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Bristol's 'Dancing' streak finally comes to an end

It was a close call, but Bristol Palin’s “Dancing With the Stars” streak came to an end just moments before the mirror ball trophy landed in the hands of the newest dance-floor champ.

Forget the conspiracy theories, the politics and the unexpected early ousters. When it was finally time to crown the season 11 winner Tuesday night, the controversy fell to the side and all that mattered was dance floor perfection.

Sure, during the final days of the competition it seemed as though Palin, far from the best dancer of the bunch, could stage a coup thanks to avid viewer voters (really avid). And as she revealed during finale night, Palin wanted the win so that it could serve as “a big middle finger to all the people out there who hate my mom and hate me.”

Alas, before the ballroom bash was over, the season’s original fan favorite, “Dirty Dancing’s” Jennifer Grey, took the mirror ball trophy and all the middle-finger glory that comes with it.

Not that the “Dancing” powers-that-be revealed any of that a moment earlier than absolutely necessary. Usually, the third-place cut happens at the top of the hour, leaving the last two celebs to face off near the end of the night.

Not this time.

Making the first cut too soon would have ruined that edge-of-your-seat vibe the show managed to maintain right up until the confetti fell. Could Palin really win?! Could last-man-standing Kyle Massey stage an upset?! Is there any way “Baby” could lose a ballroom battle?!

Well, obviously, no, no and no, but when the final three reprised their favorite past performances, all that was still a mystery.

There weren’t really any surprises in the chosen routines or how they played out. Palin gave her previous high-point tango another go, Massey picked his own tango and Grey went with her swirling Viennese waltz from the first night of the competition. The scores stacked up much as they had all season. Palin landed in the back of the pack with judges, Massey held on to second place and Grey was no less than perfect.

The standings barely moved after the quickly choreographed “instant cha cha chas.”

In fact, had it not been for the delayed results and a few distractingly good and bad performances from the eliminated dancers (Bye-bye, Hoff! You were robbed, Brandy! I don’t even know where to begin, Sitch!), there wouldn’t have been much to get excited about.

You have to hand it to Palin. What she lacked in dance floor skills, she made up for in finale night suspense — at least until Tom Bergeron delivered the news of her third-place fate.

That, of course, left the likable and arguably most-improved dancer of the competition, Massey, in second place.

And what in any other season would have been a foregone conclusion, Grey — the top dancer, the judges’ pick and the sentimental favorite — actually won.

It’s a sure sign of an odd season when the most predictable outcome seems almost shocking.

Ree Hines’ favorite finale night moment? The (albeit brief) dance floor return of Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Follow and share your favorite moments.