America's Next Top Model, Season 7 Episode 11, "The Girl Who Grates"
Originally aired on Wednesday, 11/28/2006 Episode Rating: *** (3 out of 5 stars) Episode Overview: The girls pair up with flamenco dancers and learn exotic dance moves before sharing an intimate dinner with Miss J. Alexander. Eugena Washington wins the dance challenge which comes as an ugly shock to Melrose Bickerstaff, who's not used to coming in second place. The girls are asked to portray nymphs in their latest photo shoot while floating in freezing water, and while Melrose and Amanda Babin rise to the occasion, Eugena and Caridee English can barely keep their heads above water. Caridee, in fact, barely dodges a bout with hypothermia.
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Episode Highlights:
  • The girls learn flamenco dancing and compete in a pairs dance-off.
  • The girls pose as nymphs in freezing cold water.
  • Amanda's youth and awkward body movements work against her and she's sent home.
Recap: Still reeling from her sister's departure, Amanda, heretofore referred to as the Lone Babin, can't shake the feeling that if not for her sister's sacrifice, she'd be the one going home. Fortunately Caridee is there to remind Amanda that she's always available to cuddle, clearly forgetting that it was Michelle who admitted to being bisexual. Tyra-Mail tells the girls their next challenge will involve partners. They travel to a dance studio where they meet Nacho Blancho, an accomplished flamenco dancer, whose name I believe means "White Tortilla Chip" in Spanish. He brings out four male flamenco dancers and tells each girl to choose a partner (for dancing, Caridee) to help them through their first flamenco dance lesson. From the opening steps two things become obvious: Eugena and Caridee know how to be slaves to the rhythm while Amanda and Melrose have no soul whatsoever. Amanda even admits to not knowing what she's doing. My advice: watch a tape of Shandi Sullivan from America's Next Top Model Cycle 2; now there was an awkward, skinny white girl with some moves! The girls then share a dinner with runway judge Miss J. Alexander who asks the girls how they got involved in the competition. At this point Melrose expounds on how she's always made her own clothes and has a passion for fashion design (are you listening Tim Gunn?) which elicits endless eye rolls from the other girls. Miss J. then toasts to the final four, saying he hopes the best b***h wins. The girls then return to their apartment and spend a quiet evening rehearsing their dance steps, especially Amanda, who works into the wee hours of the night. The next morning, the girls arrive at a majestic Spanish villa for their flamenco dance test with Nacho Blancho. The girls are then decked out in full flamenco dresses and one-by-one perform their routines. Caridee and Eugena once again glide gracefully across the floor, while Amanda wins the award for most improved, delivering a respectable performance that was far from the disaster expected. The only girl to stumble, literally, is Melrose (whose outfit was stolen off the rack at the Alice & Wonderland Fashion Boutique, by the way) who bobbles the opening steps and never fully recovers. Nacho tells the girls he's impressed with each of their improvements but awards the challenge to Eugena who seemed the most natural with the moves. This doesn't sit well with Melrose who, as the reining challenge queen, responds the only way she knows how--by overreacting and sobbing. She says that she's just frustrated because dancing is her passion (Wait a minute, I thought her passion was modeling and fashion design. She just mentioned that, like two segments ago!) and feels she underperformed. Tyra-Mail mentions something about 'floating' and 'sinking' so it's a given that the next photo shoot will involve water. The girls meet with Jay Manuel who brings out show creator Tyra Banks to assist with the shoot. She divides the girls into pairs, and tells them that for today's shoot they'll be posing as ethereal nymphs floating underwater. First up is Eugena and Melrose, who quickly discover that the real test of this shoot has nothing to do with great pictures but with staying alive in the freezing cold pool. Immediately jaws start shaking and teeth start chattering and while Melrose does a good job of shutting out the discomfort, Eugena can't seem to get past the cold and delivers many blank shots. Next up is Amanda and Caridee, who halfway through the shoot starts complaining about numbness and starts shivering uncontrollably. Fearing hypothermia, the production crew drags her from the water, leaving Amanda to finish the shoot by herself.
Melrose & Eugena Caridee & Amanda
At panel the judges praise Melrose and Eugena for their nymph photo but once again warn Eugena about giving bland expressions, while Amanda and Caridee also receive top marks for their photo but Amanda's arm and feet still appear awkward. During deliberation the judges air their reservations about each girl: Melrose delivers great photos but always appears to be trying too hard, Eugena's lack of personality continues to be an issue, Caridee seems to need a lot of attention, and despite her amazing face, Amanda still doesn't know what to do with her body. The girls return and Tyra starts handing out photos. First is Melrose, then Eugena, leaving Caridee and Amanda in the bottom two. Tyra tells Amanda that she's got an edgy, high-fashion look, but that she still comes off a bit too awkward and meek. Caridee, on the other hand, has all the personality in the world but the judges wonder if she can take the physical demands of being a model. Tyra hands the last photo to Caridee, eliminating Amanda who compares leaving to splitting up with someone you're not ready to say goodbye to. --Scott K.

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