'Dance Moms' Season 3, Episode 4 Recap: Pants on Fire

Abby Lee Miller from Dance Moms on Lifetime

On the last episode of Dance Moms, the series regulars were back, except for Brooke, and the replacement team was gone, except for Sophia Lucia.  This week on season 3, episode 4, titled “Liar, Liar, Dance Mom on Fire”, Melissa, mom to Maddie and Mackenzie, is in the hot-seat, and Abby continues to use Sophia’s excellence against the long-term members of the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC).

When this week’s action begins the girls are five days away from their next competition – ALDC is heading to Greensboro, NC, for the Dance Troupe Challenge aka DTI, as in Dance Troupe, Inc. (Fans of X Factor will remember Greensboro as the location for season 2’s infamous storm episode.) As always, before the dance routines are assigned, Abby unveils her pyramid to rank the students.

Chloe is at the bottom of the pyramid for forgetting her solo, and her mom Christi says for once she can’t argue with Abby because Chloe did forget and needs to take responsibility for her actions. Next is Nia, then Mackenzie. Abby says she’ll “never forgive Mackenzie for what she did”. It’s a dramatic statement considering the unforgivable deed was that in the last episode little Mac had a hard time pulling a large prop onto the stage, but it makes sense in Abby-land, and as such, the tiny dancer is banned from appearing in group numbers until further notice.  The next spots go to Paige, Maddie, and then Kendall. Abby chides Maddie for wearing Sophia’s high, braided-bun hairdo, but not having Sophia’s energy and turning skills.

Finally, the dancer at the top of the pyramid is revealed and it’s not Brooke - the only dancer left in the room who hasn’t been ranked yet - it's Sophia, who isn’t at practice because she’s filming a movie in L.A.  It turns out Abby is punishing Brooke by leaving her off of the pyramid and cutting her from the upcoming competition because she missed rehearsal over the weekend to hang out with friends and participate in school activities. We haven't seen a lot of Brooke lately - she returned with the rest of the team last week, but then Abby cut her from the group number.

After the pyramid Abby assigns the routines for DTI. The group number will be “Voyage Home”, in which the team, minus Brooke and Mackenzie, will portray immigrants. Little Mac does get a solo though, an acro number called “Lemonade”. Paige also gets an acro solo (!) called “I Wanna Dance”, and Abby puts her (former) star pupil Maddie in a jazz duet (“Sugar and Spice”) with Kendall, who is a good dancer, but not quite as good as Maddie yet. Maddie does not get a solo.

The dancers practice their competition numbers and there is a brief moment – when Abby is holding Mackenzie up in the air to help her with placement – when we see Abby’s nurturing side. She seems happy.

While the girls rehearse the group number Melissa heads downstairs, and shortly after, so does Abby. They get in a conversation and Melissa admits she’s not happy about the duet. Of course Abby tells Kendall’s mom Jill, who takes it to mean Melissa thinks Maddie is too good to dance with her daughter. Jill confronts Melissa who is like, “Whaaat?” and says Abby is lying, but she can barely make eye contact and looks down and away through most of the discussion. Fast-forward to the bus ride to DTI, during which Christi encourages Jill to call out Melissa in front of Abby.  Later in Abby's presence Jill does bring it up, but Melissa says she wasn’t upset about Maddie doing a duet, she was just unhappy Maddie didn’t have a solo.

The competition begins - Paige is pretty in her purple costume, Mac is lovely in lemon yellow. Abby tells Mackenzie she did a great job, and pays Paige a compliment telling her, “I thought you were wonderful – it was fabulous.”

While Maddie and Kendall run their duet for Abby, Jill criticizes Maddie saying her leg is bent, and Abby points out that for the move they’re doing, it’s supposed to be. Then Abby sarcastically adds, “Maddie, take a private from Miss Jill next week.”  Abby and Jill fight, and Kendall winds up in tears right before she has to perform, so while they wait in the wings Maddie gives her a sweet pep talk and tells her she’s amazing. After their number Abby tells them, “Nice job, ladies”, but instead of enjoying the moment, Jill riles Abby by saying, “It’s okay Abby, you can give corrections”,  as if the teacher needed permission to critique her own students, so they fight some more.

Then it’s time for a few awards. Mackenzie's solo wins first place in the Junior division, Paige's solo takes 3rd place in the Intermediate division, and the highest score for a duet or trio goes to Maddie and Kendall. Abby says they won because the judges were looking at Maddie.

ALDC group number "Voyage Home"
Next we see the group number, a contemporary piece called "Voyage Home” about immigrants crossing a border. As Nia’s Mom Holly (a professional educator) points out earlier in the episode, Abby’s definition of immigrants is confusing, and she asks, “How can you immigrate home?" The girls perform for the judges and there are obvious timing issues, but they still take first place in their division. Afterward Abby asks Kendall, “Are you going to admit you threw the whole dance off?”, and surprisingly, instead of crying, Kendall answers, “I messed up one part, not the whole dance”. Good for you, Kendall.

Is Abby is being too hard on Brooke?  Do you think Melissa lied, or was she truly only upset about Maddie not having a solo? Wasn't it cool to see Paige get a solo! We'd love to hear your comments on this episode.

Next week the ALDC regulars compete against the girls who briefly replaced them this season. Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime

To see all of our Dance Moms coverage click here.

Abby Lee Miller photo ©Lifetime
Voyage Home photo ©Abby Lee Dance Company

Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2013