The big question on everyone's minds as the Dancing With the Stars finals kicked off Monday night was whether or not Ginger Zee would be able to perform after suffering a painful pelvic injury during rehearsals.
In the pre-taped package before Zee and her pro partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, took the stage, viewers got a behind-the-scenes look at Zee's mishap, which caused debilitating back spasms that prohibited her from dancing or even camera blocking in preparation for the episode.
"Right now [my body] is giving out. My back, my pelvis, everything is starting to give, and it couldn’t come at a more pressure-filled, stressful-filled time," Zee explained in the pre-recorded segment. "If I perform full-out, with how I feel right now, it will spasm. And I could, in the middle of the dance, in front of America, fall down and not be able to move."
Miraculously, this didn't happen. In fact, Zee, 35, and Chmerkovskiy, 30, came out strong with a beautiful contemporary routine set to a soulful cover of Coldplay's "Adventure of a Lifetime," and it was almost impossible to tell that the new mom was hours away from not being able to hit the dance floor at all.
The number, which was a so-called “Redemption Dance,” recreated a low-scoring routine the pair performed back in Week Three.
This time around, Zee and Chmerkovskiy incorporated some key elements from some of their most successful dances -- including the water fountain from their Beauty and the Beast dance from Disney Week, as well as a bench and a series of mirrors that they utilized for wonderful dramatic effect. And the judges were more than impressed with her recovery and redemption.
"The improvement from week three, when you did this dance, is amazing," judge Len Goodman said. "Far more fluidity through the movement and much more confidence…. It was organic, and I loved it."
"It was like watching Ginger and Val's greatest hits remastered and remixed in contemporary style," Bruno Tonioli gushed. "Great tactic, because you've really shown how she has blossomed."
Speaking with DWTS co-host Erin Andrews after their performance, the two opened up about dancing in the face of Zee's painful injury, and how they didn't plan on letting it slow them down.
"The back spasms are unfortunately a challenge we had to face, but we don't want to make any excuses. I don’t think it's a big deal," Chmerkovskiy explained. "This is our last week, we’re gonna give it all we got and, you know, I'm proud of her."
"She doesn't surprise me. I hope she surprises America, but I see this week in and week out," Chmerkovskiy added.
For their efforts, the powerhouse partners earned at formidable score of 28 out of 30.
For their second dance, Zee and Chmerkovskiy paid homage to one of the greatest dance duos of all time -- Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.
Donning 1940s-era attire and dancing frestyle to Nat King Cole's "Orange Colored Sky," the dynamic duo out-did themselves delivering a dance that was even more spectacular than their first.
"Tonight, you've shown your versatility. That first [performance] had a poignancy about it, and then you come out on this second dance [and you're] fun, effervescent," Goodman raved. "Let me tell you one thing: Pain is temporary. Glory lasts a life time."
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba was awash with praise, calling Zee a "classy, elegant, sophisticated, mature" performer.
The second time around, the judges gave them the scores they were really hoping for, with 10s across the board, giving Zee and Chmerkovskiy the first perfect score of the evening with a 30 out of 30.
The two were over-joyed with their combined total of 58, and Chmerkovskiy even picked Zee up and spun her around in celebration. However, fans will have to wait until tomorrow's season 22 finale to see if the GMA weather anchor takes home the mirror ball trophy.
For more on Zee's painful pelvic problems during this week's rehearsals, check out the video below.