The Dancing With the Stars semi-finals pushed the contestants to the limit as some of the couples cringed through injuries to complete three dances apiece. As it gets down to the wire, the scoreboard was shaken up a bit with a dark horse overtaking the undeniable frontrunner.
It's been a Cinderella story for Rob Kardashian, gradually gaining momentum on the dance floor. He and Cheryl Burke were red hot in the carnival inspired samba. Carrie Ann Inaba called the performance "bootylicious" and awarded the couple their first 10. They earned an impressive 28 for the routine. The twosome returned for an Argentine tango, after which Bruno Tonioli praised, "You started out a goofy outsider. Now you look like a leading man." This added another 27 points to the leaderboard for a total of 55.
"Just days after Veterans Day, war hero JR Martinez struggled to maintain his high level of performance the judges grew to expect from him. Suffering with a twisted ankle, the one-time perfect-score-earner, got a lackluster 23 for his paso doble to Mask of Zorro. Len Goodman harshly criticized, "It was more zero than Zorro." Bruno and Carrie Ann both harped on his poor posture. JR recovered some of his confidence for the Argentine tango. Carrie Ann complimented his execution of "difficult mounts" when lifting partner Karina Smirnoff. A score of 27 tallied them up to 50.
Is hope diminishing for Hope Solo? Week after week, Hope and Maksim Chmerkovskiy have received predominantly lower numbers than their cohorts, yet fans have voted to keep her bending it like Beckham. In a video package before her dance, Hope was shown getting a shot to help ease the pain of a lingering shoulder injury, but like a true athlete, she pushed herself out onto the playing field. The soccer superstar "lost control and finesse" in her paso doble, said Len. Carrie Ann said her spot-on portrayal of "the character took over and the grace and fluidity kind of suffered." The judges tried to tame her with a measly 21. She came back roaring to earn a 24 for her Argentine tango. Bruno noted her better "control" and Carrie Ann saw improvements in her "fluidity" and "ambition." After two dances, Hope had a score of 45.
Go Ricki, go Ricki! Giving Rob and JR a run for their money, Ricki Lake and Derek Hough hit the jackpot with a perfect 10s across the board for their samba. Len proclaimed, "You've just taken a giant step into the final." Bruno added, "Sizzling hot, bright, and brilliant from beginning to end. I need sun shades. I'm dazzled." They received an equally positive response to their Argentine tango, which earned them 29 points. Len said their lifts were "beautiful, seamless." The routine "transported [Bruno] into the underworld of Buenos Aires." They had 59 points going into the last dance of the evening.
All four couples went head-to-head for a cha cha, allowing fans and judges to analyze their capabilities on the same dance style simultaneously. Len called the night's finale the "dessert" to a three course serving of dance. Judges ranked the couples from 4th to 1st, Hope, JR, Ricki, and Rob, respectively. After those points were added, Hope ended the night with 49 points, JR with 56, Rob with 65, and Ricki with 67.
The road to the mirrorball continues Tuesday night on ABC, when one couple's dreams are diminished one week shy of the finals.