Ken Tucker
April 12, 2010 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Evidently hating Jon Gosselin can even inspire good (well, relatively good) dancing. During last night’s Dancing With the Stars rehearsal segment with Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani, Kate broke down in tears about her current legal tussle with Jon over the custody rights to her fame-making eight children. In an attempt to get her to focus on her dancing, Tony said to her, “If you fail this week, he” — referring to Jon — “wins.”

And so, bearing “him” in mind, Kate turned in what the judges felt was her best performance to date.

Bruno called their tango a “mini-breakthrough… I actually thought you were dancing!”

Carrie Ann to Kate: “I’m really proud of you.”

Kate’s weepy anger during the rehearsal turned Tony into as much a therapist as a dancing instructor. He listened patiently as she said, “I wake up and check the morning news to… see what hell I’m gonna go through today.

“This is custody stuff playing out in public. That’s what I bring here and I can’t let go.”

Once again I’m here to ponder the mystery that is Kate Gosselin’s DWTS performance. This is not a full recap of the show; for that, go here for my erudite dance-critic colleague Annie Barrett’s complete coverage.

Annie Barrett wrote earlier that “no one understands who is voting to keep her in.” I do: A combination of millions of people who really like Kate (some of you keep forgetting, a lot of America thinks Kate is a plucky, hard-working mom-hero), and millions of people who think she’s a joke good enough to keep around for yet another jaw-dropping week.

I’ll bet America votes to bring her back for another week.

Agree? Disagree? And what do you think of Tony’s shrewd pep-talk about Jon Gosselin?

For more: Dancing With the Stars recap: Pillow Talk

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