by Kylene Hamulak
Math is hard. It's hard for me, maybe it's hard for you, and it's hard for Dance Moms. You know what's REALLY hard about math? When the judges can't do it and accidentally award you 1st Place when your scores really should've gotten you 2nd Place instead.
And that's how we begin this episode of Dance Moms - Abby gets a call from the last competition informing her that there was a scoring mistake and that the Maddie/Kendall duo actually did NOT win. They came in second. And, as Abby reminds us, "We allllll know what second is....the BIGGEST loser on the stage."
Probably the pyramid, too.
Yep, Kendall is at the bottom of the pyramid, along with Nia and, surprisingly? Maddie. "All for one," Abby tells her, and it IS only fair. It's just a little surprising. I wonder if this means Sophia will get to be on top again.
Paige and Chloe are right in the middle, and sitting at the top? Mackenzie! Abby points out that she knocked Maddie right down to the bottom (um, I don't think that's QUITE how it happened, but ok) and is back in the group routine. "I was the biiiiig winner last week, so Abby put me on top of the pyramid," Mackenzie says. "Pressure's onnn...." I love this kid.
So here's what you need to know about this week's competition drama. First, The Replacements - as in, the girls who competed as Abby Lee Dance while the ACTUAL Abby Lee Dance girls were on strike at the mall - will be competing with their own studio. Secondly? Mackenzie has a solo AND is featured in the acrobatic group dance. And third...so is Chloe. She's supposed to start the number with her standing back tuck.
Ohhhhh, not so fast there, Abby. Just because Christi told you Chloe could do it MONTHS ago doesn't mean she can do it now. And Chloe nudges her head in what - I think? - is a "no" when Abby asks her if she's confident in it. Then Abby uses air quotes around "when parents come and tell me things," so I'm pretty sure she doesn't know how air quotes work.
One of the "parents who wants to tell Abby things" (did I do that right? With the air quotes?) is Melissa, who wants to chat about why Maddie STILL doesn't have a solo. You wanna know why? Because Abby's still pissed that Melissa sided with the Moms when they made their demonstration, so she's taking it out on a kid.
"Arabian Nights," this week's group dance, is a very acrobatic routine, so the girls have an extra class just to work on their tricks. Tricks that Chloe is apparently not really that good at, which makes her cry a little. Also crying a little? Melissa, who is upstairs getting teary as she tells the other Moms how Abby is punishing Maddie. The Moms are glad she stayed with them in the parking lot and thank her for being a friend.
Aw, guys! It's like the new Golden Girls! Except? No.
Back in rehearsal, the girls are practicing the routine, which includes a cartwheel that is apparently either over or on top of one of the other dancers. That dancer? She's not supposed to move. When she does, Mackenzie tumbles over and is in tears...so let's hope those aren't tears of pain, shall we?
Abby dismisses the other dancers, keeping Chloe behind to yell at her about her solo - which she's just finding out about now - not being done. Why isn't it done? Because Christi was being dramatic at pyramid. No, really - that's why Abby tells her it isn't done, as if it's Chloe's fault. The theme is "Haunted", which Abby thinks should be easy for Chloe to pull off by thinking of her mom.
She's not done making kids cry though - now it's Maddie's turn. Abby brings the kid in to ask why she was crying the night before (um, because you stole her solo again?) and Maddie tells her, "I just feel like this is my home an--"...that's her getting interrupted by Abby, whose voice is getting increasingly higher.
"You SAT out there," she squeaks out to Maddie, who tearfully apologizes. Again. "Why didn't you get out of the car?!" Because she's ten, Abby. Ten. Years old. If my mom told me to sit in the car, I'd do it. And I'm a lot older than ten.
So the next day, Mackenzie's back practicing her solo, and the Moms are discussing Abby's heart to hearts with the girls. As Christi points out to Melissa, "I mean, I'm glad for you, that's great for you that your kids are loved, but it's terrible for everyone else." Yeah, great that Melissa's kids are loved. She says this as Mackenzie is absolutely ripped for getting too close to the mirror.
Competition day: Abby is anxious to see how The Replacements (Kaeli and Bella) have improved after learning tricks of the trade from Abby. (Question: how long were these girls even AT Abby Lee?) Mackenzie? She's just anxious. Abby says the costume looks beautiful on her, but "the kid has this look on her face like she's just scared to death."
Gee, that couldn't have anything to do with the number of times you've said, "The pressure is on! Don't mess it up!" to her, could it? Mackenzie clears it up for us, telling us, "I'm freaking out that I'm gonna forget my solo!"
Annnnnd...she does. "She's not Maddie," says Melissa. Whaddya gonna do.
I'll TELL ya what we're gonna do, everyone. We're gonna listen to Abby go through the list of things Mackenzie did wrong, even though she insists, "I don't wanna be mean. I don't wanna be nasty." Maybe not, but you pretend like you DO, Miss Abby!
"I don't know what religion you all are, but I'd start praying," Abby tells the room. "Cause that's all we have left." I would've saved that line for a plane crash or a natural disaster or something, but sure - let's break out the heavenly favors for a dance competition.
Chloe is making her way to the stage wearing the same babushka she was wearing in the little immigrant routine (or at least very similar) when ALDC encounters Studio Bleu in the hallway. For whatever reason, the casual pleasantries aren't your typical small talk - they start talking ages. And in this very weird exchange, Bella tells Abby Lee she's eleven. Seems weird, as Abby reminds her she was ten at the audition. "Uhhhh, I just had a birthday," Bella responds before turning to her mom "Can I say that?"
Um, yes? When someone asks how old you are, you generally want to reply back with the correct answer. Especially when you're eleven. For the next few years at least. Then you can age up or down as appropriate for the rest of your life.
The Replacement Moms fumble around for an excuse, saying that they just had birthdays and it's confusing with the age groups and....COME ON. Really? Your tween daughter doesn't know how old she is? Is she home schooled? Christi explains that they were just curious because the age thing has been an issue before. "We've seen these tricks before by someone named Cathy, and those people were like 27."
So eleven (or ten) year-old Bella dances first, not impressing Abby at all. So unimpressive that Abby thinks even CHLOE could have a chance. But then there's Kaeli. And she's kind of good. Like, really good. Chloe's nervous because she doesn't like it when Abby gets mad. "She gets really loud and...kind of...scary." We know, Chlo. We know.
Chloe's routine looks lovely, but you know it's never good enough for Abby. Back with the group, Abby reminds Christi (and Melissa) that they sacrificed their daughters' talent for Kelly and her kids. Then, after Melissa reminds her that she, like everyone else, makes mistakes, Abby hurls out some comments towards Melissa about "going from one husband to another instead of just worrying about your kids!" It seems unnecessary, and the more times I see Maddie and the girls crying, the more I wonder why I'm even watching it.
It's a low blow, especially with the kids in the room, and I'm not really sure why it was relevant. The blow out gets Abby riled up enough to leave. Maddie runs behind a curtain to cry, and my heart breaks a little for the kid as the Moms continue to fight over whether or not Melissa has done enough to stand up to Abby. Jill, who is NOT typically the rational one, says, "She's upset! That woman just berated her mother, her father, EVERYBODY. You should be upset too, and you should've put a stop to that woman saying that stuff!"
Abbie doesn't come back to the dressing room, so Christi becomes the mother hen and tries to warm up the girls and run through the dance. Kelly is surprised because Christi has never taken a dance class in her life, despite her claims to "know what looks good." So why doesn't Kelly run it instead? Who knows.
Studio Bleu does an amazing number that Abby refers to as "an advanced routine." The "Arabian Nights" number from ALDC looks great and has a lot of neat tricks, but it doesn't compare to the graceful routine from Studio Bleu, no matter what the Moms thought.
Awards are presented, starting with 3rd Place for Mackenzie's solo. Replacement Bella comes in 3rd in her division, while Chloe came in 2nd to Kaeli's 1st Place. The big surprise, however, comes in the Group Division, when ALDC is awarded 4th Place. Fourth. FOURTH. Holly can't even remember the last time they came in 4th, and to make matters worse? The Replacements took the top spot.
Yikes. Abby is NOT going to be pleased. She says she was "humbled by the experience," but somehow I'm betting it turns into the girls' fault. In the dressing room, Abby reveals it's not only the girls' fault, but also the school system. See, Chloe doesn't get out of school until 4:30, which makes her late for practice every Monday. Abby doesn't understand why she doesn't just get a pass to leave early.
"Because she's not getting an early dismissal because SHE'S going to school!" yells Christi.
And thaaaaat just leads to a whole lot of ugliness between Abby and Christi. Abby accuses Christi of being more concerned with her phone than her kid's split (so what?) and Christi accuses Abby of being...well, fat. "Fatty fatty fatty fatty," chants Christi. Good comeback, C. Abby tells her she can lose weight, "but ugly is to the bone."
FINALLY, someone - it's Kelly, believe it or not - suggests that the girls leave instead of witnessing all of this. A quick shot of Chloe shows her crying, for, what, the second time this episode? Maybe third.
The point is, there were an awful lot of pre-teen tears this episode, and I wonder how far Abby and the Dance Moms will let this go. I hope it's just "good tv" and not scarring these kids for life.
Dance Moms airs every Tuesday at 9/8c on Lifetime!
(Image Courtesy of Lifetime)
Follow Kylene on Twitter @keepingupwithky!