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Two weeks in a row without Abby Lee Miller is my idea of a nice vacation…if the show isn't on for me to recap.  However, two weeks with minimal Abby on Dance Moms while Cathy and her Candy Apples take the stage?  No thanks.  It puts me to sleep just thinking about it.

Maddie is in Los Angeles to perform on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition.  Abby thinks its so wonderful of Maddie to take advantage of the networking opportunity that this situation will provide for her.

We get about fifteen seconds of Maddie's rehearsal before we're stuck back in Ohio with Cathy and her apples.  Cathy has abandoned the pyramid scheme she stole from Abby in exchange for an "apple tree."  So basically, it's a pyramid of apples.  So glad to see someone at Cathy's studio has mastered clip art.  We're treated to a montage of the newbies talking about what a positive learning environment Cathy's studio is while reshowing the clip from Abby's UDC where she calls Hadley "roadkill."

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The group dance for the apples will be a hip hop club scene, and Hadley and puppet boy Nick will have a duet.  Breakdancing Jalen and new girl with excuses will dance solos.  It's hilarious to see Cathy try to explain to her dancers the idea of "club kids."  Breakdance Dad is worried Jalen's lack of formal training may cause a problem.  The new moms and Breakdance Dad are all a buzz that the team of six will be cut to five, and Excuse's mom is upset that Jalen is getting more time than her daughter.

At home, Cathy and Vivi-Ann are cataloging the family's ceramic bunny collection while Cathy takes digs at Abby's dance moms.  Back at the studio, Excuses is nervous about her rehearsal with Anthony.  He's pushing her to the best she can be, but she's so scared of his intensity that she's driven to an asthma attack.  Excuses' mom blames the absence of Cathy's coddling.  Cathy is concerned that she's given Anthony too much free reign.

Cathy and Anthony spar over ability and teaching styles.  Anthony's harshness has the kids in tears when he asks the boys to drop and give him twenty push-ups.  Jalen doesn't want to do push-ups for no reason, and Breakdance Dad busts into the studio demanding to know why the girls don't have to do them as well.  Duh.  Anthony doesn't want his girls to have He-Man arms!  Seriously…he has worked with Beyonce and Rihanna.  He's not insulting the kids a la Abby, he just means business.  Breakdance Dad breaks down (into tears not into beat-boxing) about how he didn't have a father to protect him from the Anthonys of the world.

The moms and Breakdance Dad are threatening to mutiny, so Cathy must hash things out with Anthony.  They are getting upset at each for hurt feelings and I feel like I'm watching a fight between middle school girls.  They hug it out, and the parents are worried that Cathy is losing some of her authority with the apples.  Viewers get to watch another ten seconds of Maddie practicing before a softer side of Anthony works with Excuses on her solo.  She's definitely responding much better to him now.  Breakdance Dad thinks that Excuses gets her excuses honestly from her mother.

It's competition time, and Cathy brings a real live bunny (is she planning to boil it later?) as good luck for her crew.  Breakdance Dad is all bravado, although secretly he's worried that his son is being set up to fail.  Jalen and Excuses are going head-to-head for a spot on the team, with Excuses dancing first.  She's incredibly talented, but she forgets a part of her dance.  Jalen, in turn (bad pre-pun), can't execute his triple turn, but he performs with a lot of emotion.

Hadley is in tears because she is nervous about dancing with a ginormous headpiece.  Botox Mom urges her daughter to focus, but it can't be easy when she's balancing a turkey on her head.  No need to worry, as their dance is amazing, and the costumes make them look like they should be in Lion King on Broadway.

Another twelve seconds of Maddie performing on the Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition (she does a fabulous job, as usual), and it's time for the club kids.  The kids are on another Yo Gabba Gabba plane, and the cameras focus more on the crazy costumes than the actual dancing–which is disappointing.  I would have loved to see the entire routine.

During the awards ceremony, the turkey duet takes the top spot in its category.  Jalen lands ninth in the solos with Excuses claiming eighth place.  The club kids group dance gets second.  Cathy is wondering whether she should cut a student or get rid of the choreographer that's working with them.  She asks Anthony to do some major soul searching.

Next week, it's Dance Moms Chatter, which basically means its a faux reunion filler, complete with drunken fans.  This should be interesting!

TELL US-WHAT DID YOU THINK OF LAST NIGHT'S EPISODE?  WHAT IS LIFETIME TRYING TO PASS OFF WITH THIS PART OF THE SEASON?

[Photo Credit: Lifetime]

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