Though she can club a halibut to death (see: "Sarah Palin's Alaska"), let's face it: She's no Ginger Rogers.
Going into the final against Jennifer Grey and Kyle Massey, Palin looks to have the best-organized voters, whether or not she has the best moves. Let TheWrap guide you through Bristol's surprising waltz to the finish.
Palin won attention early on with her promise to wear modest costumes, and her leggy getup in the season’s first publicity photos raised many a skeptical eyebrow. But compared to some other contestants’ dresses, Bristol’s was tame.
Alaska’s onetime first daughter made an immediate joke of the modesty debate: During her cha-cha to “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” – a nod to her relationship with Levi Johnston – she appeared in a Sarah Palin-like outfit that she and partner Mark Ballas tore away to reveal a red mini-dress. Her score of 18 out of 30 was respectable given that she was – according to titter-inducing judge Bruno Toniolo – entering “virgin territory.” The week ended with David Hasselhoff’s elimination.
Palin earned one of the highest scores of the week – a 22 – with her quickstep to “You Can’t Hurry Love.” (A little nod to her advocacy work?) Sarah Palin also appeared on the show, attempting a quick shimmy when Bristol brought partner Ballas home to Alaska. Also, another controversy erupted: The studio audience booed just before the show cut to the Sarah Palin, on hand to watch Bristol compete. But host Tom Bergeron later addressed “Boo-gate,” saying the audience was booing not Palin, but the judges – for giving frontrunner Jennifer Grey eights instead of nines. Michael Bolton, meanwhile, was sent home.
The judges knocked Palin during her storytelling week foxtrot to “Just the Way You Are” for lacking the acting chops of her competitors. Of course, her apparent lack of artifice is one of the things supporters say they love. She scored 19 and survived, while Margaret Cho was eliminated.
Palin tried to sex things up for a rumba, at one point taking off Ballas’ shirt. She scored 32 out of 60 (this week featured a combined technical and performance score), and the judges urged her to emote more. A pattern emerged: She was technically competent, but often looked uptight. (Who wouldn’t be, with a possible presidential candidate as a mom?) Meanwhile, “The Situation” was sent home – or, more likely, to MC a club opening in Vegas.
No one could accuse Palin of under-committing this week. Dancing to “The Monkees” theme, she and Ballas took the stage in gorilla suits. She was dinged this time not for being too stiff, but for her technical performance. Her 18 was the lowest score of the night, but voters opted to eliminate Florence Henderson.
Team Ballin’ (Ballas and Pain, get it?) landed in the bottom two after earning 28 points: a solid 23 for their tango – which included an air-guitar break – but just 5 in their early departure from the Rock & Roll Dance Marathon. Despite their low place on the leader board, the tango performance earned them solid respect from the judges. “Last week a chimp,” judge Len Goodman said, adding that this week she was “almost a champ.” Rock band Heart, meanwhile, turned up to perform Sarah Palin’s signature song, “Barracuda.” And Audrina Patridge was sent packing.
The show’s 200th episode fell during Icon Week, in which contestants reproduced great dances from past seasons. Bristol ended up in last place with 57 out of 70, but was good enough for the curiously forgiving voters at home, who voted – on Election Day, no less – to keep Palin and eject Rick Fox. Speculation mounted that the people voting for Palin might be the same folks who earlier in the day voted for Tea Party candidates.
An insufficiently smoldering Argentine tango and so-so samba earned Palin a 47, the lowest score of the week. But she outlasted Kurt Warner, who departed to audience chants of “MVP.”
Ballas, finger ever on the pulse, noted the talk that Bristol was benefitting from her mother’s supporters. She rejected the idea and went on to a powerful paso doble and respectable waltz. Her combined scores come to 53 out of 60 – quite good, but the lowest at such a competitive stage. Palin’s win over singer Brandy sparked more complaints of a fix.
Palin's jive and "Chicago"-themed freestyle Monday night scored her a combined 52, behind Grey's perfect 60 and Massey's 56. But Palin’s audience support makes it anyone’s competition. In case anyone’s supporters get overzealous, the show says it’s confident in its security –including an anti-robocalling initiative. Will it change its voting process if she wins? One rep says not a chance.