Dance Moms Recap S5 E18 Mid-Season Finale: Showdown in Pittsburgh Part 2

JoJo Siwa and Maddie Ziegler, stars of Dance Moms on Lifetime
L to R: JoJo Siwa and Maddie Ziegler, stars of Dance Moms on Lifetime

Previously on Dance Moms, Nia Frazier premiered the music video for her single "Star in Your Own Life," but some of her Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) teammates didn't make the party because they were at JUMP, a dance convention. This week on the Dance Moms season 5, episode 18 mid-season finale titled "Showdown in Pittsburgh, Part 2," Abby Lee Miller and the ALDC are scheduled to compete with two rivals – Cathy Nesbitt Stein and her Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) and Jeanette Cota and her Broadway Dance Academy (BDA) – but they are late for the show and risk disqualification.

Dance Moms S5 E18 "Showdown in Pittsburgh, Part 2" opens with the CADC and BDA teams arriving at the Starbound competition. The ALDC should be reporting too, but the only dancers present are Nia Frazier (with mom Holly) and JoJo Siwa (with mom Jessalynn). ALDC assistant choreographer Gianna "Gia" Martello is there but Abby is missing; Kira is there but daughter Kalani Hilliker is missing; Jill is there but daughter Kendall Vertes is missing; Melissa is there but daughters Mackenzie and Maddie Ziegler are missing – they are all still at the JUMP Convention. Melissa says, "Abby thinks JUMP is very important, however, they have to be at this competition because it's the last competition in Pittsburgh" (if you missed last week's episode with the JUMP Convention, news about Abby's new LA studio and Nia's video premiere, read my recap for Dance Moms S5 E17 "Showdown in Pittsburgh Part 1").

It's an odd situation, and odder still that the moms – Jessalynn, and then mainly Holly – choose to discuss it with Abby's rivals, Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and Jeanette Cota, and in front of moms from those teams. If I were Abby, I'd be VERY annoyed. Jeanette says, "I just think all of them should be at JUMP, or all of them should be here, one or the other." Melissa nails it when she scrunches her face and says, "It has nothing to do with you, it's our kids."

When Cathy notices Abby arriving, she shrieks, "Hey, they have a question for you, why would you double-book?" Then, Jessalynn confronts Abby, asking her if she told one of the other mothers (Jill or Melissa) not to tell her about their girls competing at JUMP on Sunday (as far as Jess and Holly knew, the team would only be at JUMP on Saturday). Holly starts in, too, and protests Nia being excluded, and that exchange re-opens the issue of Holly going around Abby to get Aubrey O'Day to coordinate Nia's single and music video. In a talking head interview, Abby states, "You chose Aubrey O'Day, and Nia is not my responsibility."

All of this is taking place in front of the other teams, and FINALLY, Jill says, "It's none of their business, and we should not open up our business, including you, Holly, to them." This, of course, ignites an argument:
Holly: "Do not tell me what I need to do."
Jill: "Holly, it's none of their business what we do or you do with your child."
Holly: "Don't you dare think I'm going to listen to you tell me what I can and cannot say."
Jill: "Why are you entitled to your opinion and no-one else is… Holly's opinion is always right."

Cathy tells the CADC moms, "Girls we have to get ready lets go, I've heard enough," and as they leave, the argument between Jill and Holly continues. Holly snaps, "The thing is, I'm not standing up and letting this woman [Abby] control me – I don't need you!" Then, as Jessalynn and Holly exit, Holly yells back that they are all controlled by Abby, so Jill responds, "I'm controlled by my child and what makes her happy." Holly disagrees saying, "You're controlled by her, ignorant fool," and Jessalynn adds, "She's a bitch," although it's not clear if she means Jill or Abby.

In the CADC dressing room, they gloat over the ALDC's troubles, but then the conversation turns to their own group number, and Cathy wonders if it was a mistake to include daughter Vivi-Anne in the dance. The moms assure her it's a good move, that Vivi is "a beautiful dancer," and that having her in the number means a lot to them. Cathy admits that early on Abby told her, "You can't teach your own kid," and she wants to prove her wrong.

In the ALDC dressing room, Holly and Jessalynn commiserate. Jess says that Abby's LA studio isn't going to fly, that people will come at first because of her name, then they'll all leave. "Unless she finds a Jill, Melissa and Kira," Holly offers. "She finds moms like them she's golden." Then, those three moms enter the dressing room, and Jill says she didn't know the Nia and JoJo weren't scheduled to be at JUMP with the rest of the girls on Sunday. Melissa concurs, but Holly says that's "garbage."

When Abby joins them, Jill asks if the assigned soloists – Kendall and Kalani – will be allowed to perform out of sequence if they're late, but Abby shrugs, indicating that she doesn't know. When JoJo and Nia enter the room, Abby reminds them, "When opportunity knocks, you have to be ready. That's part of your training at the Abby Lee Dance Company. " She says that Nia will be going in for Kalani (she'll be doing her "Never Knew" solo from Dance Moms S5 E14 Hollywood Round 2), and JoJo will be going in for Kendall (she'll be doing improv).

When JoJo runs some improv ideas, Abby wants to give corrections, but Jessalynn isn't into it because at that point, JoJo was just marking steps, not dancing full-out. Right before Nia starts to run her solo, Cathy and a few moms crash their dressing room. Jill tells Cathy to get out and give Nia some respect, but Cathy says that Jill doesn't respect Nia because Kendall wasn't at Nia's video premiere. Jill tells Cathy to mind her own bleeping business. Holly seems to enjoy the spat, and says, "Cathy was talking as a mother." After that, another argument arises because Jill wants Holly to acknowledge that it's good that Abby gave Nia a solo, but Holly says Nia only got it by default because no-one else was there.

When the solo competition begins, Maddie, Mackenzie, Kalani and Kendall are still at JUMP. Nia performs first with her "Never Knew" contemporary solo; she wears a one-shouldered purple costume with cut-out midriff and a chiffon "mullet skirt" (short in the front; long in the back). Ava Cota follows with her "Hurtful Words" contemporary solo; she wears a black one-piece costume with a halter style neckline. Nia always does well with contemporary pieces, but Ava's choreo is really, really cool.

JoJo is next with her "Electricity" contemporary improv; she wears a black sleeveless leotard with sheer inserts above the bodice. I love seeing JoJo in serious dance mode: hair in a bun, simple costume, more substance and less flash – she does a fantastic job.

After solos, Cathy and her cronies enter the ALDC dressing room, AGAIN, this time to congratulate Nia and throw stars (confetti or glitter? I can't tell) up in the air. CADC mom Melanie (mom of Haley Huelsman, who was a contestant on season 2 of Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition) commends Nia's video, but disparages Mackenzie's "It's a Girl Party" video (directed by Abby), and Jill and Jessalynn tell them all to get out. When Cathy sees Abby recording the exchange on her phone, she threatens legal action for being taped without her consent.

The groups are up next, with the CADC going first with their contemporary routine called "The Patriot"; they wear bra-style tops with stars and stripes like the American flag (except for Vivi-Anne, who wears a full top in blue with white stars), and red chiffon skirts. Toward the end of the routine, Vivi-Anne runs in with an American flag, ascends a set of stairs, and then joins the team for the rest of the dance.

The BDA takes the stage for their hip-hop routine called "D-Town" (they're from Detroit, Michigan); they wear black and gold lamé midriff tops with black pants and sneakers. Their routine is fun, and ends with four of the five girls doing a death drop.

Between the performances by the CADC and BDA, the missing ALDC kids finally show up. They are in costume, but they need a few tweaks and touch-ups to their makeup, so there are a few nerve-wracking moments when the announcer calls for them, then does a "last call before disqualification." Luckily, the ALDC makes it to the stage in time to compete with their "No Sign of Life" contemporary routine; they wear two-piece purple-blue costumes with blue embellishments on the tops and hips, plus matching blue lipstick. They give a wonderful performance.

The awards ceremony begins. In the Junior Solo Division, JoJo is awarded 3rd Place; Ava gets 1st Place; Nia doesn't place. Jessalynn says, "JoJo is in the Top 3 with an improv solo? It is time that Abby Lee Miller starts to be impressed with JoJo." I have no idea if Abby is impressed, but I certainly am – I think for this first half of season 5, JoJo has been the ALDC's MVP: she's a fantastic dancer, a dynamic performer, she's always prepared for whatever gets thrown at her, and it seems that she applies Abby's corrections.

In the Junior Group Division, only half a point separates second and first: The CADC gets 2nd Place; the ALDC wins 1st Place. The atmosphere is jubilant in the ALDC dressing room, and Abby wheels in a large cake that says "Hollywood or Bust" for the celebration. Jill says, "This is what the ALDC does best. The girls come together as a team and they dance their hearts out. Now we're moving to LA and taking a trip to Australia. I can't wait to see what the future hold for these young ladies, I think each and every one of them will become a big star."

As the ALDC moms head for home, they are confronted by the CADC and BDA moms. Jeanette asks what Abby thought of Ava, and Abby responds that Ava was great, but that Jeanette should stop teaching acrobatics because she doesn’t know her stuff.

This starts a big fight, and then Cathy and Abby go back-and-forth about Vivi-Anne, with Abby asserting that Cathy cost her daughter an amazing opportunity (Vivi used to dance with the ALDC). Jill holds up her phone to tape the exchange, and as she's saying, "Do your thing that you do best," Cathy rudely snatches the phone out of her hands. A physical fight ALMOST breaks out, but the moms keep them apart until security rushes in and takes over. As Jill struggles to break free and retrieve her phone, Jessalynn tells her, "Don't, we'll get your phone, don't." Jill yells that if she doesn't get her phone she's going to kick Cathy's "f—king ass." As the ALDC leaves, Abby warns Cathy, "Payback's a bitch. Remember that." The CADC moms huddle and hug and laugh.

Back in the ALDC dressing room, Holly wonders, "How did we get here?" Honestly, this is a dance competition, it's about kids dancing. It should be fun, and there's so much drama, how are we going to go to LA if we can't even behave in Pittsburgh... [in] Australia we’re gonna get kicked out of the country. Who are we, and what have we done?"

Next week is the Dance Moms mid-season reunion show, season 5, episode 18, titled "Seeing Stars."


Dance Moms airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime.
Photos courtesy of Lifetime.

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Posted on Wednesday, May 6, 2015