Yes, I know. I told you I’d be skipping school this week, but it’s the Dance Moms cancer special and I’m a breast cancer survivor, myself, so I can hardly bail out on this one, now can I? Plus, it was actually a feel-good episode, despite its serious subject matter, so let’s celebrate that, too.
We start out at Abby’s house, where she is having a chat with her 86-year-old mom Maryen Lorrain Miller, who looks lovely given her serious health issues. Abby tells her that the girls are off to Starbound in Atlantic City because it’s a benefit for Dancers Care Foundation, which helps women who are suffering from breast cancer and other women’s health issues. Abby says she wants to do the good deed because of Maryen’s own battle with Stage 4 colon cancer.
Abby tells her mom that the group routine, called Beautiful Sadness, is a tribute to her. “Oh,” says the adorable Maryen Lorrain. “OK.” I love Maryen Lorrain.
Because this special was supposed to air in November and then in December, we tackle Payton and Leslie’s return to the team for the first time after the New Orleans brawl, which I’m splendidly sick of discussing. Abby says she hasn’t heard from Christi or Chloe since they were sent home from Nationals, but we all know how that works out, so whatever.
Abby apologizes for interrupting the Pitt Crew’s post-Nationals R&R but says the team’s commitment to the benefit is important. Holly agrees. Kelly is sleepy. Ho-hum!
Abby tells Maddie she has created a special song and musical theater dance called “Maddie” — which we already saw performed on the Dance Moms Christmas special, so the surprise has gone outta this one, too.
Brooke will be doing an acrobatic solo called “Wait,” which I originally heard as “Wig.” We haven’t Brooke do a solo in a long time, so I’m looking forward to it. Payton will also be doing a solo, if her mother can behave. The dance is called “Can You Predict the Future?” Leslie’s all about the Brooke/Payton solo throw-down for a spot on the team.
Abby says she’s testing out whether her original inclinations are right and Payton should dance with the senior team. One word, Abs: Duh. Probably Brooke should, too.
Then Abby gives the girls a genuinely sweet little talk about making every performance a tribute to someone they love.
Speaking of tributes, Abby says she is renaming her dancewear store — which I didn’t know had a name in the first place — “Broadway Babies” or “Broadway Baby’s” so Broadway Baby will live on forever. She tells the moms they will be cleaning up the joint to prepare for the grand opening. Kelly said she wanted to just show up and eat cupcakes — not clean. I worry about the reemergence of Stuffed Baby. A lot.
Abby says the girls are at just the right age to understand that life sometimes throws you curve balls and that if it wasn’t for Ms. Maryen, there would have been no Abby Lee and no Abby Lee Dance Studio. And no Dance Moms for us to get a bee in our bonnets about, Dance Moms fans. I love Maryen Lorrain.
Up in the Mom Loft, we relearn that Melissa’s mom died of lung and breast cancer and Leslie’s mom died of lung cancer, too. Then Jill learns she’s the only one in the room who isn’t getting diagnostic mammograms for previous mammogram scaries. “Criminy ho!” she exclaims — an exclamation I plan to use at least once a day for the rest of my life. Melissa offers to go with her to get the job done. Good girl, Melissa.
Then we notice that Abby is in tears watching the girls do the genuinely pretty dance. The moms agree that they don’t know what to say to Abby as Maryen’s condition worsens. And yes, I did tear up when Leslie did. I survived my cancer, my own mom is ridiculously healthy and I’m beyond grateful on all accounts.
Then the Pitt Crew discusses its missing member, Christi, and decide to call her and tell her so. She doesn’t pick up. Again, given that the Christmas special and several episodes of Season 4 are already in the rear view, this all seems like an afterthought, but anyway. We find out that the Lukasiaks were invited back right away, but declined. It hurts Melissa. They got Leslie back instead.
Then Brooke ties Abby’s shoe for her. I’m not making that up. Kelly tells the other mothers that she thinks having a soulful chat with Abby about ruining her relationship with the kids — I’m not sure which kids — over that — I’m not sure what — hit home. Because Abby is allowing Brooke to kneel at her feet? I’m just going to let all of this go.
Abby says Payton wants to be the best on the team and Brooke needs to figure out a way to do both singing and dancing. Melissa reveals she’s on Team Brooke in the Brooke v. Payton battle of the solos. Brooke says Payton has yet to beat her, but she’s worried anyway.
And then it’s grand opening day at the Broadway Baby’s!
The ladies put on their shorts and T-shirts (tennis skirt for Kelly) and dutifully get to work. Kelly says her husband would not be amused that he pays for a cleaning lady at their house and yet here Kelly is a-sweepin’ for her nemesis Abby. Kelly is totally amused.
But not for long. Here is what happens next.
Yes, the store’s namesake is indeed here. And, according to Jill, she smells to the high heaven. Is anyone besides me shocked beyond reason to find out that Abby actually let her … it … that … be put in a box? And covered in pink packing peanuts? Plus, just exactly how long has Stuffed Baby been in there, if she’s that funky? I’m a little outta the loop about taxidermy, but I don’t think the finished products are supposed to stink. So many questions ’bout Baby.
We put Stuffed Baby in her bed, put her bed in the doorway, do the ribbon-cutting and hope to hell people will walk around her and come in.
Payton’s jazz solo is one she’s done before, which everyone but Leslie thinks is an unfair advantage. Leslie counters that Brooke already has one up on Payton by doing acro. An argument ensues. Leslie says if it will shut them up, she’ll tell Pay Pay to change up the solo. Like Abby would let that happen.
Field trip to the Breast Center to support Jill through her mammogram. Kelly’s getting hers, too. They both find out they have dense breasts. Dense. But normal. High-fives all around.
Come competition day, the doctors don’t want Abby to leave town. Sandra, Starbound’s founder, reminds all of the dancers that even though this is a competition, they’re all united in the same cause and the day is about togetherness. Aaaand I’m choked up again.
The moms are highly amused by the gymnasium that serves as the get-ready room. Reminds Kelly and Jill of their cheerleading days. Gia runs the operation smoothly. We have some continuity issues in which one second Brooke, Maddie and Payton are all in matching pink dresses and the next they’re modeling their solo costumes, and then Payton makes me laugh out loud with her textbook teenage reaction to a mom hug.
Gia reminds Payton and Brooke that they could be competing for a spot on the team. Brooke and Payton hug, anyway. Then Brooke, Payton and Gia hug, and we’re off to dance.
Maddie goes first. Once again, I am thrilled to pieces to see Maddie get to do something other than a lyrical routine, and she dances and emotes the bejesus right out of it. I’m still not about the rather narcissistic bent of the music — not Maddie’s fault — but she’s so adorable in the dance, I’m betting the judges overlook that part.
Brooke is next. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I love watching Brooke do acro solos. She never ever disappoints. More Brooke solos. Less Brooke getting yelled at. Lori says.
Payton goes last. Her solo is a stunner, too, and she dances it with a ton of confidence and power and style.
More Payton solos. Less Payton’s mother pissing everyone off. Lori says.
Backstage the mothers fight, because that’s what the mothers do, and then the girls appear with Gia. Gia says both girls were great, but when pressed by the mothers to choose, says Brooke beat Payton, thanks to her technique. I’d call it a toss-up.
Melissa decides that this is as good a time as any to inform Maddie that she is her best friend, because Melissa and her mother were best friends, so that’s how it goes. Maddie is clearly moved by her mother’s sentiment. You know, or not…
Well, that was awkward.
We do a cheer for the original Dance Mom and then it’s time for some Beautiful Sadness, which is genuinely beautiful.
Come awards time, Sandra gives a little speech about getting rid of cancer for good and Melissa appears on stage to give her a $5,000 check for the Dancers Care Foundation on behalf of Abby Lee.
Brooke gets third.
Payton gets second by half a point. Leslie says that means they’re on the team and so there.
And it’s a win for Mrs. Miller and Beautiful Sadness, too. We all call Abby and holler our victory in her ear, which would have made for a perfectly lovely way to end the show. But this is Dance Moms. Instead we wrap up with poor Payton having to ask Abby if she’s on the team or what. Abby says she just doesn’t know.
The episode ends with a bit of what looks like an absolutely stunning group number featuring all of the competition’s dancers in what looks like an homage to breast cancer patients. A good hard pinch to the boobs who thought we didn’t need to see the whole thing.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.