Another Tuesday, another Dance Moms, Dance Moms nation. Is everybody getting geared up for next week’s start of Season 3 finale-palooza? Any Abby’s Ultimate fans spot judge Richy Jackson sitting next to Gaga at the VMAs — or did you flee your television sets at the sight of Miley twerking and tongue-waving before that could even happen?
In any case, I hope you put on your lucky socks and grabbed your rabbit’s foot, because …
(Don’t be sad, little Ohio sign, John R. Kasich, Governor. It’s only for an episode. Could be two. But you’ll always be the sign I love best, I promise.)
We’re here to begin preparing for Nationals, and Abby says she loves her some Vegas because you either hit the jackpot or go home a big fat loser, which suits her competition philosophy perfectly. What doesn’t suit her perfectly is these impertinent mothers, all of whom are now standing before her and demanding to know where exactly she wandered off to at last week’s competition.
Lest you are fearing for the welfare of Miss Maryen Lorrain, as was I, you can relax because Abby explains that after the water-tossing, purse-whacking spectacle that was Lancaster, PA, she can no longer afford to put herself in a position where she will behave badly. She actually said that. She actually said she behaved badly. Then she adds that when she and Kelly got into a tussle over seating arrangements a few weeks back in Orlando, two of the three judges turned around to see what was going on, which was mortifying. Kelly says it was only mortifying because Abby refused to let her take her seat. This leads to your basic Abby-Kelly battle about what gives Abby more of a right to the seat of her choice than Kelly.
This right here, Kelly.
It doesn’t say Kelly Hyland Dance Company on that sucker, now does it?
Also, what’s black and white and mad all over?
Because we have apparently landed in some parallel Dance Moms universe, Abby says it’s her own reaction to these situations that is troubling her. Abby, is that really you? This is an awful lot of self-awareness for your average Tuesday. But anyway, what’s past is past. And the future is Nationals. So let’s do the pyramid. Whoops. Nope. Dr. Holly has a quick question first: How is Abby going to do the pyramid if she wasn’t even at the last two competitions?
Well …. Abby says she has all the score sheets. Plus she was in rehearsals. Plus the pyramid rarely makes a lick of sense anyway, so let’s just get ‘er over with, shall we? I added that last one on my own.
Paige is bottom of the bottom, which is no surprise. Then Brooke. No surprise again. Kelly blames Brooke’s fourth place solo finish last week on the weak choreography, and I’d be hard-pressed to argue. Next comes Nia. Abby knows Nia’s mind wants to get better. It’s just her body isn’t listening to her mind. Abby’s sage advice for overcoming that? “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
Rounding out the bottom row is Kendall. Abby says she performs better in the studio than on the stage and that has to change. Jill says more solos would solve that. Jill thinks more solos would solve everything. But also, that.
Row two begins with poor Mackie, who apparently didn’t even get to make the trip to Vegas. Abby says even though the duet won last week, Asia’s the reason why. Melissa says Abby is only picking on Kenzie because she really wants her to compete at Nationals. Wow, Pollyanna Sunshine. I think she is picking on Kenzie because she only intends for Asia to compete. But good for you. Speaking of Asia, she’s next in row two, followed by Maddie. Abby thinks Maddie is plateauing (65 miles above everyone else, but plateauing still) and she needs to set her goals higher.
Chloe gets top of the pyramid for beating Zack in last week’s solo shootout with the Apples. Turns out there was only .3 of a point between the two, but the whole entire point is Chloe won.
This week we will be attending Powerhouse Dance Competition, I guess right there in Vegas. Asia will be doing a solo. Abby calls her the ALDC’s best bet for Nationals. Kendall also gets a solo, which Abby says is her audition for Nationals. Per Abby’s ominous promise from last week, Brooke and Paige also get solos. This time there is no mention of punishment, though; instead, Abby says she wants Brooke to have a shot at defending her current Nationals title, plus if she also gives Paige a solo, maybe Kelly will be too occupied to get any further into Abby’s biznazz.
Christi thinks it’s weird that Chloe’s at the top of the pyramid and doesn’t get a solo this week. Given that Maddie doesn’t get one either, maybe they’re shoo-ins.
Then Abby informs the assembled gathering that neither she nor any other instructors at the ALDC want to work with the Hyland sisters ever again, mostly because of their mother’s lip. My money’s on it actually being an excuse to reintroduce the splendidly named Abby’s Ultimate choreographer Ricky Marcelino Palomino before Season 2 launches Sept. 3.
Kelly thinks it’s sad that the girls’ dance teacher doesn’t even have time to teach her kids a dance, but judging by Paige’s grin, I’m guessing all three Hylands might know that Ricky is a former So You Think You Can Dance finalist with a higher profile and longer resume than anyone currently teaching at the ALDC.
Also look who finally jumped aboard the Cold-Shoulder Shirt train.
Because Abby loves to foist cultural references that are at least 50 years beyond her dancers’ point of reference, the group dance will be about The Rat Pack. For those of you younger than, say, 40, the Rat Pack was a bunch of boozy but multitalented middle-aged men that primarily included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. Or as you know them: who? WHO? Who? Huh? And Who? The girls beam like they actually do have a hint in hell who the Rat Pack is, which I doubt, but maybe.
Also, Asia will not be dancing in the group, but she’ll be learning the routine anyway, just in case.
Come time to practice the dance, Abby gets all beatnik-groovy and tells the girls they have to be coooooooool, man. Slick. Swag-a-riffic. Not cutesy. Men! Meantime, here in Vegas, we’ve swapped out the Mom Loft for the Mom Cafeteria Table, at which Holly opines that it’s exciting that their beautiful little girls will be dressing up like men.
At the end of practice, Abby tells the girls there shall be no sun, no swimming, no chlorine, no fun, so as to keep their bodies in perfect working order with Nationals approaching. Also, they must not step on a crack or they’ll break their mother’s back. Cut to a shot of Kelly peering at her cellphone.
I’d think Abby would be ordering the Hyland girls to go step on every crack up and down the Vegas Strip if that were the case, but she’s just a bucket of surprises tonight.
Turns out it’s Brooke’s music producer calling Kelly about a few local media opportunities for the girl. Kelly says that’s why she continues to subject her kids to Abby’s wrath — because it gets them exposure to do other things such as this that might, you know, allow them to escape Abby’s wrath. She knows Abby will be furious if they skip practice to do a local news show, but she says it’s worth the gamble, this being Vegas and all.
I have to admit, I am totally excited about seeing Paige work with someone with zero baggage where the Hylands are concerned. She and Ricky seem to work together beautifully, but that could also be that I’m just unaccustomed to seeing Paige actually working with someone instead of dancing while Abby sits on the sidelines and yells at her. Paige says it’s a lot easier to work with Ricky because when she does something wrong, he corrects her nicely and gives her her propers when she makes his corrections.
Brooke’s solo is called Now Is My Time, because Ricky feels now is Brooke’s time, what with her becoming a woman and launching her first CD and all. Ricky advises the girl to try to give herself chills with his wistful choreography. Brooke says it would be more Her Time if Abby wasn’t here to make Her Nervous.
Asia will be the Pink Flamingo from the Flamingo hotel for her solo. From the looks of it, it’s typical Asia stuff — strutting and flouncing and faces.
Time to go to the local news show with Brooke and Kelly. Brooke is nervous and hopes her mom doesn’t embarrass her. Kelly keeps up a steady stream of babble in the limo. A catatonic-with-nerves Brooke wishes she would just hush up.
Oh look. Abby came, too.
Next day, Paige is back to being totally rattled and Kelly is in tears over Abby’s treatment of her girls. Kelly tells the other mothers that the only reason Paige is still dancing at ALDC is because she wants to be with her friends, and Kelly has told her she can always find new friends. The other mothers protest loudly that the girls will always be her friends, ALDC or no ALDC, so wipe the horrid thought from her mind
In keeping with Abby’s Literally Las Vegas dance themes, Kendall’s solo will be The Luxor and she will be an Egyptian princess in keeping with the hotel’s theme. I kind of think she should be a sphinx, but what do I know? Her lines aren’t making Abby too happy at all, but Jill is the picture of optimism and says that if Kendall wins, Abby will have to give her a Nationals solo and Chloe’s out of luck.
Next, Abby calls the mothers in from the lunch table and has each dancer do the group choreography, one dancer at a time. Paige says she wishes Ricky was running the group-dance rehearsal because he is nice, even if she goofs up. Sure enough, when it gets to be her turn, she has an anxiety attack and can’t catch her breath. Kelly ushers her out of the studio and both ladies dissolve into tears.
Come competition day, Abby’s gone missing again. Christi says her absence makes them the luckiest people in Las Vegas, but their luck runs out a minute later when Abby shows up and we have us a cheery little fashion show with the costumes.
Backstage, Kendall’s solo has left her a nervous wreck, too. She dances it beautifully from what I can tell, but Abby’s miffed that she didn’t make more eye contact with the judges.
Hard to read Abby’s face as Asia dances The Flamingo. One minute she’s smiling. The next, she is whispering to Melissa. The next, she’s cocking her head and frowning.
Asia says she thinks she did everything perfect except maybe her feet, but that’s totally easy to fix. That’s true, Asia. Flamingos rarely point their toes. I mean, it looks like they try pretty hard, but those things are a little unwieldy. Also, about that backward knee thing … I’m glad we left that out of her being the Flamingo.
Kelly says she worries that Brooke holds back when she dances now, because she, too, is afraid of Abby. Her solo is very pretty, but it’s definitely restrained. Abby says Brooke was concentrating too hard instead of emoting and that Ricky has no idea what Brooke is capable of when he choreographed this dance.
Paige’s turn. Ricky gives her a little backstage pep talk and tells her to trust herself. A few counts in, Paige’s face goes blank. She sits, stunned, for a moment, then rises and leaves the stage in tears. In the audience, Melissa tears up, too, and Kelly asks Abby if she’s proud of herself for doing that to a child. Abby says she is proud because if she had choreographed Paige’s dance this would never have happened.
Backstage, poor Paige is bereft.
Ricky tells the girl she isn’t going to get in trouble because he created the dance so the blame for her forgetting it is all on him. Abby says she bet $100 on this outcome. I wonder with whom she bet. I also bet $100 she would never take the blame for a child forgetting one of her dances, so props to you, Ricky.
Kelly says that before she went on stage, Paige told her, “All I wanted to do was show her that I could do this, and I couldn’t because she scared me.” Hightailing it out of the auditorium, Abby says this:
Anyone care to explain this to me? Anyone? What did Ricky do the child, besides give her a dance he thought would make the most of her talent? Besides of which, didn’t Abby hire him to do it?
I’m very, very tired now.
Backstage, Kelly asks Abby if her daughters are still in the group dance. Abby says the problem isn’t them, it’s Kelly. Then she hollers that she is the best thing for Paige, and if Paige would have just gone out and done Abby’s can-can, everything would have been fine and beautiful. Um, yes, Abby, but wasn’t it you who passed them off on Ricky in the first place? Tired. So so tired.
Kelly is finally completely overcome by sadness instead of anger and tells Abby that her child is having anxiety attacks because of the relationship that Abby has with Kelly, and because of that, with them.
Abby, who I’m starting to suspect may be in anger management classes or maybe therapy or at least has herself some self-help books, thinks that over a second or two.
Then she says, “OK. Understood. I’m hearing you.” But she’s not hearing her for long. Abby hollers that it’s Kelly who is actually allowing all of this drama to happen. Then we get a little more pop psychology action when Abby says this meltdown disturbs her because she sees Kelly as her own long-ago 12-year-old student, crying her eyes out and giving up on a promising future in dance. Abby hopes she doesn’t project that on her own kids.
Then Abby goes to Paige and says that she has every confidence that Paige could do the dance she had planned for her, so I’m guessing the Ricky Palomino sub-in was just another miserable, Paige-wounding way to teach Kelly a lesson that it’s not the choreographer’s fault when Paige flubs her dance. Abby says she just wants to make sure that every kid in her tutelage who wants to be a professional dancer is fully prepared.
Luckily for all of us, the Rat Pack dance is totally adorbs and even Abby is happy with it.
Awards time. Asia does love to bust a move during awards time, doesn’t she? No dance battle with Mom this time, though, I’m sorry to report.
Asia’s solo gets first. Melissa looks troubled for Kenzie’s chances at Nationals.
Kendall gets sixth in the junior elite division.
Brooke gets third in the teen solo division.
Brat Pack wins.
So does that qualify as a jackpot, or breaking even or what?
Backstage the mothers discuss Kelly’s and Abby’s argument. Holly said it was good start toward reaching détente, but the core issue is trust. Kelly says she has no reason to trust Abby. The conversation is cut short when Abby and the kids appear, all Rat Pack celebration. Abby says she did, indeed, hit the jackpot.
Then this happens.
Abby tells Paige to remember that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and also, she looked great in the group dance. Meds? Therapy? What is going on here? I mean, I like it. But I’m stymied …
Abby calls a beaming Asia unbeatable and tells Melissa that unless Kenzie steps it up, there will be no catching her. She pretty much tells Kendall that she’s SOL where a Nationals solo is concerned. Then she tells Brooke and Paige that she will see them in class on Monday and tells Kelly it was nice talking with her today.
I pinch myself hard just to make sure I’m not dreaming this. Kelly says there might be a glimmer of hope after all.
On her way out, Abby tells the girls to be safe, see a show, have some fun — and we actually have a happy ending. Or maybe it just felt happy because the rest of the episode was so damned depressing. Or we could just split the difference.
Next week: It’s one week to Nationals and emotions are running high, and Dance Magazine comes calling — but only to do a feature on a day in the life of Maddie.
So what say you, Dance Moms nation? What accounts for the suddenly — albeit briefly — kinder, rational Abby? Are you tired of seeing Paige beaten down week after week after week? Did you miss the comic relief of the Candy Apples? Did you buy Brooke’s CD? If you were a hotel-themed dance, which one would you be? Sound off in the comments section below.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.