America's Next Top Model
Credit: Ryan Goble/The CW

Dudes. If this wasn’t straight-up the worst episode of Top Model ever, I don’t know what was. Really and truly: I think this was rock bottom. Which is maybe good, because that means next week (and next cycle, I guess? hope?) will have to be better, and that gives us all something to look forward to. But for now, we’ll have to do the difficult — the nearly unthinkable, really — and look back, back, back into the bleak abyss that was this week’s episode. I call it H-to-B recapping: head to barf.

On the way back from last week’s elimination, Erin’s Wisconsin accent takes steroids and becomes a helldemon sent here to warn us of the danger ahead. But do we heed this warning? We do not. Instead, Nicole tells us solemnly that Erin “does not have the mentality” for modeling, too concerned is she with others’ opinions. Nicole says she sees herself in the final two with Jen; I wonder if her Bloody Eyeball can see into the future! (Spoiler: It can’t.)

Laura again mentions her history of bull castration, which is getting a little boring, and Jennifer complains that she doesn’t “usually succeed” in what she tries. Uhoh, Jennifer; there’s about to be a new page in your shame journal. Sorry.

This week’s challenge: hula hip-hop. As a faithful follower of America’s Best Dance Crew, I have seen many a dance genre combined with other genres, but I can say with confidence that hula hip-hop is just hula dancing followed by hip-hop dancing. It’s not much of a blend, and I’m convinced that there’s no actual music playing while that group of cheerful women dance. Where would the music be coming from? They’re standing in a park. I did not see any kind of boombox (OMG I’m so old) or speakers or anything. [Note: I think we were all more interested in where this music could possibly be coming from than we were in the actually dancing, right? Right.]

The contestants are asked to learn a short routine and then do dance solos, because dancing is super important in modeling; in years past, I’ve never heard Tyra criticize a photo for looking too dance-inspired, or to tell a girl to think more like a model or less like a dancer. Never, never. Just kidding! Ugh. Erin boasts about her “semi dance background” as a high school cheerleader, which she then tries to rub in everyone’s face by “tuh-RIII-eng” (whine translation: trying) to help them. I’m the worst dancer ever — just ask the bartender of any bar I’ve, oh, ever been to — but even I would not accept Erin’s sulky, obnoxious instruction. Also, it’s tough to learn a dance not in front of a mirror. I’ve seen A Chorus Line! I know things!

Jennifer is up first, and she makes faux sexyface the whole awkward time; Erin is gawky and skeletal; Laura is ebullient if somehow off; and Nicole is just plain awful. Laura wins, and as a prize gets a five-day trip back here to lovely Hawaii, and she decides to bring Jennifer. When they said “bring a friend,” I thought they meant a friend from home, which would be a vastly superior prize, no offense Jennifer’s paralyzed eye. There’s a valuable lesson here, Model watchers: If you gently rub aloe on a friend’s legs when she’s so sunburned she could credibly go to an emergency room for treatment, she may return the favor by taking you on a paradise vacation. Suck it, French braids! Suck it.

At the photoshoot, Mr. Jay and his surprisingly muscular legs tell the ladies that two of them will be eliminated this week. Drama! (Oh, if only.) Nicole correctly calculates — without the help of eliminated mathematician Brittany — that that’s half the remaining girls. Don’t worry, Nicole. Don’t you worry. This week’s theme is Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes according to the show, and of volcanoes, fire, lightning, dance, and violence, according to other sources. The shoot embodies this by putting the girls in, er, flowy dresses and having them stand on a rock at the beach. Because it’s about timing! Wait, what?

Jennifer bombs because she insists on retaining the “Barbie feet” lesson from last week, which apparently does not translate to this week’s shoot. Nicole crushes it (even the photographer says “Jay just peed his pants”), Laura looks much blonder than she did at the beginning of the episode, and Erin sings a song in her head. She says it’s a “pop song like teenagers listen to,” which I guess would sound disparaging had she not spent so much time reminding us that she’s 18.

At judging, the ladies can’t seem to agree on how formal they’re supposed to dress. Nicole is wearing like, a cocktail dress, while Erin is in schlubby shorts, and Laura is called out for dressing badly, even though she’s wearing a plain t-shirt, Tyra delivers the news while wearing a blousey beige jumpsuit. If there’s a more unflattering, hideous garment on Earth, I can only assume that’s what she’ll wear next week. (Please not jeggins. Please…not…jeggings…). Anyway, modeltestants, it’s called a consensus, please feel free to reach one.

Erin’s photo is very pretty, though the judges find her “disingenuous.” Jennifer’s photo is kinda bad, and in addition to her paralyzed eye, it seems she has a paralyzed lower jaw. Laura is deemed Sports Illustrated, but she just looked stunned to me. And too shiny. Nicole’s photo is gorgeous, obvs, and she looks a little bit like Becki Newton to these tired eyes.

Tyra then confuses “easy” and “hard.” Or maybe she just doesn’t know what “editing” means. She complains that Erin’s photos weren’t easy to edit, because they were so crappy except for the one really good shot. Which actually means that they were incredibly easy to edit — no muss, no worry; you know exactly which one to pick. That’s easy, Tyra. To be a challenge, there would have to be too many good options. Maybe if Tyra spent less time coining and trademarking meaningless phrases and more time focusing on what the phrases we already have actually already mean, we’d, I don’t know, find the rainbow connection or something.

This week’s winner: Nicole! Tyra claims Laura is “not amazing” in person, which is a dirty lie, but she emerges victorious — and weepy — anyway. In bidding farewell to Erin and Jennifer, Tyra promises she’ll never forget the photoshoot where Jennifer asked “‘can I breath?’,” which is great, except that she asked if she could scream, so Tyra has clearly already forgotten it. Ahaha, that Tyra.

I was a little sad to see Jennifer get autotune yodel’d off (not you, Erin!), but then her montage of sadness was atrocious: Her mouth hangs open in every single shot, and we all know that paralyzed eye was going to slow her down eventually.

So here we are with the final two: Kenneth the Page and Fake Julia Stiles. Who are you pulling for, PopWatchers? And are you with me on this being the worst-ever episode of ANTM?

Episode Recaps

Trya Banks
America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel

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