December 09, 2007

Actually You Can't See It From Space

It's time for a recap of the penultimate episode of America's Next Top Model! When we last left our girls, they were shocked that Heather was sent home, and so were we! Only four remain. Who will be eliminated...tonight? (You wanna be on top...bitches?)

The girls return to their penthouse to find "Heather mail." Hilariously, Bianca starts reading it - "If you are reading this, which Jenah, you most likely are..." Ha! In other words, Jenah's the only one really missing Heather very much. I think they became friends, but Jenah also had a lot of respect for Heather's ability to bring it to the photo shoots (something that Jenah herself excels at). Bianca? Not missing her.

Next they head onto Beijing. They get a little guided tour from their guide, Kevin. Bianca finds it all to be surreal. Meanwhile, it's time for Jenah to lament being in the bottom 2. I kind of love her, because she says, "Being in the bottom 2 is awesome - you should try it." Love that sarcasm! Chantal, meanwhile knows this is her destiny. Her attitude is grating on Bianca (and me, as well).

The girls meet up with Ms. J and Twiggy to give them a little cultural history. The pair tell them the story of "the 4 Beauties" - the 4 most beautiful women in Chinese history. Bianca is bored, but the others realize that what they're hearing might be important (i.e. challenge material). The girls head to their new apartment (which has just 2 big beds, so no room for bitching), and receive Tyra mail along with the 4 gowns worn by the 4 Beauties in the demonstration. They figure out that each will need to choose an outfit to wear for the challenge.

Then it's challenge time. Ms. J and Twiggy meet them at a huge shopping mall, and give them each the equivalent of $200. They have an hour to run into the mall and try to find a way to embody their chosen Beauty, but modernize the look to this century. They will then work the runway and a winner will be chosen. And they're off!

Quickly the girls figure out that with such elaborate gowns, they should focus on accessorizing - jewelry, bags, shoes and the like. Bianca then tries to break away from the group and heads to a second part of the mall that's across a courtyard. She discovers that it contains no stores that are any help. As she runs back inside the main part of the mall, she runs into Jenah and decides to "strategize" and use her trademark stank behavior. She tells Jenah, "You've got to go over there, so much great stuff there." Jenah quickly finds out that there isn't, but unfortunately gets a bit lost finding her way back. "Bitch." Indeed.

All this is for naught, however, as Jenah makes it back on time and the girls quickly assemble their looks for the runway. Ann Shoket, editor of Seventeen (she of the big nose from several weeks back), will be the judge. The prize this week is big - the winner will get a "custom-made" Chinese couture gown, and a personal runway walk training session with Ms. J - "a privilege that no girl on this show has ever had." Mhm... Anywho, let's get to it. Now they have to quickly apply makeup and work it.

Saleisha is first. She's accesorizing mostly with gold jewelry, bag and shoes. Nice walk. Chantal went more for bright yellow pieces, but I think her eyes were too dark. Bianca cleverly pinned up her skirt with some rosettes (Angela would be proud) with a flowered bag. Jenah took the long dress and made it a tight mini, and then releases the coat, accenting with some big sunglasses. Fun. Ann gives them all some compliments and criticisms - except Chantal - who just had nice shoes. Jenah wins! Jenah gets to pick a friend to get a second dress. She picks Chantal - least annoying of the 3, obviously.

Now the girls go get fitted for the dresses, so we see that they aren't so much "custom-made" as they are "custom-tailored." Still, they are stunning. Jenah opts for a saturated turquoise sleeveless dress with a flared collar, and Chantal takes the more demure pale jade dress. Chantal doesn't know where she'll wear it, but she loves it. Duh - wear it at any formal event! You'll stand out and make all the other bitches jealous.

Jenah gets her one-on-one right there in the store with Ms. J. He actually provides her with some helpful tips - particularly what to do with her head on her turns (she tends to toss off her head with attitude, but should instead keep it in line with her body as she pulls away). Jenah is stoked.

Tyra mail! "Can you be seen from space?" They squeal as they figure out it's the Great Wall of China. Of course, that's a myth, really. You can only see it from Earth's upper atmosphere. But hey, who says Top Model is supposed to teach us anything? Oh...Tyra...right...

Anywho, the girls now lounge in bed and chat. They express their various concerns and worries at this point to each other and in interviews. Both Bianca and Jenah are ready for the experience to come to an end. Bianca because she's just sick of it all, Jenah because she's getting really homesick, missing her family and her boyfriend. Saleisha and Chantal, meanwhile, have drunk the Kool-Aid and can't get enough of it all. Perhaps they don't have anyone missing them all that much at home? Kidding!

So the girls head to the Great Wall to marvel and frolic. I do have to give this group credit - they have really embraced seeing a new culture and trying to soak it all in, which is nice. They could give a few teams on The Amazing Race some pointers. They eventually run into OJ, who says blah-blah-whatever and leads them to the photo shoot, further down the Wall.

There they find that their photographer is Tyra. Which is not as terrifying as you might think - she's actually done some very interesting work, like the crying portrait of Joanie back in the day, or the scary contact lens photos of Caridee and Michelle. In this shoot, the girls will portray Mongol warrior women, trying to storm the Wall. Why? I have no idea. It's a bizarre set-up, but let's just go with it.

The girls get their makeup and ridiculous enormous rat's nest hair. First up is Chantal. Tyra is pretty impressed, particularly as Chantal works on movement. Jenah is next. Tyra asks what Jenah's "Great Wall" challenge would be. Jenah says she's trying to "find herself." This worries Tyra and OJ, who question if her mind is really in the competition. Bianca requires a lot of direction, which isn't the first time that's happened (see also: last week). Tyra's golden child Saleisha gets raves for deciding to jump in the air and stuff. Honestly, it's hard to get into this shoot, as it makes no sense to me.

Whatev - Tyra wraps it up with a group photo of all 4 girls. Basically she wants them to out-fierce each other and really stand out. Bianca bitches that Saleisha's big hair bun is in her face. Hell, I would have just used a hand to hold it out of place. You know Tyra would eat that shit up.

OMG - did you see that commercial for Crowned? Looks like a train wreck. The writers' strike is clearly in full swing.

Panel! Prizes, judges. Guest judge is Ann Shoket. Let's judge the girls.

Jenah is the challenge winner and lovely in her gown. She has a long beautiful leg in the shot. Twiggy says, "Tyra, you're sooo goooood." Sorry, Twigster, you're still not coming back next season. Tyra tries to get Jenah to break down and it works. Jenah tells us how she's trying to find her sense of self and that she's homesick. Ms. J chides her that a top model is often away from home. Jenah also says that she has always tried to be a role model for her young sisters, and really thinks that this is how she will do that. Tyra asks if Jenah really wants this. Jenah does. Oh dear, it's looking like an elimination. Suck!

Next up is Bianca. She looks far too masculine, I think. The criticism is pretty harsh. Tyra calls her out for needing so much direction. Bianca exclaims that she's had to work really hard and has learned so much. She's trying to fight to stay in it.

Chantal actually has some great movement in her shot. You don't see much of her face, but I'm actually thinking it doesn't matter much. Ms. J loves that she's even pointing her feet. Ann says she always looks so fresh-faced and pretty. Isn't that the story with Chantal? All pretty, no substance?

Saleisha is airborne in her shot, and I have to admit it's pretty good. Although I still think she only has one face - looking down, lips slightly apart. But the judges drool all over it.

In the group shot, each girl is liked by one of the judges, so it's inconclusive. I would say that Jenah's eyes really stand out, but Saleisha makes the most of being in the middle.

The judges deliberate. They love Saleisha and Chantal. It's really a debate over Bianca and Jenah. On the one hand, they think Bianca has so much more to learn - is there time? And yet she's fighting to stay. Jenah is consistenly strong, but did she just give her swan song speech?

4 beautiful girls (pay no attention to the photo above...), 3 photos. First goes to...Chantal? That was a bit surprising. I think they're just trying to shake it up a bit (and shake Saleisha's confidence). Then Saleisha, of course. Will Bianca and Jenah please step forward?

Bianca, you've come a long way, but have a ways to go. Jenah, the judges thought you might have written your good-bye speech. So the photo goes to...B...huh? Jenah! Kick ass! Karma's a bitch, Bianca!

In her exterview, Bianca actually cries a bit. See - if you could have done that at panel, you might still be in it. Silly girl! Maybe you have a career fighting a steel cage deathmatch with Heather on pay-per-view.

So there you have it folks - your final 3 are Chantal, Jenah and Saleisha. I thought for an added treat this week, I'd handicap the finale. So many ways to do it (why each will/won't win, for example)! But I'm going to opt to prevent 3 scenarios as to how each girl could win - and the likelihood of each.

Scenario #1: Saleisha wins

Let's be honest - Saleisha is the clear favorite right now, especially if you consider her past history with Tyra (T-Zone, etc.). To get there, I predict she would first knock out Chantal. I don't think it's likely that the producers - er, judges - want to have 2 bubbly/perky girls in the finals. So instead, Saleisha would face off against Jenah, her real competition. Jenah's done consistently great photos, but Saleisha would garner the "most improved" award. If she can smoke the final runway, Saleisha would have it in the bag.

I think this scenario is the most likely. And frankly, the most irritating. Saleisha has had her moments of being amusing, but in general she's grated on my nerves, and I think her ego has grown along with her profile as "high fashion."

Odds? Take it to Vegas.

Scenario #2: Jenah wins

Jenah has 2 things working in her favor. The first is that she's got the best portfolio of anyone left. (Actually she had the best in the final 4, too.) And secondly, she is the finalist with the most recognizable "journey" that Tyra is so fond of. Jenah was on top, then crashed and burned, and has now been trying to "find herself." Also keep in mind that past winners have usually been beat up a bit by the judges in the home stretch. Jenah would most likely face stiff competition in the final 2 against Saleisha. It will probably take a perfect final runway and a bad final photo from Saleisha for Jenah to win.

This scenario has a moderate probability of success - look at how shocking the last 2 eliminations have been, despite the editing! As you can imagine, this would be the one outcome that would really make me happy. But Jenah still has to face another glamour shot for Cover Girl, and those teeth are going to be hard to hide.

Odds? It's a long shot.

Scenario #3: Chantal wins

The judges certainly do love Chantal, and her surprising top place finish this week highlights that. But doesn't it seem like her constant protestations about how she was born to do this and she's so awesome are just a set-up for her eventual fall? But anyway, for Chantal to win, I imagine they would first eliminate the other blonde - Jenah. Assuming they do equally well with the Cover Girl shoot (both perky and fresh-faced), it would have to be a fierce-off on the runway. I've never thought Chantal's runway walk was that impressive, but who knows?

Whatever, let's be honest - Chantal has never really made a strong enough impression on us or the judges. For her to win would be most surprising (and a bit delicious to see Saleisha's fall).

Odds? Snowball's chance in hell.

See you next week for the finale! (And don't tell me how it ends that evening - I have to watch on tape delay!)

2 comments:

ScottE. said...

Ha ha Bianca...serves you right.

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