Who deserves the mirror-ball trophy?
That's the only question remaining after Chelsea Kane, Kirstie Alley and Hines Ward did their utmost best to convince a legion of Dancing With the Stars fans tonight that one of them deserves more calls, clicks and texts than his or her fellow competitors.
While the lift-happy freestyle round is what the finals are all about, first off, the judges wanted to see samba from both ladies and a gentlemanly quickstep from the twinkly toed football pro...
Interestingly, Maksim Chmerkovskiy crafted a more classic samba for himself and Kirstie, while Mark Ballas and Chelsea of course went into full attack mode. That made for a hotter time on the floor, but somehow Mark missed the boat on showing off Chelsea's natural ability, rather than just how hot she looks in sparkly gold pants.
"We just do whatever we do, I guess," Kirstie replied when Brooke Burke asked how it felt to be compared to a 22-year-old.
Chelsea and Mark were good enough for a 29—Len Goodman wasn't a fan of the "flailing arms" part—and Kirstie and Maks waltzed off with a 27.
"It could have been a little bit crisper, but it was a lovely job and deserving of being in this final," Len praised Kirstie.
Hines' quickstep concluded with a burst of champagne bubbles, but would the judges see a difference from his first, footwork-impaired stab at what's considered one of the most difficult dances of all?
"It was a vast improvement, [but] for me it's not quite there yet," Len offered. "This competition is still anyone's to win or lose. Come back in that freestyle and really show me the wow factor that I know you've got."
"You've got it for me," countered Bruno Tonioli. "I totally agree with Carrie Ann [Inaba], you connect with the audience like no one!"
So, round one concluded with a 29 for Hines and no 10s from Len's corner.
On to the freestyle round...
It started off with Mark and Chelsea's fierce hip-hop and salsa-inspired routine, half of which was Mark tossing the Disney princess over his head, flipping her this way and that, and otherwise scaring the bejeezus out of her.
The judges absolutely loved it, calling it everything a freestyle should be about.
"I can't find the words for what I'm thinking, but it's kind of like, 'Aaaah'" Carrie Ann said, throwing in a rebel Tarzan yell.
Tens all around, giving Chelsea 59 out of 60 for the night.
At first we weren't sure why Kirstie Alley came out for her freestyle dressed as a monk, but it all made sense seconds later when she went for the big reveal—leggings and long sleeves.
OK, so not the most skintastic of numbers, but it had a very Dirty Dancing, last-dance-of-the-season quality to it nonetheless. And Maks flung her around like nobody's business.
"You have become the poster child for life as it should be lived at 60 years old!" Carrie Ann said. Still, only another trio of 9s for the actress, giving her a 54 for the night.
But when you really want lifts, that's what the football stars are for.
Despite her terrifying fall in rehearsal less than two weeks ago, Kym Johnson had plenty of trust left in the bank for her partner, who tossed her in the air like confetti.
The thrilled judges gave him a 30 to leave him tied with Chelsea for first place with 59 out of 60.
Tomorrow night, one of the finalists will be declared the winner of the 12th season of Dancing With the Stars, following performances by the Black Eyed Peas, Sara Evans, and the Go-Go's.
Who's got your vote?!