Since Maddie left the ALDC, the Dance Moms team has been curious as to which of the remaining girls will take her place as the star of the group. However, could this cause Kendall to be pushed aside by Abby? Let’s find out in this episode, “Nia & Kendall Face Off.”

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Drama in the Parking Lot

As the team arrives to the ALDC studios, the girls wonder where Nia is. They understand that Nia’s music career is thriving, so she will be absent from the studio more often.

Nia’s success has caused Abby to pay more attention to her, which Jill finds to be strange. “I think it’s interesting that Abby didn’t want anything to do with Nia last season. Now that Nia’s moving on and doing great things, now Abby wants a part of it,” Jill says.

Jill is also upset that Abby has almost completely stopped focusing on Kendall, especially since Abby is Kendall’s manager. “Abby wanted to manage Kendall, and it’s been 18 months since Kendall’s music came out,” Jill reveals.

The topic of conversation then switches to the drama that went down in the previous episode, where Jessalynn and Jill called out Brynn for crying too much. Jessalynn suggests that they all move on from what happened, which Ashlee is happy to hear.

The Pyramid

Once inside the studio, Abby tells the girls that this will be a quick pyramid. She does, however, have a new rule for the remainder of the season: no crying. If Abby catches any of the girls crying, she will place a pillowcase over their head.

Abby then reveals that Brynn and Jojo are on the bottom of the pyramid, Nia and Kendall are in the middle, and Kalani is on top for leading the winning group number last time.

For this episode’s competition, Abby will have Kendall and Nia face off in dueling trios. Kendall will dance alongside Jojo and Kalani in the jazz-themed “Abby’s Angels.” Nia, on the other hand, will be accompanied by two male dancers in the contemporary routine “Love Anyone You Want 2.” The girls will then all come together for a contemporary group piece, titled “Wax Madonnas,” which is an homage to Madonna.

These pieces will be performed in a Fresno, CA, competition. The location of the competition frightens the moms because they never seem to win big there. Not even Maddie could place first.

The moms are also worried that their girls will not do well at the Fresno competition, since Abby has failed to train them in any new, difficult techniques. They plan on confronting Abby with this issue, which is sure to cause the next major blow-up of the season.

Should Nia Leave the ALDC?

While Nia is thrilled that Abby has finally given her a mature routine, like “Love Anyone You Want 2,” she can’t help but remember how poorly she was treated by Abby last year. “It’s just weird. I mean, she was really mean to me last year, and if she wants to be a part of my career, we need to make sure that she’s not going to sabotage it or anything,” Nia explains.

Despite being happy that Abby is paying much more attention to Nia, Holly and Nia’s manager, Lesley Brander, is still worried that Abby may not know how to properly choreograph Nia in a way that showcases her strengths.

Lesley plans on coming to the ALDC studio to speak with Abby about what she would like Nia to be taught this season. If Abby and Lesley cannot agree on a plan for Nia, Lesley thinks it may be time for them to part ways with Abby.

“Listen, it would be very helpful to have her on our team, as long as she understands what the boundaries are and where we’re going and how she can help and how she might not help,” Lesley says to Holly about Abby. “If it’s not about helping, then you need to move out of the way.”

When Lesley arrives, she sits down with Abby to watch Nia’s trio. Lesley quickly explains to Abby that she does not see Abby celebrating Nia’s talents in dancing, singing or acting. “What I see, constantly, is a kid in the back row,” Lesley tells Abby.

Abby goes on to criticize Nia’s technique, which infuriates Holly. “How dare Abby Lee Miller trash Nia’s technique by trying to publicly shame her,” Holly says. Abby, of course, slams Nia’s talents some more.

All of the attention Nia is getting causes Kendall to feel neglected because Abby has yet to release any of the 13 songs she recently recorded. Jill is concerned that Abby’s possible jail time may keep her from focusing on Kendall for even longer, but she decides to confront Abby about this issue at another time.

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Jessalynn Breaks Down

During the rehearsals, Jessalynn suddenly leaves to step outside. Holly follows her and finds out that Jessalynn is going through some serious family issues since her mom is sick with cancer.

However, due to the fact that Jessalynn decided to stay in Los Angeles and let Jojo continue to compete with the ALDC, her family is very upset with her. “My dad [and] my sister, they think I should have left when my mom got sick and went home,” Jessalyn cries.

Jessalyn’s dad has made things even worse because he recently wrote on social media that his other daughter’s little girl is a better dancer than Jojo. The other moms are shocked to hear this and promise to keep her family issues a secret from Abby.

The Competition

It’s not a proper ALDC competition without some drama! Once the team arrives, the moms confront Abby over the lack of technique she is teaching their girls. “Maybe we need to not do so many frivolous classes and do more of what we need,” Jessalynn suggests.

Abby could not care less about what the moms are saying to her. She tells the moms that the girls are unable to do more difficult techniques because they did not practice enough at home. Holly does not let Abby get away with this and quickly fires back, causing Abby to flip her off. “You are a class act,” Holly responds.

As Abby storms out, Jessalynn decides to step up, put her family issues aside and give the girls a heartwarming pep talk. The girls are used to Abby’s negativity, so Jessalynn’s words are shocking to hear. “It’s nice to have a positive pep talk,” Kalani tells Jessalynn.

Despite all of the drama that has gone down, all of the girls do a stellar job in each of the routines. Will the judges agree?

The Judges’ Results

Before the judges give out their awards, the moms say that they will come together and form a new alliance. They all decide that they will have each other’s backs and not run and tell Abby everything that goes down. Ashlee even agrees to this new plan.

The team then hits the stage to find out how the judges ranked them. The trios are the first awards to be given out. Kendall’s trio wins second, while Nia’s takes first. The group dance, however, only takes second.

The moms know that Abby is what kept them from placing first. “The only person to blame is Abby. Our kids need training, they need classes or our kids are gonna suffer for it,” Jessalynn says.

The moms end up telling Abby that she was wrong to abandon them today, but in true Abby fashion, she tells them that she wants them to leave her alone. Shocking, right?

Dance Moms airs Tuesdays at 9pm on Lifetime.

(Image courtesy of Lifetime)

Jordan Dunnigan

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV