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You know, I'd really been so sick of watching Candy Apples and comedian chatter that I was actually looking forward to having the old gang return on last night's Dance Moms…that was until I watched!  I feel so horribly about how those poor girls are treated!

Abby Lee Miller is back in Pennsylvania, and she bragging all about judging Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition.  She chastises all the girls–well, except for Maddie, of course–who didn't come visit her while in Los Angeles, and she reminds her students that she has the attendance rosters so she knows who was slacking off and who was actually practicing.  Christi explains that the moms (minus Melissa, obviously) made a pact not to send their girls to the West Coast competition.

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During the pyramid reveal, Brooke is on the bottom because she missed some rehearsal time to record a CD.  Sister Paige joins her on the bottom tier, followed by KendallNia rounds out the bottom, but she shares with Abby that she's been taking four extra classes a week.  Abby gives her positive feedback, but Holly is frustrated that her daughter is still on the bottom of the pyramid.  MacKenzie is last on the second tier, and Abby tells her that she's getting too old to just rely on being cute.  Chloe follows her for dancing well, but not well enough to beat out Maddie after Abby and Melissa had the judges recalculate the score.  An absent Asia places second, with Maddie on the top yet again.  Abby praises Maddie for being so supportive and sportsmanlike when Chloe was wrongly announced as the winner.  You can tell by the way Maddie's face freezes that even she knows that isn't true!  Those compliments should have been bestowed upon Chloe when she graciously passed her award onto her once bitter, now smug, friend.

This week's competition is in Syracuse, New York, and Maddie will be doing a tap solo.  Melissa explains that her daughter is phenomenal at tap.  MacKenzie also gets a solo but is shunned from the group dance.  Abby warns a disappointed MacKenzie that this is her last opportunity to prove herself before Asia returns.  Chloe gets the final solo as a consolation for the debacle with scoring.  She'll be dancing a hip-hop routine.  Christi thinks it's no coincidence that Maddie has been taking tap for years, yet Abby doesn't even offer hip-hop lessons at her studio.

The group number is dedicated to Hollywood celebrities who died too soon.  Nia, of course, will be portraying Whitney Houston.  My eyes roll with Holly'sKendall will be dancing as Selena (not Gomez, Kendall!), Brooke will be channeling her inner Amy Winehouse, and Paige will be strutting her stuff as Anna Nicole SmithChloe will be Marilyn Monroe, while Maddie will be real royalty as Princess Diana.  Um, Abby did say Hollywood, didn't she?  Melissa is thrilled–she loves Di.

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Abby has enlisted Payton (who has danced with the troupe before) to help Chloe with her hip-hop routine.  Holly looks at the bright-side…maybe with the knowledge she'll never beat Maddie with this number, Chloe can just have fun with her dance.  Abby picks at Chloe, saying she may have been better at this genre had she come out to L.A. like Maddie did.  In the viewing area, the moms are questioning why Melissa went back on their group decision to boycott Los Angeles.  Christi then accuses Melissa of having an affair with her boss (who she later married), and Melissa storms out of the studio.

The following day, Abby wants to get to the bottom of why Melissa got upset at practice.  What is up with Abby's hairpiece?  Melissa and Abby are thankful that Melissa isn't white trash like Christi.  Abby invites Melissa to sit in the studio while MacKenzie practices so that she doesn't have to be subjected to the other mothers.  In the viewing room, the moms think that Melissa is teaching her daughters that it's okay to step on anyone to get ahead.  However, Melissa probably wishes she wasn't in MacKenzie's rehearsal as Abby goes off on her daughter for playing too hard at recess and being too tired for dance.  Abby starts off Maddie's time by asking the child if she's going to let Chloe's silly hip-hop routine beat her.  The moms are shocked to see Maddie practicing after Abby vowed not to run neither Maddie nor Chloe's solos.  Kelly questions Melissa's decision to go to Los Angeles.  Melissa gets incredibly defensive and says she knows the moms wish she would die in a car accident.  WHAT?  Dramatic much?

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After practice, the moms sans Melissa head to a sound stage that has been made to look like a bar (they are so not at a real bar!) to vent about the day.  All of the mothers agree that their missing counterpart is extremely untrustworthy.  At the ALDS the next day, the moms make sure to make Melissa feel left out of their plans while Abby complains about how weak the group number is.  Payton's crazy mom comes into the viewing room, but she is quickly shooed away.  There is enough drama in there without her!  Kelly tries to explain to Melissa that no one has anything against her or her kids, but they have a problem with her "win at all costs" attitude that she claims not to have.  When Christi calls her a stage mom, Melissa once again runs off to Abby.

The girls arrive in Syracuse for the competition, and Abby warns her dancers not to make her regret returning home from Los Angeles.  Abby tells MacKenzie that Asia can always be counted on to win, and if MacKenzie bombs, she's easily replaceable.  Abby also reminds Maddie and Chloe of their identical dances at the last competition, and she reveals that she made sure to give them two opposite ends of the spectrum this time.  MacKenzie's gymnastics routine is cute, but she's mainly just tumbling.  A super sweet Chloe shares that she's a bit nervous about her hip-hop solo given that Abby's never entered one before in competition.  Chloe has only participated in two hip-hop group dances.  She does a great job, but it's not a winning routine, and Abby couldn't appear more bored to be watching her.  Maddie is amazing, but her apron has a wardrobe malfunction.  Abby is so proud of Maddie to keep dancing through mishap, but had that happened to any other girl, Abby would have reamed her.dance moms5

After the solos, Abby heaps the praise on Maddie and chastises Chloe for forgetting her dance.  Chloe is confused–she didn't think she missed any steps…of course, then she gets in trouble for arguing with Abby.  The girls look awesome in their group number costumes, but I'm confused as to how Selena and Princess Di fit in with the other troubled stars.  Abby admits that she only watched Maddie.  Good gracious.  Enough!  If I were Melissa, I'd be concerned about Abby's obsession with my kid!

Melissa is elated because MacKenzie wins first place in her division.  Chloe's hip-hop routine garners her fourth, and Maddie places second.  She is trying not to cry, and Abby is livid, calling the competition a joke.  At least the group number takes the top spot, but Abby can't even be bothered to stop texting to applaud for her girls.  When the girls come in bursting with excitement, Melissa has a breakdown when Christi tells Chloe she's glad she's not upset about her fourth place award.  Melissa begins going off about how everyone thinks Maddie gets upset if she's not always first, and Chloe does quietly say that her friend was crying about it.

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Melissa corrals her girls and storms out as Maddie runs off in tears.  Abby tells her favorite dancer to learn from Chloe and Christi's evil ways.  I'm sorry, did I miss something?  Chloe is the kindest of the bunch!  Abby hugs her prize student and doesn't understand why the other moms and dancers don't want to bask in her glow.  Gag me.

Next week, the girls have their annual recital, and Melissa is once again forced to align with Abby or the moms.  Kelly loses it when one dancer (presumably one of her daughters) is assigned a solo the day of the performance.

TELL US-WERE YOU GLAD TO HAVE THE NORMAL GIRLS BACK LAST NIGHT?  WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE EPISODE?

[Photo Credit: Lifetime]

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