So here’s the thing, Dance Moms nation. Remember when this show used to be an entertaining end to a Tuesday? No? Not anymore? Well, try. I can wait. Because there was a time that, whether or not we agreed with Abby and her methods, or the mothers and their madness, the show still somehow managed to, well, at least do no harm. Or not much anyway.
Now Dance Moms can ruin a perfectly good day — and frequently seems to delight in doing so. As I’ve said before, I still have to blog this show as part of my job, but I do not have to support the shrewish, narcissistic woman at the heart of it. Or episodes like tonight’s which celebrated a fine variety of ridiculous, juvenile and unconscionable behavior, while downplaying the worst kind of loss a young boy and his mother could suffer.
I know some of you don’t like these recaps when they’re not funny, and I try. I honestly do. But there was virtually nothing to work with tonight. Christi’s 17-F-word salute and Abby’s description of it? A spectacle for sure. Funny? No. A judge at a dance competition happily accepting swag from a studio owner? Please. A half-dozen children in tears because of the actions of their mothers, their teammates’ mothers, their dance teachers — and possible cyber bullying glossed over because the dance must go on? Ugh, ugh and ugh.
But anyway, here’s what went down.
At Pyramid, we learn that Kira and Kalani are back and Abby has declared them permanent members of the competition team, taking the place of Kelly, Paige and Brooke. This sends Leslie outer limits in the usual Leslie-goes-outer-limits fashion, until Abby looks pityingly at her tells her there is no way Kalani can fill in for Paige and Brooke all by lonesome. Calm restored. At least for now.
Christi says Kalani is now Pet in Waiting to Maddie’s Queen Pet.
The Pyramid goes like this:
Kalani is last, because she’s new and hasn’t been around for a while.
Then Kendall. Abby says she was just going through the motions last week.
Then Nia. She was outstanding, but that’s because she’s had practice being a drag queen. So … she’s being punished for retaining and displaying those skills. Well, OK.
Then Chloe. Even though she had a new costume and a new solo, she still got beat by Mackenzie dancing a hand-me-down dance in hand-me-down clothes. An “iconic” hand-me-down dance. But still.
Mack begins row two. She did fine, but Abby didn’t get the same feeling watching her dance “Cry” that she did when Maddie did it. That’s because she created the dance on Maddie and Mackenzie is not Maddie, but we went through all of that last week, so I’ll drop it.
Then Maddie. She got the highest score of the entire competition. And yet she didn’t get her customary top spot. Payton didn’t get the top spot either, even though Abby points out that she was a wonder transforming herself into a boy who transformed herself into a girl.
The top spot goes to a ridiculous photo of Kelly. All the other mothers except Christi laugh and laugh at Abby’s, er, funny.
This week’s competition is World-Class Dance Experience in Canton, home of the Apples. The ALDC group routine will be lyrical and called Frost. Curiously, Abby says everyone already has the costumes at home and they better not have lost them. What is with all of this suddenly recycling, Abby? Are we pinching our pennies?
Because they were not here when the originals were issued, Payton and Kalani do not have group dance costumes. But Kelly just so happens to have two. And Abby tells Christi it is up to her to go get them. Christi says no siree, Ab. If Abby wants her property back she can tend to that business herself. Call Kelly’s lawyer. Keep Christi out of it. Official channels, Abby. You started the war. Now you have to live within the rules of the battle.
Payton and Kalani will be doing solos. I’m guessing this is so that if their costumes for the group dance don’t pan out, it won’t be a wasted trip to Canton. And also, it ensures that Maddie won’t get bested by any of Cathy’s kids.
Up in the Mom Loft, the mothers discuss how they can possibly retrieve the costumes. Holly says the costumes are a really symbol of a much larger issue. Leslie says the costumes are a way to shut Payton out of the group dance, when she’s already got Kalani and Abby’s preferential treatment of the newcomer to contend with.
And we’re off to Canton, home to a nice flock of ducks.
The Apples have been working in earnest on The Last Dance — the dance Cathy pulled from last week’s competition. Even though the choreographer is now long gone, Cathy’s been retooling it to have a better shot at beating Abby’s girls.
This includes the addition of Nick — who is back and even taller than Zack. Both are perfectionists and they bicker over how to best do the dance. Cathy lets the boys blow off a little steam, then tells them to play nice. Nice boys finish first, after all. Or so she hopes.
Back in Pittsburgh, Leslie is at the ALDC front desk telling Abby she will do everything in her power to get the costumes back from Kelly and save Payton’s place in the dance. She gets out her phone and rings up Mrs. Hyland yet again, this time trying out a “you wouldn’t want Payton to not get to dance, would you?” message. I cannot imagine why Kelly is not calling her back. Surely this stuff is foremost in her mind.
The other mothers arrive and Melissa wonders if they could possibly whip up a new costume for Payton and spare all this Storm the Hyland House for Costumes drama. Abby says Melissa couldn’t sew a costume if her life depended on it. And besides, it’s Christi’s job to get them back, because Abby says so. Christi says no it is not and if Abby has a problem with it, she can call Christi’s attorney, too. Then she has a strange and sudden flip-out, which I’m attributing to editing and entails her spouting multiple repetitions of something that a) must be bleeped out and b) is something she and her husband do in their house that cannot be done at the ALDC. You can @#$% at the ALDC because they have bathrooms, so there we have the first Dance Moms 17-F-word salute.
Back in Canton, Cathy lightens the mood with an impression of Jill’s phone-sex voice telling her she has nothing but a bunch of soloists. But with her choreographer gone, Cathy must do the job herself and she takes it seriously, telling her dancers that, no matter what they think of them, Abby’s kids have straight arms and clean lines, even if their mothers are a bunch of screeching biddies.
Speaking of screeching biddies, Abby is having at it in the studio, punishing all of the girls for Christi’s outburst. She tells a stricken Chloe that it has nothing to do with her, but still she bellows and bellows on.
Upstairs, the mothers say Abby should leave her differences with them out of the studio, but they do nothing to intervene. Abby screams and gesticulates at the children, concluding her tantrum with the decree that the next person whose mother says the f-word is gone. Period. I wonder if Abby watches the show. I wonder if she feels any regret. Worst of all, I wonder if she feels pride.
To get the most mileage out of her fit, Abby says that, because of her bad mood and the costume situation, the group number will now be a trio danced by Maddie, Kalani and, I guess, Kendall. Melissa and Leslie get into it about Payton getting screwed over by this announcement, and Holly interjects to say that her own daughter has no solo and now no group dance, either, so Leslie must forgive her if she just doesn’t want to hear Leslie’s boo-hoo-hooing.
Kalani’s solo will be called Unless You Say You’re Sorry, because there is no dance like a message dance. And since Maddie isn’t going to deliver the Kelly Is Bad message, it might as well fall to the pet in waiting, ain’t that right, Christi? That’s right.
The Mom Loft battle rages on. Holly says Leslie has tunnel vision, only thinking of her daughter. Leslie says Holly is mad at the wrong mom and should be upset with Kira the interloper.
Back in Canton, we learn that Nick and his mother Donna lost Nick’s father just a week before. Nick’s solo will be called Beautiful You to honor him.
Back at the ALDC, Beautiful Holly decides the mothers will bring in bits and pieces of costumes — or as Abby calls it “dishwater gray crap” — and come up with something that will allow all of the girls to do the group dance. The Leslie-Kira drama flares up again over who is a guest and who isn’t and Payton gets yanked from the group dance whether they do it in dishwater gray crap or not. Abby says Leslie should be grateful for this because Payton now has more time to work on her solo.
Then Abby tells the girls that she is so tough on them because that is what makes them winners. I beg to differ. I think she is tough on them because she has virtually zero ability to control her emotions, and zero interest in developing that ability, even when the emotional well-being of the children in her care is at stake. But that’s just me.
Come competition day at the Palace in Canton, Abby says Cathy has padded the audience with all of her former students and everyone she knows. Victory ain’t about what happens in the audience, Ab. It’s about what happens on the stage.
In the get-ready, Holly says she feels a tremendous sense of accomplishment for resolving the costume issue and facilitating the ability for everyone to dance. Except that’s not the case. Payton’s costume doesn’t fit, but Leslie says that Abby was too busy coddling Kalani to notice or deal with that. Abby wants to know why she didn’t bring that up before now. Leslie says Kira is just going to use Abby’s name and then leave, while poor, faithful, costumeless Payton gets abused and neglected. Fight. Fight fight fight. The wide-eyed and amused Apples can hear it through the wall.
The argument reaches a fever pitch and Leslie says Abby thinks she’s f—king perfect. Oopsie. Abby said. One more f-word and the offending mother is out, along with her kid. Sayonara, Ackermans. Good thing Canton is a short drive home.
Out in the auditorium, Cathy presents a befuddled, grinning judge with a Candy Apples jacket, which he says he’d be delighted to wear. Oh, abso-effing-lutely (it is the word of the day, after all). A judge is most certainly going to wear a jacket supporting one of the competing studios. I believe it 100%. Happens all the time. Or never.
Speaking of judges, on the way to Canton, Abby had an exciting announcement to which we were not privy.
There is no need for bribery, because Nick’s tribute solo to his father is absolutely stunning — mature, complex and moving — and he dances it with grace beyond his years. Plus, we actually get to see the whole thing.
Kalani’s solo is pretty and sophisticated, too. Basically a Maddie dance. Abby seems worried that Nick has her beat, but gives her props for not caving to the pressure of having to follow Nick’s dance.
Now there’s some sort of #socialmedia-related drama in the #Apples get-ready room, which entails Lucas possibly using the word of the day to disparage Gavin, child of a woman named Joanne that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Or maybe I have. It’s been a while since we’ve spent quality time with the Apples. Lucas gets teary protesting his innocence. Joanne and Brigette get into it, making the other children cry, too. Cathy does her best to smooth things over, saying that all of the dancers are necessary to the group dance and she has no intention of pulling it again.
The dance is very good — dramatic in the way that Candy Apples group dances usually are, especially with four boys in the dance. Abby seems worried, but she reminds her own dancers that they are technically superior.
When it’s time for the ALDC to perform Frost, the crowd is so loud that the girls initially can’t hear their music. It only throws them off momentarily, and the dance is as pretty as the Apples dance was powerful.
Backstage, the girls fret about Abby killing them, even though the trouble was not their fault. Even though Queen Pet is most worried of all, a confident Pet in Waiting says they’ll be just fine. Abby does indeed get up and head to the bribe-accepting judge to complain that it feels as though the ALDC has been set up from the get go. He looks even more befuddled. Not what you were expecting when you signed up for the gig, was it, mister?
Come awards time, Nick gets third to Kalani’s first. I think that’s a crock — Nick’s third place finish especially—but between this week’s competition and last, World-Class Dance Experience has some world-class odd outcomes, so I guess it is what it is.
The ALDC group dance beats the Apples, too, and the victories are enough to foster some ALDC unity, once again. Jill says The Last Dance was truly Cathy’s last dance and earns some weak laughter. Abby and the girls do the ALDC chant again, adding an 11 and a 12 to mark their twelfth victory. On the other side of the wall, the Apples are incredulous.
Next week on Dance Moms, Nia gets pulled from the team and a sea of prospective dancers washes over the studio.
So what say you, Dance Moms nation? Was this episode a giant step backward from the little bit of hope we got last week? Are you over Leslie’s hissy fits or was this one, OK, two, OK, nine justifiable? Was the costume issue so obviously a power trip on Abby’s behalf? Do you agree with the evening’s results? Sounds off in the comments section below.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9/8CT on Lifetime.