‘Dancing with the Stars’ shocker for the ages: How the hell was James Van Der Beek eliminated in the Semi-Finals?

Well I sure didn’t see that coming. It’s safe to say nobody saw that coming, really. During the Semi-Finals, the most emotional “Dancing with the Stars” of the season, James Van Der Beek revealed a family tragedy, which took a toll on his technique, landing him at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard. And then the judges sent him home in a unanimous decision. Watch the moment of truth above, and scroll down to watch the actor’s gutsy final two dances at the bottom of this post.

Earlier this season Van Der Beek and his wife Kimberly revealed on the air that they were expecting their sixth child, but also that they had suffered multiple miscarriages over the course of their marriage. Sadly, this pregnancy also ended in a miscarriage this past week. Van Der Beek wasn’t sure he even wanted to continue with “DWTS,” but did at his wife’s insistence.

And the week was grueling enough without the added emotional weight. The contestants had to perform two routines: a redemption dance reprising a previous style from earlier in the season, and then a brand new dance. Van Der Beek’s redemption routine with pro partner Emma Slater was a cha cha, but Len Goodman complained that there was too much disco in the choreography. Bruno Tonioli noticed his timing was off, and Carrie Ann Inaba thought he had posture problems. He scored perilously low 8s across the board for a total of 24 out of 30.

But viewers didn’t learn about Van Der Beek’s loss until the clip package before his second dance: a foxtrot to Hozier‘s “Take Me to Church.” He got a higher score for that one — straight 9s for a total of 27 out of 30 — but his overall total for the night still left him at the bottom of the leaderboard. Van Der Beek had never been in the bottom two before, though, so I thought for sure viewers at home would send him safely to the finale, especially given his circumstances.

But it was the worst possible result for Van Der Beek: not only did he land in the bottom two, Ally Brooke landed there with him. Coming into this week’s show she was the only contestant with higher cumulative scores than he had, and she had another great night, finishing at the top of the leaderboard again, so the judges saved her from elimination even though this was her third time in jeopardy. I can’t fault them for that choice, but even Brooke was shocked by it. She even tried to give Van Der Beek her spot, making this a heartbreaking night of competition all around.

So that leaves Brooke, Lauren Alaina, Hannah Brown and Kel Mitchell as the finalists competing for the Mirror Ball Trophy in next week’s season finale. What did you think of that result, and who are you rooting for now?

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