I can’t believe we are really here for the ultimate, the final, episode of the America’s Next Top Model franchise. Tyra left us on the brink of a tantrum (for me, at least) when she withheld the names of the male and female finalists in the penultimate episode, but we knew she’d do that, didn’t we? Tyra Banks understands the value of suspense. “I’m passionate about inspiring people to fulfill their own dreams and fantasies through entertainment that is engaging, uplifting, and of course, fun! This [has been] my dream realized,” she’s quoted as saying in her bio on the CW’s ANTM press site.

To date Trya has crowned 21 top models. Before the hour is out, she will crown the 22nd, or will it be the 22nd and the 23rd? I’ve been speculating she might magically pull a double win out of that perfectly shaped Sha-boom-boom badonkadonc of hers. How very Tyraesque it would be, especially since the two whom I predict will be the finalists (Mame and Nyle) are both phenomenally gifted and well-loved by both the fans, and, more importantly, the cameras. How, in the name of the holy smize, will the judges ever choose just one? Let’s find out.

ANTM Recap: Will Drama Cost One Model the Title? >>>

The Models Pimp Themselves for the Final Prize

Forty minutes before the Rocky Gathercole runway show begins, we’re back at the scene of Tyra’s dreaded announcement that first the final four must deliver their pitches. In a brief presentation Mikey, Mame, Nyle and Lacey each must explain why they deserve to be America’s Next Top Model and what they plan to do with that $100,000 prize. First, however, we’re going to review the resulting images from the Zappos Couture ad campaign shot during the last episode. At this point, however, the judging will be different. The two winners will be chosen by judge opinion alone — no scores. Boom. 

Lacey and Mame are Equally Fierce, But Mame Has More Class

First up are Lacey and Mame. The judges have praise for both models. I can’t tell at this point who they prefer over the other, but Mame seems to have a slight edge. Following the Zappos campaign images, Lacey confidently and swiftly delivers her plan to open a fitness/cardio dance class. She speaks so fast that it’s like she wants to get to the end of the speech before she forgets any of the words. She’s got poise and charm as she lays out her roadmap to success as America’s Next Top Model

Despite falling flat on her ass the last time she had to give a presentation, Mame is at the top of her game with her pitch. She is just as confident as Lacey, but more passionate rather than polished. That may synch the deal for her. In the end it does.

Nyle and Mikey Woo the Judges

Nyle and Mikey’s images fill the screen next.In voice-over, Nyle says he feels he’s more versatile than Mikey, even though he has less experience modeling. His photos, both inside and outside the seedy hotel, are stellar … but Mikey’s are pretty hot as well. I’m still holding my ground that Nyle is the better model and will win. Nyle’s presentation to the judges is well thought out and ambitious. At the end of it Kelly is very impressed. Mikey is very nervous for his presentation. He breaks down in the middle as he explains how he has risen above his family’s historical life trajectory of drug abuse and crime. 

(I did laugh when Mikey opens up with a placard that says, “What motivates Mikey …” The answer to that question is … SEX! But that’s not what he says. I don’t even remember what he says, because I’m still giggling over Mikey walking right into that joke.)

Nyle and Mame Are the Last Two ANTM Finalists 

As we thought (we, meaning me) Nyle and Mame are announced as the final two to compete for the ANTM title. Mikey is disappointed and regrets no longer being able to change his future and overcome the expected. What? Mikey, why are you giving up so easily? This doesn’t mean your life is over. You’ve been on America’s Next Top Model, for god’s sake. Get out there and make something of yourself. 

Let the Concerto Begin 

Miss J. walks down the runway in a hideous neon color-blocked dress with music notes protruding from her head. Though I appreciate her expertise, Miss J.’s style has always baffled me. A couple other model couples walk down the catwalk including Devin who dances around like he’s totally stoned. Kelly and Tyra laugh and roll their eyes from the sidelines. Excellent humor for those of us watching, though. 

Nyle walks way too fast down the catwalk, and he can’t hear Tyra, Kelly and Miss J. screaming at him to slow down. He’s got on this plasticized arm thingy over each shoulder as he carries another mass of black plastic in his hands. At the end of the runway he puts the thing in his hand on his head and it’s stunning. It looks like chainmail from one of King Arthur’s time. 

Hadassah looks like a deer in the headlights as she struts down the runway with half her booty hanging out. Several others take the stage. It’s fun to watch all the cycle 22 models back on the screen again. I hope they do a follow-up show with everyone sitting around talking about the cycle. 

Nyle walks slowly across the catwalk, but this time he’s entangled in a mess of red tape. Is this some kind of political statement? I don’t know much about Gathercole, but maybe that’s his thing? (Oh, and, dang, that Nyle has a fine booty!) Next is Mame in some kind of mosaic cat suit. Miss Ty-Ty has an orgasm on the sidelines as she watches Mame’s fierceness. 

Party On, Cycle 22!

After the runway, all the models are excited and totally hyped on adrenaline. Nyle and Mame head back to the enormous empty house with their mothers. If it were me at this point, I’d say it’s make-out time, but Mame has poor timing in the romance department and still thinks she loves Justin. (Come on, you have the house to yourself and you can’t tell me you aren’t attracted to that lovely man. Whatever.)

Nyle and Mame and their visiting mothers have a breakfast of fresh fruit that has me drooling the next morning. The phone rings and the two remaining models learn they will be joining OPPO as brand ambassadors and fashion models on an all expenses paid trip to Southeast Asia. Holy cell phones, people. Where can I sign up? 

The moms leave. At this point they’ve each done all they can do, Mame and Nyle. The photos have been shot; the catwalk stomped. The die is cast. All that remains is the waiting. They probably both want to puke up everything they just ate. We hear final thoughts from Nyle and Mame in their final moments before they head off to panel. 

The Final Panel Reviews the Models’ Bodies (of Work)

The judges disagree during panel. What Tyra loves, Kelly doesn’t. The runway stomp Miss J. calls fierce, Kelly thinks is too much or too lengthy. Yu Tsai is also on deck for the final judgment (as are the models’ moms, watching from live feed in the green room). Basically, the energetic rehash and evaluation of the runway performances is pretty much equally divided between the two finalists. They love Nyle, but they love Mame too. Although, I don’t think I heard a single word of doubt about Mame, so maybe that’s how the votes will go.

Following 15 minutes of commercials, the four judges are back to take us down memory lane as they revisit every image from every photo shoot since the beginning of time, er, cycle 22. Nyle is totally dogged for the hideous shot they took in the dark. Mame has yet to be given any less than glorious comments. Next are the images with Nyle and Mame’s moms. Nyle totally dominated in that competition even though Mame took first call-out. That was so wrong.

America’s Last Top Model is … 

The ANTM family breaks for deliberation and the two finalists must wait it out in the back room. (I’d be dry heaving at this point). Mame and Nyle hold hands and pray. Will the judges choose the elegant diplomat, or the gorgeous deaf man who wants to serve the people? 

Finally back in front of the judges, everyone stares at the results screen and I still expect it to reveal that both models have won. Finally, after an excruciating pause, Nyle’s image appears and Mame cries. 

Mame and Nyle hug each other. Mame sheds a couple of tears, but seems supportive and genuinely happy for her friend. Besides, they will be going to Southeast Asia as ambassadors for OPPO before long, so this is not the end of the road for this deliciously statuesque chocolate woman. Now she can go back and repair her relationship with Justin without the camera being shoved in her face. (I still would have chosen Nyle over Justin, but he’s going to be pretty busy for a while and that can put a damper on romance).

Back in the green room, Mame cries and hugs her mom who helps her pick off her fake eye lashes. Back in the throne room, Nyle and his mom are thrilled and everyone hugs Nyle, though I’m worried his spiky Gathercole getup might poke holes in everyone who touches him. 

What’s Next for ‘America’s Next Top Mogul,’ Tyra Banks?

This final episode aired on Tyra’s birthday. As the credits roll, Tyra’s voiceover gives her final farewell to her America’s Next Top Model audience: “Twenty-two cycles, thanks to you. Congratulations, you are still in the running toward becoming the most beautiful and flawsome you. Fierce and love, Tyra.”

Thus comes to a close the reality entertainment phenomenon which was UPN’s most-watched program for six cycles, and which launched the CW Network. America’s Next Top Model has also been an international hit with 170 licensees and 17 editions worldwide. Do you think this is the last we’ll see of Tyra? Oh, hell no. 

In case you Ty-Ty fans didn’t already know this (the specifics were news to me), Miss Thing was the first African-American model to grace the covers of GQ and the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. For five years she had her own wildly successful talk show on daytime television, earning numerous awards for her programming and her extraordinarily attentive young audience. Over the years she’s been lauded by Hollywood Reporter, Glamour, Time, Forbes and countless others as not only a fierce trailblazer, but as a business Mogul and a very savvy and highly influential woman at the helm of her own Tyra Banks juggernaut. So, keep your eyes pealed, as my mom used to say. We ain’t seen the last of Miss Tyra.

(Images Courtesy of The CW)

Catherine Cabanela

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV