This week on America’s Next Top Model, we had everything: temper tantrums, love-triangles, voodoo, DNA tests, crying fits and, most important … Ty-Overs! In the end, the least expected to go home this early was sent packing, but it is for the best because her message is bigger than the modeling world alone could ever grant her. We’ll talk about why in a moment.

So there didn’t seem to be much actual modeling this week since there was no time for a challenge and even less time for one of those knock-down-drag-out hair/make-up/shoes/haute couture/editorial photo shoots, but that doesn’t mean we were short on drama. Not by a long shot.

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And Then There Were 13

Lest we forget, last week was the first “real” show in which the final14 contestants participated in a challenge plus an arduous photo shoot. In the end, Tea Leoni look-alike waif Ivy was sent home, leaving Adam, Ben, Chantelle, Denzel, Kari, Keith, Lenox, Matthew, Mirjana, Raelia, Romeo, Shei and Will. That’s seven boys and six girls. It’s not over yet, folks, so don’t go thinking this means the testosterone is going to take the prize yet; we still have at least 12 more episodes to get through first. 

Nothing Is As It Seems

We start out the episode with some catty interactions at the house. Matthew still moons over Mirjana (though not really), who is hanging all over Denzel. Romeo is casting spells in front of a pentagon made of dribbled wax while begging the viewing public to send him supplies to make voodoo dolls of whomever he thinks is his greatest competition, and, yeah, that’s basically it. 

Then we head to a park and the fun begins: an impromptu photo shoot directed by creative dude and moppy-haired Yu Tsai, and captured by the diminutive yet enormously talented lens-wielder Mr. An Le. 

The shoot? Optical illusions. In other words, nothing will be as it seems. The models are posed in one position — mostly lying down or touching a pole — and then the photo is rotated 90 degrees so it appears that they’ve defied gravity by hanging perpendicular to a pole, skateboarding on the wall or sitting on a tree trunk. It defies description, really, so I have to include this photo for you.

Model Kari is lying in a chair on the ground while Adam skateboards behind her. Mr. Le photographs her from above, then turns the image 90 degrees so it appears that Kari is sitting in a chair like a regular person … but in the background you see that Adam now looks like he’s skateboarding on the wall beside her. How freaky is that? I love it when they do funky sick creative shoots. We’re on Cycle 21 and America’s Next Top Model continues to come up with entertaining material. I don’t recall seeing this before, and if they did, I’m just wowed all over again. 

Kari and Adam.jpg

Gravity Kicked Some Ass

So how did it go for our baker’s dozen? Well, it was a tough shoot for most. Posing to make your body look like it’s relaxing when it is doing the opposite takes a lot of muscle control. Some of the guys especially had difficulty. Denzel was made to lay on the ground while keeping his body taut, his head held up, while he also balanced a bicycle on his body. He struggles mightily, and that’s where we get our first temper tantrum. You can’t really blame the guy. His muscles were killing to the point where he’s grunting and losing control of his facial muscles. Creative director Mao Tse-Tung — er, Wu Tsai — screams at the struggling alpha who murmurs some of his own choice words, tosses the cycle to the side and stomps off. It really wasn’t that bad of a tantrum and they do make nice the very next day, so all is forgiven. 

Romeo and Mirjana also struggle. Adam looks too scrunched, but his pants are a lovely color. Ben does a running shot and looks like he could be the understudy for Barry Allen in his role as The Flash — from his physical characteristics to his intensity to his lightning speed. (You can see Ben’s fab shot in the slideshow at the end of this recap.)

Ty-Overs All Over

Next is the best part of the first half of the season, in this writer’s opinion: the makeovers, though now we’re calling them Ty-overs. Okay, I’ll buy that. We’ve all seen these episodes. Nothing has been drastic in a very long time, in my opinion. Remember Joanie Dodds, runner-up in Cycle 6? Tyra paid a dentist to yank out several of Joanie’s teeth so she could have the stunning look of a real model. Dang. Now, that’s a makeover. 

However, wonder of wonders, Cycle 21 has some surprises of its own, starting with my boyfriend, Denzel. Denzel gets the first ever ANTM lace front beard. Say whaaaaaaa? Well, Denzel is down wi’it, but he ends up looking like Mary Todd’s husband and our nation’s 16th — and, many would say, one of our most impactful — presidents. Yes, Abraham Lincoln. Except the beard looks much better on the Kentucky native who issued the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the oppressed and allowed men of all origins to get paid to fight for their country. But Denzel, not so much.

I mean, his beard does nothing but make him look like a trick-or-treater. Fortunately, by the end of the episode, Tyra says he was getting a do-over cuz that small woodland creature hanging off his bottom lip was nasty, nasty, nasty (my words, not hers).

All Goes Well Until the Ice Princess Cometh

Another first: long-haired Shei gets a dye job that’s blonde, blonde, blonde on one side of a perfectly straight part, and black on the other side. For some reason, this makes me think of one of my favorite cookies: the Almighty Oreo. 

For Ben and Adam, they get buzz cuts. Will gets a fierce pompadour. Mirjana gets a chic bob which accentuates her eyes. Chantelle gets a long, dark weave with lighter tips (though they don’t look that light to me). Lenox’s hair is darkened and given a blunt cut on the bottom. The beautiful Raelia gets a big and curly ‘do to match her bodacious curves. Romeo gets platinum ice prince hair and gray contacts. Kari also goes full blizzard blonde, but has a breakdown because of it. They dye her eyebrows and everything. She says she felt trashy with the new hair and who can blame her? She looks like Janice, the female muppet with the blonde hair, big eyelashes and pouty lips who plays guitar in the Electric Mayhem Band with Dr. Teeth and Animal. Girl got robbed.

What about Keith? The message to Keith is, basically, don’t change a thing, baby, you’re perfect just the way you are. Of course, this goes a bit to his head, but he’s still gorgeous and a fan favorite for making it to the very end. 

Who Are You … Really?

This is a complete first. Right before the Ty-overs, Tyra announces that everyone is having a DNA test done to find out what their true ancestry is. This seems a little invasive to me. It’s really no one’s business what my ancestry is and I certainly would not be happy finding out I was one of Thomas Jefferson’s bastard children on national television … but I wouldn’t let Tyra Banks shave me bald either. So, there you have it. 

Tyra says this DNA information will be woven into a really fantastic photo shoot thingy later, so we’ll have to wait and see. 

Panel … and Another One Bites the Dust

It’s time for panel once again and it comes so fast this week without that major photo shoot to indulge in, but here we go.

The Top 4

The first photo goes to Ben. No surprise as The Flash running photo was stunning. Tyra says of the photo, this is gorgeous, such energy and passion in his face. Kelly Cutrone says Ben brought something extra to this shoot and he looks like he’s really running down the side of a building. Hm. Maybe we could liken him to another superhero as well. Can you spell S-P-I-D-E-R M-A-N?

Lenox receives the distinction of second chair for the second week in a row, but the first and only model to receive a score of 10 from any of the judges this week. 

Kelly is in love with the beauty that is Will, who she says shows a lot of personality. Tyra says he looks three months pregnant in the photo, but it’s still to die for.  

Raelia takes the fourth spot and Kelly gloats over the great proportions, which she says Raelia was given by God Himself. Tyra Banks compliments Raelia on her H2T hip toochin’ to the side and compares her to Jourdan Dunn.

The Bottom 4

Shei is fourth from the bottom for having a photo that was too pose-y and amateur.

Adam is third from the bottom as he looked like a worker on break waiting for his lunch box. Kelly says she wouldn’t even want to see him in a Tums ad looking like that. Tyra comments on the hot sexy tension in his arm but says he need to work on getting more length in his poses. 

Adam’s pretty much been a tool this entire season (all of three episodes so far) but his makeover has done wonders for his physical presence. The focus is no longer that crazy boy- bob he was sporting. We can see the fine features of his face, which somehow reinforce his pleasing physique. Way to go, Tyra. That, combined with the fact that he wasn’t that douchy this week, could make him a contender. Watch out, people!

Kari and Chantelle are in the bottom two and have to take the walk of shame to the center of the throne room. Kari did not have a stellar photo. She has no neck, which Tyra is vehemently opposed to, as any ANTMer would know. With the new icy locks, Kari feels like a freaky alien, but Tyra assures her this is a very good thing for a model. Tyra likens her to Donatella and Lady Gaga in the Versace add. Holy crap in a cracker. Really? I’m gonna trust Tyra on this one because she can usually make magic appear where all I see is a rabbit and a natty old hat. Time will tell. 

Chantelle, the beautiful gal with the two-toned skin, didn’t do so well this week. Of her optical illusion photo shoot, Tyra says she’s beautiful but absent. Social media says her face was boring. Miss Jay says she has mannequin fingers. Kelly advises Chantelle that all she sees is full-on catatonia.  

Chantelle goes home. The thing is, in truth, models are used to show off products. If the most amazing thing about the model is not her clothing, jewelry or make-up, then she won’t get hired. People will be looking at her extraordinary skin tone. The world out there has much more to learn form Chantelle. This week, she was released back into the world to show all of us how weaknesses can become strengths.

America’s Next Top Model airs Mondays at 9pm on The CW.

(Images courtesy of The CW)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV