And so it came. The dreaded Dance Moms Episode 24:
Since I am pretty sure that Christi had no idea how this thing would edit out, I’m not sure if she was warning me about the preposterousness of Abby inserting a kid who walked in off the street smack-dab into the competition team in time for a trip to L.A.; or the kid’s swear-word-loving, afro-sporting mom whose interactions with the Pitt Crew afford us one uncomfortable moment after the next over issues of race and social class and sexuality and the pinnacle price of stage-mothering; or … what. But in any case, when she followed up with
… she wasn’t just whistling LaQuifa.
The episode starts out innocuously enough. In fact, downright jolly. Having had a week or whatever to think about it, Abby has decided that her entire recital, including the hip hop routine she previously pronounced lukewarm, was so hot that’s she’s taking the Pitt Crew to the iHollywood competition in sunny California on the road to Nationals. It seems like we go to Nationals a lot this season, but whatever. It’s a big nation. In any case, going to iHollywood makes the girls look like this, including Brooke in what may be the most unfortunate choice of dance top in the history of Dance Moms, cross my heart (bra).
With only the recital to judge, the Pyramid goes as such. Bottom row:
Paige — She couldn’t do too much hipping and hopping in the boot.
Brooke — The hip hop dance really wasn’t her thing. Brooke gives an expert teenage “no duh!” expression.
Big Mac — Abby says she went out there and looked just like the big girls, but the hip hop choreography was over her head. So that should actually be Abby’s picture there for putting her in the routine, yes? No.
Nia — She got the scholarship for most improved student, but Abby wants to make sure she doesn’t rest on her laurels.
Chloe — She did a great job on Taken, but she’s still no Maddie…
…who is top of the pyramid. If we have a Season 3 (and you know we will) can we get some new Pyramid pictures, so Maddie doesn’t have to spend another season looking like she is being choked by Oscar the Grouch?
Kendall, who is wearing diamond Chanel earrings, is still not on the pyramid, but Abby says she’s getting closer. She’ll come to Cali, anyway. Jill seems OK with this.
Even though this competition is ostensibly a super-big deal, Big Mac and Nia get the solos. Abby says she has one more to hand out, and asks who wants it. Chloe and Maddie both raise their hands half-heartedly without the merest hint of a smile. Because she’s still upset with Melissa and Maddie, Abby gives the dance to Chloe, for the Ab giveth and the Ab taketh away. I realize we’re supposed to think, “Oooh, Maddie’s getting served again,” but I’ve been at this too long to think anything other than that it just means she’ll get a solo sometime later in the episode or be the star of the group dance or the ultimate winner of something somehow. Like what is probably her sort-of-stepdad’s cash cycling back to the family in the form of last week’s scholarship.
The group is called I See The Kite Flying. Abby says it’s by the same author as Where Have All The Children Gone, which I don’t get. The song or poem or whatever you’d call it is? Or do dances have authors? And if they have authors, aren’t we supposed to think Abby is said author? In any case, we aren’t bumping off the kids this time — we’re committing them to an insane asylum. This may actually manage to be more insensitive than killing them off, to my thinking, but the mothers have become inured to Abby’s penchant for the darkest recesses of the dark side. “Abby does weird well,” says Dr. Holly, fiddling with her wedding ring, no doubt realizing that in another week’s time we’ll have moved on to some epic something else that will make us forget all about the asylum dance. Well except for YouTube and the part where I will bring it up in at least six or seven or dozens of recaps to follow. Besides, no one else in LA will be doing an insane asylum dance, so bonus!
And look who is walking through the door. As promised, it’s Kaya and Nicaya Wiley, all the way from St. Louis and the end of last week’s episode. Abby explains that Nicaya has trained with a very reputable colleague of hers, so she may as well give the new Pittsburgh transplant a shot. Rather than give Kaya a day or two to acclimate, Abby ships her straight up to the moms.
(Also, ABBY! You look fabby! May you ditch the sea rubble necklaces forever for stuff like this cool blue number.)
Up in the Mom Loft, the mothers waste no time in testing Kaya’s mettle, asking her flat out what she thought of the recital. Kaya says the girls are good dancers, but the show wasn’t too entertaining. Theoretically this should be right in keeping with the mothers have been saying all along — that Abby’s choreography is not up to snuff. Instead they’re incredulous. Oh relax, says Kaya — she wouldn’t have brought her kid all the way from Mizzou if she didn’t want to get her on a TV show she didn’t think the studio had fabulous dancers. She just thinks they need more “diva-tude.” And Nicaya’s is here to serve up some divatude, which you have to be born with and cannot learn.
Trying to maintain an air of hospitable civility, Melissa takes note of the embroidery on Kaya’s jacket and ask what it says. It says Black Patsy. Melissa says that is a very pretty name. I am pretty sure that is not what Black Patsy actually is, but all I get when I Google it is a black baby doll, some domestic longhaired cats and 100 people named Patsy Black in the United States. So I don’t know what just yet … and a smirking Kaya ain’t telling.
Nicaya is very flexible and knows her ballet moves but she can’t spell her ballet moves and we’re very into terminology around here. Also, she does not do acro, which she demonstrates by keeling over in the middle of a walkover. Nonetheless, Kaya calmly informs the other mothers that Abby should just throw the girl into whatever routine they’re doing and let her divatude it up. And we waste no time in finding out if that’s actually going to happen, because Abby wants her to c’mon down. The other mothers hoot and holler, but Kaya scoffs that she’s not afraid of Abby in a way that makes me believe that Abby should be afraid of her.
Abby tries her best to make Kaya afraid of Abby, telling her her daughter knows zero dance terminology and when Abby’s kids leave the studio, they are a hundred-percent employable with a full command of terminology and dance. To us, Kaya says Abby should just throw her kid’s damn dance DVD in the damn DVD player, get a full load of diva and shut up about the spelling. To Abby, she says Abby’s the star-maker and why on Earth would she ever question her authority. Abby throws her hands up in celebration. Deference trumps spelling. The Wileys can come back tomorrow.
Despite that fact, when Nicaya goes to change back into her street clothes, Kaya opines that Abby doesn’t even WANT to give her girl a chance, despite the fact that she is wearing a title jacket. So I am sure they will not come back tomorrow and humor some spell-happy broad from Pittsburgh who thinks she’s all that and a bag of vowels.
They will come back tomorrow. After pulling an all-nighter learning to spell ronde de jambe. And, man, I hope they keep the bleeps to a minimum in Kaya’s asides. She is high-damn-larious.
Awwwwwww! Super-cute moment at the Hyland house! Brooke and Paigey are hanging out on Brooke’s bed, recording themselves singing Brooke’s self-penned Summer Love Song to post on the interwebs and see what happens. Turns out Paige is quite the energetic little backup singer/dancer. They already get a hit, like, one second after they post the vid to the web!
Speaking of taking a hit, it’s back to the studio, where White Christi, Black Holly — their words, not mine — and the other mothers who have yet to tack their race to their names are further pondering the meaning of Black Patsy. And just like that they conjure her up. The room goes silent. Kaya did however get the little dress, big heels and jewelry memo, so maybe she’s acclimating after all.
Nicaya sits down on the floor and starts stretching with the other girls. Jill asks her what she would like everyone to call her and Nicaya says that her nickname is NiNi. Kendall believes she’ll call her LaQuifa instead, and someone starts singing the LaQuifa song. The camera cuts to Holly who I am hoping will make a pithy remark about the undertones of what is happening here, but instead she simply says they have yet to figure out who Kaya and Nicaya are. They are not LaQuifa. And this cannot really be happening. But we’ve only just begun to offend.
Up in the mom loft, Kaya starts to quiz the mothers about their life outside of dance and they pretty much admit they don’t have one. Don’t you work, she wants to know. Holly used to; Christi sold her business. No one has nannies and everyone has really good husbands. Kaya is a single mom with four kids, single because of dance, she says. “Your husband didn’t support dance?” Holly wonders. “I didn’t have a husband,” corrects Kaya. “I had a wife.”
Even though I don’t believe for a minute that they would, given that it’s 2012 and they live in an urban area, the other mothers look mortified. Then Jill adopts her most soothing tone of voice to ask what she would like them to call her. Like we must call her something other than Kaya now that we know she’s a lesbian. Gay Kaya, maybe? “We’ve been calling you Patsy,” Christi tells her. “I wanna know what that means anyway,” wails Kelly.
No, you don’t. You really don’t.
Kaya explains that she’s the black Patsy Ramsey — you know, the crazy stage mom? If you don’t know, Patsy Ramsey is the now-deceased mother of JonBenét Ramsey, the child beauty queen whose 1996 murder in her Colorado home remains unsolved. Kaya believes that all dance moms have a little Patsy Ramsey in them. The dead of ovarian cancer part? The murdered child part? Which? In any case, the mothers waste no time in assuring her that they are not Pasty Ramseys of any color, thanks.
Christi is right. I really do not believe what is happening in this episode.
Including the part where we get back to normal just long enough for Abby to say that Chloe’s solo is about the new Hollywood, the one in which people are tattooed and pierced and would stab your eyeballs out and step right over you to get ahead. “That’s Chloe,” she snarls.
I’m sorry … what? If that’s the case, then somebody really better get on the Dance Moms editors, because the Chloe we have seen so far has been sweet, mature, quiet and tolerant to the exclusion of all else, while apparently the folks in charge are supposed to be showing us a fame-seeking vulture. A fame-seeking vulture that just ran over to her pal Paige to give her a squeeze for being cleared to dance sans boot. I’m sure the next thing she did was poke Paige’s eyes out, step over her and head off to get her eyelid pierced. It just ended up on the cutting room floor.
On Kaya’s way out, Abby hits her up to sign some paperwork, but Kaya’s not so sure. If Nicaya isn’t officially taking Paige’s spot in the group number and flying off to Hollywood, Kaya isn’t signing on the dotted line. Even so, Abby says she can come to Cali as a swing. Kaya takes the deal.
In the interest of peacemaking or bonding or giving the others a more public platform in which to trade insults with her, she also invites the moms to go to lunch. Beginning with Melissa’s inquiry as to why Kaya switched from the men to the ladies, the outing is mostly a who-do-you-think-you-are inquisition that Kaya handles with amused indifference. Jill is especially unnerved that she suddenly has some competition in the “I’m just here to get my child ahead” arena.
Next day it’s time for Nia’s solo rehearsal, which is basically an opportunity for us to see Abby wiggle her heinie in entertaining fashion to a Josephine Baker scat. “First she wanted Holly to paddle her; now she’s shakin’ it in our faces,” muses Christi as she observes the action. Pretty much. But three cheers for a moment of levity.
Big Mac’s solo is called Hollywood, and she loves it because she loves Hollywood, which I am pretty sure she thinks entails the walk of fame and that’s about it. So cute.
Next, Abby rehearses the group dance with both Nicaya and Paige and pronounces them both boring, boring, boring. Paige’s foot is bugging, so Abby sits her out but doesn’t completely replace her. Still, the uncertainty is enough to push Kelly out the loudly-slammed door again. Abby says that this kind of behavior is the reason she keeps subbing in new dancers. Upstairs, Dr. Holly blames Kaya for the troubles, with the other mothers jumping on the bandwagon, but Kaya is having none of it. Finally Abby has had enough of the squabbling and calls them down from on high. The shouting match resumes with Abby just wandering around gape-mouthed and grinning in the middle of it. Kaya’s mother — even though she’s a little bit of a fibber — comes out on top. Sort of. If she opens her mouth again, she’s out.
And then we’re in Hollywood … again. Kaya asks if she should do Nicaya’s hair and makeup and Abby says she hasn’t even thought about it. She asks Kelly what’s the dealio with Paige’s foot, danceable or not?, and Kelly says she should go ahead and stick the outsider in the dance and be done with it. Abby opts to run Chloe’s and Nia’s solos instead and leave Kelly and Kaya in limbo.
Chloe’s Glitz And Glamour solo goes so-so — equal parts brilliance and bobble. Nia’s solo — at long last a truly sophisticated number — is awesome. Even Abby says so.
Mackenzie’s solo is a dab more sophisticated than her usually cutesy-pie posing, as well, and she does a great job, too. She gets a high-five from Abby, who then commands everyone to get dressed for the group dance. Kaya prods Nicaya to go tell Abby she didn’t travel this far not to dance. Abby runs the dance with Paige, Nicaya and Mac, and I’m sorry to say that its Big Mac who looks like the weakest link to me. But Abby ultimately decides that everyone will be committed to the asylum dance.
The girls are wearing little blue frocks with ribbons in their hair and purple circles and mascara smears under their eyes. The dance is weird and creepy and it certainly holds your attention. I predict the judges will, well, you know, go nuts for it.
Mackenzie gets third. Chloe gets fifth. Nia gets tenth. Group gets first. Abby is happy with all of it. Abby is not happy, however, that Nicaya got to talk into the microphone on stage. The emcee dude pretty much stuck the microphone in her face and she just answered his question but Abby sees it as a sign of weakness from her regular dancers. Don’t let the new kid take your place. Kelly says Abby set the standard by threatening to replace Paige with Nicaya and she and Kaya are off to the races again. Kaya says she doesn’t want to replace, she wants to join in. Kelly says there’s no room at the join inn. Kaya wants to know why “the sister” Holly is not jumping to her defense and Holly says she’s Dr. Holly Hatcher Frazier, not the sister or Black Holly and she will offer her opinions accordingly.
Without an ally, Kaya finally loses her cool and launches an all-out war with the Pitt Crew, warning them that she’s ‘hood and not to be messed with, but they run her out of the room all the same. And there’s no sign of her or Miss NiNi in the promo for next week’s ep, in which Brooke records her tune for real, Maddie cries for her lost favor and Kendall rises to the top.
New episodes of Dance Moms air Tuesdays at 9/8CT on Lifetime.