The previous episode of Dance Moms ended with somewhat of a cliffhanger, with Abby Lee Miller saying she felt like she had “shackles” on her ankles weighing her down. Sure, those of us who are invested in the show and have access to the Internet probably know why, but how will the show spin Abby’s recent troubles?

Things in ALDC LA seem to be pretty normal in this episode of Dance Moms, “Abby vs. Melissa,” except for one thing — Abby is missing. Even though she made a point of saying that dance should be a priority, she obviously has double standards since she’s shockingly late. “I need a damn teasing brush,” Abby says as she finally walks in with freshly sprayed hair. She offers no explanation as to where she was. Obviously, the moms don’t handle this well.

“This is a red flag,” Jill claims. “Something is wrong. Abby acted erratically last time they were in LA … is it happening all over again?”

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The Pyramid

Eventually, it’s time for the pyramid. Abby makes sure to let the kids know that there’s a chance they won last time solely on the fact that BDA was almost disqualified based on their props. 

Since she’s once again a no-show (remember, she’s a movie star now), Maddie is at the bottom of the pyramid. Kalani and Mackenzie are also on the bottom, which makes Melissa a very unhappy woman. Kendall rounds out the bottom, since she kicked the hamster ball mid-routine. As if Jojo wasn’t in enough trouble in that thing as is. 

Nia is in the center, followed by Jojo. Jojo gets major props for getting into the hamster-ball-of-death to begin with. Newcomer Brynn makes it to the top of the pyramid since, in Abby’s eyes, she’s the new Maddie.

Their next competition will be in Calabasas, home of the Kardashians. Jojo questions whether or not this’ll be a competition with live critiques, which Abby confirms. And while Kendall had a meltdown last time, she’s getting a solo (aptly called “Meltdown”). Mackenzie gets the next solo, with a song called “All I Want to Do is Stay Home and Eat Chips,” based on a phrase she once said on the show when she was, like, a toddler. After this announcement, Abby points out some of Mackenzie’s weaknesses, and once again, Melissa gets a bit enraged.

“Who is this woman? For the first time, I’m really seeing Melissa stand up to Abby,” Holly says with a glow. She’s also glowing over Nia’s solo, in which she’ll be channeling Cookie from Empire. Fun!

The group routine also has something to do with the attitude of the group — called “Hungry Like the Wolves,” the girls should be hungry for a totally legit win. 

Abby’s Big News

After this announcement, Abby throws a bombshell at the team. She’s forming a brand new team of girls ages 6 to 8. “I need to keep doing what I do,” Abby states. Why not strike gold twice?

Per Abby, “Hungry Like the Wolves” is a character piece. The moms are still a bit outraged over the whole “new team” news, thinking that their girls will shortly get shoved aside. One even makes a Velveteen Rabbit reference.  Melissa is still a little peeved over Mackenzie, especially after Abby claims that Mackenzie shouldn’t just sit around and watch her fellow team get better. 

Fraud and Lies

The moms finally decide to check the Internet and realize that Abby is being charged with concealing assets and fraud. “This is the reason why Abby was acting so weird at pyramid and taking it out on Mackenzie,” Melissa claims. Well, maybe.

Holly thinks it’s not going to take much to send Abby over the edge. Abby goes to chat with the moms and gets an itchy nose. “Doesn’t that mean you’re going to hear news?” she playfully questions. “I thought you said that maybe it meant you’re in the news,” Jill says slyly. Abby doesn’t budge and goes back to the floor to teach some solos. 

Let’s talk about Kendall — she’s more than willing to prove to Abby that her solo will be the best. After all, she’s been in the running as “new Maddie” the second that Chloe left. 

“A jazz solo for a teen division is probably not a winning number,” Holly says about Nia’s routine. And you know what? She’s right. Nia’s routine includes twerking since, for some reason, Abby loves throwing Nia into weird comical dance routines. Remember Laquifa? At least this one probably won’t include a wig. 

Mackenzie’s routine is a lot like how Abby views Mackenzie — lazy. Part of it takes place on a couch. Abby makes a point in telling Mackenzie that if Maddie had done the routine, she would have been mostly done learning it by now. “She can’t even remember the name of the routine,” Abby complains.

“The little smart-ass is trying to tell me that that’s not the quote she said and that I’m wrong,” Abby complains. “She’s trying to contradict me.” Melissa comes charging in, saying that referring to her daughter as a “smart-ass” isn’t really appropriate. The whole ordeal turns Mackenzie into a crying mess, probably in search of some chips to help cheer her up. Doritos are my own personal safe space, Mackenzie — you’re not alone.

Solo Work

The girls have two days until the competition. Kendall’s busy working on “The Meltdown,” and definitely gets some compliments. “I definitely think she just needs to have a breakthrough,” Abby claims, hinting that Kendall should never just rely on being pretty. 

During Kendall’s practice, Abby spends some quality time with Jill, probably to make Melissa jealous. Or maybe the moms are totally reading into this. I think it’s probably the latter.

Mackenzie’s practices don’t get any better, especially after getting yelled at a little more on the trampoline.  Melissa is still convinced that it’s solely due to her legal trouble. “I think she feels a little betrayed,” Jill says, regarding Melissa. Remember the good ol’ days when Melissa and Abby were extremely close? 

“Stop making excuses for her, since you never would have made an excuse for Maddie,” Abby states to Melissa. “I still care about her, but I expect more from her.” Abby isn’t loving the “Mother of the Year” stance that Melissa is taking, claiming that her criticisms towards Mackenzie are totally justified.

So, uh — you know how the group dance is called “Hungry Like the Wolves”? I want to stop here and tell you that the group number involves howling. They’re going to be legit wolves! 

Jojo’s mom, Jessalynn, thinks that Abby hasn’t really been honest about her problems and thinks that the moms shouldn’t have to throw away everything they’ve worked for based on Abby’s personal life. I find it interesting that the women still haven’t discussed this news with Abby directly yet.

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It’s Time to Compete!

At the competition, a bunch of fans wear shirts that read “#FreeAbbyLee,” which put a smile on Abby’s face. Especially since, as the moms note, she hasn’t even been convicted yet. 

Kendall’s show makeup is somewhat atrocious. “The stuff looks different from far away than it does close up,” Jessalynn says, trying to calm her down. She looks exactly like an old lady. “Nia’s worn latex makeup. Have you ever thought Nia felt unpretty?” Holly claims, trying to make it obvious that her daughter can handle the many bouts of ugliness that dance competitions bring. 

Speaking of Nia, her solo is up first. Called “Cookie,” she’s hoping to morph into the famous Empire character with jumps and twirls. And, for the record, there’s definitely no wig included in her red and leopard-print dance ensemble. And while Nia dances well, Holly’s right — it’s not very technical.

The judges think it lagged at points but, overall, give her a kudos for the somewhat lackluster performance.

“The Meltdown” is up next, and Kendall is makeup-less. Based on the dance, it’s obvious that having her look like a 90-year-old was pretty unnecessary to begin with. 

But it’s understandable as to why she was painted in such an unflattering way. “I want you to work on the emotion,” the judge says. “Show me the darkness.” Perhaps she was being challenged to make it pretty regardless of the ugly exterior. 

Mackenzie’s couch dance is up next — and like most of Mackenzie’s dances, it’s pretty darn juvenile. Her outfit is a set of pajamas and her hair is in two playful pigtails. No matter what, she makes it fun. 

“There’s nothing I love more than a powerful, strong performer,” the judge states, noting that her only weakness was in her ankles. 

Getting Judged

Back in the ALDC dressing room, Abby gives her own critiques. She agrees with Kendall’s critique and thinks Nia did a pretty good job. But Mackenzie’s criticism feels like a knife to Abby’s chest, as 11-year-olds should never be told they have weak ankles. You’re killing her, Mackenzie!

Up next is the group dance, but the moms aren’t super concerned about it; Jill, in particular, is focused solely on Abby’s legal issues.

“I think you should discuss with the kids,” Jill says to Abby Lee. Abby interprets this as Jill saying that Abby should be more open with the girls about her romantic life. “I’m not dating anymore,” Abby says while storming out in a denial hurricane.

Backstage, the wolf pack is all ready to, once again, prove that they can do this without Maddie. 

The Group Number

The girls are donning wolf headdresses and wearing gray skirts. Almost immediately, Kendall trips. Regardless, they have their best “wolf faces” on and perform a pretty mesmerizing routine. 

“There was a little flub,” the judges note. That said, they love the outfits.

In fourth place for Junior Solos is Mackenzie, which she’s not too thrilled about. Kendall gets third place. For Top Teen Solo, Nia gets second place, which Holly is pretty happy about, especially since she was given some pretty strange material.  

The winner of the group routine leads by just one point, and it’s pretty much Kendall’s fault after the ALDC missed the top spot. It’s a bad day for Kendall.

Abby makes sure to read the individual scores to the girls after the competition. “I think this dance was too young for me,” Mackenzie says, being more socially aware than I had originally given her credit for. “That’s why I gave it to you. It’s easy,” Abby claims. Woof. 

The moms once again try to get Abby to discuss her legal troubles. “If she’s convicted, she can go to jail. She can’t pretend that this doesn’t exist,” Holly claims. Abby’s overall response is that perhaps the moms will be going to the clink along with her. Yes, Abby just threatened the moms with jail time. Class act, that one.

Dance Moms airs Tuesdays at 9pm on Lifetime.

(Image courtesy of Lifetime)

Karen Belz

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV