Good news, Lifetime fans! Your favorite maniacs are back and snarkier than ever. Dance Moms returned January 1 in epic fashion, following an hour-long special called “The Smoke Before the Fire” with a 90-minute premiere titled “The Beginning of the End.” If you’re tuning in for high drama, these episodes won’t disappoint, but if you’re looking for show-stopping dance numbers, you’ll luckily get some of that, too. 

“The Smoke Before the Fire” features interviews with Abby Lee Miller and her coven of dance moms doing their regular shtick; Abby is brash and egotistical, Christi questions Abby’s perception of reality, Holly is ever-diplomatic and Jill outs everyone as Botox users. (Oh, Jill!) Kelly gives a teary, heart-felt testimonial to Abby’s teaching that makes me like Kelly for a second or two. And Melissa admits that she’d consider getting married on the show, much to the delight of the rapt audience. The girls use the power of dance to warn against the perils of texting while driving. And that’s pretty much “The Smoke Before the Fire” in a nutshell. On to “The Beginning of the End!”

It’s Not Easy Being New 

Season 3 begins with Abby holding open auditions for the Abby Lee Dance Company after Kelly pulls her daughters, Brooke and Paige, from the group. This is obviously a recipe for disaster since, as Dance Moms viewers know by now, the group isn’t exactly welcoming to newcomers. Abby chooses a teen dancer named Ally and (gasp) gives her the featured role in a group number called “Angels and Demons,” making Ally the sole angel among demons. Then, making matters worse, Abby threatens to turn the dance into a solo for Ally if the other girls don’t perform the group number perfectly.  

The dance moms quickly give Ally’s mother, Shelly, the cold shoulder, making her feel unwelcome from the get-go. That’s too bad. Shelly seems like a sweetheart, politely shaking everyone’s hand and introducing herself with a soft, Southern drawl. But maybe she’s too sweet for this group. When Shelly’s out of earshot, Christi tells the other moms that Shelly doesn’t fit in. “When she speaks, birds fly out of her mouth,” Christi says of Shelly. “When I speak, fire comes out of mine.” I assume that means Christi has killer halitosis. Anyway, the group makes it clear that Shelly is no replacement for Kelly (despite the rhyming names). The ladies demand that Shelly tell Abby to keep “Angels and Demons” a group number.

At first, Shelly insists that she doesn’t want to tell a teacher how to do her job, but ultimately, she gives into peer pressure and begs Abby to keep the girls in the number. But you know Abby. She does what she wants (and, ultimately, what’s best for her business). She keeps “Angels and Demons” a group performance, but only because she feels like the girls can knock it out of the park. They do, and the ALDC wins first place in the group competition. 

Tough Love 

While the group performance is stellar, some of the solo dancers struggle. Both Abby and Jill agree that Kendall’s dance, “It Girl,” is good, but not great. Mackenzie loses a bow during her routine and breaks down in the wings. (Save it for your pillow, Mack!) Chloe misses a few steps and improvises, leading Abby to drop some harsh knowledge on the tiny dancer. “Someday it’s going to matter,” she snaps at Chloe. “Someday you’ll need to remember the choreography the way it is given to you. If you change something in the choreography, if you forget and just put something else in, in a real show, when you are a professional, that doesn’t work. You get fired.” She’s tough on Chloe, but at the end of the day, she’s giving her good advice that she’ll need if Chloe wants to pursue dance professionally. 

Christi thinks Abby is jealous of Chloe because Chloe has a heart of gold and Abby “is dead inside.” In an interview, Abby later admits, “This week has been quite nice without Kelly. Now if I could just find a way to get rid of Christi.” Oh boy.  

Ranking the Dance Moms Divas: Abby and Christi Battle it Out in Premiere 

If this episode (and the season preview) is any indication, these two divas will definitely come to blows in the third season, and it won’t be pretty.

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(Image courtesy of Lifetime)


Contributing Writer, BuddyTV