Originally aired on Wednesday, 04/11/2007
Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)
Episode Overview: A special prize leaves Natasha feeling heartbroken and unsure if she can continue on America's Next Top Model.
• Whitney, the last plus-size model in the competition, continues to struggle with getting a good photo.
• Renee is making more attempts to better herself, and it seems to pay off with improved performance.
• Some special surprise guests leave Natasha feeling lonely and almost unwilling to compete.
Last week, Whitney was in the bottom two. Most of the judges thought she just doesn’t look like a model, although Tyra defended her potential. This week, Whitney is determined to go “full throttle” and step up her game. I know: it’s seems like déjà vu all over again. We’ve been going through this with Whitney week after week.
Now that we are getting down to the core group of girls, we can spend more time getting to know them. So this episode of America’s Next Top Model, we get to have a leisurely little jaunt through the girls’ current states of mind before getting into the nitty gritty of competition.
Renee's current mood: bummed. Last week’s confrontation with the other girls has her wanting to make an attitude adjustment. Wait a minute – did that happen already too, you know, back in Episode Four, aka, “The Girl Who Changed Her Attitude”?
Jaslene is keeping her spirits up, but she is concerned that each week, her performance seems to be dropping. Me too! She was one of the most interesting transformations to watch each week those first few weeks, so I am hoping she gets it together.
Natasha’s and Dionne’s hearts are aching from missing their children. Brittany’s scalp is aching from her painful weave.
But it’s not all lolling around the ANTM house, there are competitions to get to. Tyra Mail alerts the girls to a challenge that they think will involve acting. Whitney is thrilled; thinking this is a competition she can finally win. The fact that the editors included this snippet of interview with her does not bode well. In America’s Next Top Model Land, thinking you are going to win a competition rarely means you actually DO win the competition.
The girls are taken to a ornate lobby of a local theater, where they meet with Tia Mowry, actress from “The Game.” She has the girls each put on a different hat and act out the character corresponding to their get-up. After that, they are given a script with three very different characters to portray. They have some time to memorize their lines, then head into the theater itself.
An actor appears onstage, and Whitney is the first person to realize who it is. It’s Efren Ramirez, who, in real life, is infinitely less dorky-looking than in his most famous role as Pedro in "Napolean Dynamite." He will be interacting with the girls through the scene they just memorized, and the person he thinks was the best will win a prize.
The girls are fairly uniform through this competition; generally their performances are a little hammy, but then again, the dialog they were given was pretty hammy too. Efren is most impressed and awards the prize to Renee, commenting how much she committed to the role. I will concede her tearful breakdown was affecting, but Renee kind of has a tearful breakdown on the hour and half hour so that sort of deflates it a little to me. But she seems to need the win and the acknowledgement, so that’s good.
Efren tells her she can have a friend join her in the win, and so she asks Dionne to come onstage. Dionne is shocked that Renee picked her. Renee says that she knows Dionne doesn’t trust her because of past nastiness, so she wants to try to prove herself.
Efren gives the two their prizes: tee-shirts saying “I voted for Renee/Dionne.” They try to look grateful, but it’s clear that tee-shirts weren’t what they had in mind. I smell an America's Next Top Model surprise.
And I smelled correctly. The next day: it arrives in the form of Renee’s and Dionne’s families, most touchingly, their children. Dionne’s mom, sister and daughter all arrive, as do Renee’s husband and son. They all get to spend some quality time together.
Natasha, the other mother in the group, is devastated by this. She misses her daughter terribly, and it’s more than she can stand to watch the other girls with their children. She steadily devolves into total depression, and the next day, as the girls arrive at their photo shoot, she can barely hold it together. She feels resentful that the other girls got to see their children, and seems uncertain if she even wants to continue in the competition. Jay Manual takes her aside and talks to her, pointing out that this is the life of a true top model. The conversation seems to get her focused and back on track for the shoot.
The shoot this week is to relive some of the most dramatic moments from past Top Model Cycles, with, as special guest stars, the actual previous Cycle models.
First up is Jaslene, reenacting the infamous stolen granola bars scene from Cycle Five with Bre Scullark. Jaslene looks fantastic in some shots, but gets too draggy in others, concerning Jay.
Next, Natasha is on set and it appears her conversation with Jay really got her centered. She is shooting with Michelle Deighton from Cycle Four, and portraying the “flesh-eating bacteria” moment from that Cycle. Despite the challenge of having to look fierce with a face full of spots, and despite her own emotional turmoil, Natasha totally gets it together, impressing both Jay and the photographer.
Whitney is acting out the moment from Cycle One where the two very religious models decided to not pose nude, and is joined by one of those models, Shannon Stewart. Once again, Whitney can’t seem to get it together, and the photographer comments that she needs to practice more.
Jael acts out Rebecca Epley’s fainting moment from Cycle Five, with Rebecca there to catch her fall. Jay thinks she doesn’t analyze herself enough, and so she wind up looking a little too sexy and passionate for what the scene is.
Brittany’s shoot is to become a triplet with the twins Michelle and Amanda Babin from Cycle Seven. It’s gorgeous, flawless…love it.
Renee gets to pose with Joanie Dodd from Cycle Six, and reenact the scene where Joanie’s snaggle tooth gets fixed. Renee is decent, but Jay worries that Joanie stole the shot.
Last, but certainly not least, is Dionne. She must act out Kim Stoltz’s kiss with another woman from Cycle Five. At first, Dionne seems truly put off by pretending to be a lesbian, but she eventually gets into it and then says she enjoyed the shoot.
At judging, Tyra is once again wearing both a head-wrap and those outrageous eyelashes. What the heck is going on with that? The photographer from the shoot is the guest judge. Strangely, through the judging, Tyra seems to intermittently call the girls by last week’s nicknames, like Whitell for Whitney, Nata for Natasha…yet Dionne, mercifully, was not being called Brown. Not sure what was up with that either.
The judges deliver their assessments and then speak privately. Whitney continues to disappoint. The photographer loved her energy in person, but her photos were flat and lifeless. Natasha has really impressed Tyra; she listens to criticism and adjusts her performance. The photographer also appreciated her professionalism in putting aside her personal troubles to deliver a good shot. The judges find Brittany’s shot outstanding, and are impressed that she commanded the shot between the two strong twins. Jael’s photo isn’t great, but the photographer thinks she has something special despite the fact that Jael delivered a rambling retort to their criticism which left them scratching their heads. Jaslene is slipping and Tyra tells her so. Renee’s photo came out better than anticipated but the judges worry she can look too old. Dionne once again falls short in personal appearance in the judging room, but her photo is solid and the photographer loved working with her.
And so Dionne is called first this week, followed by Natasha, Brittany, Renee, and Jaslene, to leave Jael and Whitney in the bottom two. Whitney is there for her seeming incapability to take a strong photo; Jael, for her oddball personality.
And strong pictures win out over personality: Whitney, our last plus-size model, is finally sent home.
Some of the stronger girls from the first few weeks are slipping fast. Will they get it together or will they continue to slide? Check back next week!
-Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Photos courtesy of CW)