After this week’s episode of Top Model, I had to spend a solid half-hour eating cookies, staring into space, and trying to regroup, because sometimes that happens when you have to listen to adults say “smize” and “tooch” over and over again without a speck of irony.
This week, we finally find out which eliminated contestant is returning to the competition; first, Tyra tells the girls they’re headed to Jamaica, just in time for the rainy season! (Perfect for modeling.) Still, the girls are so excited that some of them wheeze and double over. The eliminated girls’ pictures are put up on a huge television screen; when your picture disappears, you’re out of the running. It’s a very unceremonious process — Tyra mutters apologies, but that’s it — and it’s not at all surprising that Leila is the one who’ll be returning to the competition. The rest of the eliminated girls file out, but not before Tyra pulls aside Allyssa and tells her that she doesn’t need the competition to succeed as a model. Her honesty is refreshing and totally unexpected.
Then it’s off to Jamaica! The girls are greeted by a busload of Jamaican male models, which seems like a gentle attempt to acclimate viewers to cycle twenty, when the competition will feature male and female models together. The girls meet Tyra at their villa (they shriek when they see her, as though they’re meeting for the first time) for an extremely stereotypical party, complete with steel drums and limboing. Later, they all sit down for dinner, which quickly devolves into a smize-versus-tooch debate. Look, I get that this is part of Tyra’s schitck, and I’m relieved that she hasn’t broken out the underwear with built-in booty bumps yet this cycle, but I reserve my right to find it very strange.
In this week’s challenge, the girls have to learn and perform choreography for a song by Konshens, a popular Jamaican dance-hall musician. The majority of the girls are surprisingly good — Kiara does the splits for the first time in her life on the first try — but Kristin seems to think she’s too cool for all of it and fake smiles her way into last place. (She’s so angry that she and Laura go to the confessional camera as soon as they get home and viciously trash the other girls.) Nastasia — who’s a professional dancer — is the winner, and it’s nice to see her succeed; she’s struggled a bit in the competition, but she’s one of the only girls who’s been consistently kind to everyone.
For the second time, Rob’s modeling with the girls for their photo shoot (as are the aforementioned male models), which is based on an oddly specific scenario: The girls are newlyweds vacationing with their wealthy husbands, but they’re in love with their river-raft guide. It’s bizarre and more than a little campy, but not in a fun way — the girls wear what appear to be dreadlock wigs, and between that and the heavy makeup, some of them are nearly unrecognizable. Compared to last week’s prison shoot, it’s pretty bland.
Then it’s off to panel, where all the girls are swaddled in sarongs, and Tyra is trotting out accented Jamaican slang like it’s her job (come to think of it, it is). At one point, Kelly tells Kiara that she looks like she’s a dance soloist in an Off Broadway musical and not a model, which only barely seems like an insult, and also tells Victoria that her picture looks like an advertisement for a Celine Dion concert in Atlantic City. The judges try to explain to Kristin that her determination to seem cooler than everyone makes her difficult to work with; Rob asks her to “act the fool,” and all she can come up with is running over to Bryanboy and tousling is hair.
And then Tyra says, “Do you know what acting the fool is?” Everyone looks confused, and the she launches into a reenactment of her infamous season-four meltdown, where she screamed at Tiffany. The girls and the other judges love it, and even though it’s literally just a recitation of lines from the show’s past, it feels like the most spontaneous, organic moment so far this season. Finally, Nastasia is declared the winner, and Victoria is told she’s going home. I think I’ve been hard on Victoria sometimes, but the truth is that she’s really just a kid away from home for the first time. She shouldn’t be faulted much for that.
Next week, a waterfall photo shoot quickly deteriorates into near-waterboarding!