about dance that is not violent and vile? Why do these Moms keep their kids there? A contract can be gotten out of. Abuse is abuse.

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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.