Last night saw the dances that counted the most on the eighth season of "Dancing with the Stars," and finalists Gilles Marini, Melissa Rycroft and Shawn Johnson were at their flipping, twirling and hip-shaking best!
Each pair of dancers performed a paso doble and a freestyle dance. As expected, Gilles and partner Cheryl tore up the floor with their paso doble, which was full of passion and "intensity," according to head judge Len. Gilles nailed the dance and landed a perfect score of 30. His freestyle didn't fare as well -- Cheryl choreographed a "Flashdance" style routine that Carrie Ann said highlighted Cheryl's skills more than Gilles'. The quasi-cheesy number earned the duo a 28.
Dark horse Shawn Johnson was a bit too technical with her paso doble, which Carrie Ann said lacked the emotional connection needed to wow the judging panel, but it did earn the tiny Olympian a 28. She was more commanding during the freestyle competition with choreography created by partner Mark Ballas -- which was joyful, bubbly, confident and included lots of flips. The dance seemed tailor-made to fit the gymnast's personality, and earned her a perfect 30.
"Bachelor" reject Melissa Rycroft trailed behind both Johnson and Marini last night. Her paso doble was performed well, although she stumbled at one point after a high kick. Len praised this paso as "more convincing" than her last, and she earned a 29. The former cheerleader's freestyle didn't sit as well with the judges -- the fast, hip-hop choreography wasn't the best choice for Rycroft, and both Carrie Ann and Bruno thought the choreography seemed "disjointed." She ended with a score of 27.
Shawn and Gilles are tied for first, with Melissa trailing just two points behind. The competition could be anyone's for the taking, so it's unclear who will win the mirror ball trophy. Find out tonight when "Dancing with the Stars" airs on ABC.