Well, that episode was … bracing. We’ll get to the floor-licking and cockroaches in a bit. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.
Self-professed house mom Kiara makes chili for the girls in an effort to soothe everyone’s post-panel nerves, and the sight of everyone sitting down to eat together is oddly touching. (I have an extreme soft spot for contestants on reality shows getting along.) Everyone’s digging in except for Victoria, who says once again that it’s hard for her to even taste food when her mother’s not around. Immediately, we’re shown footage of Victoria working out in her bikini, using two oversize chess pawns as weights (no, seriously), and her ribs are legitimately alarming. In voice-over, several of the other girls theorize that she has an eating disorder.
Bryanboy turns up at the house with Marissa Montgomery, who’s a host for Nylon TV. They announce that the girls will be jumping in RVs and heading to Palm Springs. Road trip! The theme of the trip is “random acts of modeling,” inspired by the pictures Tyra frequently posts of herself on Instagram striking model poses during everyday activities. The hands-down most entertaining moment is when some of the girls try to shoot near some wind turbines, not realizing that it would be, you know, windy. But in many of the shots, most of the girls misunderstand the “everyday activity” component that’s key to the challenge and pose on statues and in bumper cars, so Laura easily wins, again.
Johnny turns up to announce that even though the girls are tired and dirty they’ll be headed straight into a photo shoot, but the shoot is post-wild-night-out-themed, so the fatigue and filth should work to their advantage. Laura is draped over a toilet with, supposedly, food poisoning from some bad fish. Let me just take a second to point out that it is beyond-the-pale insensitive to feature an eating disorder plotline and a photo shoot with a model hunched over a toilet in the same episode, so nice work on that editing, Top Model.
Still, one of the best moments of the episode is when Johnny comes into the bathroom to demonstrate when Laura can’t quite get a shot; clearly, he has a future as the poster child for Ipecac syrup. Kristen is asked to pour milk down her shirt repeatedly, which I can’t help but think is retribution for the time she mocked Johnny for his “dumb jokes.” And speaking of insensitive, the formerly homeless Kiara is put in a Dumpster and Allyssa, the sole plus-size girl, is covered in pizza and told to lick soda off the floor; her shoot is cut short when a roach scuttles by.
Victoria places another scream-crying phone call to her mother, who tells her to just come home; at this point, she’s crossed the line from eccentric to seemingly unwell. A few girls pull her aside to ask whether she needs to go home, and to their credit, it comes across as concern and not an attempt to reduce their competition. She cries and said she doesn’t want to make a huge scene out of this, and I feel mean for pointing this out, but with the way she’s handling herself, she’s making a scene all by herself.
At panel, Brittany is the comeback kid, while Bryanboy crumples up paper and throws it to the ground to show Kiara how far she’s fallen. Laura gets her most negative critique yet, and her dress is so low cut that you can actually see her stress hives cropping up. Kelly says that Allyssa’s floor-licking shoot is “like Jackie Kennedy swimming with a creature from the Black Lagoon,” and she gets the lowest score we’ve seen all season. But the real drama starts when the other girls start rolling their eyes behind Victoria’s back during her critique. Tyra asks what’s going on, and Kiara says that, as a group, they’re concerned about her health. Victoria is immediately — and understandably — defensive, but Tyra tells her that it’s important to hear what the other girls are saying, since helping girls make healthy choices has been a long-time priority of hers. Ultimately, Tyra says that she’s going to be watching Victoria closely, and if she can’t eat normally, she’ll send her home. Here’s hoping she means it.
And she’ll have a chance to keep her eye on Victoria, who’s made it through to another week; it’s Allyssa who’s sent to model limbo instead. It’s not surprising given her scores, but her drive and determination make it hard to see her go. It is surprising to see Laura not called first for a change — Nastasia gets the win.