A Graceful Exit For Latest 'Dancing With The Stars' Exile

A Graceful Exit For Latest 'Dancing With The Stars' Exile Face facts, folks: of the five "Dancing with the Stars" couples that came into Tuesday night's elimination show, there was a snowball's chance in Hell that fans were sending two of those couples packing.

Sure, this season has proven that absolutely nothing is guaranteed, but it was about as certain as anything could possibly get that Ricki Lake and J.R. Martinez were mortal locks for next week's semifinal dances.

Therefore, that left Rob Kardashian, Hope Solo, Nancy Grace and their respective partners duking it out among themselves.

When the dust settled, the repeated "Cinderella at Midnight" quips tossed about by judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba proved 100-percent prophetic: Grace and partner Tristan MacManus had lasted more until about a little after 1 a.m., when Daylight Savings Time snuck up on them.

"It's been all Tristan from the get go, and the whole crew from 'Dancing with the Stars,' my family who flew out here to take care of my twins so I could dance, all of you and especially to you Trist -- thank you," the HLN pundit and ex-prosecutor said, embracing her 29-year-old pro one last time before a live, prime-time ABC audience. "I am so proud, but I really cannot take the credit."

It's curious sometimes, the way the show pans out. In a point I've beaten to death already this season, there's seemingly no rhyme or reason sometimes in what judges' scores really mean. That's because fans will often enter a season with some contestants they'll go to great lengths to vote off immediately whether they can dance or not (Hello, constant public fan-snark about Bristol Palin), while others could fall flat on their faces trying to dance the Hokey Pokey and still get voted halfway into the season (Hey there, Chaz Bono . . . you kind of sucked.)

I had Grace pegged as an early elimination along the "Bristol Palin" line. She's got a naturally abrasive, no-nonsense, dare I say, ball-breaking demeanor that some like and others find obnoxious, arrogant and just plain unwatchable. There's no in-between. She didn't even always come across well during her rehearsal packages. It was evident that her moxie-to-spare natural make-up sometimes took over her tireless work ethic and got her thinking she clearly knew every bit as much about dance as MacManus. Other times, she displayed an awareness that no much was expected of her, but that there was no chance she was letting that make her concede anything until she'd actually danced.

And in all fairness, maybe she should've been the one that went home instead of Bono some of the weeks when fans were clearly voting with their social agendas. But she did something Bono rarely did: week after week, she actually got a little bit better. She took surviving each week and made the most of it. She just finally hit a point where her plateau wasn't high enough that she was in a league with the other remaining four.

In a season marred by some eye-rolling eliminations, she earned each additional week on the floor. She might've been . . . well, "herself" sometimes but she reminded the world that in all things she does, she works her ass off to get where she is.

Well, that leaves Kardashian and Solo, as far as I'm concerned. Kardashian has been another shocker this season: he's avoided becoming collateral damage of a public backlash against the Kardashian family and steadily blossomed into a confident, capable dancer. Solo, on the other hand, spent most of the season frustrated that she and Maksim Chmerkovskiy couldn't seemingly nail down just what the judges wanted and often butting heads with her own equally competitive pro. But this past week, something just clicked and she finally looked as natural moving on the floor as many probably expected her to.

By next week's end, one of the two will have made it further than many probably expected, and end up dancing most likely alongside Martinez and Lake for the Mirrorball.

Personally, I can't wait.

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