After eight weeks, multiple injuries and countless meltdowns, we've finally made it to the "Dancing With the Stars" Season 14 semi-finals.
There's only one problem: Everyone is just a little too good. All four semi-finalists -- Maria Menounos, Donald Driver, William Levy and Katherine Jenkins -- deserve to win based on their dancing. It's the most closely-matched "Dancing With the Stars" semi-finals ever. The show may be low on ratings, but this season, it's got more than enough talent.
However, for one contestant, the pressure was just too much to handle this week. Former frontrunner Katherine felt the heat of the competition. When the opera singer flubbed her ending, she was overcome with emotion and immediately broke down on the dance floor. Her partner Mark Ballas and host Tom Bergeron tried to console the British beauty, but she was still pretty shaken up during the judges' comments.
"I'm sorry, Mark," she told her partner.
It was unclear whether she was crying out of disappointment -- or pain -- for it now appears that Katherine injured her back during the routine. Later, the singer tweeted: "Thank you for all your concerned tweets... I'm with the Doctor, he says it was a reflectorical spasm in my lower back."
It was a devastating end to a truly fantastic salsa, and hopefully for Katherine, it won't be the end of her time in the ballroom.
Katherine may have stumbled, but Maria hit her stride this week, turning out two solid performances with her pro Derek Hough. Despite some choreography drama, Maria and Derek pulled it together in time to wow the judges and the audience. The couple's Argentine tango may be the best dance of the entire season.
As for the boys, William Levy once again left the ballroom speechless with his bum, and NFL superstar is still hoping to score a 10 from Len in next week's finals. That is, if he makes it to the finals.
Now, let's break down the individual dances:
William Levy & Cheryl Burke
If this had been Week 7, then I might have been praising William and Cheryl's tango, but this is the semi-finals, and frankly, that was the worst performance of the night. It's not that William's tango was bad; it just wasn't impressive. Cheryl could have given William harder choreography to work with, but she played it safe. William also looked a little stiff out of hold.
Plus, they danced a tango to a really awful version of "Sweet Dreams," which had nothing to do with the costumes and staging. In my opinion, it looked like a rookie routine, however, the judges thought differently.
Carrie Ann and Len both gave the performance a 9, while Bruno -- William's No. 1 fan -- surprised the couple with a 10. "There's no doubt who was on top. You're like the dic-ta-tor of tango." Ew. I guess I know who Bruno will be voting for tonight.
In the second half of the night, we learned more about the contestants and where they came from. William has talked about immigrating from Cuba. "If I worked hard enough, I was going to give my family everything that they needed," he said. OK, I give up. He's cute, and he's caring? You might as well just hand him the Mirror Ball now, Tom.
William and Cheryl made up for their lackluster tango with a bon bon-shaking samba. It was fun, it was energetic and it made me want to dance. That's really all you can ask for in this competition. Of course, it also made Bruno green with "bum envy."
Meanwhile, Carrie Ann told William that he lived up to every expectation, while Len complimented the Latin star on his rhythm. "I've never looked at a man's bum for so long in my life." Welcome to the dark side, Len. William and Cheryl scored their second perfect score of the season.
Judges' score: 28 + 30 = 58
Maria Menounous & Derek Hough
Dance: Argentine Tango
When it comes to Maria and Derek, the two take turns having meltdowns during rehearsals. Last week, Maria cried when Derek was mean to her, and this week, Derek freaked out when he couldn't come up with the perfect routine. He threw water bottles and slammed doors. It was all very dramatic.
But something must have clicked for Derek because his Argentine tango was my favorite routine of the season. It showcased Maria's precise footwork -- and her long legs -- while managing to once again heat up the dance floor with their blazing passion. No, really, they practically made out on the dance floor. Maria and Derek held onto each other for just a little too long.
From Len, Maria and Derek received a 10, which resulted in the couple's second perfect score of the season, tying William and Cheryl's record.
Maria has really mastered the art of crying on cue. Once again, we learn about Maria's Greek heritage and how hard her immigrant parents worked to keep a roof over their heads. Side note: Maria's dad is pretty much the cutest dad I've ever seen.
We also learn about Maria's interest in journalism and her first job as a co-anchor of Channel One News, where she worked with "Real World: Seattle's" Janet Choi. Fun fact: My school played Channel One News every morning, so Maria and I go way back.
Back on the dance floor, Maria and Derek perform a very unusual jive. It doesn't quite have the kicks and flicks that we would normally associate with a jive, but it was still very fun and energetic. Surprisingly, Len didn't seem to mind the routine's strange choreography. Unlike last week's Bollywood diaster, Maria and Derek's risk paid off this week. The pair nearly scored their second perfect score of the night, but Len didn't quite think it was a perfect jive, giving them a 9.
However, Maria was extremely happy with the results, quoting "Rocky" in her excitement: "I just don't want to come off looking like another bum from the neighborhood."
Judges' score: 30 + 29 = 59
Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd
The NFL pro is still vying for a 10 from Len. I honestly feel like Len haunts Donald's dreams every night. I can only imagine his nightmares. Len, sitting behind the judges' table, repeatedly saying the words, "From Len ... a 9." Jokes aside, Donald really, really wants that 10.
Tonight, Donald and Peta treated the judges to a charming waltz, despite struggling to nail down the dance's subtle movements in rehearsals. Donald has never looked quite as elegant and light on his feet as he did tonight performing the waltz. Carrie Ann agreed, calling it "fantastically mesmerizing."
However, despite his best efforts, Len just wasn't in the mood to give Donald a 10. He told the pro footballer to keep his head to the left (to the left).
Donald's backstory was easily the most emotional of the night. It was like an ESPN documentary. He went from having nothing stable in his life and selling drugs, to turning his it all around, thanks to his wife. It was her encouragement that drove him to pursue professional football.
Having been picked in the seventh round of the NFL draft, Donald had to work his way up to the top. That Super Bowl ring didn't come for free -- and neither does the Mirror Ball. If Donald wanted votes, he may have just secured them with that emotional backstory. LEN, YOU HAVE TO GIVE DONALD A 10.
His samba is a perfect example of how one should play to the audience instead of to the judges. Even Justin Bieber would have been jealous of Donald's "swaggie."
Carrie Ann said that the footballer brought his A+ game, while Bruno called the samba beautifully. Unfortunately for Donald, it wasn't quite deserving of Len's coveted 10. SIGH. "Here and there, you have to be a little bit careful," he said, "But the bottom-line, I liked it."
Judges' score: 28 + 29 = 57
Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas
After a few weeks of so-so performances, Katherine's quickstep shot her straight back up to the top of the leaderboard. It was fast, cheerful and most importantly, technically precise. Carrie Ann called it, "The best dance I've ever seen on 'Dancing With the Stars.'"
I really have to hand it to Mark. His choreography doesn't get as much attention as his BFF Derek's, but Mark's work is equally as innovative.
Bruno, echoing Carrie Ann, said that the dance was "picture-perfect." But leave it to Len to find some kind of flaw in Mark's solid routine. "There was, early-on, a little foot-fault thing," he said, before calling the number "fabulous!"
OK, Katherine's backstory initially won my over because of a cameo appearance by ... Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber! Also, baby Katherine looked adorable in pigtails.
However, when the attention turned to her live in the public eye, I quickly lost interest. Guys, being a celebrity and going through a breakup is, like, really hard. OK, I'm not being mean, but if this show wants me to actually feel for her because she went through a rough split, then that's ridiculous.
However, I couldn't stay mad for long. Katherine and Mark's feisty salsa had all of the components of a perfect number. At one point, the couple even dropped to their knees and started to wiggle on the floor. It was ... interesting?
Yet, the fun ended when Katherine stumbled at the end and broke into tears on the dance floor. It was like she was paralyzed from disappointment -- and it was heart-breaking to watch. After eight weeks of giving it everything you've got, it must be hard to lose it in the semi-finals.
Despite her meltdown, the judges had nothing but praise for Katherine. "It was like you hung out with Beyonce over the weekend," exclaimed Carrie Ann. I'm sure Katherine wished that she was with Beyonce instead of in ballroom during this very uncomfortable segment.
Note: The singer later tweeted: "Thank you for all your concerned tweets... I'm with the Doctor, he says it was a reflectorical spasm in my lower back."
Hopefully, Katherine's injury won't stop her from reaching the finals, but if it does, it's not like she didn't try her best. All four contestants are worthy of being in the finals, so I wouldn't be surprised if Katherine's unintentional flub sends her home.
Even though she may not walk away with the Mirror Ball, she'll definitely be back next week for the "Dancing With the Stars" Season 14 finale.
Judges' score: 29 + 27 = 56
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
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