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Spoilers ahead for the November 18 episode of Dancing with the Stars Season 28.
The November 18 semi-finals episode of Dancing with the Stars was the most serious of Season 28 so far, and not just because Sean Spicer's elimination meant that the remaining couples were actually super talented dancers. The five celebs and their partners were strutting their stuff, but the details dropped between dances are what made the episode hard to watch, and the eventual elimination was heartbreaking, to the dismay of fans everywhere. James Van Der Beek was voted out in a twist that was shocking for more than one reason.
The episode, which had already seen Kel Mitchell share the poignant story of a childhood friend he lost to gun violence and Hannah Brown on the verge of an emotional breakdown after everything she went through over the past year, took an even more tragic twist when James Van Der Beek tearfully revealed before his contemporary dance of the night that his wife had suffered a miscarriage. She was in the hospital, and he was only able to dance because she said she wanted to see him at it again.
The uncharacteristic mistakes in his first dance of the night began to make a whole lot more sense, considering he had been one of the most consistently solid celebrity dancers of the season, and there was not a dry eye in the DWTS house (or mine) after his contemporary to Hozier's "Take Me To Church." Surely there was no way James Van Der Beek would be voted out, right?
That was not the case. With only five couples left, it was quickly revealed the James Van Der Beek and partner Emma Slater were up against singer Ally Brooke and partner Sasha Farber in the bottom two. Carrie Ann Inaba was crying when she finally voted to keep Brooke, and Bruno Tonioli didn't look any happier when he made the same vote, guaranteeing that Brooke was moving on and Van Der Beek was out.
Ally Brooke was the one to break down into sobs, begging host Tom Bergeron and the judges to let her give a vote to James Van Der Beek. She couldn't stop crying, the celebs and dancers were crying when they came out to hug Van Der Beek and Slater, audience members were crying. Pretty much everybody was crying, and certainly some of us were shocked. I for one was not expecting James Van Der Beek to wind up in the bottom two this week at all, let alone be sent home by the judges.
I wasn't the only one feeling some kind of way after seeing James Van Der Beek eliminated, as proven by fan reactions on social media. Take a look!
One person on social media chose a screenshot of one of DWTS' crop of Season 28 dancers, as Hannah Brown of The Bachelorette fame did make a pretty meme-able face during the episode. Hannah's expression seems to show confusion, sadness, and even some anger, and I'm sure a lot of people felt that way about James Van Der Beek being sent home, especially since Len Goodman revealed he would have voted him off if he'd had to break a tie.
Another person on Twitter pointed out that even if James Van Der Beek wasn't at his best in this particular episode, the other dancer in the bottom two had been in that position several times already:
There's no denying that James Van Der Beek emerged as a serious contender early on based on his performances on the dance floor, whereas Ally Brooke was in and out of the bottom two. It seemed likely that Van Der Beek would be saved by the judges, even if he didn't get the votes from viewers at home.
That the judges went for Ally Brooke instead has left some people seriously upset:
James Van Der Beek was not only dealing with an awful situation in his family, but he was also sent home by the judges. The crying Anthony Anderson gif is pretty fitting, I'd say!
Somebody else on social media seemed to move past grief and jump right to resignation:
And this in the season that had many convinced that the voting from home wasn't fair! Will the elimination of James Van Der Beek be something that viewers can shake off in time to enjoy Ally Brooke and the rest in the finale?
We won't find that out until next week, but another person on Twitter didn't want to see Ally Brooke receiving any hate personally because the judges put her through rather than James Van Der Beek:
Love her, hate her, or tolerate her, Ally Brooke's reaction to moving on rather than James Van Der Beek was truly touching. She wanted to give him her points and her place to stay in the competition, and had to be kindly told she couldn't by the host and Van Der Beek himself. After this episode, I honestly hope everybody in the Dancing with the Stars production was able to sit down, drink some water, and recover. I was emotionally exhausted, and I was just watching from home!
The Dancing with the Stars finale kicks off on Monday, November 25 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC with Lauren Alaina and Gleb Savchenko, Hannah Brown and Alan Bersten, Kel Mitchell and Witney Carson, and Ally Brooke and Sasha Farber in the running for the Season 28 mirrorball trophy.