Photo Credit: ABC
Here we go again! After a typically drama-prone season, Dancing with the Stars is heading into its two-part finale (Monday at 8 p.m. ET, and Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, on ABC). So far during season 13, sparks have flown as transgender activist Chaz Bono defied his detractors, Nancy Grace's costume failed to defy gravity, and Maksim Chmerkovskiy probably shouldn't have defied the judges on behalf of his partner, Hope Solo.
But all those histrionics are behind us now, as viewers get down to the business of choosing the next champion from among the season's best dancers. The last three couples standing are: Iraq vet and All My Children star J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff; talk-show host Ricki Lake and Derek Hough; and reality star Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke. In the finals, each couple will perform four dances: an unlearned dance, their favorite dance, the samba and the freestyle.
Is anybody in the lead? Pro dancer Kym Johnson, who won the competition last year when she was partnered with Hines Ward, points out, "It's definitely wide open. And we don't know what's going to happen until show night."
Here's where the competitors stack up as they go into the finals:
With his consistently high scores, Martinez is the fan favorite. The problem is that he twisted his ankle a week and a half ago, and the injury affected his performance last week, leaving him in third place. "[Karina and I] have talked about how we've been able to create such magical moments and it's something we'll be able to carry for the rest of our lives," Martinez said in an interview on the DWTS website. And if we win or not, we'll be able to talk about it for the rest of our lives. It will be great memories."
Lake and Hough haven't had an off night yet, but Lake resists the idea that she's always been the one to beat. "I was never the [original] frontrunner," she has said. "I know everybody will say, 'Oh, I picked her.' No they didn't." Despite her high marks, Lake's been criticized for not being as loose and expressive as some of the other dancers.
Kardashian is the underdog of this trio. Unlike the other finalists, he hasn't yet earned a perfect score. But while the other two may technically have a better shot at winning, his partner Burke points out that "we're improving every single week. That's what the competition is about. J.R. and Ricki are hard to beat because they've pretty much always been frontrunners. At the end of the day, though, it's anyone's game." The competition is also about garnering votes and Rob's sisters campaign for him aggressively week after week on Twitter -- with more than 20 million followers among them, their requests are not falling upon deaf ears!
So, will it be the fan favorite, the frontrunner or the underdog? The only guarantee we have at this point is that there will be plenty of montages, booty shaking and sequin wearing to keep us at the edge of our seats until the winner of the mirror ball trophy is announced!