Hello there, and welcome back to the wet and wild world of America's Next Top Model! This week's installation was weird all-around, from the lazy editing to the equine violence to the self-deprecating confessionals. In fact, the entire mood surrounding the episode was somber -- I kept noticing how completely devastated and strung out all the girls were, despite the looming mixed bag of prizes. In cycles of yore, the contestants would be stressed, yes, as the competition neared its close, but also optimistic and somewhat jubilant -- I don't know what kind of maltreatment has been going down in the Top Model house this time around, but everyone looks severely wounded and desperate to escape.
The episode opens with staged shots of each girl pensively pacing the beach as she considers her Top Model existence. Sepia-tone images of the judges fade across the screen, accompanied by the soft echo of former critiques like, "You look like a 35-year-old woman," "A little too much hooch," and "I see woman but I don't see supa." Just when it seems like we're in for a clip show, the standard format resumes and the ladies stumble through the door of their rental home. There are general murmurs of happiness in reference to full-time bitch Kristen's departure, but this small joy is overshadowed by the general sadness pervading the house. Everyone seems to have personal qualms over which to shed tears, and everyone looks busted as hell, particularly Kiara, whose complexion resembles wet, unmixed cement.
The following day, the model hopefuls arrive at some sort of horse ranch, where sometimes-sexpot Rob Evans and former Miss Jamaica Yendi Phillips greet them with a chorus of off-kilter accents. Yendi, under dual umbrellas of clown-like eye-shadow, explains that they'll be shooting a mock ad for Jamaica's tourism bureau, for which they'll write their own scripts. But wait -- just for fun, the girls will film their spots on horseback, in the ocean! Gangly gap-toothed Leila voices some fear about the animal interaction, given her recent dolphin abuse, whereas Laura can't wait to get in the saddle -- her pointedly affluent family owns several horses, of course.
Predictably, all the girls (and Nastasia in partic) forget and flub their self-written lines (which were shockingly decent) as soon as the camera begins to roll. Tan yawn-fest Laura bores the bystanders to death, Kiara leaves a wake of F-bombs in her trail, and just about everyone is terrified of the horse, and for good reason! That untamable beast was bopping and racing about with his mouth as open as Janice Dickinson's in a men's sauna -- I usually shame the contestants for their failure to complete menial tasks, but this challenge was a seriously hazardous production mistake!
After everyone's perineum has been sufficiently chafed, Yendi announces that the winner is none other than tranny-bones Kiara, who'll star for free in a "Come to Jamaica" commercial written by actual writers. In a gesture of good shade, the other three girls frown and sullenly roll their eyes. Also, why is everyone mad about gloating this cycle? This is the second week in a row where commentary has been made on how it's "inconsiderate" to express mirth after receiving positive feedback; white bitches need to chill out.
Back at the house, the TV flickers on to present P'Trique, one of the many obnoxious gays on Tyra's payroll. He sprays perfume all upon himself and lisps cloyingly modified words like "byeziez" and "kissiez." This entire gimmick is so unnecessary and humiliating to watch; I don't know why it's still happening, especially considering that the College Edition gimmick has been quietly discontinued. Anyway, it's fairly obvious that the upcoming photo shoot will be for the signature ANTM fragrance, Dream Come True. The concept is as simple as it gets: stand in knee-deep water in a white bikini. The photographer is Australia's Next Top Model judge, Jez Smith, and the shoot is to be supervised by the rep for the fragrance, Ben Bennett, who takes no prisoners with his bitchery (he does need to get a sellable image, after all).
I originally thought the styling prompt was "Anna Nicole Smith" due to Laura's hyper-tan bleach blonde look, but I quickly discovered that the hair and makeup cue was "next to none." The ladies take turns lamely posing their shit out in the shallows, occasionally cradling a child-sized perfume bottle in their bony arms. Kiara rubs against the bottle like it's paying for dinner and Nasti works her bikini gracefully albeit blandly. On the flip side, Laura struggles to find flattering angles, and Leila's usually apropos awkwardness doesn't translate to beachwear. BryanBoy inexplicably hovers about the set, baiting girls with questions about their insecurities, and special focus is paid to the discrepancy between Kiara's ghetto background and Laura's plush, equestrian, coffee shop-working upbringing. I do agree that Laura shouldn't be punished for her family's money, but she should be strictly reprimanded for her cartoon duck face (we don't need another CariDee English winning this). Neither Mr. Bennett nor the models seem impressed with the performances, and the ladies shamefully drag themselves homeward.
In an unprecedented editing choice (or error?), we see a producer or PA come grab the waiting contestants and shepherd them into the judging room. It would seem all the girls were obligated to wear black tops with different colored jeans, which goes largely unmentioned by TyTy but wholly appreciated by me. All the judges look standard (Kell in all-black, Tyra with a smoky eye, Rob in a tight tee), except for ByanBoy, who sports a crazy necklace and a serious Golden Girls-type wig. I can't even describe how ugly it is but Bea Arthur is rolling over in her extra-tall grave right now. Even though Leila is deemed too "sex potty" (sounds grossly kinky), her lanky bod still rakes in the highest scores, while Laura finds herself on the bottom for her ugly jaw line and sad body language. Kiara's picture makes her look like a mentally challenged 40-year old with thick thighs, but she still makes out well enough. Nasti, too, finds herself in the middle due to "problems with her face," and is treated to a video from a cross-dresser (no joke) named David. As we're almost at the finale, the shortlist is quite short:
So the bottom two are nasty Nastasia and lamebrain Laura, the latter of whom has herself a hysterical crying fit that is pure TV gold (and Tyra knows it, judging from the inappropriate smirk on her face as she drops the axe). Before breaking the news, Ty tells us that the final runway show will be unlike any before, featuring theatrics (like in Cycle 5) and spookiness (like Cycle 7). Anywho, the numbers really are close this week, but in the end it's Nastasia who bites the big one (35.5), and Laura who returns to the house (35.8) amidst a torrent of her own sobs. If you've made it this far through the cycle, then hold on for one more episode! We'll see the final shoot, the runway show, and Kelly Cutrone spreading her rudeness all over!