America's Next Top Model, Cycle 8 Finale "The Girl Who Becomes America's Next Top Model" Recap

Originally aired on Wednesday, 05/16/2007

Episode Rating: *** (3 stars out of 5)

Episode Overview: It's all over but the crying: this week, the new winner of America's Next Top Model will be decided.



Episode Highlights:

  • The girls have their Cover Girl photo and commercial shoots - and are challenged to ad lib their lines.
  • One more girl is eliminated to bring them down to the final two.
  • The final two walk in a runway show and the winner is announced.


The final three girls on America’s Next Top Model really couldn’t be a more disparate bunch. We have young mom, Renee, with her occasionally abrasive personality; “Cha Cha Diva” Jaslene-from-the-block; and Russian émigré Natasha, with her relentless optimism and murky backstory.

To a one, they seem unlikely Cover Girls, but one of them will be, and so this week, their challenge is to shoot their “My Life as a Cover Girl” commercial and print ad.

Renee’s commercial shoot will take place on a boat in Sydney Harbor. Jaslene will be in a limo on her way to the red carpet, and Natasha will be backstage at a photo shoot. Caridee English, winner of Cycle Seven, is along to help coach the girls through their shoots.

Two major challenges for the commercial: one, the Cover Girl rep is there, so the client will be watching every step. Two, they have to ad lib their lines. Oh yikes. This might be a rough evening.

Natasha decides – wisely, considering English is a second language – to try to flesh out a little script for herself. However, during the shoot, Jay Manuel thinks that this sounds a bit like “she’s reading a grocery list” so she has to regroup. Luckily, on her second try, she manages to bring more of her winning personality to the commercial.

Renee also starts off a little rocky, saying that nine months ago, she had a baby and thought her life was “over.” Ouch! Jay refocuses her and her next take is “disgustingly good.”

Jaslene once again seems a little challenged when speaking lines, scrunching her face into a frown. However, she slips in a little Spanish, which Jay and the Cover Girl rep love.

During the photo shoot, each of the girls has some specific shortcomings to overcome. Natasha has a short neck and has trouble getting an authentic smile without outright laughing. Jaslene also has some trouble as her mouth tenses up from smiling. Renee does beautifully but the photographer worries she looks old.

Back at the house, Tyra mail alerts them to the elimination the next day. Renee hopes that Natasha doesn’t make it to the runway show because “she walks like a pigeon-toed duck with a piece of poop hanging out of her ass.” Renee is always so gracious, isn’t she? Natasha thinks that Jaslene is next to go. Jaslene isn’t focused much on the others, worries more about the unexpected elements of panel.

In the judging room, Tyra introduces the girls to the guest judges, the two designers for the clothing line whose show the final two will star in.

Natasha is first to be evaluated. As Tyra points out, she seems to do much better with a script and is awkward ad libbing. However, Nigel says, her sort of faltering at the end is endearing, and its her imperfections that are so charming. Her Cover Girl photo is lovely (once again Twiggy trots out the “camera loves you” line) but the others note she is lacking some confidence in the eyes.

Tyra also likes Jaslene’s Spanish ad lib in her commercial, but is not thrilled with her overall delivery. The judges are all impressed with how much softer Jaslene looks in her Cover Girl photo, and that her usually-prominent jaw didn’t take over the shot. However, they wonder if being commercial and “sweet” makes her uncomfortable, that she prefers the edgier editorial.

Renee’s photograph and commercial are both excellent, but her one flaw is the one she has the least amount of control over – the judges think she looks old and that her overall look isn’t new or fresh.

After the private evaluation, it’s time to learn the final two. First called is Jaslene. This leaves Renee and Natasha. Natasha stands there with a giant grin for a moment – one can’t help but wonder if she understands what’s happening. Renee, on the other hand, looks devastated.

And more devastation: she’s going home. Natasha and Jaslene are in the final two.

Renee packs and muses that she would rather have wisdom in her eyes than a vacant look, which is a good point, just, however, not always what the fashion industry wants. Vacant works a lot of the time.

Now it is up to the two remaining girls. Before the runway show, they each get an individual sit-down with Tyra. Natasha talks to her about the difficulties she’s faced, both in life and in the house. She still maintains a positive attitude and insists that she’s American enough to be America’s Next Top Model.

Jaslene talks about what it was like to be rejected on her first attempt to get on the show. She says after that, she went to therapy just to become a stronger individual and feels like the show has given her so much.

Now it’s time for the runway show. The girls meet with Jay in front of the intimidating and uneven winding catwalk. Miss J Alexander arrives and tells the girls the theme for the show is “evolution” which means they will start with a more animalistic walk and come to an upright walk through subsequent turns onstage.

Backstage, the girls prep physically and emotionally. Natasha thinks she should win because she is more “exciting and fun” while Jaslene is just fierce. Tyra comes back and warns them each to be strong, but Jaslene must not get too draggy, and Natasha can’t stiffen up.

The show starts. Natasha starts off very strong and the judges in the audience comment on it. She even manages to handle a wardrobe malfunction – her skirt falling off – with aplomb. Jaslene seems to do solidly, but the lack of judge’s comments in the editing makes one wonder what they were really thinking.
The show starts. Natasha starts off very strong and the judges in the audience comment on it. She even manages to handle a wardrobe malfunction – her skirt falling off – with aplomb. Jaslene seems to do solidly, but the lack of judge’s comments in the editing makes one wonder what they were really thinking.

Afterwards, the two girls reflect again on what they bring to the competition. Natasha is certain she was better than all the other girls and thinks she could give hope to all the girls watching the show. Jaslene thinks she brings an edginess and “Latin spice.”

In the judging, the general consensus is that Natasha started stronger, but became less so as the show progressed. Jaslene was solid at the beginning, but not powerful, but she built on it until she was excellent at the end.

They also took divergent paths in photographs. While Jaslene has nearly always been solid in the photographs, her most amazing ones were definitely in the first few weeks, while Natasha’s during that time were so bad the judges were amazed she survived. The judges are also impressed by how much Natasha absorbed criticism and improved, and they worry if Jaslene isn’t just too editorial to make it in the commercial world.

But, after some difficult deliberation, it appears their concerns with Jaslene’s marketability in the commercial world weren’t strong enough as she is named America’s Next Top Model for Cycle Eight! She is “shaking like a leaf” as she hugs Tyra. She says her story can inspire young women to not give up. After all – she didn’t even make it the first time she tried out. But this time, Jaslene is the girl in the top spot!

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

(Images courtesy of CW)