'Dance Moms' Recap: Revenge of the Replacements

Sisters Maddie and Mackenzie on Dance Moms

On Dance Moms season 3, episode 5 titled “Revenge of the Replacements”, our dancelings compete against the girls who took their places during the Dance Moms strike. Clearly though, it’s Abby who wants revenge, as she continues to punish the dancers for their Mother's walkout.

The episode opens with Abby receiving a phone call from DTI (Dance Troupe Challenge) informing her that due to a mathematical error, last week’s first place victory for Maddie and Kendall’s “Sugar and Spice” duet was a mistake; they actually came in second. Abby announces this during pyramid, and then picks on Kendall for replacing Sophia in last week’s group routine, but not being as skilled as Sophia. I blame Abby – no offense to Kendall because she is darling, but if Abby was going for dancers at Sophia’s level she should have picked Maddie or Chloe. Instead, Abby is more focused on retaliation for the walkout than she is on putting the right dancers in the right spots.

Abby goes through the pyramid – from the bottom up it is Kendall, Maddie, Nia, Paige, Chloe, and then Mackenzie gets the top spot due to her “Lemonade” solo winning first place at DTI. Her reward is that this week she gets a solo and a featured part in the group routine. As Mac says, “Pressure’s on!”

Abby moves on to the group number, a contortion and acro piece called “Arabian Nights”, and assigns Chloe, who is not an acrobat, a standing back tuck. Mom Christi immediately steps in and forbids Chloe to do it for several reasons, including the fear that she’ll be injured, but Abby says since Christi was bragging that Chloe could do it, she should do it. Christi stands firm in her refusal, so Abby takes away Chloe’s solo.

Melissa wants to get Maddie back in Abby’s good graces (as in, she wants Maddie to have solos again), so she tries to have a heart-to-heart with her, but Abby shoots her down. Abby is making her pay for siding with the other Moms during the walkout and says, “You hurt your own kid, you didn’t hurt me.” At the end of the night when Melissa, Maddie and Mac head for home, Maddie is sobbing.

The next day Christi commends Melissa for standing by the Dance Moms during the protest because she knows it was hard for her, but Melissa is starting to wonder if she did the right thing. Christi knows Melissa has doubts because one of the Moms (Who? She doesn’t say.) grabbed her in the parking lot and told her, and adds sometimes it’s more important to teach the kids to do the right thing than have a solo.

Abby talks to Chloe and says she doesn’t deserve a solo because of how Christi talks to her, but then she gives her one anyway, a lyrical contemporary piece called either “Hunted” or “Haunted” – it’s hard to tell what Abby is saying – and that for this “scary, dark” piece Chloe can use her Mother for inspiration.

Then Abby takes Maddie into Studio C and asks why she was crying in the car last night. Maddie tells her she wanted to ask for a solo, and says the studio is like her home.  Abby makes Maddie cry, and then Abby cries too, and tells Maddie that it was awful that she participated in the walkout, and that she didn’t deserve it.  So, no solo for Maddie - Abby is punishing the 10-year-old dancer for not defying her own Mother.  It’s emotionally abusive; Abby needs to stop playing mind-games with Maddie (and Chloe, and Kendall, and Paige) and let her dance. Also, P.S. Abby: “Save your tears for your pillow”.

Maddie’s little sister Mackenzie is dealing with some issues too. The piece she’s working on – a contemporary routine called “Dancing Barefoot” – is her first grown-up solo, and she’s struggling with the moves and with Abby, who yells at her throughout rehearsal.

ALDC arrives in Woodbridge, VA for the in10sity competition. Abby reminds them they’ll be competing against Studio Bleu and two of the girls who replaced them, Bella and Kaeli. She’s anxious to see how much they’ve improved now that she’s coached them.

Abby turns to Mackenzie, who is up first, and warns her, “The pressure is on you... Getting to the top is one thing, staying there is another thing... Don’t mess it up, kiddo!” Adorable Little Mac tells the camera, “I’m freakin’ out that I’m gonna forget my solo”. There was so much pressure on her that it made my stomach flip when she did, in fact, forget part of her dance. To make up for it she did an extra chin stand, which made her end facing the wrong direction. Backstage Melissa points out that Mac isn’t Maddie, and doesn’t think her younger daughter was ready for this type of dance. She’s not angry or disappointed when she says this, it’s more like she doesn’t want the sisters to be constantly compared to each other.

Next up is Chloe’s division. As ALDC is in the hall heading toward the stage, they bump into the Studio Bleu team. Abby introduces the girls and then says to Bella and Kaeli, “Tell them how old you are”. Bella says she just turned eleven, then turns to her Mother and asks, “Can I say that?” I have seen this scene played out in person at so many competitions over the years. Sometimes an older girl winds up in a younger division due to her age at the time of the competition deadline, and it can be awkward when people – especially dance teachers from competing studios – ask their age. Meanwhile, there is often an air of suspicion at these events, as some talent and pageant contestants will try to shave a year or more off their ages to gain an advantage by going against younger girls. However, it’s much harder to pull off than it used to be due to the internet.

Bella and Kaeli perform first - they are both good and Kaeli's long lines are impressive. Chloe is next with her lyrical routine; she performs in a fluttery outfit (reminiscent of last week's immigrant costumes) that makes her look like a beautiful grey swan. They all perform well, but I prefer Chloe’s choreography.

Back in the dressing room Christi reveals she thinks Chloe did well, but didn’t connect with the piece, and that she danced better in the studio than in the competition. Abby blames Chloe’s performance on the walkout – she points to Kelly and says, “Chloe’s future can’t be at the expense of your two kids” (the walkout was a protest to get Kelly and her daughters Brooke and Paige re-instated at ALDC), then she starts in on Melissa for taking the Dance Mom’s side. Then, in a low blow, Abby accuses Melissa of being more worried about a guy than her kids, and says she went from husband to husband. It made me cringe – it was inappropriate to say in front of the kids, and inappropriate to say on camera in front of all of us. Abby leaves and doesn’t come back to run the group number, so Christi does it.

The group competition begins: first we see Studio Bleu’s group number, and then ALDC performs “Arabian Nights”. Brooke was in it! When did she get off of probation? Abby was moved by Studio Bleu’s choreography and praised the advanced routine. I liked both numbers, but it seems like ALDC did a lot of individual moves - this covers up a lot of timing issues, but given the sharp angles and cool isolations in the choreography, I would have enjoyed seeing more work in unison.

The awards are announced: in the Elite Mini Solo division Mackenzie takes third place. In the Elite Junior Solo division Bella is in fourth place, Chloe is second, and Kaeli wins first place. I feel bad for Chloe because she is going to have to hear Abby say, “second is the first to lose” (earlier in this episode in reference to the "Sugar and Spice" demotion we get a variation of this Abby-ism: "second is the biggest loser on the stage"). In the Junior Small Groups ALDC places fourth. Nia’s Mom Holly calls it a humbling moment, and says she can’t remember the last time they placed fourth.

Abby blames the fact that they didn’t win on “the break, the parking lot and the work ethic”. That may be partially true, but Abby is responsible for the ongoing negative energy and the team not recovering as quickly as they could because she is hell-bent on making the Mom’s pay for rebelling. If she would just let go of it and move on, so would the dancers.

Then Christi and Abby have yet another fight: Abby says Chloe is always late to class, Christi says her school doesn’t get out until 4:30 and she’s doing the best she can, Abby wants her to get dismissed early from school, Christi says “no”, then the argument completely devolves with Christie being absolutely awful calling Abby “Fatty” over and over. Holly starts moving Nia out of the room, and then Kelly and gets the rest of the girl going, but they all heard it, and so did we – it was shameful. I think it’s going to be a while before we see Chloe dance a solo again.

Do you think Chloe will be suspended over Christi’s fight with Abby? Is Sophia Lucia ever coming back to dance as part of ALDC? Were you as excited as I was to see Zack from AUDC in next week’s previews? It looks like Cathy Candy Apple recruited him for her all boys team. We’d love to know what you all think – leave a comment and tell us!

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Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime

Photo by Scott Gries, courtesy of Lifetime