Hope Solo is thrilled she made it to the “DWTS” semi-finals, along with her partner, Maks, and Rob Kardashian/Cheryl Burke. (Adam Taylor/ABC)

Sad stories, ankle injuries, a mini-meltdown from Hope Solo — must be semi-finals night on “Dancing With the Stars.” Each couple has three dances tonight, and to kick things off, we have:

U.S. women’s soccer team Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Dance #1: Paso Doble

The always-snippy Maks does have a weakness — needles! He grimaces and squirms as a doctor arrives with a ginormous needle and gives the medicine to ... Hope, who’s been having shoulder problems. Maybe Maks is having sympathy pains? Anyway, the paso doble is all about attitude, so Hope dons her most intense expression for the dance as flames shoot out of fire machines near the happy couple. The performance ends with Hope pushing Maks angrily to the floor, a move that looks like it comes extremely easily to her.

Len likes Hope’s aggression on the dance floor but thought her technique was a little rough. Carrie Ann says Hope embraced the character of the dance but lost some of the shaping. Translation: Hope is really great at being angry, but not much with the paso doble. Scores: 7, 7, 7 for a total of 21 points. “Maks, you look disappointed,” Brooke Burke Charvet chirps in the Celebriquarium. “No, I’m very happy,” Maks exclaims with an ecstatic, sarcastic smile. “Thank you everybody for everything you ever said or did!”

Dance #2: Argentine Tango

Round 2 shows how the celebs overcame obstacles in their lives to eventually land on “DWTS,” otherwise known as Sad Story Time. Hope breaks down in tears as she talks about watching her father going to jail, and later, we learn she was kicked off the women’s soccer team after bad-mouthing her coach to the media in 2007. During the dance, Maks swings Hope around and flips her over with some impressive spins.

The judges are impressed, though Carrie Ann less so. “The thing about lifts, the ins and outs of lifts are what’s really important,” Carrie Ann starts to say, though interrupting herself to scold Maks. “You can smile like that, that’s fine, Maks,” she snaps, though we don’t get to see whatever facial expression caused the interruption as Maks feigns surprise and innocently looks on.

In the Celebriquarium, Hope ignores Brooke’s question about defying odds and bursts into an out-of-nowhere rant. “From day one, they’ve wanted me off the show, but I’m here in the final four,” she says triumphantly, then turning to the camera to address Carrie Ann. “And I’ve gotta say, Maks is smiling because we should be smiling! So Carrie Ann, thank you, Maks is smiling, this is my partner, finally, we’re happy,” she trails off as Maks attempts to jokingly muzzle her, while looking very proud of his protege. Scores: 8, 8, 8 for a total of 24 points.

Actor J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff

Dance #1: Paso Doble

The bar is set high for the couple, thanks to two perfect scores last week. They’re off to a shaky start. J.R. keeps dropping Karina and kneeing her in the stomach, and he twists his ankle pretty badly. He tries to redeem himself on the dance floor with a Zorro cape and getting in the “mean” character. He doesn’t drop Karina once, which is a huge improvement over rehearsal, though he moves slower than usual and limps off the floor at the end of the dance.

Bruno criticizes J.R.’s posture, which is met with loud booing, and Carrie Ann agrees J.R.’s ankle injury seemed to affect his moves. Len doesn’t mince words: “It was more zero than Zorro,” he says. Scores: 8, 7, 8 for a total of 23 points.

Dance #2: Argentine Tango

J.R.’s friends and family talk about what happened when J.R.’s vehicle hit a land mine while he was serving overseas. J.R. describes seeing his scarred face and body for the first time — it’s a brutal story, but the segment quickly shifts to focus on his optimism about life.

Still suffering from an ankle injury, J.R. launches into the tango and Karina climbs all over him and flips over — J.R. disregards any pain and spins around like a pro. Even Tom Bergeron asks if he picked up a new ankle during the break. Carrie Ann says a “true fire” was burning throughout the dance and was very impressed by the lifts. Len agrees it had all kinds of intensity. Scores: 9, 9, 9 for a total of 27 points.

Reality star Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke

Dance #1: Samba

Rob’s goal: To be more of a man than J.R. this week. Rob’s second goal: more “booty shaking” than ever, so we’ll see how that first goal goes. He and Cheryl arrive on some sort of parade float covered in plants, while shaking maracas before they launch into their samba. Both have comically huge smiles on their faces, and Rob really gets into the shaking. He spins Cheryl around several times before they wind up shimmying around under a giant rainbow.

“Who are you? What was that?” Carrie Ann says, bewildered, adding that the float was a strange beginning — but then switches gears and said he was amazing, with perfect musicality and didn’t miss a step. Len also isn’t a fan of the bizarre beginning with the float, but still thinks they did a great job. Scores: 10, 9, 9 for a total of 28 points. Could Rob Kardashian win this thing?

Dance #2: Argentine Tango

Rob confesses he hasn’t experienced life yet, so we go all the way back to his baby videos and photos of the Kardashian sisters dressing him up in women’s clothes when he was little. Rob talks about the death of his father and says he went to University of Southern California in honor of his father — however, after college, he was directionless. Luckily, his family had a couple reality shows.

We get the umpteenth “He entered the competition as a boy, and now he’s a man” commentary. Rob impressively twirls Cheryl around, though moving a bit slower than the other contestants, and accidentally letting a curtain drop on Cheryl’s head at the end. “You started out as a goofy outsider,” Bruno says correctly, but says that Rob is now (surprise!) a man, and did a great job. Scores: 9, 9, 9 for a total of 27 points.

Talk show host Ricki Lake and Derek Hough

Dance #1: Samba

This week’s Ricki drama is — her self-esteem, and namely that she doesn’t think Derek will be able to lift her up during the dances. “Anyone who’s had a weight problem is self-conscious...I don’t want to break Derek,” she confesses as they practice their lifts. Derek convinces her that he’s strong, and she temporarily gets over the problem when he’s able to lift her without a problem. Dressed in bright yellow, they twirl around the dance floor — and while not smiling as maniacally as Rob and Cheryl, they still appear to have fun.

Len appreciates the fact that they didn’t have any funny costumes or strange float theatrics and just danced well. “Sizzling hot, ripe and brilliant to the end...I’m dazzled!” Bruno yells. Carrie Ann is just thrilled that Ricki kept her shoulders down. Scores: 10, 10, 10 for a total of 30 points.

Dance #2: Argentine Tango

Ricki talks about her many struggles, including becoming extremely overweight when she turned to food to get through hard times in her life. After landing the role on “Hairspray,” she continued to gain weight — but eventually was able to shed 100 pounds and land her own talk show.

There’s lots of old school Ricki footage, and then she and Derek start their tango, as Ricki begins the dance sitting in a chair next to a desk waiting for Derek to approach her. She steals his hat at one point in the dance, then winds up back on the original desk — we do not understand this storyline at all. Still, they didn’t miss any steps, and the judges love it. “Ricki, I don’t think you know how good that was,” Len encourages her. Bruno seems to totally get the storyline, saying it was something about a handsome stranger in the underworld of Bueno Aires, and indeed was a huge fan of the dance. Scores: 9, 10, 10 for a total of 29 points.

Then, an added bonus: The cha-cha relay, in which each couple takes the dance floor for a minute to cha-cha, and the judges rank them in order from best to worst. After trying to show each other up, cha-cha style, amid the disco lights, the judges decide the order:

Fourth place: Hope and Maks, 4 extra points (49 total)

Third place: J.R. and Karina, 6 extra points (56 total)

Second place: Ricki and Derek, 8 extra points (67 total)

First place in cha-cha relay: Rob and Cheryl, 10 extra points (65 total)

Seriously — is Rob Kardashian going to win this thing?

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