Credit: Lifetime

Last week on Dance Moms, the ladies of the Abby Lee Dance Studio let their hair down and took their shirts off, because they were in warm, tropical Miami Beach. And they were there to dance!

So you can imagine our (and presumably their) disappointment when we found ourselves back this week in the less glamorous city of Pittsburgh, where Abby is screaming.

PYRAMID

At the bottom is Nia, because Abby’s “heart stopped last week” when Nia froze in the middle of her solo. Mackenzie is next, because the poor thing is seven years old and Abby thinks “there’s some things to improve on.” Next is Brooke (“I thought you did a great job.”)

In the middle are Chloe (“I thought the trio was a little shaky.”), and Paige, because “Even when you should have been icing your feet, you were practicing those dances.” Maddy is at the top because she’s the best, always.

This week’s group routine is about a homeless shelter. Maddy will be doing a solo, and Abby says, “I’m gonna start mixing things up” with the trio, so it’ll be Chloe, Maddy, and Nia. Everyone jumps for joy for Nia, who tells us, “I want this trio so badly because I want to show Miss Abby that I can do a trio, I can work with other people, I CAN dance!” And she waved her hands around like a magician and poof! Oh wait, we’re still watching Dance Moms.

“We will be competing against Candy Apples in Chicago,” Abby reminds them. The piece is called “Trapped,” about a homeless girl. Abby explains: “All these other little girls in the neighborhood discover her, and they lend her a dress, and they put a bow in her hair, and they help her out.” Who knew cleaning up the streets was so easy? Alert Mayor Bloomberg and send him a box of bows, stat!

Anyone notice this exchange between the moms? Kelly: “In Chicago, we should go out. Like what is that called? When all the bars are on that one street?”
Christi: “Rehab.”

Holly is ecstatic that Nia is in the trio. She’s made a decision to take a leave of absence from work, and spend more time at home. The Moms are like, “With us!” And Holly makes a face that sort of implies, yes, she is leaving her job to spend more time at the Dance Studio. What is this stronghold Abby Lee has over these grown women?

OVER IN CANDY APPLES LAND

Kathy makes her own announcement about Chicago. Justice is going to be doing a solo. Justice is not a theme of our legal system or the mission of the civil rights movement. Justice is a tiny boy with a red mop on his head, who loves to dance for Kathy.

Kathy is putting together “a clown number. It’s very dark.” She chooses a special blond girl named Taylor in the back to play a tightrope walker, and immediately, judging from all the promos we’ve seen, we know that this poor kid is going on an ambulance ride to the hospital in just a few days. Book her one of those private rooms. Whenever Kathy says the words, “tight rope,” you should pretty much book the entire pediatric wing, because there will be blood.

Credit: Lifetime Photo: Dance Moms: Maddy

HOMELESS COUTURE

“Thank goodness the homeless don’t wear anything crazy,” says Abby, observing some expensive-looking blue jumpers. Then we notice that Abby’s necklace is made of plastic pink lips, strung together on a black chain, and we re-evaluate her definition of “crazy.”

Melissa and Jill meet up for brunch to tell each other they’re losing weight because they have no time to eat. They’re as busy as a Real Housewife! Jill brags to Melissa about how amazing Kathy is, and the special gymnasium gig she got Kendall last week. 

Talk turns to Melissa’s enigmatic engagement, which is possibly the least interesting story line on this show, but since Melissa keeps making a fuss about how everyone keeps making a fuss about her engagement but they shouldn’t make a fuss, because she doesn’t want to make a fuss, well, the producers are convinced this is something worth fussing about. (It’s not.)

THE RING HEARD ROUND THE WORLD

Up in the moms’ box, Melissa’s not wearing her engagement ring, so all the moms go on and on about her not wearing it, and Melissa magically transforms into a baby right before our eyes. She refuses to answer very simple questions like, “Why were you wearing your engagement ring last week, and today you are not?” Melissa considers a question like this akin to calling her ugly, so she marches down to the studio, interrupts rehearsal, and whines to Abby. “These people are starting with me again!” Suddenly, she’s a baby with colic. “And we’re not coming this weekend! Nah nah na poo poo!”

Maddy cries, of course. Because her mom became a giant bratty baby who, we kid you not, is calling her fiancé and telling him to “hire your attorney!”

We rewound our DVR to make sure we hadn’t missed something worth suing over, and nope. Three adults asked another adult why she stopped wearing her engagement ring. That’s lit-rally (as Rachel Zoe would say) all that happened.

Abby is shockingly, the only one with words of wisdom: “These girls need to be rehearsing, not watching their mothers act like teenage drama queens.” Predictably, Melissa comes back the next day as if nothing had happened. 

Down in the studio, Abby is instructing the girls: “I better see a homeless child that hasn’t eaten, that doesn’t bathe, in that box.” She continues, “Think about that when you’re going to sleep in your big beautiful house.”

Being trendy, because if Abby Lee is anything in this world, it is trendy, Maddy’s solo dance will portray Snow White.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES

Maddy is going head to head with Justice. No, she will not be fighting for the rights of all dance students who withstand abuse from their instructors. She will be competing with the aforementioned little red-headed boy.

Maddy forgoes the sparklies this week, because she’s serious. “When I have a boy compete against me in my category, I’m a little nervous because usually they’re pretty good.”

Maddy is just a fantastic dancer. There’s nothing funny or strange about it. This girl is going to be a star, as long as she can get out of Pittsburgh. “Maddy was brilliant,” says Abby. And we couldn’t agree more.

Abby explains that judges often give boys the win because “they want to keep those boys dancing.” So Justice goes on, and you know what? He’s pretty good. But his choreography is nowhere near as complex as Maddy’s, and mostly just does splits in the air. It’s not cohesive, but let’s hear it for the boy anyway.

Next up is the trio, and everyone is apprehensive. But wow, they’re fantastic. We even say “Wow!” out loud. They were totally in sync, but Abby says, “My favorite part of the trio was the last pose. Because it was over.” She said Nia was a beat behind, and sloppy.

Maddy wins first place for her solo! She beat Justice. You know, the boy, not the…you get our drift.

Sadly, the trio didn’t place, and Nia looks upset. Off the moms go to lunch, so they can gossip about Melissa and her engagement. Christi says, “Did you people get a letter too?” Apparently all the moms got actual letters from Melissa’s attorney, instructing them to cease and desist from talking about Melissa’s personal life.

Credit: Lifetime Photo: Dance Moms: Abby Lee Miller

As Christi points out, “What attorney would pen that letter?” Our first thought is, are we even allowed to be writing this recap? Wait a second, is writing about any other person illegal? Is that siren we hear headed straight to our building, ready to knock down the door of our apartment?!

Of course not, because Melissa’s letter is ridiculous. Hasn’t anyone seen Real Housewives of Beverly Hills? The moms are all upset because they see the letters as insults to their friendship. We see the letters as insults to intelligence.

Melissa pulls a Taylor Armstrong and blames it on her husband. Don’t worry, I’m not threatening to sue you. My silly husband is! Kisses? No Melissa, no kisses for you.

Back to things that matter: the group competition! The girls look amazing, and the moms are even moved to tears. Everyone cheers, and big old bully Jill is smiling in the Candy Apples row.

Next up is “Ode to Clown.” Abby Lee notes how dark and creepy it is. Cathy is very disappointed with Taylor, who looks nervous and shaky and suddenly stumbles, runs off the stage. Backstage, it’s mayhem. Taylor says she broke her ankle, and Kathy says she’s just being a “drama queen.” Off she goes to the hospital.

Awards time. The moms were surprised because they didn’t win first place. And they didn’t win second place. But they did win third place, which is still a placement. There’s an ominous knock at the door, and in comes Kathy telling Melissa that she heard she’s engaged. Melissa is all, “You need to talk to my lawyer. We’re not allowed to talk about that.”

Christi speaks for the rest of the moms, and the First Amendment, and all of mankind, when she says, “We can talk about anything we want.”

Catch an all-new Dance Moms on Tuesday, March 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.