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This week’s show is a load of bull! Tyra teaches the girls that if you want to be AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL, you have to take the bull by the horns. Some girls have wings on their go-sees, while others remain grounded—perhaps they needed a Red Bull? Something CariDee says turns Nigel into a Raging Bull. And call me bull-headed, but I still wish Melrose was just a nicer person, because she’s doing so dangnably well. And that’s no bull.

Guess Who’s Coming to Comida

CariDee is still in Barcelona after having faced possible elimination at the last judging, when she was in the bottom with Jaeda. Part of her was nervous she might be on her way out, but there was another, “stronger” part of CariDee that said, “It’s not my time to go yet.” Is this the part that’s, oh, conscious? Because you’d have to be flatlining to not recognize that Jaeda would at long last be put out of her misery and finally sent home. (I like to think of Jaeda as the Keyser Söze of ANTM, because she was a “usual suspect” in the Cycle 7 Bottom Two.)

CariDee, asks Michelle how many times she’s been in the bottom. Has CariDee’s pod person clone just now arrived to this show, or is she playing the dumb blonde again? Michelle answers “Twice.” The tomboy twin says that she still doesn’t know what she wants out of life: maybe modeling, maybe not. Maybe girls, maybe boys. Maybe tacos, maybe burritos. Call me greedy, but if I was her I’d just get the combo platter. Problem solved.

Melrose, meanwhile, decides to call Lucas, one of their Spanish boytoys from the Secret commercial, to ask if he’d like to “accompany” them for dinner tonight. Melrose says “When I go to different countries, I want to go have a nice dinner and a glass of wine—or four,” as if this is the most natural thing for any tourist to want to do. Get smashed? Whatever happened to going sightseeing, or visiting a museum, for pity’s sake?

They ask him to bring a few friends and meet up at El Foro. Amanda thinks the only difference between Spanish and American boys is “Spanish guys smell better.” What? I can’t believe this lack of patriotism. USA! USA! Well, these colors don’t run, but apparently they do stink. The girls ask the guys to come over to their flat to “play games” after dinner. “What happens in Spain, stays in Spain,” one of the twins quips, possibly breaking a Vegas registered trademark. Or is that supposed to be Cabo? Seems every damn place on the planet claims to keep one’s dirty secrets, but they never come through on the promise. Might help if, oh, you weren’t on a reality TV show.

Back at home, CariDee and Victor go off to have a chat. Since she doesn’t speak Spanish and he doesn’t speak English, they end up speaking in tongues—literally. If I recall correctly, CariDee has a boyfriend at home, right? I wonder what language he will be speaking when he sees this video. How do you translate @#$%!!!!!

Eugena observes that CariDee is “all over the place” (and all over Victor’s face) and doesn’t know when to stop. Funny, after all of CariDee’s talk about how hard she’s worked and how badly she wants to win and be a model, she now says “It’s not a competition right now, it is just about having fun and being in Spain, having amazing experiences.” Don’t you know by now the competition never stops on ANTM? There will be consequences…

Harsh Times

The next day, Tyra appears to talk to the girls about the “harsh realities of the modeling industry.” Tyra says that part of what makes it so difficult is that it is harder to “improve on your product”—actors can take classes, singers can get training, but models, well, there’s only so much you can do if people don’t like your look. That’s what ANTM is here for, Tyra says, to be their coach.

She starts by asking what they think is the harshest criticism they’ve gotten in judging. Michelle recalls being told that she “looks like a 4 year old walking in my mother’s heels.” CariDee said last week was a “big blow” for her, and she wants to “represent ANTM and all you judges in a very respectful, good way” and not be “misunderstood.” File this away in your brain bank for a future irony alert! Melrose did not appreciate hearing that she photographs “old.” Eugena say she is practically “immune” since she’s been “ripped to shreds” by panel so many times; but hearing that Tyra was disappointed in her hit her pretty hard. Amanda was saddened that Mr. Jay had questioned whether she should be in the competition at all, and thought, “Wow that’s really harsh.”

Tyra says that by the time ANTM is over she wants the girls to be “strong enough [to] lift your head up high and be able to handle anything and everything that comes your way.” That sounds more Tony Robbins than Tyra Banks, but I guess she’s in motivational mode right now. She then channels my grandma and lectures that she wants them to not only look good, but be well-spoken and smart.

Tyra then dramatically declares “if I have to say things that make you hate me, and make your fans hate me, so be it. I’m gonna sacrifice myself for you.” Oh yes, Tyra, you die for our sins every Wednesday…uh, wait a minute, it’s not like you flew out to a remote village in Africa and are helping people build a well for potable water in the punishing heat! Last I checked you were making BANK (no pun intended) for abusing girls in various posh locales around the world every week…that’s a sacrifice that needs big air quotes around it.

Group hugging ensues, and Tyra leaves them by saying that she’ll see them in judging soon. She reassures them that all her mean old nagging comes from a place of love, from her role as their “Mama.” If she’s their Mama, I’m calling Child Protection, because the way she’s treating them just ain’t right.

The Lost Girls

After their meeting with Tough Love Tyra, the girls return home to find a new TyraMail: “Only the Elite will go on in this competition. Get ready to See who will Go and who will stay.” Who else thinks they’ll be doing GO-SEES today? All those with IQs higher than a bicycle seat say “Aye!” Let’s hope they’re ready to impress. Go-sees, as all you fashion industry savvy ANTMers know by now, are a model’s bread-and-butter; they are basically job interviews for modeling gigs.

They head off to meet Pancho Saula, Director of Elite Barcelona and wearer of strange trompe l’oeil t-shirts with fake glasses hanging off the front collar, who says that he has arranged for them to meet 10 designers who will be doling out points based on the following criteria: 1) appearance, 2) runway walk, 3) personality, 4) portfolio. They will only have 4 hours, but Pancho advises them that the more designers they see, the better their chances at getting a job; he also mentions that Spanish designers love women who smile and display energy. Last but not least, he says they must return to the agency by 6pm. DON’T BE LATE.

Armed with copies of their portfolios and a map of Barcelona, the girls are set loose on the city. CariDee and Eugena decide to team up to avoid getting lost; the twins naturally stick together; not surprisingly, Melrose says her strategy is to get the job done by herself, and “have a great day of getting away from these girls.”

Melrose is the first to meet with designer Sita Murt, putting on her best smile. Julia Cher, director, likes the way Melrose is willing to change her walk upon request. Oh Melrose will change her face if need be, you see she has at least two to choose from!

Meanwhile, Eugena’s on her first go-see at Roberto Verino, where manager and toothy Sofia Coppola lookalike Susana Castano says something I can’t understand, but I think it’s positive. CariDee is also at her first stop, and she rushes in looking flustered and talking about how lost she is; the design representative tells her that the first big mistake CariDee’s made is wearing distracting jewelry—a model should come into go-sees like an empty “canvas.”

The only ones who have not yet made it to a single go-see are Michelle and Amanda. The twins are still studying their maps trying to get to their first go-see, when Melrose is already walking in on her second, with designer Jorge Paulo De Oliveira [gasps for more breath reciting long-ass name] Terra (who happens to love Melrose’s personality).

Eugena and CariDee show up together to their next go-see. CariDee says she wants to impress the designers, but being herself will either take her far or result in her putting her foot in her mouth. She jokingly asks the designer if she can keep the outfit she’s walking in, and the designer looks baffled for a second before she realizes CariDee is joking. She thinks. Is she? Eugena watches on, looking increasingly nervous.

Melrose is on go-see number tres with Victoriano Simon just as CariDee finishes and Eugena starts their second with Julie Sohn. Julie loves Eugena, but finds her a bit too “serious.” The twins all this time have not been able to find any street signs and are still lost in Barcelona. Melrose does what she does best—gloat her little heart out. She says she didn’t need a “buddy” and “did it all by my damn self…I better win, because I worked my ass off today.”

With less than two hours remaining, Melrose is on her way to her fourth go-see while the twins are just making it to their first (at Julie Sohn’s). The twins apparently have a history of being navigationally challenged; Amanda says, “I can’t even get around Anaheim all that well and I’ve lived there all my life.” Michelle says she does feel a bit of competitiveness with her sister since they look the same, but in the end she wants her sister to do well too. Julie sees Michelle first, and the tomboy twin has trouble walking in heels and an ethereal dress. Julie says she’d use her as a catalog model but is not so keen on her walk. Julie, however, marvels at how different the twins are; she finds Amanda “much better than her sister.”

CariDee and Eugena are on go-see three; CariDee makes her designer laugh, dressed like a “killer tomato.” Melrose remains the Lone Ranger. The twins split apart finally due to the time constraints. With less than a half hour to go, Melrose has 5 go-sees in the bag. Eugena says she doesn’t want Melrose to win because “she’s really fake, she doesn’t like us, and the thinks she’s better than everybody.”

Michelle rushes through her second go-see just to get back to the agency. Melrose, Eugena, and CariDee are the first to return to Elite. With seconds remaining, the twins are conspicuously absent. Michelle arrives, just a few minutes late. Pancho tells her that her tardiness unfortunately disqualifies her, then asks her to leave. No one knows where Amanda is.

Amanda finally arrives a half hour late, and Pancho reiterates that getting back on time was the most important part of the challenge before dismissing her just he did her sister. The twins reunite in a stairwell, clearly quite bummed out. Michelle, teary-eyed, said that she is not just sad at losing the challenge, she’s even more upset that there’s “nothing I can do about it.”

Pancho proceeds to give the other three girls their critiques. The designers found Melrose the “most friendly” but found her walk “inconsistent” and most in need of mirror practice. CariDee with more practice “could walk the haute couture runways” but needs to work on presenting a more “natural look” (see girls, just like grandma said, “Wear less makeup!”). The designers love Eugena’s look, but it’s her personality that needs more work.

Pancho announces that the girl who most impressed the designers was…Melrose. She is elated to win yet another prize. When asked to pick a friend, she grabs CariDee. The blondes are banding together! Eugena says, “She can win the challenge, I don’t care.” Oh but the angry flash in her eyes say otherwise. You can almost hear Eugena internally cursing the White Chicks (and I ain’t talking Shawn and Marlon Wayans here).

The prize for the Las Chicas Doradas is they will be treated like “supermodels” that night with a dinner at the flat specially prepared for them by a personal chef. Eugena turns her nose up at the scent of fresh fish a’fryin’. “It’s grossing me out,” she says, peevishly. Melrose and CariDee toast each other “to being blonde, sexy, and young,” which coincidentally is Paris Hilton’s personal affirmation every night in front of the mirror. And gosh darn it, people like her! This is exactly the scene that all us non-blondes fear: not only do blondes have more fun, they laugh and gloat about it behind our backs! Muah hahaha!

CariDee and CariDumb

Later that evening, TyraMail orders them: “Don’t let the photographer bully you.” The girls figure this one out pretty quickly. What is one of Spain’s most iconic figures? Why, the bull of course! From their brutally majestic bullfights to their nutty-ass Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, the people of Spain just seem to love those horny bovine bastards.

Eugena says she’ll have no problem with the bull, as long as it’s fake. Well, if it’s anything like Melrose, then there should be no problem. But this being reality TV and all, you can expect it won’t be that easy. The girls head out to a massive coliseum, and stand in the middle of the ring. Someone strides out in a glorious, gilded torero ensemble, replete with scarlet cape, and those tight sexy matador pants…It’s none other than Señor Jay Manuel! Olé!

He informs them that they have the privilege of being in one of the last remaining active bullfighting arenas for their photoshoot today. Have your inner Hemingway punch your inner PETA activist in the face for a second so you can fully appreciate this ancient tradition. Jay introduces the biggest beast these girls will contend with, big bully Nigel Barker.

But he’s not the only one…out comes a real, live bull, charging furiously into the ring. There is much running and screaming, and that’s just Jay & Nigel! It finally occurs to everyone just how dangerous this really is (Did you all sign your liability contracts before entering the ring girls?). Even Melrose is scared, and I would have thought the bull would be running from her!

It’s not just the life-threatening bull the girls are afraid of, it’s the intimidation of being shot by a judge from panel. Perhaps the intimidation is making certain people…not…think straight. As Nigel stands with the girls alongside the ring, holding a big wooden stick (what is this, the matador’s version of the pimp cane?), CariDee leans over and asks, “Did you just remove that from your ass from the last panel?” Time to pull that file from your brain—IRONY ALERT! IRONY ALERT! Oh yeah, that’s respectful.

It’s immediately obvious that Nigel did not get CariDee’s ill-timed little “joke.” He storms off; CariDee even seems to know she blew it and looks like she’s going to throw up. “CariDee messed up, that’s not a good way to start the day because that’s one key thing that Tyra’s looking for, a girl who can work in this business and be respectful.”

The girls get made up as super-glam matadors, with rich, bold make-up, and beautifully styled variations on the torero constume. Before the shoot begins, Jay pulls the girls out to address the situation with Nigel, saying that the way CariDee spoke to Nigel was not acceptable. It’s not how anyone should speak to a judge or photographer or anyone you might possibly work with—Nigel should be given respect. I hope all the young peoples watching the ANTM learn a lesson that it’s still important to be respectful to elders! Now get off my lawn! [SFG shakes cane at you]

CariDee looks like a child caught cutting paper dolls out of her mother’s silk Agent Provocateur negligees. She defensively pleads, “I was totally joking. Is that totally wrong to say?” Totally boneheaded, more like. Let’s put it this way, any sentence containing the word “ass,” unless you are referring to a donkey in the room, is probably not acceptable to say to someone you want to impress or has the potential to make or break your professional career. “Nigel doesn’t like me,” CariDee sulks as her hair gets done. Melrose is practically gleeful over her competitor’s misfortune; she knows it’s much better have a judge on your side rather than against you.

Jay tells the girls that when they hear the handlers yell “Run,” don’t panic, it’s just her cue to, ya know, mosey along out of harm’s way (behind a protective wall that looks ridiculously small to me) away from the angry bull. Don’t you love that the first thing people tell you in life or death situations “Don’t panic” or “Don’t be nervous”? If 1500 pounds of pure muscle and rage come charging towards me and I want to cry like Tammy Faye over chopped onions, then leave me frickin’ be!

Eugena is first, and she is instructed to hold Nigel’s ass stick as she would a matador’s cape (which will be digitally added to the photo later). Nigel tells her that this is her “moment” so “Don’t freeze up on me now.” He needn’t have worried. Eugena is surprisingly composed, and her strategy of getting so into character that she doesn’t think about her fear really works; she takes risks and turns in some of her best work. Nigel and Jay are impressed that she is performing like a professional model.

Amanda is more scared of Nigel than the bull, because she thinks his influence on her professional life (or death) is much greater. The bull freaks out and charges, so Amanda must run behind the wall. She is shaken and understandably scared. Jay and Nigel both feel her model is “disconnected” in some way; Nigel, in particular, feels like one half of her body was modeling, and the other wasn’t.

Speaking of her other half, Michelle annoys Amanda by “talking too much,” especially asking what her sister “did wrong.” Michelle goes next, and her athleticism seems to work in her favor once again. Nigel comes out and takes some shots of her from his knees, quipping that she’s first girl he’s crawled on the ground for (Rowrrr! Must be the way she wields that that big ass-stick!). He says that he was “inspired by Michelle” and thinks “she’s a model.” Even Jay found the last 20 frames “genius” agreeing that she “looked like a model.”

Melrose, however, wasn’t “thinking” or even “engaging” with the photo shoot at all, just giving poses. Nigel did not think she was the star here today, and believes that the other girls are rising in the competition.

Last but not least is CariDee. She found being in the ring “terrifying,” and it’s unclear if it is the Nigel or the bull she fears most. Jay find her poses too “pinup girl” or “porno star.” Nigel finds her performance “over the top.” After the shoot, CariDee apologizes to Nigel and says she was joking. Nigel says “joke or no joke” the reality is that in business you must be careful that what you say might offend someone. Jay thinks CariDee’s insecurity was showing and she knew she had a horrible shoot.

Elimination looms. CariDee is stunned that before her chances of getting the boot were “slim to none” and now the threat of leaving was once again a big possibility. Amanda knows she didn’t do well either and expects panel to be harsh. Michelle didn’t even expect to get this far, and says she wants to win but doesn’t know if she has what it takes. Since her sister did better, Amanda is worried that this could be bad for her, the twin with the real dream of being a Top Model.

Disjoined Twins

In Tyra’s (or should we call her Taura Banks, yuk yuk) judging picture, she is made up to look like a bull, with horns coming out of her head and a ring in her nose. She also resembles Dave Grohl’s portrayal of the “Shiny Demon” in Tenacious D’s “Tribute” video. The five remaining girls file into judging to face the panel which is today joined by Nigel, horn-haired J. Alexander, a Biba-era dressed Twiggy, and Elite’s Pancho Saula.

Nigel administers today’s test; the girls must judge each other, and tell the panel who they feel has the least potential and the most potential. Melrose not surprisingly picks herself as the winner because “I’m determined and I want this.” What is the big deal about “wanting” it this year? It makes the girls all sound like bratty Veruca Salt, “I want it NOW, Daddy!” Melrose thinks the least potential lies in Eugena because she hasn’t said she wanted it; from the look on Eugena’s face I almost expect her to charge Melrose with her dagger sharp horns.

Eugena also says she has the most potential and wisely answers that this competition is more about the “journey” to get to the top; she singles Amanda out as the least, because she second guesses herself too much.

CariDee picks herself and cites her passion for this industry; she also fingers Amanda as the girl with least potential, saying she hasn’t displayed enough desire (did she mix up the twins, because Amanda was always the one with the dream, but Michelle the girl with the natural ability).

Amanda says she doesn’t feel the need to talk about herself, and assesses Eugena as the girl with most potential, but says she might not be using it. Least? CariDee. Amanda finds her look too “country girl” and therefore common.

As for Michelle, she doesn’t pick herself as the strongest because she doesn’t feel like she’s the strongest. Instead, she picks CariDee, her sister’s bottom choice, saying she has a “bubbly” personality. Then Michelle breaks into tears and says that she feels like she’s the weakest person in the competition because she doesn’t know what she wants. As she stands in front of the panel crying about how she doesn’t feel like a model, I can’t help but note how even the way she stands there crying looks beautiful and if I was there, I’d snap a photo. She feels bad because there are other people who left before her (e.g. Brooke) who wanted it so much more. Michelle says she doesn’t feel she could have the passion or drive that, say, CariDee or Melrose has. She’s baffled that in photo shoots, when she tries her modeling looks contrived; but when she just stands there as normal, “it’s a perfect shot.” She’s not “super confidant” and doesn’t seem to know how to handle her pure natural ability.

Time to evaluate the photos, which Tyra mentions took a lot of digital work to complete after the fact. Like your portraits, Tyra? [gets slapped upside the head by “Mama”] OUCH! Melrose is first, and her picture is good, but Nigel feels she’s “a little too rehearsed” and needs to work on being more natural. Tyra applauds her for winning the go-see challenge, mentioning that not only did she see the most clients, she had the highest score.

Twiggy practically giggles that Eugena’s shot is a “great photograph.” Nigel congratulates her for having taken risks, having fun, and being a pleasure to work with. Tyra is shocked at this new Eugena who has “passion in her eyes in every single frame.” In a case of Single Black Female, Miss J. accuses her of copying his look (illustrated with a side-by-side comparison with J.’s “Witch” picture from the previous cycle), inciting laughter from the panel. “That’s fieeerce!” he commends her. Tyra compliments her on doing something even the Great Banksita can’t do herself without ending up at the hospital.

Tyra tells Michelle that in go-sees, she was considered as having the strongest portfolio. If only she would just accept her natural talent, “I’m dope, I don’t know why, I just am.” Pancho loves Michelle’s face and finds her the most “interesting” model “image-wise” (high praise from a director of a division of Elite). Nigel thinks that she does really well even when she doesn’t know what she’s doing, and if only she could see herself the way everyone else does.

Amanda’s close-up is regarded as “gorgeous” but overall her photo, even her film, were slightly awkward due to the “second guessing” that Eugena mentioned, which Tyra herself noticed as far back as the Scary B&W shoot. Nigel thinks that Amanda has the same “great editorial lines” as Michelle, but he’s not sure if she’s as “capable of doing it as well.”

CariDee comes up to the panel with a little prepared speech that she whips out on a little torn piece of notebook paper and reads out like a small child doing her first book report in front of class. She thanks the panel, particularly Tyra’s “heart” for making her “dreams come true” and expressing the hope that they allow her to continue on and she promises to be “respectable, classy, fun…” Tyra is glad CariDee brings this all up since she had heard about her rude statement to Nigel; Nigel says he accepted her apology, but warns that they don’t want someone to represent ANTM, CoverGirl, or Elite “who doesn’t act with class, dignity and respect.” CariDee wipes tears from her eyes. Her swooning matador picture is seen by Tyra as an example of “beautiful photography but not strong modeling.” Tyra feels CariDee went “way backwards” in terms of skill, and found her poses “hoochie.” Nigel doesn’t like the way she seems to act like she’s listening, but really isn’t taking in what is being said.

The evaluations are rough; the biggest controversy is over the twins. Twiggy wants Amanda to stay, but Nigel attacks her opinion, saying “waist up modeling doesn’t cut it.” He seems to prefer Michelle’s natural ability over Amanda’s desire to be a model; but Twiggy argues that Michelle pretty much said she no longer wants to be here. Pancho thinks Amanda has potential but finds Michelle the most interesting of all the girls, saying that in reality (not ever to be confused with reality tv) the girls who become the biggest models are the girls “who don’t even know even knpw that they can become big models.” He feels that eventually, over time, she will grow and gain confidence; Miss J. thinks with time Michelle will “get bored with it.” Tyra theorizes that Michelle does want this, but is willing to sacrifice herself because she knows her sister wants it more. The judges all look at her with hearty expressions of “Aha,” tantalized by this hypothesis of sisterly sacrifice.

Tyra hands back photos to Eugena, Melrose, and surprisingly CariDee (whom I really expected to be in the bottom two this week). Cruelly, the twins are left in the bottom two. Amanda looks a little freaked out, but Michelle strides along with a half-smile, as if she hasn’t a care in the world. The sisters hold hands as Tyra tells them that she thought the two of them would be part of the final three. It’s down to the girl with the almost uncanny natural talent, who doesn’t seem to know how good she is versus the girl with all the drive but skills not as innate.

Ultimately, Tyra pulls out the photo of…Amanda. Tyra says that in this competition, “passion is a lot more important than beautiful pictures.” That might be true on ANTM, but as much as I love Amanda, that is total and utter BULL#$@% in the real world of fashion. Nevertheless, Michelle looks truly happy for her sister, and says goodbye to the panel with smiles for everyone. It is Amanda who is crying as Michelle walks out the door.

Michelle admits she may have “shot [her]self in the foot today,” but didn’t want her sister leave because this “was her dream too.” The “too” at the end of that sentence almost gives away a little clue that maybe Michelle did share this dream after all. Michelle thinks she might even have been a “distraction” to Amanda and hopes that now her sister will be able to focus. She writes a letter addressed “Twin!” and says she doesn’t want Amanda to ever second guess herself again. “She’s amazing, she’s my sister, I love her.” Michelle thinks perhaps she was here to find herself, and “I found a little bit of something, so that works for me.” She vows to embrace life, instead of “hiding from it.” I know I’ll miss her, and I hope now she sees the same beautiful Michelle everyone else sees…(Oyé Pancho, get her contact information before she goes, hook her up some jobs on the side!)

Shoot some bull to snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com