You could cut the anticipation with a knife on Dancing With the Stars.
Emotions were running high Monday as Bristol Palin, Jennifer Grey and Kyle Massey took to the floor for their penultimate shot at impressing the judges and last chance to charm the viewers.
While it was a big night for all, of course it was 19-year-old Bristol who had to persevere amid a perfect storm of distractions, including conspiracy theories, Brandy's shocking ouster and, most recently, personal threats.
So how did they all do? And will it even matter?!
Fittingly, the first round was for a redemption dance, with the judges determining the style based on what they thought the contestants could have done better the first time around.
But taking off the gorilla suit didn't really do much for Bristol's jive, which was still clunky and decidedly unbouncy. So far, the controlled stylings of the rumba and tango have been more up her alley.
We doubt the judges would have given that dance a 27 if this hadn't been the final.
Mark Ballas capitalized on Bristol's strengths for their freestyle, however, choreographing a sultry Latin-Broadway hybrid to "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago that started off with his leotard-clad partner behind bars.
And you know how hot girls look when they're dancing in a cage.
After going off the rails the first time and getting their lowest score ever, Jennifer and Derek Hough tried the paso doble again.
And what do you know? This one was precise, controlled and practically perfect in every way, resulting in a standing ovation from Len Goodman and a rush of romantic hyperbole from Bruno Tonioli.
"I wish I had an 11!" he exclaimed.
And the same went for their freestyle which, lo and behold, started with Jennifer holding a watermelon, an homage to her classic, "I carried a watermelon" introduction to Dirty Dancing, and shimmying her heart out to "Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)."
"You're like a juggernaut...heading for that mirror-ball trophy!" Len exclaimed.
Kyle kicked off the night with a smooth but staid fox-trot, which had Carrie Ann Inaba quibbling that the kid was dancing "with Len's voice in [his] ear" and not performing "outward" as much as usual.
But his freestyle with Lacey Schwimmer went the hip-hop route and, dressed like Will Smith during the opening credits of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he was his usual bouncy self.
And he did the worm, making former Fly Girl Carrie Ann very proud in the process.
Here's how the leaderboard stacked up:
Jennifer & Derek: 60 (30, 30)
Kyle & Lacey: 56 (27, 29)
Bristol & Mark: 52 (27, 25)
On Tuesday's two-hour finale, the finalists will dance twice more for judges' points only and, following music from Christina Aguilera and a whole lot of filler, a new winner will claim the mirror-ball trophy.
Does Bristol have a shot, or is is all about Jennifer now? Can Kyle pull off the upset? Share your predictions for tomorrow in the comments.
(Originally published Nov. 22, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. PT)
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