There’s a Lady in the Water, but no, this is not some M. Night Shyamalamabingbang movie with a crazy twist ending…not to say that this week’s penultimate eppy of AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL is not without its own surprises. Yes, this week Tyra dunks the girls in a freezing cold pool of water for a photo shoot that sounds suspicious like some Salem Witch Trial test (Melrose does well, not surprisingly). Read on to find out who else floats to the top, like the cream of the crop, who swims into the finale, and who ends up in over their head.
Half of a Whole
Amanda without Michelle = weeeeiiiiiird. Honestly, there’s something really strange about seeing her alone, even with the other girls gathering round to keep her company in her sister’s absence. Amanda questions if Michelle had not said she was the weakest model in the group, when they both were in the bottom two, whether Michelle would still be there, “but would I?” Amanda believes “she made a sacrifice for me.”
As Amanda reads a note from Michelle that begins, “You better kick ass!” CariDee talks about how wonderful a person Michelle is, also pretty much convinced that Michelle willingly threw herself under the Tyra Express Bus home because Michelle would rather see her sister stay.
Amanda, while happy to still be in competition, is also understandably sad to be without her sister, and wonders if she should have been the one to go home. She whispers, “Thank you, Michelle,” as she finishes her twin’s note.
Melrose, wearing a raspberry beret (yes, it’s acceptable to start singing Prince at this point), reads out the new TyraMail. “In the modeling industry, working with a partner has many pros. You just have to keep them from stepping on your toes.” Amanda looks a little sad without her usual partner; she makes a guess that there will be joint photo shoot of some kind.
White Girls Can’t Dance
Did someone place another order for Nachos? Luckily, this one is much nicer than the last (racist) one on ANTM. Nacho Blanco, pint-sized but pleasant Flamenco dance instructor, meets the girls at a studio. Via a translator, he tells them that he is there to teach them how to work with a partner. In come a variety of hunky, lithe, male flamenco dancers to demonstrate their dancing skills for the girls. Flamenco (one of my own favorite folk dances) is a bold, passionate dance that involves a lot of stomping—so truly you don’t want an unruly partner to step on your toes in a dance like this.
Our girls get to pick a guy as their partner. Racial stereotype #1: The black people end up dancing together (what, CariDee can’t be into the chocola-té?). Racial stereotype #2: Eugena feels she naturally has rhythm which will help her out in this challenge. Annnnd, she’s actually kind of right, this time. She takes quickly to the dance, while the other appear to be struggling more with learning the flamenco. Amanda looks a touch on the stiff side (“awkward as usual” are Eugena’s words) and gets the nervous giggles. Melrose almost falls off balance, then gets super-frustrated with every mistake.
Eugena does so well that Nacho asks if she’s done flamenco before. The answer is no, but she looks pleased as punch as Nacho gives her the thumbs up. A double thumbs up, no less. Nacho tells everyone to practice tonight because they will be tested mañana. The diminutive dance instructor blows them tiny kisses goodbye, and leaves them to tend to their aching feet. Nice close-up on blister picking, producers! That I did not need to see…
My Dinner with Miss J.
At posh restaurant Principal, a special dish is served: a piping hot platter of J. Alexander! CariDee sees this as an opportunity to have some personal time with a panel member that will hopefully not involve asses or sticks. But this is Miss J., you never know…only she might actually like it! Heeey!!! [snaps]
Miss J. reminds them that being involved in this fashion industry “crash course” is a privilege that ,any other girls would be grateful for—Melrose nods ass-kissingly, then dominates the conversation with how she studied fashion design so she could make clothes for herself because when she was young nothing fit her because she was too tall and skinny. Waaah! Waaah! I hate it when bitches complain about being tall and skinny—come bra shopping with me sometime, Esqueleto, if you want to see real trouble.
The other girls sit back as dinner turns into the Melrose Show. I’m glad we’re not the only ones who see through her veneer—CariDee says that when Melrose’s “personality” is on, it’s definitely “convincing” but obviously “manipulative.” Miss J. doesn’t seem to buy it; he tells her that she reminds of girls that do “calendar pinups and car modeling.” She flinches ever so slightly in response.
But Miss J. also lays it on Amanda, saying she and her sister “are two goofiest of the goofiest, dumpy girls” he’s ever seen. At this point Amanda is hoping that her sister’s leaving will help her come into her own finally, and change her place in the competition; she adds that she’s never actually done anything as an individual before.
“Head up, shoulders back, it’s going to be a stiff competition,” TyraMail warns when they get home. Most of the girls decide to spend the rest of the day practicing, particularly CariDee (who wants to get comfy enough to not overthink it) and Amanda (who doesn’t want to forget any steps). Melrose, surprisingly, is not one of them. What, no staying up two hours extra for practice, Eddie Haskell? Nope, she doesn’t want to “over practice.” In her mind, “I’m 100% confident that I’m going to shine…Once we start dancing, it just kind of works.” Schyeah riiiight.
The night vision surveillance cam on Amanda while she practices in the dark in what appears to be a floaty nightgown looks disturbingly like outtakes from some alternate version of The Ring. I guess if the modeling doesn’t work out, Amanda could get work as a stand-in for Samara in any sequels that might come out.
The next morning, CariDee asks Eugena to “feel how smooth my armpits are” and, oddly, Eugena obliges. This must be some new type of female bonding activity I don’t know about; I mean, whatever happened to giving each other facials and doing each other’s nails? Am I out of touch? What’s next, are BFFs now giving each other bikini waxes too?
Anyway, Eugena and CariDee have apparently gotten tight over the course of the competition; tight enough to feel one another’s armpits (there’s a fetish site for this somewhere, isn’t there), and for CariDee to compliment Eugena on being a “real person” who really can be concerned about other people. Eugena also agrees that they have become close; they’d like it to be the two of them in the final showdown, and they each seem like they’d be happy if the other won. Neither of them, however, wants THE FAKE OLD WITCH WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED to win.
Speaking of, Melrose is having brekkies on her own; the person she’s most annoyed with is CariDee. Melrose has problem with CariDee’s “vulgarity.” She really is old, because that sounds like a comment my grandma would make. Melrose pulls out the oldest, most worn out reality TV phrase in the book…she’s not here to make friends, it’s compete—shut up, we’ve heard it before, hag. CariDee and Eugena continue to trade Melrose hate stories, with CariDee simply stating, “If Melrose becomes America’s Next Top Model, I’m going to puke. All over. I’ll just puke.” Oh okay, now there’s that vulgarity Melrose was talking about…
The girls meet their dance instructor again at a lovely outdoor location for what will be there flamenco dance challenge. They change into ruffly Spanish dance costumes (Melrose, always questioning the pros, snaps at the dresser that no one will be able to see her “footwork” as her outfit is too big), get their hair did and face beat, then it’s on to the dance floor with their partners.
CariDee and José are first, and Nacho is impressed with the “attraction” she shows to her partner. Eugena then dances with Oscar; she decides she can’t go wrong by following her partner, since he knows what he’s doing. Her strategy works, and Nacho commends her elegance on the dance floor. Amanda and Grua…well, Nacho is very generous. He can see Amanda is working hard, and he likes that she has a “sweeter expression.” Melrose comes on the floor confident that she has her footwork down; early in the number, her partner moves his arms a little earlier than expected (or so she claims) and it throws her off, and she must fumble through a fake out.
Nacho gives the girls his critique: he compliments Amanda on being more relaxed; CariDee had good chemistry with her partner; Melrose had a nice face but some technical problems; but the best dancer was clearly Eugena. She wins the prize, and gets to choose someone to share it with. She doesn’t pick CariDee, as everyone expects, but selects Amanda which is especially nice since Amanda hadn’t won a challenge yet (and really does make me think that Eugena is a good person underneath it all—what happened to her tough exterior, when’d she turn into this sweetheart?).
Melrose, usually so good at hiding behind her mask for company, cannot seem to conceal her displeasure over having not won a challenge. JesusMariaJosef! Talk about a sore loser. Can’t she let one other person win a challenge for once? She won’t let it go either, and dwells on her mistake. She goes on and on about how she doesn’t like dance being made into something so “serious” and how she messed up. “Melrose deals with the win the way Melrose pretty much deals with everything—she freaks out,” Amanda observes. Amanda twisted her ankle during the dance, but you don’t hear her going on ad nauseum.
Melrose gets increasingly red in the face, and ends up erupting in tears and creepy self-flagellation over how one needs to be “perfect” to win these challenges and how “frustrating” things have gotten for her. I almost start to feel bad for her; her own self-punishment is excessive and really quite troubling. Melrose goes off on her own to sob dramatically.
Meanwhile, CariDee wonders aloud to Eugena how someone could be so upset over another’s win. Eugena just dismisses her as a “sore loser.” Melrose says she’s mad at herself and goes on a long tirade over it that’s just…I mean it’s just weird. I’m worried she’ll be donning hair shirts and practicing self-flagellation any minute here.
Back at the flat, Eugena and Amanda receive their prizes: the gift of one Custo Barcelona jacket for Amanda, and a jacket plus shirt for Eugena. Melrose looks on, virtually shimmering with jealousy. But Melrose maintains that the person with whom she is most irritated is CariDee (who Melrose thinks is acting the diva—excuse me, have you looked in a mirror lately, Signora Callas?), and CariDee likewise says she’s “over” Melrose (whom she fears will “lash out” over losing). Catfight! Catfight! Oh wait, were in Spain so, uh, lucha de gato?
We All Float Here
Another day, another TyraMail: “Will you drown when faced with your own competition?” CariDee reads, before saying, “I told you we’d be in sharks.” This would be a great tie-in with Discovery Shark Week! Well, turns out the only sharks in the water will be the competition. They meet with art director Jay Manuel who informs them that today not only is Tyra coming on board to help coach the girls today, and not only will the girls will be working with each other, but they will be doing so floating on their backs in a pool of water, kind of like a modern-day homage to Ophelia, which I guess works, since this competition is driving everyone mad.
The pairs will be CariDee and Amanda, then lucky Eugena and Melrose. “I knew it, I knew I was going to be with Melrose,” says Eugena, like the girl who draws the crappiest Secret Santa. The kind that gives someone a used jump rope or regifts a dirty purse (you know who you are). Eugena’s concerned about Melrose’s egoism, and whether her selfishness will effect their working together.
The girls report to hair and make up to be transformed into “ethereal nymphs” with super long hair, romantic make up, and flowy evening gowns. Eugena fusses a wee bit about getting glue on her braid. Tyra gets hands-on with the styling, such as requesting waterproof mascara since “water and chlorine and is going to get all in their eyes.” Oh geez, thanks Tyra for telling the make up artists that, see why we needed you back to coach? No duh!
After more valuable advice from Tyra, like “the secret to floating is arching your back,” Eugena and Melrose climb into the pool for the first shoot. As Tyra explains what she wants, they soon discover the pool is frickin’ freezing. Tell me they couldn’t have gotten a heated pool for these girls. Oh Tyra, you sadist. Eugena’s teeth start to chatter uncontrollably. “Try shooting Sports Illustrated…laying in the snow!” Tyra barks, adding, “I didn’t do it, but the other models did.”
I am, however, very impressed with Tyra’s linguistic skills. Her Spanglish is actually pretty decent! At least as far as I could tell, while she bossed around the photographer. Melrose thinks she did fine in the water, but she remarks that Eugena “can’t really get her float on.” Eugena, who already has trouble with her face in shots, is also having a hard time concealing how cold she is in her expression. On the sidelines, Mr. Jay leans over to someone and whispers conspiratorially (like Benita on “In Living Color”), “It’s interesting, don’t these two girls hate each other?” Aye, chismoso!
The photographer comments on how much he loves Melrose’s “soft face.” Tyra orders the girls to act like they “love each other.” That’s just pushing it now. Eugena knows that she’s having a hard time; her teeth can’t stop chattering and she keeps sinking. She just hopes she doesn’t “look like a dead fish up in that cold water.” Jay calls it a “typical Eugena shoot” because she’s “flat, boring, and it looks like she’s drowning in the water.” Melrose is eerily serene, and floats on the surface like a water lily, not showing discomfort despite it being cold as a witch’s you-know-what—proving she’s not human. BURN THE WITCH! [SFG hoists burning torch]
When Melrose and Eugena are done, they lie outside in the sun to warm up, still shivering uncontrollably. Amanda walks out and sees them, saying, “Now I see what I have to look forward to.” CariDee and Amanda jump in, and the water’s not fine. It’s still “unbelievably cold” according to CariDee. Is it wrong of me to say that although the rules are never to pee in the pool, would it be justified if it were for warmth to keep you from freezing to death?
Amanda and CariDee are “good floaters” but Amanda is “stiff” in the water, both “face and body” according to Tyra. The photographer and Tyra coach her constantly, particularly about controlling her body. CariDee thinks Amanda is still too “young and naïve” and that it’s not about how hard you try anymore—at this stage in the game you have to just get it. Amanda calls for a break when she almost loses her contact.
CariDee is getting…something. She complains of the water being really cold, but stays in, even despite the photog telling her that if she feels really strange, she should tell them. Some crew come into the water to assist in positioning the girls (you don’t see the big guy complaining, or the female PA I’m guessing—see what happens when you’re skinny, no insulation). CariDee her whole body starts to feel like pins and needles; Tyra needles her by reminding that she’s from Fargo. “This is real modeling,” Tyra hollers.
CariDee, however, gets so cold that she starts convulsing uncontrollably. Crew and presumably medics gather round to bundle her. Jay says as a model one needs to tell people when “you’re past your limit.” Tyra says CariDee has to listen to what her body tells her; they insist she stay out of the water.
There are 50 frames left, so Amanda goes forth alone (wow, the twin, on her own!) to take some singles. Jay says if her best shot is one of those, they will digitally composite it in with CariDee’s best shot later. Hey, since they’re so darn good with the computer, couldn’t they have just digitally put these girls into pool of water? This was such a tough shoot that most everyone is worried about how panel will judge them. Melrose is still beating herself up for messing up her flamenco.
Scarecrow, I’ll Miss You Most of All
Panel is heralded by Tyra’s shot o’ the week, a lovely pic of her floating in what appears to be a nice warm bathtub, all photoshopped to sleek perfection. In the reality of the judging room, Tyra is stuffed to bursting in an industrial strength corset and appears to have a cameltoe in her armpit. Hey, I’m not trying to criticize, but like Tyra says, honest critique is about tough love.
Joining Tyra, Nigel Barker, J. Alexander, and Twiggy today is David Ruiz, the photographer from this week’s water shoot. Tyra said this week was all about working with a partner, because often models are expected to work with others. For proof, we see vintage footage of Tyra and Beverly Peele working the runway together.
They call Melrose (in that beret again) and Eugena up for judging, and they start by judging her flamenco. Lucky for Melrose, all they’re looking at is one still shot, and she looks wonderful in it. Twiggy loves how “into it” Melrose looks. Eugena is congratulated for being challenge winner. Miss J. asks for a little live demonstration on their flamenco, so Melrose and Eugena bust it out together while Miss J. clacks his castanets (this sounds like some horrible euphemism, but no, he really has a pair of castanets). Nigel says that the girls failed to direct themselves or their faces toward the panel when dancing.
Time to look at their float photo. It gets a big “beautiful” from the judges, including Tyra who says it looks like it belongs on the “Sistine Chapel.” Nigel says that the “art of the double” is to “share the frame but also to shine in the frame” and he likes that when he looks at this photo, they both command attention equally. Tyra likes that Melrose doesn’t show the cold, and she had tons of faces to choose from; Tyra thinks Eugena has trouble connecting still, and her face read cold. She also had trouble floating, and even in the best shot you can see her foot is on the bottom of the pool.
Panel turns their attention over to CariDee and Amanda. CariDee’s flamenco dance is “fantastico!” Tyra loves that Amanda doesn’t look shy, in fact her leg is slung over the guy with wild abandon. Nigel, however, points out Amanda’s freaky ankle position which has her left foot facing at a strange, unlikely angle that makes it look like her leg is broken. Talk about bendy! I’m actually even more shocked to hear Nigel refer to Miss J. as “dude.” Amanda even demonstrates her contortionist skills live; the panel cringes. “It almost looks like a horror movie,” Nigel says. See what I’m saying? The Ring 3, coming soon to a theater near you.
CariDee and Amanda do their dance which ends awkwardly. Nigel tells Amanda, “I could feel your embarrassment.” Tyra says that while she might not be expected to actually be a professional flamenco dancer, she is expected to look like one for the photo at least. She cites a Vickie’s Secret runway show she did where she trained with a flamenco pro only a couple of hours before the show; the second the show started, every move left her head, but she ad-libbed it and looked great anyway. Miss J. and Tyra show the girls how the pros do it; even despite Miss J. mentioning he’s never really done flamenco, and Tyra losing her shoe mid-dance, they finish off with aplomb. Tyra really is a pro; she walks back to her place on panel in an air-shoe.
Their water nymph photo is “lovely” and it’s Miss J.’s “favorite.” Twiggy thinks it could belong in a very high-fashion mag. Nigel says Amanda’s face looks pretty but he’s left wishing he got “something more” and believe she’s looks like she’s “just there.” Tyra says the face was composited in from another shot, but she was impressed that Amanda learned to float quickly. Tyra sees Amanda problem being her hands and arms, describing her as looking “like a scarecrow” because she doesn’t understand how awkward they look; panel concurs, she needs to learn to control her body.
CariDee did well even despite her physical problem at the shoot. Tyra compliments her on the fact that she never saw one frame where CariDee looked cold. Tyra says that as a model, you need to heed you body, and if you feel sick, you need to “step away from the situation.” This show drives me nuts with the constant contradiction. What happened to a model having to work under any conditions? They get mad at CariDee for nearly getting hypothermia, but reward someone like Danielle for pulling an IV out her arm and fleeing a hospital. You can’t win with these people.
Deliberation is tough; the judges must pick the all-important final three. After chewing over the pros and cons, the girls are called back and Tyra hands photos back to Melrose and Eugena straightaway. Tyra does tell Melrose that the judges feel they haven’t seen the “real” Melrose yet and she needs to take down her veneer. Eugena is there “by the skin of your teeth” but she is someone who is “pushing forward and improving.”
So the bottom two consists of CariDee and Amanda. Tyra tells each girl that they model potential. Amanda’s fresh, “edgy” high fashion looks excite the panel, but she’s still awkward and her personality is perceived as being a little too “meek.” CariDee has a more “classic” look and a “bubbling” personality, but her cup runneth over sometimes, and when it bubbles over it “spills” and “floods.” Tyra also points out that in fashion, swimsuits are shot in winter, coats are shot in summer, that’s just reality, can she take it? Well, she’s going to have to, because Tyra hands the photo back to CariDee.
Amanda gives everyone a hug goodbye. She’s sad that this experience has ended, but she sees it as a good one. She wanted to win but was pleased to have made it to final four. She starts crying when she thinks of packing up and that tomorrow will just be a “regular day.” Amanda still believes she wanted this more than her sister; if this is the case, and modeling is still her dream, she should go to an agency stat, because she could definitely join the ranks of real, working models who, in reality, don’t have to live and breathe the business and often are awkward, angular girls (this is what makes them so visually striking--oh and don't forget to take Michelle along with you). She’s not quite sure how to describe how she feels, other than she feels like ANTM broke up with her. Well, in the immortal words of Modest Mouse: “Don't you worry we'll all float on.” Float on, Amanda!
I am so cool, I am beyond hypothermia: snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com