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'America's Next Top Model' recap: Freak out!

April 7, 2011 |  8:12 am


If drama is the fuel for "America’s Next Top Model," this week had enough of it to power a small city. Not only did Alexandria finally provoke Brittani and the rest of the house into a full-on junior high-level battle, but Tyra revealed a surprising amount about her disagreements with the other judges. This episode proved once and for all that Tyra doesn’t have veto power, and that attitude rarely actually gets you sent home. Plus, somewhere in there, we saw Nigel Barker with hair — and it looked pretty good. 

Alexandria has been deliciously terrible for a while, but for the last two weeks you couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. Monique was the nasty brat last week, and this week the editing made Brittani’s attack on Monique look more villainous than courageous. It’s not the challenges bringing them down, its Alexandria’s psychological warfare. 

The incident that broke the thin veil of politeness holding the women together was, of course, a photo shoot. They arrived home post-panel to find all kinds of swag from Ford’s Warriors in Pink campaign to benefit breast cancer victims. The gist of the ensuing photo shoot was to pose as one of seven symbols that represent breast cancer warriors — a worthy cause, certainly, but it made for a muddled challenge. The symbols seemed to be culled from "Captain Planet" and assorted children’s books: Brittani had “dove,” Kasia got “heart,” and, most confusingly, Mikaela got “war paint.” The trouble started when Brittani seemed to falter at embodying a dove, however you do that, and Nigel asked her what she was thinking. Unlike the rest of the women, who were concentrating on loved ones or, as Jaclyn put it, on “beating the crap out of breast cancer,” Brittani had a much more poetic approach. “I have no words for what I do,” she told Nigel. Wrong answer. As Brittani sulked in the corner, Alexandria won the challenge, nabbing a spot in a national PSA and — here’s the kicker — a new car. 

If eye-daggers actually worked, Alexandria would have been a pin cushion right about then. Brittani could contain her bile no longer, and started ranting to the other girls, who rolled their eyes in general agreement. Alexandria overheard and objected, which only made Brittani curse more. Unfortunately for her, Nigel and the rest of the crew were also present, and, well, that’s not great professional behavior. 

In the most appropriate possible main challenge, the models each had to act like deranged fashionistas on the set of "Psycho" in the Universal Studios backlot. “You have to literally go crazy for accessories,” Mr. Jay instructed, and never did being a hot, insane mess work quite so well for some of the models. The photos that resulted weren’t as striking as I hoped, but I loved Jaclyn’s weird Prince-inspired turn as a makeup junkie, and, to quote Tyra, the “sensuality and lunacy” in Molly’s picture. And it probably wouldn’t have mattered if the photos had models being eaten by lions — all eyes this week were on Alexandria and Brittani. 

Once Nigel opened up the can of worms that was the Ford photo shoot, Alexandria stood weepy-eyed while Brittani flailed around and Tyra lectured her on professionalism on set. “The opposite of fake is rudeness,” Tyra wisely noted, and Brittani fled the stage crying. Luckily for her, the other judges thought her strong performance to date was worth another chance. Tyra disagreed — but was overruled. Jaclyn got first photo, Brittani stayed by a whisker, and Mikaela got sent home. What was this new-found transparency at the judge’s table? And who’s going to turn out on top now? I still have hopes for Brittani, but if Alexandria stays much longer, she might just spontaneously combust. And what did you think about the commercial with Nigel Barker’s oddly luscious hair?

--Margaret Eby

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Photo: Alexandria at the Ford photo shoot

Credit: Chris Frawley/The CW