Dancing With the Stars Week 9 Results Recap: And Then There Were Three...

The distance between great and amazing is quite small on this season of Dancing With the Stars — really, all four couples remaining at the beginning of this week’s results show were qualified to progress to next week’s final grab at the Mirrorball Trophy. But only three did, and maybe not the three you’d have expected. Here’s how the semifinal week of DWTS played out:

Definitely through | Despite being at the bottom of the leaderboard last night after a ghastly mistake twinged her back and adversely affected their scores, Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas sailed into the finals on a surge of good will from the voting audience. As Katherine pogoed around the stage in glee at the news, Tom Bergeron noted, “I’m no doctor, but her back looks better now.” William Levy and Cheryl Burke, who performed their samba as the judges’ encore choice, also progressed to next week’s ultimate dance-off.

The rest of the hour | Alanis Morrissette premiered her new single, “Guardian.” (Think more “Thank U” than “You Oughta Know.”) Former DWTS pro Julianne Hough, along with her Rock of Ages co-stars Diego Boneta and Mary J. Blige, performed a medley of songs from the upcoming movie version of the rock musical. Anyone else think that Hough, breathless from performing and sporting frizzed-out ’80s hair, still tossed to commercial with more presence and enthusiasm than Brooke? Carrie Underwood later took the stage to sing “Good Girl” in a peacocky, shiny dress that featured webbing and feathers, but somehow worked. Strange.

Couples in Jeopardy
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd

The audience booed heavily when Maria and Derek were announced as being in trouble, but the pair seemed to expect their fate. Their competition did not; during the recap of the previous night’s performances, Donald made it very clear that he didn’t want to go anywhere. “Hell yeah, I want to make it to the finals,” he said in an incredulous falsetto. As it turns out, he got his wish — much to the audience’s dismay. When Maria and Derek were sent home, the boos reached a crescendo. But the oft-injured Extra host, who cried so often, held it together. “I learned how strong I was. I learned to persevere,” she said, head held high. Her partner offered this take: “She’s not just a champion at dancing, but a champion of life.” Um, Derek, she’s not a champion of dancing. You guys got sent packing. But we know what you mean.

What do you think? Did the right contestants get axed? Who’s your favorite to go all the way? Tell us about it in the comments!