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'America's Next Top Model' recap: Bugging out

March 3, 2011 |  8:56 am

TM1602_05_HAN_1 After last week’s unorthodox beginning, “America’s Next Top Model” settled into its old habits this week.

Those weepy back stories we didn’t get last week started seeping out, and the intra-housemate bickering began. But rather than simply leading to the normal model confessional breakdowns, the heart-wrenching personal background of one model led to a somewhat unusual, if not all that interesting, elimination.

We began in the house, where some needless fighting was already stewing over the proper way to store raw chicken. Tyra appeared sporting a chef's hat and an unconvincing French accent to introduce the ladies to her personal nutritionist and run down some healthy eating guidelines. It’s pretty unusual for her to do a non-challenge-related visit to the girls so early in the season, and I suspect that concerns raised about the skeletal physique of last cycle’s winner had something to do with it.

Tyra traipses away and leaves the girls to discuss amongst themselves. Right off the bat we learned that Molly’s big issue is her adoption, and that Ondrei’s brother was recently murdered. Ondrei stumbles through the episode, but it’s clear that her heart isn’t in it. In one of the more emotionally healthy decisions in the history of the show, Ondrei tells the judges that she needs to leave to be with her family. Tyra, after expressing her condolences, throws in a wild card: If Ondrei’s photo was the worst this week, no one else will be eliminated. But if it’s not, someone’s going home.

The challenges this episode were pretty weak overall. The first one wasn’t so much of a challenge as a group therapy session, in which all the girls had to draw a version of their “inner critic” and then tearily yell at the paintings to help overcome their emotional failures. It was pretty painful to watch, even if Nigel did administer a group hug at the end. 

Things at the photo shoot got a little more dangerous — and entertaining — when Mr. Jay announced that part of modeling involves “doing something drastic sometimes.” In this case, the drastic measures were introducing a whole lot of honeybees on set. The models, ears and nostrils stuffed with cotton, had to pose with jewelry that had bee-attracting pheromones painted on it.

Posing with weird bugs isn’t an unusual "Top Model" challenge, though: Season 3 had the contestants dealing with tarantulas crawling over them, and Season 6 had the ladies working the runway with a Madagascan hissing cockroach in tow. After all that, bees seem kind of tame.

The photo shoot went boringly well for everyone. No one even got stung. Hanna had a minor breakdown, but mostly due to peer pressure and not to posing with stinging insects.

In the end, it came down to whether Ondrei’s picture — which wasn’t great, but wasn’t total dreckitude — would send someone else home. I was fairly impressed with the shots this week in general, but there were still a few weak ones. Hanna, tears glistening through the shot, won best picture, followed by Brittani, who I had honestly forgot existed for most of the episode. The worst two photos came from Nicole, who continued to look 15 years too old in her photos, and Dayla, whose only good picture came from having her eyes closed.

As it turned out, Ondrei’s picture wasn’t at the bottom: Nicole’s was. Two down, 11 to go.

Let’s hope things get more interesting from here. And next week: makeovers! Any predictions? I’m hoping that at least one model gets ridiculous hair extensions, and I’m rooting for Sara. 


Complete ShowTracker coverage of 'America's Next Top Model'

-- Margaret Eby

Photo: Hanna poses with bees. Credit: Pottle Productions Inc.