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'America's Next Top Model': The contestants fight to stay on top

October 15, 2009 |  6:33 am
TM1307_9_NIC_REV2 This week’s “America’s Next Top Model” was all about fighting for what you want. Yet, before the actual challenges began, the contestants were already fighting one another.

Just because Bianca and Ashley are gone doesn’t mean that the "ANTM" “mean girls” went with them. In fact, Kara and Sundai seemed to double up on their efforts to make up for their fallen sisters. The object of their ridicule? Nicole (aka “Bloody-eyeball"), who is probably the most harmless girl in the bunch. OK, so Nicole isn’t the most boisterous person, but the fact is she has worked the camera consistently all season save for last week. The problem with being good is that expectations become inflated, and it's all that much more obvious when you falter. The real test comes in getting past that bad moment and fighting back. Nicole really didn’t do that badly last week, in my opinion, but of course the vultures began circling as soon as they saw a sign of weakness.

In the “go-see” challenge, the contestants were paired up and then tasked with hitting up five prospective clients in four hours. Any Angeleno knows that’s close to impossible. Shoot, getting from Hollywood to West Hollywood alone takes half an hour. To top it off, they had to drive themselves with only a road map for reference. The challenge would come down to speed and ingenuity. Despite the roadblocks, most of the gals fared well. Nicole seemed to have found her old self and looked gorgeous doing it. She even rocked a commercial audition, despite the fact that she comes off like she’s on prescription sedatives most of the time.

Brittany and Kara were hellbent on winning the challenge at all costs. At one point, Brittany refused to tell Nicole and her partner, Laura, where the client was located, despite the fact that they were just there. Nicole and Laura (who couldn’t figure out how to use a parking meter, but neither does half of L.A.) whizzed through three “go-sees” and were the first back to Wilhelmina. The only ones who didn’t make it back on time were Sundai and Rae. In a scene that was eerily similar to being called to the principal’s office, Wilhelmina President Sean Patterson gave the tardy pair a lecture and sent them to sit in the hallway. I’m pretty sure I saw Sundai giggle as she let herself out.

Patterson and petite model Lauren Shiohama then gave the girls some client feedback ...

I think the harshest comments were directed at Kara, who was told that she came off “scruffy” – a term I usually associate with orphaned puppies. I think a more appropriate way to describe her look that day would have been something like “a hot mess.”

In the photo challenge, Tyra and the show producers outdid themselves. I thought the big hair and fringe gowns in last week’s competition were gorgeous, but this week was pretty faboo, as well. The girls sported edgy kimono pantsuits, long extensions and donned the weapons of the ninja. Each of them got to choose their weapon of choice and received lessons on how they’re used. To top it off, part of the shoot required the girls to hang from wires.

Nicole definitely bounced back from last week’s bottom two. She was elegant and gorgeous even as those wires gave her “diaper rash.” Her words, not mine, people. Jennifer also did really well. Jay kept telling her that her face looked good (ptosis problem solved?), and the weapons worked for her.

TM1307b_0182b How did the “mean girls” do? Although Britney was a mess on the wires, Sundai just seemed awkward and uninspired. It was Kara, though, who seemed to be focusing on all the wrong things. To begin with, she was against the idea of posing with weapons. What was she concerned about? Offending ninjas? Earlier in the show, she vowed to direct her anger toward Nicole’s win in the “go-see” challenge into the photo shoot. That plan never materialized. Instead, as Mr. Jay said, “She just wasn’t present.”

Supermodel Jessica White joined the judging panel this week and helped name a very deserving Nicole the challenge winner. Sundai, whom the judges felt showed no creativity in her posing, and Kara, who just didn’t “bring it” in the photo shoot, were in the bottom two. At this point, I didn’t care who went. Neither one of them really impresses me.

So who leaves? Any “Top Model” fan knows that Tyra doesn’t put up with girls who wouldn’t give their firstborn to win this competition. In her mind, there are thousands of other women who would do anything to have the chance these ladies have. That’s especially true for a cycle that is giving shorter girls the opportunity of a lifetime. So, she gave Sundai a chance to find some new moves and sent Kara home. Of course, she didn’t let Kara go without asking, “Do you think you gave up a little bit?” The thing is, I don’t think Kara gave up. I think she was so busy being battling everyone else that she forgot to reserve some fight for herself.

Nicole is still my front-runner for top model. Who’s yours?

-- Jethro Nededog (follow me on Twitter @TheRealJethro)

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Photos, from top: Nicole flies high in this week's winning photo on "America's Next Top Model." Credit: Patricia Von Ah / Pottle Productions Inc. Kara loses her fight for the "Top Model" title. Credit: Michael Desmond / The CW