I actually lost sleep last night thinking up titles for this episode’s blog, for there was so much from which to choose — not the least of which of was Cathy proclaiming her husband “The Sausage King of Canton.”
“My Beef With Jerkies” was a close runner-up.
But for all the hoopla with “Chloe In The Dried-Meat Cat Suit” — easily Cathy’s biggest vengeance victory yet — it was pretty hard to ignore the “I See London, I See France-tastic”-ness of those “Topless Showgirl” outfits Abby dreamed up for the group dance. Which — if you’ve been watching Dance Moms from the start — brought back eyes-open nightmares of Abby’s whack-a-doodle pal Liz Lieberman giving the girls a terribly helpful chat about her topless showgirl days of yore in last season’s Las Vegas episode.
So let’s have at it, shall we?
Maddie’s back on top of the pyramid, the universe has righted itself and that’s about all we need to say about that. Except maybe that I was a little tweaked that my pal Big Mac was in the bottom row because, according to Abby, she is not dancing at Maddie’s level when Maddie was that age. But the forest is not the least bit lost for the trees on Mac who uses her aside to assure us that she realizes that dancing up to Maddie’s snuff isn’t really possible when one is generally relegated to front-walk-overing (front-walking-over?) across the stage now and then for the sake of inclusion. Maaaaaaaaaac!!!!!
The travel budget is once again called into question when Abby announces that we’re staying in Pittsburgh for the third week in a row, apparently because the Fire and Ice competition that the girls aced in the last two episodes has an “elite” throw-down, to which only the top-scoring studios from the previous season are invited. In other words, no Candy Apples and all her dancer-costume-choreography-pirating unpleasantness allowed.
Theoretically this should be good news, but — as we are soon to discover — it only allows Cathy more time to think up new ways to be naughty. Which is the word of the day. Because, since she has already laid down some pistol-packin’ mamas and Madonna brides on the Fire and Ice judges, Abby has come up with the aforementioned new way to shock and awe the competition. The girls will be showgirls. Optically-illusionally nude ones. And fan-dancers to boot.
It’s hard to declare a victor in the jaw-dropping contest upon this proclamation — the girls or their mothers. “I’m only 11!” protests Paige. “I know,” says Abby. “That’s why you can get away with it.”
I can’t exactly recall what Kelly said in her ensuing aside because she is wearing a super-excellent, grape-jelly-colored, Jimi-Hendrix-meets-Prince fringed velvet blazer that puts Jill’s hairy Mosquito vest to all kinds of shame. (Quick moment here to thank Esther E for alerting me to the fact that Kendall has one, too.) I’m still dazzled by that jacket. You know you want one, too, reader Jen.
Also Chloe has gotten taller than Brooke. When exactly did that happen?
Anyway, Abby says she always wants her kids to be classy, elegant and well respected, then blows that all to hell by explaining to the gob smacked mamas that they’ll have one fan to cover their fronts and one to cover their keisters. Abby beams. Everyone else looks ill.
“And people wonder why we drink,” says Christi in the mom loft. Well, not anymore. “I have to pee like a racehorse,” says Melissa, who now goes by the last name Gisoni (thanks for the heads-up, Gardenspotgrad.) Melissa Gisoni heads off to do that, which affords the other moms another chance to discuss her secretive engagement situation and the notion that Holly should renew her “vowels.”
“Dance Moms Recap: Renew Your Vowels. Especially Oooooooooooo!”
“Dance Moms Recap: Pee Like A Racehorse, Dance Like A Showgirl.”
Get the insomnia?
Welcome to Ohio, John R. Kasich Governor — and our first peek into the overrun-by-Easter-bunnies Nesbitt-Stein household since we first met Cathy way back in the fall. Unless, I’m mistaken, this is also our first look at Mr. Nesbitt-Stein, whose first name is Mike. Mike is the owner/operator of a beefy jerky store inexplicably named Tommy’s Jerky Outlet (Hey! This thing is actually a franchise! And sells Maple Cherry Elk and multiple forms of Hunters Sausage!) and conveniently located adjacent to Candy Apples Dance Studio. Mike wants to drum up more business with a TV commercial, possibly starring Vivi as a jerky-loving cowgirl. Vivi’s expression indicates that Vivi would like to finish her Cap’n Crunch and be left out of everything else. Cathy would like Tommy’s Jerky Outlet to drive business to Candy Apples Dance Studio. Mike would like Candy Apples Dance Studio to finance Tommy’s Jerky Outlet. You are now up to date on Ohio’s other Super Tuesday
Back in Pittsburgh, the girls are visibly tickled with their Pepto-pink feathered fans from the comfort of their practice duds. Abby asserts that one day one of them will be a showgirl and demonstrates proper Oh-No-I’m-Naked Face and proper fan-dance focus. And I quote: “Crotch. Boobs.” Moooooooooooooooooom!
The moms are appalled. They demonstrate this by talking in earnest about how appalled they are. The girls dance on.
Maddie’s solo is the usual lyrical dealie. Abby is revisiting Chloe’s bad bird success from last season’s Black Swan duet with Maddie, only this time she’s a raven. Try as I might, I can’t come up with any Edgar Allan Poe references here, so let’s just move on. Back to Ohio, JRKG.
Mike brings Cathy her lunch and can you believe what a commercial costs these days?!!! Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ridiculous! Not in the Meat Outlet budget, but his special wife Queen Cathy’s on the job. All Mike has to do is kick back in the chair with a couple sausages around his neck. Her words, not mine.
All Cathy needs is a star. Now you know Cathy and I know Cathy and if Cathy really, truly needed a star, she would look no further than the Cap’n Crunch bowl at her dining room table. What Cathy needs is a victim and she knows just the gal. Er, gals.
But first, back in Pittsburgh, the girls are milling around the dressing room with pink feathers on their noggins and tiny little wads of flesh-toned cloth in their mitts that are actually flesh-toned bras with clear plastic straps. Melissa trusts this will all work out fine. Holly and Christi are seething. Christi uses her words to express that she is at a loss for words. She ain’t seen nothing yet.
Nia comes out to model the rest of the outfit — shiny tighty-whiteys. For real. Cross-my-momentarily-stopped-heart. There are clearly legally-binding contracts involved here, because the mothers are going along with this. Christi notes that if the dads saw this outfit, they would cut off the cash for dance lessons. I wonder how they keep the dads from watching Dance Moms.
Meanwhile, Cathy catches Christi in her minivan and tells her that, because of Chloe’s commercial experience, she absolutely must have Chloe be the star dancer of the Sausage King’s ad. Never mind that the Sausage Princess is a dancer, too, and usually the pet project of her mother’s star-making proclivities. No time for thinking, says Cathy, the deal must be sealed right now. Christi agrees. Cathy smirks. So much is rotten in Canton.
Cut to the video shoot, where there is a decent-sized stuffed pony, a mounted deer head, a pack of Candy Apples dancers in red and black spangly cowboy gear, a bunch of vacuum-packed meats and a dubious-looking Mike. Also “Camera Man,” who is clearly the Alan Smithee of Ohio-based television workers.
Then in walks Chloe, wearing what is either a trendy pair of Buddy Holly glasses or a not terribly clever disguise, depending on your perspective of what’s about to go on here. Which is Cathy handing her her own special costume — a putty-colored body stocking to which is affixed one piece each of Mike’s entire inventory. Also a fringe necklace made of sausages.
I thought it was Mike’s job to wear the sausages around his neck.
“The only thing that is keeping me here is my sense of professionalism,” says Christi. And some sort of contract. Chloe heads off to don the foul thing while Cathy’s dancers do that “ride a horsey” dance move in a circle. “You stink a little bit,” Cathy tells Chloe when she emerges in the meat suit. So do you, Cathy. So do you.
Meanwhile, back in PA, group dance practice is in full swing before Abby even notices that Chloe is missing. Which says a lot about Abby’s relationship with Chloe. Or scripts. Depending on your perspective of what’s about to go on here. Abby shrugs it off and busts out a mean Pony to demonstrate to the girls in attendance what the dance is NOT supposed to look like.
And it’s competition time. Broadway Baby is not allowed to attend this time. Broadway Baby must not be elite. Speaking of which, in the dressing room, Abby expresses her relief that Cathy will not be at this competition. “If I never hear that woman’s name again, it will be too soon,” says she.
So guess what happens next. Of course. Christi and Chloe decide to host a premiere screening of the advertisement de la meat suit right then and there on Chloe’s laptop. Without having screened it first, because CN-S is just that trustworthy. They’ve got beef jerky, chicken jerky, turkey jerky. They don’t have Chloe dancing — just posing in her meat suit.
Kelly and Abby call it like they see it — humiliating — and poor Chloe looks like she’d like to fall through the floor. Abby reassures her with the soothing words that for the rest of her life, no matter what she does, this will come back to haunt her. No it will not. Because none of this is happening. Except that no matter whether it is on script or off, it IS happening to Chloe. And she knows it.
Nonetheless, Chloe goes out and does a stunning solo that shows off her new height and preternatural grace to full advantage. She is mind-bending good.
Next up is Maddie in a Little Girl Blue costume. Her solo, I’m Already There, is announced as a Mini Open. Chloe’s was a Junior Contemporary. These two are not competing against one another at all, but I bet that’s not how judging goes. I bet it. In any case, Maddie’s solo is wonderful in the way that Maddie’s solos always are. And then it’s time for the Fan-tastic group dance.
In their finished incarnation, the bra tops — which are clearly bras — are now a slightly pinkish tone and embellished with pearls and rhinestones. The girls don’t look nude after all — they look like they are dancing in their underwear. With big pink fans. Abby and Christi exchange one final set of, “You’re a weirdo! No you’re a weirdo!” slap downs, Abby demands “gorgeous feet” and sea anemone arms and we’re off to take the stage. Where we learn that there is a “burlesque” division in children’s dance competitions.
From all the cut-away shots to creeped-out-looking judges (who look curiously different from the front than they do from the back), you know this is not going to go well. And their reaction when MacKenzie appears to do her complimentary gymnastics and a little feigned “whoopsie!” about dancing in her skivvies seals the girls’ fates. Nonetheless, Abby says if she were a betting woman, she would put money on Fan-tastic being a winner.
I hope Abby is not a betting woman.
But I’m wrong about the solo judging, so who knows? Chloe gets second place in the junior solo competition, but Maddie doesn’t win that division at all. She wins highest scoring overall solo in the whole durn thing. Top of next week’s pyramid, kid. You’re Already There.
At this point, Kelly and Christi sneak off to decorate the dressing room for the impromptu surprise bachelorette party they are throwing for Melissa, complete with booze and a male stripper … at a children’s dance competition. I suspect the preemptive slugs of champagne that they’re taking will help enormously with the group judging, too.
Despite Abby’s admonitions at the start of the episode that Brooke does not get to have a solo because Brooke does not smile, Brooke is holding a trophy and smiling when we cut back to the action. Where Fan-tastic proves a fan-tastic flop, which seems to tickle the mothers. Or maybe it’s the idea that they’re about to head back to champagne and a stripper who kind of looks like a younger Joe the Plumber of Ohio John R. Kasich Governor political fame.
Not surprisingly, Holly volunteers to be the mother who watches over the girls while the other mothers whoop it up. Even less surprising is Melissa Gisoni’s reaction. She could not be more disgusted with the whole affair if the stripper had shown up in a Tommy’s Jerky Outlet jumpsuit.
But Abby is Queen of the Sausage.
Next week: the girls finally get out of PA, Paige sees the doctor, Kendall is the latest victim of the Candy Apple Follies and Holly gets expelled.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesday nights at 9pm/8 CT on Lifetime.
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