Credit: Scott Gries/Lifetime Television © 2011 Photo: Tiny Dancers of Dance Moms Season 2

Last night’s episode of Dance Moms (Season 2, Episode 3) really brought home one of the most disturbing elements of this show: more often than not, 8-year-old girls are way more mature than 38-year-old women. Yes, Candy Apple Cathy — we’re talking to you. Let’s get right to it, then!

THE PYRAMID
At the studio, Abby Lee looks more chipper than ever coming off of last week’s win (in an admittedly tight race) at the Ohio dance competition where they took 1st place over Cathy’s elderly kids. As Abby Lee puts it, “I think we made applesauce.”

At the bottom of the pyramid is Nia, “because of the mistake in the choreography,” says Abby. In a flashback, we have to admit that she probably belongs there. New kid on the block Kendall is next, and will remain on probation due to her inability to read “and hear music.”

Paige is arbitrarily next, followed by the tiniest and youngest dancer, Mackenzie. Abby Lee tells the doe-eyed little 7-year-old that she won’t be part of the group dance in the next competition, but will instead perform a solo. Later on in the episode, little Mac says, “I’m totally ready to dance with the big girls,” and we fell head-over-tap-shoes in love with the girl.

In the middle is…Maddy?! Yes, the consistent top spot winner fell from grace this week, even if it was due to Abby Lee’s quasi-ridiculous reasoning: “I actually want someone else to be on the top. I want you to stop resting on your laurels. I want you to keep improving for the next twenty years.” Oh, so no pressure or anything.

Tall blonde Chloe is next, and is told that she’ll be going head-to-head with Maddy in the solo competition for their age group. Did we say pressure? Yes, we did.

At the top is the star, Brooke, who Abby says “went from worst to best in one week. You’re the oldest person in this group, you need to be a role model.” Cut to Brooke, telling us, “I really don’t know if I want to be a role model.” It’s then that we realize how gorgeous Brooke is going to be when she grows up a little and is in college, practicing ballet at the studio. We just hope all this pressure turns her more into a Brittany S. Pearce and less of a Rachel Berry.

BORN TO DANCE
On to rehearsals! And the creepiest ones yet, we should add. This week, Abby Lee has choreographed a psychological nightmare of sorts, called Born To Dance: “It’s about a child being born. It’s kind of provocative yet beautiful and wondrous, and it’s all done very artistically,” says Abby Lee.

Cut to: Brooke curled up into a fetal position. We’ve officially been provoked. As mom Christi says, “That’s health class, not dance class.” Mom Melissa utters the word “vagina,” and we closed our eyes and tried to make it stop.

Which it sort of did! Christi and Melissa (moms to this week’s competing Chloe and Maddy, respectively) toss around a few subtly bitchy comments, trying to stir the pot. But all the passive aggressive barbs mostly fall flat.

BROOKE BOWS OUT
We already knew from the previews that Brooke would be tempted to join the cheerleading squad this week, and skip the competition altogether. Brooke tells the camera, “Abby’s being really hard on me. I’m just wondering if I should go off and do other things like cheerleading.” Thanks, Brooke, for that helpful exposition.

We see shots of Brooke looking smiley and nervous at her school’s football game, being pressured by the sweet head cheerleader to pick up some pom poms and try out later that week. Brooke reasons, “I’m always missing all the parties [because of dance].” Those pre-teen ragers really are a must-do. We wouldn’t be where we are now without them. (We might live in a nicer apartment, for example.)

But, as mom Kelly informs us, the cheerleading try-outs are held the same weekend as this week’s dance competition. The other moms give Kelly a hard time over mid-day martinis at a black lacquered day lounge of some sort, telling her that removing Brooke from the number would be sabotaging the rest of their chances. Kelly responds by making some (rather awesome, we must say) philosophical mom-isms to Abby Lee mid-freakout, later on in the studio: “I’m letting a 13-year-old dictate her own life.”

Because, yes, Abby Lee is a piping mad teapot after hearing the news that Brooke wouldn’t be coming to New Jersey with them. She responds by canceling the group number (meaning Nia, Paige, and Kendall were dismissed from the trip altogether, since they didn’t have solos).

Two of the best lines of the entire season so far were uttered by Abby in this scene, including another awkward reference to Harvard, which is apparently Abby’s idea of heaven. After calling Christi "an asshole" for standing behind Kelly and Brooke’s decision, Abby says, “When your kid gets a full scholarship to Harvard, and Brooke’s going to community college like her mother, you go ‘support’ Brooke and go with her!” We love this line, though we have no idea why.

Also, in response to the fact that Brooke would prefer cheerleading to dance: “I would not let my girl go shake her pom poms for some boy to go to college for free.” Again, such a weird thing to say, but we adore.

Anyway, a few moments later, Abby Lee reverses her decision, and everyone can go. Sigh, joy, moving on.

Credit: Lifetime Photo: Dance Moms

AND NOW, THE AWARD FOR OVERALL MATURITY GOES TO…
The girls! Let’s pause to review the ridiculously impressive affirmations spoken by some of the little ladies this week:

“I have a lot of confidence in myself.” –Chloe
“Sometimes Brooke says, ‘I hate dance.’ I think that’s what being a teenager is all about.” –Maddy
“I definitely think we’re going to do great.” –Nia

ON WITH THE SHOW
Mackenzie is up first with her first-ever solo dance, which is called Showtime. Abby’s confidence-boosting pep talk consists of: “If you forget, I’m gonna chop your head off.” Yay! It’s about the leader of a band, who is getting everyone excited about the band’s arrival at a parade. Mac completely nails it, even doing some Brooke-inspired neck dancing. Abby says that she nailed the back handspring, and we weep with joy for this girl, because she’s just flippin’ fantastic and we want to be her friend.

Then it’s time for the big girl solos, in which Maddy and Chloe will be competing against each other. Chloe’s dance is romantic and in the Lyrical style, and we’re very impressed with her acting chops. The facial expressions! The looks of longing and lost love and heartache!

Maddy’s jazz number is…different. We’re going to rely on Abby’s choice words to sum it up: “It looked like the talent was paid for and hired and flown in from Vegas.” Let’s just say that Maddy winked at the judges a lot.

Maddy winds up taking 3rd place, and Chloe wins 1st. Everybody’s happy except…

…CATHY, THE “GERIATRIC MEAN GIRL”
Wouldn’t you know, the Candy Apples are back with their dancing 80-year-olds and ringleader Cathy, who tells the group: “We have our nemis [sic] here again this week.” She asks her dancers if anyone else noticed that Brooke wasn’t there, and we hear from the random red-headed boy who never wears pants, who totally noticed that Brooke wasn’t there. We also learn the red-headed boy’s name! Fittingly: Justice.

The group competition gets started and we get to see Cathy’s latest work of art, called Mermaids. Basically the old gals on her team wear fluttery blue costumes and take a stab at swimming on stage. Itty bitty Vivi-anne appears from time to time, running on stage to look cute, running off stage looking cute. As Abby puts it, she “was used as a living prop to get the age level down.”

The Abby Lee girls look amazing in their gold, kind of naked-ish costumes. They absolutely look the part — from afar, the glitter could pass for placenta, so, job well done...? Maddy gets her promised solos, and they all get to stand out individually. 

The results are announced: the writhing Candy Apples take an embarrassing 8th place, while Abby’s girls get 1st overall! 

Of course, no battle against the Candy Apples would be complete without a showdown backstage. After Abby Lee tells the kids that they should exercise good sportsmanship by congratulating the other team, she tells the camera that really, she just wants her bumblebee costume from last season back. 

Cathy responds by saying, "The ugly bee costume? I gave it to Good Will.” Holly whispers, “It was $300...” And Cathy says, “Bill me.” Then Cathy calls Christi, her personal “nemis,” Disco Ball — apparently because Christi is wearing a somewhat shiny top. 

Then Cathy makes a huge mistake by telling Christi, “Hoover called and they want their nose back.” Hoover? Really? Aside from never revealing one’s age, a lady must never reveal her age by dating herself back to the ‘50s with long-ago brand name references. Oopsies!

Catch the next Dance Moms on Tuesday, January 31 at 9pm ET/PT on Lifetime. 

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