The girls come home from last week’s panel, where Seymone was eliminated for being a whiner, and Alisha rightfully relishes her gorgeous Hello, Kitty photo up on the Positive Reinforcement Screen. But of course, once they’re home, it doesn’t take long for the drama to start. Now that Kyle’s gone, Laura needs a new girl to hate, and she’s chosen Eboni, whom everyone generally agrees is young, immature and vain. You’d think Laura and Eboni might want to stick together, as the only two American girls left … but you’d be wrong. It’s every girl for herself in this fashion funhouse. Which is why it’s seeming ever less likely that our final two will be one Brit and one American, as so many of us originally predicted.

Nigel shows up at the girls’ LA house with a bunch of Chinese takeout, which SHOULD clue them in about the announcement that’s about to come their way, but they’re too distracted by actually being ENCOURAGED to eat to wonder what this is about. They sit down for a family-style dinner, at the end of which Nigel hands out gigantic fortune cookies, which contain cliched “fortunes” for each girl like, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” (Catherine) and “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” (Annaliese). Alisha’s says, “It’s a long fall from the top,” which seems a little too threatening, if you ask me. Eboni’s basically calls her immature. Even the Chinese are out to get her!

All of a sudden, Nigel pops HIS gigantic fortune cookie (ha, that sounds dirty, doesn’t it?), and it’s the big announcement: They’re going to MACAU! Everyone starts screaming and jumping up and down, even though I’m nearly positive none of them know what/where Macau is. That must be what the Chinese food was for. So the girls could scream with confidence, “WE’RE GOING TO … ASIA?”

The girls arrive in Macau, and the change of scenery inspires a lot of introspection among them. Alisha misses her family deeply. Laura reminisces about how she never had a “settled” childhood. Eboni grew up in her grandmother’s attic and got a full ride to UW in Seattle, but put it on hold to pursue “the whole modeling thing.” All this focus on Eboni makes me feel like she might not need to keep that scholarship on hold much longer.

Accompanied by a random Macauan song and dance troupe, Jay Manuel embarrassingly sputters out “Welcome to Macau” in Cantonese, and then ushers the girls to “check out their digs.” They’re all wearing huge showgirl-esque feathered headpieces for seemingly no reason. Cue another round of screaming as they run through their fancy suite, which is massive and resplendent. “Like ten people could shower in here!” one of them yells when they see the bathroom. The CW must air those quotes to give those rare male viewers false hope, as if such scenes would ever make it to air.

As usual, the group happiness proves short-lived. Alisha goes on a verbal rampage when Sophie “touches her stuff” and throws her dress on the floor, or some such nonsense. I’m guessing it’s gonna be an Alisha vs. Eboni Bottom Two showdown this week.

The Challenge

I know this challenge is gonna be good when Miss J shows up in a “Chinaman” outfit that would be offensive in the 1930s. I almost expect him to greet them with a “ching chong wing wang.” Seriously, this is not OK.

missj.jpgLET’S! Get down! To business! To defeat! The HUNS!

With Miss J, doing his best Mulan impression, is a man named “Master Chen,” who specializes in Chinese astrology, which, like Captain Planet, is based around the five elements: Fire, Wood, Water, Earth and Heart. Oh, I mean Metal. His students are here to sit cross-legged and solemnly survey the otherworldly transformations that are about to take place.

Each girl gets a reading to find out what “element” she is, and what’s missing from her life/face. So, a horoscope. Because that “fortune cookie” bit wasn’t mystical enough, I guess. Master Chen, who seems to be a mix between a psychic and a therapist and has a troubling lack of any accent whatsoever, then takes a look at each of the girls’ lookbooks, interprets their personalities, and even gives predictions for their futures that are a little too good, and too tailored to incite drama. He reads that Alisha loves and misses her mom. He says that Sophie is “destined to be famous, but at the price of jealousy” — and, like MAGIC, the jealousy instantly begins! He also calls out Eboni for her troubled childhood. It’s almost as if he was fed this information by a group of producers who’ve been watching these girls for two months and know exactly which buttons to push.

Miss J announces that their challenge is to use their readings to come up with a new look, which will apparently supplement their deep elemental deficiencies. Wow, who knew it was so easy to fix your spiritual aura? Change your elemental makeup … by changing your actual makeup! Change your aura … by changing your clothing! I don’t know much about Chinese astrology, but I have to believe it’s a little more complicated and less shallow than that. It would appear that Miss J’s outfit is actually fitting for this challenge.

Each girl has a couple minutes to attend to herself at the Ancient Chinese Makeover Station, put on a color-coded sarong and different makeup, and then explain her choices to Master Chen, The Fashion Psychic (coming soon to Bravo). It’s all very spiritual.

Master Chen picks Laura and her sexy, black Lara Croft-esque get-up as the winner. She wins a free spa treatment (AND ETERNAL COSMIC ALIGNMENT!). Because Laura only has one team member left, Eboni gets to go with her to the spa. It’s awkward. But still not as awkward as Miss J’s outfit. God, I’m gonna miss him so much next season.

The Photo Shoot: “Smooth Operators”

Jay explains that for their photo shoot this week, the girls will be wearing silk gowns that will be accessorized with the “producers” of that silk: Silkworms. Jay holds up a box of wriggling worms just to show he’s not bluffing. They look like dog turds that sat out in the sun too long and turned white. But, like … alive.

silkworms.jpghiiiiii i’m a silk worm and my element is feces

The girls erupts in a chorus of “ewwwwws!” But no one seems too surprised, either. What would Top Model be without an unnecessarily disgusting photo shoot or two? So the gross-out response doesn’t last long. The girls get straight to hair and makeup, and no one even questions it when a sorry assistant sprinkles bugs all over their gorgeous gowns. And that makes me wonder: Is this batch of models actually TOO low-key and professional? Or is Tyra getting too soft with the surprises? I think it’s a little of both. Back in the day, she would have made them wear the silkworms on their faces. And there would have been an Angelea-like character present to throw a fit and say something like, “Bitch, the only worm I’m touching is at the bottom of a tequila bottle!”

Anyway. It’s time for the photo shoot. Annaliese starts off a little rocky, but impresses the photographer with her sultry poses. Laura looks amazing, and Jay asks her to embody her “best orgasm.” Jay calls her “awkward, bizarre, almost eating the silkworm” sexuality “genius,” but the other girls think she’s too sexual. Especially with bugs involved.

Eboni’s dress is baby pink (“of course … 30 never,” she sighs) and her shoot seems generally unimpressive. Contrast that with Sophie, who looks amazing and has a scared vulnerability in this shoot that is simply breathtaking.

Catherine ends up breaking down during her shoot, though it’s hard to understand why. Apparently even just accessing her sad thoughts for the sake of the shoot causes Catherine to emotionally crumble. Jay isn’t happy with her “wooden, stiff” poses. He also has a problem with Alisha, who can’t seem to give a real emotion without getting too “posey.”


Designer Barney Chang, who designed the girls’ gowns in the shoots, is today’s guest judge.

Laura: She “loves creepy crawly bugs” because she’s a “pirate” (uhh?), so the worms weren’t a problem. Nigel loves her face in this shot. Tyra likes how she looks like she got caught in the middle of a dance. Even Kelly calls the photo “unbelievable.” Barney gives the photo validation by calling it “very Chinese” in its mood.

Eboni: Kelly actually likes it, because it looks like a “WWII postcard.” Tyra, however, dislikes the lack of neck, and her lines aren’t balanced. She looks like she failed Modeling 101.

Catherine: It’s … disappointing. Barney says that she “totally froze” on set, and Catherine admits that she started sobbing on set because she was trying to be sad, and then started fantasizing about someone close to her dying. Nigel is like, “Maybe next time, think about a broken heart … not a death.” The pose looks half-there, and her face is dark and unsettling. I’ve now changed my mind. Catherine is Bottom Two-bound.

Alisha: Barney likes the top half, but she’s not selling the dress. “You look like the girl who didn’t get into the Supremes,” says Kelly. “It’s about selling product,” says Tyra, and Alisha didn’t, so she’s in trouble.

Annaliese: The judges are swooning. “Miss Commercial is turning out her high fashion!” says Tyra. Annaliese explains that her inspiration was walking in on her man with another woman, and her pose reads as, “How DARE you not love me enough!” It’s a good point, because I’m just loving Annaliese more and more. Her hair during judging tonight looks AMAZING. She’s like Scary Spice without the bad-scary.

Sophie: Nigel thinks the look in her eyes is “too extreme.” Tyra thinks the dress looks amazing, but Sophie isn’t doing that. They’re right. I thought she looked great in action during the photo shoot, but this shot is too extreme and in your face with its fear and weepiness.

In deliberation, Nigel tries to save Eboni from the chopping block by saying how much he loves her body language. For once, Kelly makes a good point that they keep pushing and hoping with Eboni, but the results aren’t coming back. Then Tyra takes a turn trying to save Catherine, reminding everyone how magical her music video performance was. Even though Annaliese’s photo is great, Kelly still doesn’t see her as a model. Sophie looks “average,” says Nigel — she’ll be safe, but the judges’ love affair with her is waning, unless she ups her game and shows more range.


Best Photo of the Week goes to: LAURA




Aww. This is a Bottom Two that has no positive outcome, if you ask me. Tyra says that Alisha didn’t work hard enough to sell the dress, and actually detracted from it. Catherine is “timeless and iridescent,” but her photo was weak. And the girl who gets a second chance is … ALISHA.

Noooo! Queen Cath’reen just got the guillotine! But she leaves with her head intact, and held high, saying that she’s proud of herself and learned a lot. A classy lady until the end.

Next Week: Laura thinks a guy is cute, so obviously Eboni draws the conclusion that Laura’s “sleeping her way to the top,” and says so. Ooooh, girl. You may actually be “30 Never,” ’cause you about to get murdered at 18.
(Images courtesy of the CW)

Meghan Carlson

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Meghan hails from Walla Walla, WA, the proud home of the world’s best sweet onions and Adam West, the original Batman. An avid grammarian and over-analyzer, you can usually find her thinking too hard about plot devices in favorites like The OfficeIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and How I Met Your Mother. In her spare time, Meghan enjoys drawing, shopping, trying to be funny (and often failing), and not understanding the whole Twilight thing. She’s got a BA in English and Studio Art from Whitman College, which makes her a professional arguer, daydreamer, and doodler.