May 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM ET
On "Dancing With the Stars," the semifinals almost always include desperate dances and sky-high scores, but this season, the penultimate performance show also packed something completely unexpected -- a twist.
But it wasn't the kind of twist that reality TV talent shows are known for. Instead it was an unwelcome twist of fate for one hoofer hopeful.
With the finals in sight and -- let's face it -- practically a lock for this season's "Dancing" queen Katherine Jenkins, the frequent leaderboard topper suffered an injury on the dance floor that cut her moves short and could spell trouble for her in what's left of the competition.
The opera star already had one judge-pleasing routine behind her with an earlier 29-point quickstep when she took the floor for what proved to be a problematic salsa. Long before the real trouble struck, Katherine struggled through a belly-baring, gyrating and thoroughly out-of-character dance alongside pro Mark Ballas. Then came the moment that rocked the star and shocked the audience.
Just as Mark supported her neck during a deep drop and attempted to maneuver around her, his leg caught hers and she was unable to support herself any longer. Suddenly the routine ended, and Katherine was left shaking while the pro and host Tom Bergeron came to her aid.
After the show, Mark told fans that he was sorry they "couldn't finish R dance," that Katherine had suffered a back injury and he did his best to "not let her fall at the end." During the program, Tom assured fans that she'd soon seek medical assistance for her lower back.
Until then, Katherine decided to stick it out through her obvious discomfort and learn her scores, which were -- injury or not -- generous to say the least. She later took to Twitter to reveal that she had suffered a "reflectorical spasm" in her lower back.
Head judge Len Goodman called her "Katherine the Great," Carrie Ann Inaba praised the routine as "so fantastic" and Bruno Tonioli simply urged her not to worry about what happened. They each backed up their comments with a 9 paddle.
Of course, one didn't need an injury to rake in higher-than-expected scores from the panel. In fact, time after time on Monday night, the judges pulled their 9 and even 10 paddles out, even though there really wasn't a single perfect dance to hit the floor.
The top performance of the night came from William Levy, who followed up a lackluster (but high-scoring) tango with a sexy, hip-shaking samba that, despite a couple of quick hold flaws, had the audience out of their seats cheering, and had Len raving about "the hunk with the junk in his trunks."
The fun but not-so-perfect dance earned the actor 30 points all the same.
Next up in the evening's rankings -- or the rankings as they should have been -- was wide receiver Donald Driver, who impressed the crowd twice in one night with an elegant waltz and a high-energy samba. Both efforts played it a little safe and featured flubbed transitions, but they were worthy of the semifinals, if not quite the 28 and 29 points they raked in respectively.
But the actual leaderboard leader of the night was Maria Menounos, who mesmerized the judges with a poorly postured 30-point Argentine tango and a 29-point jive that lacked most of the moves that define the dance.
With such high scores and mixed performances, it hard to say who's a shoo-in for the finals and who's about to bid the ballroom farewell on Tuesday night. William and Donald put on the strongest semifinal performances, but Maria had the advantage with the judges. And as for poor Katherine, loyal fans and sympathy votes could keep her in the running, but whether her injury will allow her to continue is the bigger question.
Will Katherine's injury factor in to your votes? Which stars deserve a spot in the finals and which one doesn't? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.And be sure to join me and Anna Chan for our weekly "DWTS" live chat Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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