Aw! It's almost over, y'all. This contest of incredible dancers is intensely close, and after growing close to these finalists and their unique struggles and challenges, we're going to have an even harder now saying goodbye to two of them Tuesday. Paige VanZant leads in scores, but Ginger Zee is right behind her and Nyle DiMarco is a fan favorite. This thing could go any way.
How'd the finalists do, and who's most likely to win tomorrow?
Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Dance One: Jazz - "Adventure of a Lifetime" by Coldplay
Aack! After the news of Ginger's injury, and her opening video in which she acknowledged being afraid of throwing her back out again on live TV, we all watched this one waiting for her to have a back spasm and fall onto the floor. That didn't happen, but the incredibly brave Ginger pirouetted through a beautiful routine, in which she once again was hard to distinguish from the pros. You could see some restraint, obviously, but she was still fluid and graceful.
What the judges say: Len complimented her gains in movement and confidence; Carrie Ann noted her top notch resistance and refinery.
Dance Two: Freestyle - "Orange Colored Sky" by Nat King Cole
This was lovely, and Ginger deserved all the points for dancing through her pain. It was a stylish, fun and delightful throwback to the era of Fred and Ginger — even if it didn't make great use of all of Ginger's talents.
What the judges say: Len said, "Pain is temporary; glory is forever." Carrie Ann droned on about her being classic and elegant.
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd
Dance One: Quickstep, "S.O.B." by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
For a redemption dance, this one was a bit rote. Obviously, Nyle has established himself as a strong dancer this season, which is why it was slightly disappointing. There was a portion in this routine where you thought, "OK are they going to do anything else?" Nyle lost a little pace in few places too.
What the judges say: They all noted the loss of pace but praised the technical prowess.
Dance Two: "Freestyle - "The Sound of Silence" by Disturbed
Amazing. It's hard to believe that their dance, a touching and ephemeral dedication to deafness, was something we all got to witness at home rather than paying to see from a professional dance company. Their moves were flawless, and the sight of the burning piano behind them as they did this artistic interpretation might go down as one of the standout moments on the show and TV overall this decade. Stunning.
What the judges say: Bruno said it brought him to tears and was a work of art; Carrie Ann called it the best dance she'd seen in 22 seasons.
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas
Dance One: Salsa, "Fireball" by Pitbull
Whoa! This dance had everything: a fireball translated into a sequin dress, insane dips, body wraparounds and more. Paige came to win with this one, aligning in perfect step with Mark and executing jaw-dropping moves that had her wrapping around Mark's body like a Slinky. She nailed it, and she knew she nailed it.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann said she brought her A+ game; Bruno said she out-danced Mark; but Len dinged her on not using her hips enough, which was fair.
Dance Two: Freestyle - "Over the Rainbow"
An absolutely gorgeous dance: playful, athletic, sensual, childlike and lovely. This one let Paige lean into her many strengths while pulling off complicated and difficult choreography too. Given its context — it was dedicated to her overcoming bullying — it was emotional too, so much so that Mark and Bruno and many more people ended up in tears.
What the judges say: Bruno summed it up best: It was a triumph.
Projected winner: Nyle! If he didn't have the most fans before tonight, that epic fiery piano moment surely won him any undecided voters. Who do you think will win?
Dancing with the Stars airs its two-hour finale Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC.