Is the mirror-ball trophy really "new and improved"?
One of the three all-stars who survived tonight's double elimination on "Dancing With the Stars" will find out when they compete for ultimate bragging rights on next week's finale.
Hint: Though it's everybody's second rodeo, someone may be a "DWTS" champion for the first time come Tuesday...
That's right, not everybody moving on is a previous winner--though Melissa Rycroft is going to her second finale.
"We need to redeem ourselves in freestyle!" season eight's third-place star said excitedly when she and partner Tony Dovolani found out they were safe. "We were so close in season eight, so close. Now we've got an even bigger fire lit underneath us. Eek!"
The proverbial flame has been extinguished, however, for the winners of season three and four, Emmitt Smith and Apolo Anton Ohno, whose rumba with partner Karina Smirnoff was the judges' encore choice earlier in the evening.
"This competition was hard from the beginning," Apolo admitted. "Karina's a champion, I've learned so much about her, she's taught me so much about myself...Every single person who does this show is a champion because it forces you...to become more confident, stronger every single week."
"All these contestants here have pushed me to another level," added Emmitt.
So, this means Melissa and Tony, Shawn and Derek, and Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy will do three routines apiece next week, including a supersize freestyle with major production elements and an "instadance" they'll find out about on the spot.
Apolo's fate had already been sealed, but Emmitt got the news after Paula Abdul (who appeared as a guest judge earlier this season) didn't really sing but sorta danced to a medley of her "Forever Your Girl"-era hits in a hyper-produced segment featuring the cartoon cat from "Opposites Attract"; projected images of herself, some dancers, a smug Maksim Chmerkovskiy and a little dog; and the real Paula simulating the motion of swinging at bat at the blown-up Maks.
It was not a straight-up Macy's Stars of Dance performance, to say the least.