Nov. 23, 2010 -- Will the fans save Bristol Palin again?
That is the question on the minds of "Dancing With the Stars" viewers as the show waltzes toward its 11th season finale Tuesday night with Palin in a familiar spot -- last place on the judge's scorecards.
Over two dances during the first installment of the season finale Monday, Grey earned a perfect total score of 60. Massey's two dances placed him second, with a total score of 56. Palin scored 52 -- despite a second performance that won her praise for daring to dance in a cage.
"Did I just see Bristol Palin dancing in a cage?" judge Carrie Ann Inaba asked before awarding Palin and her partner a 9 out of 10. "Get your sexy on!"
Palin's presence on the show has been a bone of contention among viewers who wonder why she's come so far despite being consistently at the bottom of the "DWTS" leader board. Viewers have suggested that voters -- especially those "mama grizzlies" who support Sarah Palin -- have been voting in blocs and manipulating the system.
Only 14 percent of people in an ABC News/Washington Post poll out Monday evening thought Palin earned her place in the finals through dancing ability, while 54 percent credited a voting blitz by Sarah Palin supporters.
Both Palins, mother and daughter, have denied any organized vote-getting tactics, and Sarah Palin was in the audience cheering on her daugher during Monday night's performances.
"It sucks that people still don't believe I deserve to be here," Palin said during a taped segment before her two dances. "We're continuing to improve week by week and people don't acknowledge that. ... Now it's my turn to step it up and prove that I deserve to be here."
Still, some fans are upset. Very upset. Last week, a Wisconsin man shot his TV with a gun, saying he was fed up with Palin's subpar dancing skills and politics. Tuesday's finale could provoke an equally explosive reaction from "DWTS" devotees.
Jennifer Grey Gets Perfect Score; Bristol Palin Brings Up the Rear
On Monday, however, Palin roared out for her first dance, a jive, earning straight 9s.
"You were, last time, a gorilla and now a thrilla," judge Len Goodman told her, referring to a past episode in which she and her partner danced in gorilla suits. "Vast improvement. Well done."
Later, Palin earned two 8s and a 9 for her freestyle performance to a song from the musical "Chicago" that she began while dancing in a cage.
"I have to give you credit for aiming so high," judge Bruno Tonioli told her, echoing the other judges. "You did very very well, but not quite at the level that this song required."
Grey, who consistently has been among the top scorers, earned two perfect 30s. For her second dance, she picked a song from "Dirty Dancing" -- "Do You Love Me."
"'Time of Your Life' was always a song that was for me and Patrick," Grey said afterwards, referring to her late film co-star, Patrick Swayze. "I wanted to do something fresh with Derek" Hough -- her partner on "Dancing With the Stars."
As Goodman awarded the first of Grey's two perfect 10s, he stood and applauded her. Grey approached the judge's table and gave him a kiss.
"I wish I had an 11," Tonioli said as he awarded a 10 for Grey's first dance.
On his first dance, Massey matched Palin with three 9s.
"That feels unbelievably, unbelievably amazing," Massey said.
He pulled four judges' points ahead of Palin with his second dance, earning two 10s and a 9.
Read on for a closer look at the three contestants going for the mirror ball trophy Tuesday.
'Dancing With the Stars': Profiles of the Finalists
Of the three, Grey's probably the only one immediately recognizable for her ability to dance. After all, she shot to fame playing Frances "Baby" Houseman in 1987's "Dirty Dancing"alongside Swayze. She also studied dancing at the Dalton School during her early years in New York City. But the breakneck pace of "DWTS" took a toll on Grey, 50, aggravating an old neck injury and prompting new knee problems. Still, with her pro partner Hough, she scored the season's first perfect score earlier this month. If Grey doesn't win it all, don't expect her to take it lightly. As she famously said in "Dirty Dancing," "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
The youngest of the lot, Massey, 19, has a huge following among teens and tweens. He's best known for playing Cory Baxter in the Disney Channel sitcom "That's So Raven." Massey parlayed his role in that show into his own Disney series, "Cory in the House." He's also appeared in Disney Channel movies and recorded songs for Walt Disney Records. Making the jump from the Disney Channel to another Disney property, "DWTS," made sense, and Massey's made good on the show -- not only has he scored high marks from the judges and the viewers, he also dropped 18 pounds and shed 8 inches from his waist by shimmying and shaking.
Massey's enthusiasm has won him some high-profile fans outside of his usual demographic -- former "DWTS" contestants Lance Bass and Brandy Norwood have said they want him to win. But if Massey scores the coveted mirror ball trophy, he's going to celebrate like a kid. "I'm going to fill it up with Skittles, so everyone can come to my house and eat Skittles," he told "Entertainment Tonight" last week. "Taste the rainbow trophy!"
She doesn't dance. She doesn't sing. She doesn't act. But the one selling point 20-year-old Bristol Palin does possess is the ability to rile up her critics, whether as a spokeswoman for abstinence (remember that child she birthed in 2008?) or as a potential "DWTS" champion.
From the moment she cha-cha-ed onto the show to "Mama Told Me Not to Come," Bristol Palin has been this season's most talked about contestant. Beyond the voting controversy, her dance-floor style has been critiqued. Before her "Dancing" run, Bristol Palin told People magazine she would have "the most modest outfits for sure, because that's who I am." Indeed, her assortment of floor-length gowns has been a frequent topic of conversation among those who care about such things on the Internet. Whether or not she wins Tuesday, judging from the buzz surrounding her since she started "Dancing," one thing's for sure -- people are not going to stop going on about Bristol Palin anytime soon.