Last time on Dance Moms, Nia and Kalani got some extra special attention from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, which was necessary to help re-build their self-esteem after Abby Lee Miller once again left the girls in the dust. It seems like this time we might actually see some more Abby, and it’s probably based on some kind of obligation based on her contract with Lifetime.

“Last week, Abby locked the studio doors,” Jill says in this episode, “Abby’s New Favorites.” However, due to social media, the mothers were aware that classes were still going on. Jessalynn is straight with Abby, asking if Abby is still interested in running the competition team. “Um, no,” Abby responds after a pause. Even though she’s checked out, she still expects the girls to be working their hardest. “Why aren’t they warming up?” Abby retaliates. The moms can all agree for once that this sort of attitude is pretty uncalled for.

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The Return of the Pyramid

Abby does make a point to do the pyramid, which will include the Minis. “I wasn’t there last week. I don’t really care what happened,” Abby states. She admits that she did catch part of the routine and thought that the parts she saw were a “hot mess,” including the Bollywood number that ended up winning them first place.

At the bottom of the pyramid is Peyton, based on outbursts from her mother. Poor Peyton. Next is Ari, since she’s not picking up choreography fast enough. Alexus is next, based on her lack of flexibility and strength. Following is Alysa.

On the next rung is JoJo. “I think you welcome every genre of dance,” Abby compliments. Brynn earns the space next to her. While her tricks are great, Abby doesn’t think she attacks the dynamics of the dance. Kendall follows, since she got third on her duet.

In the top three are Nia and Kalani, based on their African-based duet. Abby even has the gall to say that Kalani was “more African than Nia,” which ticks Holly off. “African American doesn’t mean that we come from the continent of Africa,” Holly yells. Abby clarifies that she doesn’t mean to be offensive, but she just thinks Nia is capable of a little bit more. Nia keeps her lips tight, probably afraid to let any insults out.

Mackenzie is at the top of the pyramid since she had fun with the routine — and probably because she’s related to Maddie.

The Routines

The Minis will be doing a jazz routine called “Cavemen Undercover,” and a fifth girl will be brought in to join the team. “Is this new Mini team something I want to get involved in or am I better off sticking to juniors?” Abby ponders.

Speaking of the juniors, they’ll be doing a lyrical routine called “Better Off Now,” and Brynn will be taking the lead. Abby makes sure to note that if the group loses, the fault is entirely on Brynn.

Now it’s time for the solos! Alyssa is getting a solo, and it’s sassy and hot — in fact, it’s called “Fever Rising” based on how steamy it’ll be. Keep in mind, Alyssa is a Mini. This better be appropriate. 

Abby starts out by working with the juniors on their lyrical routine but makes sure to lecture Brynn a little bit beforehand. After all, she left once, and Abby never forgets a quitter. “This is a chance for Brynn to show me if she should stick around or not,” Abby comments. Since Maddie will be back again in the next episode, Abby is completely ready to throw Brynn in the trash after this round of dancing.

Brynn’s mom, Ashlee, decides that the best way to continue getting a storyline is to once again bully Jill, mentioning that Kendall was bashed on social media for losing her passion. Too mean, Ashlee. Just too mean.

The Fifth Mini

Abby Lee wants the Minis to pretend they’re cavemen during their dance. “They have to really show me what they have. And the fifth little Mini isn’t even here yet, so that doesn’t bode well for her future.”

Sari, Ari’s mom, thinks that they need the fifth girl to win. With four, the mistakes are a little more noticeable.

The fifth Mini finally shows up and — surprise! — her name is Kendall. Or, in this case, “Kendyl.” Obviously, upon hearing the name, Jill gets a bit perturbed. Her mother, Lynn, thinks that Kendyl takes direction well and works hard, so she’ll be an amazing addition to the team. Abby isn’t impressed whatsoever over the fact that they were late. 

“I’ll have my secretary call you later,” Abby angrily says to Lynn. How dare a mom think she can just waltz in and interrupt practice.

Outside, Ashlee tries to get real with the mothers. “As an outsider coming in, you can’t just disrupt the whole operation,” Holly tells her. Ashlee admits that Brynn never meant to replace Maddie, and that wasn’t their intention at all once joining the group. 

Lynn admits that while Abby is intimidating, she’ll do anything she can to get Kendyl on the team. Abby doesn’t have time for her since Alysa’s about to practice “Fever Rising.” If Alysa nails this, there’s a good chance that Abby will stick with the Minis.

“I am not going to put my daughter in a situation where it’s negative,” Lynn says while sobbing to Sari. Uh, has Lynn ever watched Dance Moms before? 

Lynn regains her cool the next day, realizing that this is an opportunity she really wants for Kendyl. The OG Moms think that her pleas for her daughter “to be safe” is kind of laughable. Nobody is safe in the ALDC!

Abby Lee Miller runs the show,” Jill notes. “We have to fight for everything we get here.” Jill admits that she thinks Lynn’s attitude about the dance troupe won’t help her last long.

According to Abby, the only thing keeping Kendyl safe is the fact that she needs a fifth kid for the routine. Lynn thinks that even though the moms wanted her to keep fighting with Abby, the one thing keeping Kendyl around is the fact that she decided to lay low.

“The moms won’t blame Brynn for a loss, but Abby sure will,” Ashlee laments. The moms try to convince her that they won’t be blaming Brynn whatsoever if the kids don’t score first place.

A Lack of Attention

At the competition, Jill notices that the usual fans aren’t outside waving them on — and she thinks it’s based on Abby’s negative press. “No one wants to be a part of this; no one wants to see her,” Jessalynn says. “It’s bad.”

In the dressing room, Lynn apologizes to Abby and says she’s working on being more respectful. Melissa thinks that Lynn’s tactics are terrible and she’s trying to throw the other moms under the bus with her brown-nosing. 

Abby admits that she’s still unsure about the Minis and says it’s a big decision to make. One thing that’d help is the lack of fighting between the moms, but come on, Abby. Without the fights, we wouldn’t have a show.

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Starting the Solos

First up is the Junior Solo Jazz, and Alysa (while technically a Mini, in show terms) hits the stage. She’s dressed in a fiery red and yellow ensemble and does a “pretty good job” in Abby’s eyes.

“I think Alysa was cute, but Abby doesn’t care about cute. She wants to win,” Jessalynn says.

Backstage, Lynn verbally disses Mackenzie, and the moms get into another fight. Here’s a general rule, ladies: don’t diss a child. 

“Melissa thinks she owns the ALDC, it’s crazy,” Lynn comments. She refuses to take any of Melissa’s advice, even though she should — I mean, Melissa has somewhat of a history with Abby Lee.

Ashlee seems a bit concerned about Brynn’s lead in the group dance, saying that in order to succeed, she’ll actually have to be even better than Maddie. 

The Minis Go On

“Will Brynn stay when Maddie returns? Maybe, maybe not,” Abby says. Then she tells the Minis that during their group routine, they need to entertain the audience, making sure that everyone knows they’re beautiful and belong solely to the ALDC. This is a big dance for Abby.

The Minis get on stage and look adorable as cavemen as they perform “Cavemen Undercover,” with mallets and animal skin-printed tutus. While they’re cute, they look a bit … off. Jessalynn is quick to point out when one of the girls makes a mistake. Abby claims that the performance wasn’t of ALDC-caliber and notes that it was new girl Kendyl who dropped her prop mid-dance. 

But enough about Kendyl; let’s put the pressure back on Brynn! 

The Group Performance

Before the group performs, Brynn notes that she feels the Maddie-like pressure. No matter what, she wants to do her best and stay with the ALDC.

The girls are in lavender two-pieces and are a breath of fresh air after the Mini performance. Brynn makes sure to show expression in her face and doesn’t miss a step. Abby is so thrilled that she gives an up-in-the-air high five.

While Jill liked Brynn, she admits on camera that she really misses Maddie. We all do, Jill. 

The Awards

Alysa’s “Fever Rising” only gets second place. “Do I like second? Nope, not at all. We all know that second is the first to lose,” Abby says. 

As for the Mini group dance, they weirdly get first place. “The Minis won because they’re cute,” Abby admits. Obviously, she’s not over the moon about this win.

Luckily, the Juniors get a legitimate, deserved first-place win for their routine. 

The moms ask Abby what she thought of the dances, and Abby says kind words to the moms in person but admits it’s “sloppy” to the cameras. She’s still unsure as to whether or not the Minis will be coming back next time. “I can’t promise where I’ll be next week,” Abby says. 

In positive news, she loved Brynn and is totally committed to keeping her on the team. With that, Abby leaves and the moms hang around confused about whether or not their girls will be in the ALDC much longer. 

Dance Moms airs Tuesdays at 9pm on Lifetime. 

(Image courtesy of Lifetime)

Karen Belz

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV