In contrast to Season 6 of "Dancing With the Stars," it seemed that any of the Season 7 finalists could win Tuesday, depending on how the audience voted and how the mysterious vote weighting worked.
Brooke Burke was technically strong and very consistent, and her and Derek Hough's routines were often more ambitious than those of the other contestants. Lance Bass and Lacey Schwimmer displayed stage presence and technical skills; their choreography balanced personality and adherence to the rules. Warren Sapp and Kym Johnson consistently wowed the live audience with their exuberance, and Sapp got high marks for degree of personal difficulty, given that he's a 300-pound ex-NFL player.
In the end, though, Brooke's skills won out, with Warren coming in second, and Lance third.
Warren and Kym were first on the floor for the finalists' last competitive dances, reprising their super-fun hustle. Judge Len Goodman said that Warren might not be the judges' champion, but he was the people's champion. Judge Bruno Tonioli said something about Warren's craftiness, which seemed to be a compliment. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said that Warren made everyone want to dance. Score: 27 out of 30 possible points, for a total of 80 out of 90 for the three dances over two nights.
Next were Lance and Lacey, who wisely reprised their nifty jitterbug from last week. The dance seemed to have more energy than it did the first time. Bruno said Lance, a former 'N Sync singer, has become a great showman. Carrie Ann cited them for struggling with one lift. She applauded them for never taking the safe road, however. Len expressed surprise that Lance had advanced to the finals but said he deserved it and had "sparkled" in the last few weeks. Score: 28, for a total of 81 for three dances over two nights.
Dancing last were Brooke and Derek, who chose to do their Viennese waltz again. I felt this was a questionable decision, because the waltz is so blah compared with the alternatives. It did, however, showcase model and TV host Brooke's excellent form, fluidity and grace, and the classicism of the dance seemed to please the judges. There was one obvious little stumble, I thought, but the judges didn't mention it. Carrie Ann, seemingly on the verge of tears, called Brooke a true star. Len said it was still the dance of the season. And Bruno called it -- or Brooke -- "bellissima." Score: 30, for a remarkable total of 88 for three dances over two nights.
After these final dances, we found out who landed in third: Lance and Lacey. I found this shocking -- I'd have thought it would be Warren and Kym.
And then it was on to the big reveal: the winners were Brooke and Derek. Burke's fiance, David Charvet, beamed with pride.
So fans, with Season 7 over, what do you think of the results? Where should "DWTS" go next? And if you could pick any lineup, what would it be? Let us know at latimes.com.