'Dance Moms' Season 3 Finale, Candy Apple Showdown: Will Abby Move to LA

Dance Moms cast left to right - Jill, Christie, Kelly, Melissa and Holly
Dance Moms cast from left to right: Jill, Christie, Kelly, Melissa and Holly

On episode 18 of Dance Moms - the midseason 3 finale titled "Candy Apple Showdown" – we pick up where we left off last week, with the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) is in NYC preparing for the Masters of Dance competition. Abby nemesis Cathy Nesbitt-Stein from the Candy Apples Dance Center (CADC) is there too, and she has Anthony Burrell choreographing for her team. Also on this episode, we see the new CADC girl Victoria dance for the first time (she's absolutely lovely), and Zack from Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition (AUDC) does a solo.

There is no pyramid this week (Abby’s ranking system for the ALDC), because this is part two of last week's episode in which Abby co-hosted The View (ABC). This week the ALDC will be in the Masters of Dance Arts competition in New Jersey. There will be a group dance called "Children with Guns"; Maddie’s solo is "I'm on My Way"; Asia’s solo is "The Robot"; Kendall’s solo is "Hands Up"; Chloe’s solo is "My Obsession".

As the girls begin rehearsals in NYC’s Stepping Out Studios, Kelly asks Abby if she can leave for an hour with daughter Brooke (her other daughter is Paige) to meet with a music manager, since Brooke doesn’t have a solo to learn. Abby kindly dismisses Brooke so she can make the appointment, but then says, “I think Brooke going off to work with a music producer is a joke.” Then she yells out to Brooke, “Make me proud!” followed by a series of weird grunts.

Chloe’s mom Christi with a “C” asks Asia’s mom Kristie with a “K” how she’s feeling about her daughter being bumped from the ALDC performance on The View.  Kristie says she feels “the same”, and that she probably would have been more “fiery” if she didn’t see it coming. Christi asks her if she feels like a pawn, but Kristie doesn’t take the bait – she says, “It’s like an audition” and that Asia has “been in it enough times… it doesn’t affect her… she's not sensitive to it.” Later Kristie tells the camera, “I’m not intimidated, we’re here to stay. I’ve dealt with a lot more difficult situations than Asia not being on that View stage.”

Brooke and Kelly meet with the music producer, Wally Brandt, who is impressed that Brooke’s single “Summer Love Song” was downloaded 25,000 times and hit #9 on iTunes. Brooke is surprised that people like her song because she’s only taken a few voice lessons. Then the producer brings in a surprise guest, Pussycat Doll Melody Thornton, who has a coaching session with Brooke, teaching her how to breathe and telling her “Everything you need to know will come with experience.” It’s nice to see Brooke smile and get some encouragement.

Kristie gets to be in the rehearsal room while Asia goes over her solo with Abby. Usually the moms aren’t allowed in the room, so they think it’s because Abby favors Asia. But, since Abby pulled Asia from The View and put Melissa’s daughter Mackenzie (Maddie’s sister) in, Christie says Melissa should be thrilled that her kids are “still at the top of Abby’s mental pyramid”. Then they discuss Asia some more, and they doubt if what Kristie says is true, that BeyoncĂ© wants to meet Asia, and wonder whether Kristie is truly over Asia being bumped from The View. Christi says she thinks Kristie pretends she doesn’t care, but that deep down she is a worse stage mom than any of them. Kristie, who is just on the other side of the glass between the Mom's lounge and the rehearsal room, says, “Just because I’m out of the room doesn’t mean I’m not hearing the moms chat about me and Asia… what are we, in high school?”

Next, Abby works on the group routine. It’s about runaways and guns, and Abby says she wants the number to make people feel something. Abby poses the question, “If I can make the judges see something and feel something and learn something, why not take the opportunity?”

As the moms watch the rehearsal from their waiting room, Christi asks, “Does anybody here think that Cathy’s a threat?” The Dance Moms do think so, but only because she has an all-boy team (a novelty in dance competitions), not because she’s a good teacher. Then they notice that Asia has the bad girl role in the number – I believe she’s the one with the gun. Kristie says she doesn’t care because it’s just a role, and this leads to Christi and (Kendall’s mom) Jill arguing with Kristie about whether or not Asia cried over dance parts and whatnot. Kristie tells Jill, “Don’t put me in the same boat as you. Asia felt bad that Nia got yelled at.” She can cry all effing day long, who effing cares?”, meaning Asia is allowed to cry, not that she doesn’t care if Asia is crying. Also, I put in the word "effing" - it was bleeped.

The action switches to the CADC rehearsal with Anthony Burrell (who has worked with BeyoncĂ©, Mary J. Blige and Rihanna, among others, and is known to Abby fans as one of the choreographers on AUDC) for the group dance “Dia de los Muertos”, which means Day of the Dead. It’s an annual holiday in Mexico that celebrates the souls of those who have passed on. The new girl Victoria (from Studio Larkin) is dancing with Cathy’s all-boy team, the Candy Apple Core (not Corps). Just from watching brief footage of Victoria practicing, you can see she’s amazing.

Brooke from ALDC texts Candy Apple Zack to tell him her team is going ice skating. Cathy finds out and decides to show up with her team as a “surprise”, and then she makes jokes about Abby’s weight. Cathy is a jerk.

The ALDC is at the rink, and Maddie is near tears because she doesn’t want to skate, but her mom Melissa yells at her to have fun.  Asia is near tears because she does want to skate, but her mom Kristie won’t let her because she is worried she’ll get injured and not be able to dance.

The CADC arrives at rink, and Cathy introduces Victoria to the ALDC girls. Kelly says, “It’s official, Cathy is stalking us. Not only does she finds us at dance competitions,  she finds us at our recreational activities.” Kelly might want to talk to her daughter Brooke about that.

Then we see shots of the kids on the ice, and Maddie is fuh-reaking out because the ALDC kids aren’t allowed to skate – it’s in their contract with Abby's studio. Poor Maddie has that same terrified, frantic look on her face that we all saw in season 2 when she forgot her choreography and ran off stage. She says, “We’re going to be in so much trouble.”

At the next group rehearsal Abby calls the parents in to let them all know that she knows they were skating. She makes all of the girls do 100 push-ups except for Asia, the only one who didn’t skate.

While this is going on, Christi and Kristie get into another fight when Kristie answers a question the moms either did or didn’t ask – it’s hard to tell with the editing. Kristie tells them, “I’m sorry that you guys are miserable.” When Christi calls Kristie a bitch,  it’s almost “go time”, and then there’s a volley of Christi asking, “What are you gonna do, hit me?” and Kristie answering, “Watch your tongue.” Abby, who can hear everything from the other room, says she hopes Kristie slaps Christi in the face. YIKES! Kristie says, “You just don’t know how to handle me” (which I believe is true), and then she and Christie take turns saying “save it” and “you save it” back and forth. It’s like listening to 7-year-old me arguing with my little brother, except I wouldn’t deck him. Later, Christie says, “That’s the second time someone has threatened to beat my ass inside of a year!” Hmm...

Christi and Kelly take a meeting with a man named Caesar – he’s a talent scout – we first saw him on Season 2. He has Chloe and Paige read for a part that requires a 12-year-old girl. After that Christi and Kelly go out exploring in NYC. They take the subway and wind up getting tipsy in a bar in Brooklyn. Soon Holly, Jill and Melissa show up, and Christi rambles about how Kelly was worried if they got lost they would have to live in the subway and eat a bug. Then they all toast to being in "the city that never sleeps". Jill isn’t sure if the “the city that never sleeps" is LA or NYC. How does someone who works around dance, theater and music not know the lyrics to “New York, New York”? Brush up on your Liza and Frank, Jill.

Anthony Burrell rehearses the “Illusions of Dance” duet with Jalen and Nick. It’s about two magicians: one formal, one street. Cathy keeps interrupting, and Anthony wants her to stop. He tells her “You don’t know where I’m going” and “You don’t know what you’re talking about”, then when she starts yelling he tells her “step out of my face”. To paraphrase, he says she pushes his buttons and gets in the way of his creative process.

Then Dance Dad Rick starts butting in too, and says dancer Nick is pushing Jalen out of the step (causing him to over-rotate out of his flip). Anthony explains to Cathy and Rick how their interruptions affect his process: “This is my kingdom when I’m in the studio… It just takes me out of my world… I’m an artist, I’m crazy.” Cathy cries, and Anthony tells her he doesn’t intend to hurt her feelings. Because she is old enough to be Anthony’s mom, she tells him, “Honey gets bees”. Cathy should look in the mirror and say this over and over.

Meanwhile Jalen is crying too and his dad Rick tells him he doesn’t have to dance if he doesn’t want to, but Jalen does go back in the studio, and Anthony lifts him up in the air. At first Jalen can’t look at him, but then he does and they fist bump. Dance Dad Rick often comes off badly when dealing with people on the show - I specifically did not like it when Rick yelled in Abby’s face - but I’ve noticed several times this season he’s very sweet and supportive when he deals with Jalen – it’s nice. Later we see Vivi-Anne and Jalen talk about their favorite colors and video games and about Anthony and the adults fighting. Vivi is happy because she found a quarter while the adults were yelling.

The next person to cry is Kendall, when Abby yells at her in rehearsal. The other Dance Moms tell Jill that they think Abby really likes Kendall, but she doesn’t believe it. She confronts Abby, who tells Kendall, “I’ll never say your name again. No problem. I’ll never say it to a casting agent, I’ll never say it to a director.  I’ll never say it again.”

Cathy takes the CADC kids on a backstage tour of the Broadway show Mamma Mia. A cast member shows them how they have a “raked” stage – meaning it’s on an incline so the audience has a better view – and she invites them to do a few pirouettes so they can see how it feels to adjust to the angle.

Backstage at the competition, we see Asia dressed in her robot costume, a purple bikini top under silver sleeves, and a purple bikini bottom over long silver pants and then a short tutu over that, and she has green bows in her hair.

Out of no-where, Dance Dad Rick gets in a fight with Abby, and Melissa threatens to kick him. This was another quick blow-up, what Lifetime shows on the commercial is pretty much what you see in the episode.

The competition begins.

Asia goes first with her solo. It a cool jazz routine called “The Robot” – the music and some of the moves remind me of Cirque du Soleil. Asia is a stronger dancer than when we first met her on AUDC – her turns are excellent.

Maddie does her “I’m on My Way” lyrical solo in a white skirt and halter top. She gets nice height on her jumps, and as always, she is a pro at projecting the emotional content. Chloe does her solo, a contemporary/ jazz piece called “My Obsession” in white shorts and top with a silver mesh overlay. I think Maddie and Chloe are equally talented dancers, but at this competition Maddie has better choreography.

Then, while the team is in the middle of the competition, Abby asks the Dance Moms, “What was going on in the waiting room yesterday?,” referring to hearing Kristie dropping eff-bombs.  Kristie tells her that the issue was that things were said that were “clearly not how it went,” referring to Jill saying that Asia cried. This is an odd scene that escalates quickly for no apparent reason, and Jill takes Kendall – who is crying at this point (???) –  and she flounces out of the room.

I watched this scene several times to sort it out, but don’t know why Kendall was in tears – maybe because her mom was arguing? Abby’s not sure either. She says, “Kendall is about to perform, I have no idea what the crying about but it has to stop.” In the other room, Jill gives Kendall a pep talk and tells her that nothing Abby says about her is true.

Kendall gets it together and does her Latin Jazz solo called “Hands Up” wearing a costume of red sequin shorts and top. Kendall does a lovely job: her facial expressions are much improved, and she looks happy on stage. Abby says she went out on a limb to give Kendall a solo because she thinks “she’s a contender right alongside Maddie and Chloe,” and that Kendall’s performance proved her right.

Zack goes next with his lyrical solo wearing surgical scrubs. I think he’s a fabulous dancer; I enjoyed his work on AUDC, and I loved this solo. I do think he needs more complicated choreography (because he’s taller and looks older so the judges expect more), but it’s a good number. The routine ends with Zack wearing a stethoscope. We don’t get the back-story on this, but obviously his dance had a medical theme.

Jalen and Nick do their “Illusions of Dance” acrobatic duet. They dance at different levels – Nick is more advanced (Abby called it two solos, side-by-side) – but they pull it off and the slow motion part at the end is very cool.

Backstage both the ALDC and CADC get ready for their group performances. In the venue hallway Christi and Anthony exchange harsh words because Christi touched one of his props. It’s a quick argument - again, what was shown on the commercial is what you see in the episode.

We see the CADC applying their “Dia de los Muertos” makeup, and then it’s time for their number. They give an outstanding contemporary performance with the boys dressed in black and Victoria in a gorgeous red costume with a full tulle skirt. This is my favorite routine of the season - the music is bewitching, Victoria is elegant, and Anthony Burrell’s choreography is phenomenal. The number looks more like what you see at a professional dance performance than at a kid’s dance competition.

The ALDC goes next – they do their contemporary piece dressed in black, red, and white costumes. They are very good, but I prefer to see more dancing in unison (I’ve said this several times during the season), and their choreography just isn’t as sophisticated as Anthony Burrell’s.

However, there is no acceptable reason for Candy Apple Cathy to sit in the audience and loudly criticize our pretty Paige while she’s on stage. If anyone did that at one of the shows I produced (back in the day) I would have thrown them out. But, this is Dance Moms and we need the drama, so it goes on and Anthony gets involved.

Of course Abby can hear them, so when the group number is done she calls Paige over and tells her to confront Cathy and Anthony. Abby thought they would say they were sorry, but instead Anthony gives Paige performance notes. Paige seems interested in hearing Anthony, but her mom Kelly tells him, “You’re not her dance teacher so don’t give her critiques.” Then they get into it for a minute, and when she says she pays Abby to teach Paige, Anthony says, “Maybe you should get a refund because her knees were bent and she missed many a step!” Kelly is so upset she takes Paige out of the ballroom and winds up backstage heaving and sobbing. If Kelly is acting for the benefit of the show, give her an Emmy, because she seems genuinely hurt.

The awards ceremony begins.

In the Mini Solo Division, Asia wins 1st place and the Judges Choice award.

In the Junior Solo Division, Kendall gets 4th place. The announcer says there is a tie for second place, and their rules are that ties are broken by using the technical score. Based on that, Chloe takes 3rd and Zack is 2nd. Maddie wins 1st place.

In the Junior Duo or Trio Division, Nick and Jalen win 1st place.

In the Junior Groups Division, ALDC comes in 2nd place, and CADC wins 1st place.

Abby says it kills her that Cathy beat her, BUT, she did it with “One girl that she stole, three boys from around the country, and a guest choreographer.” This is true. From what we’ve seen of Cathy’s teaching and choreography on the show (which admittedly may be vastly different in real life), she could not have beaten Abby on her own.

After the awards ceremony, Kelly is still so upset, she’s a crying mess. She places the blame on Abby for putting Paige in a situation with the adults, especially since Abby knows how they are. Abby is proud Paige stood up for herself, but Kelly yells, “She stands up to you every week, every day when you scream at her!”

The talk turns to the group routine, and Abby says Asia ruined the number because her spacing was off, but then concedes that she’s not sure where the judges were looking or what they saw.

Candy Apple Cathy stops by the ALDC dressing room to gloat, and tells Abby, “You’re gonna go down every week!” (no she’s not, Abby is a big star now), “You did that to poor Paige!” (no she didn’t, Cathy, you did it) and tells her, “You’re going down, nobody cares about the Abby Lee Dance Company anymore.” (As if, Cathy, have you seen the Dance Moms ratings?).

Season 3 of Dance Moms ends with Abby telling the team, “I want you all to know I am looking for property in LA.” Jill asks, “Does that mean you’re moving?” Dun-dun-duuuuun!

Just because this was the Season 3 finale doesn’t mean it’s over – we still have two Dance Moms reunion shows to enjoy. Tune in next week for Part 1.

So, Dance Moms fans, what did you think of Season 3? What was your favorite episode? Do you think Abby was tougher or nicer this season? Will Abby move to LA? Who is your favorite Dance Mom? Will Asia be back next season? Will Cathy? Personally, I would like to see Anthony Burrell have his own show so we can watch him choreograph every week. Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

To see all of our Dance Moms coverage click here.

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

Dance Moms photo ©Scott Gries, courtesy of Lifetime

Posted on Wednesday, May 1, 2013