With only three models remaining, emotions run high and tears flow freely.

Here they are, ladies and gentleladies, your Cycle 16 finalists. In the penultimate episode, the show sloughed off yet another model, and the remaining three became three times one minus one. Since I’ve hated spoilers ever since someone once revealed to me that Bruce Willis turns out to be a sled, I won’t include one in this first paragraph. Let’s just say that “Whitney” and “Holly” made it to the season finale, while, um, “Bananah” didn’t.

The episode started out with a brief reflection on Alexandria’s departure. The girls called her “Lex,” which was the first time I’d ever heard them do that. I’m presuming that it refers to the similarities in personality between her and Lex Luthor. We got a rundown of each girl’s driving motivation for competing, just in case we had somehow forgotten the single defining set of circumstances that the Top Model editors have decided to dwell on ad infinitum. So, Brittani is still stuck in a trailer park, Molly is still struggling with being abandoned by her biological parents, and Hannah doesn’t particularly like Houston. In the immortal words of philosopher C. Monster, one of these things is not like the other things.

Strangely enough, the show waited until this episode to give Hannah a character trait all her own. Sure, it was primarily that she cries more than Glenn Beck chopping onions, but at least that’s better than nothing at all. Molly continued to be her wonderfully sarcastic self, even while opening up about her abandonment issues to Dr. Tyra, the least qualified therapist in the world. In Brittani’s words, “Molly doesn’t make lemonade out of lemons.” Well, duh, she just eats them raw. That’s why she’s always making that sour face.

Speaking of citrus, Jay’s fake tan is quickly turning him into an orange. He showed up at the apartment as Lara Spencer, former host of The Insider, tasked the remaining three contestants with rolling up their sleeves and doing some good old-fashioned journalism. Like Woodward and Bernstein, they’d be hitting the streets, raking some muck, and tracking down the facts and figures that people everywhere are dying to find out. Specifically, what exactly are kohl, henna, and argan oil? Next up on Top Model News, an outbreak of fierceness on a commuter train this morning left five dead and 18 wounded. Hats at 11.

The girls split up to cover their individual beats, with Molly hitting up a pharmacy to discuss kohl and Brittani taking the topic of henna from Hannah, who was off to find some Argan-nauts. Hannah mentioned that she’d actually studied to be a journalist in school, proving true that models aren’t always the smartest bunch. (Which reminds me, if anyone would like to buy a journalism degree for cheap, contact me. Near-mint condition, barely used.) Brittani had difficulty finding anyone who could speak English, although I suspect it was more a question of finding people who didn’t mind being yelled at while a crew stuck cameras wildly in their faces.

Brittani’s 60-second spot was easily the worst, as she stumbled over every other word so awkwardly that the Boom Goes the Dynamite guy probably could have given her pointers. Molly, who won the challenge, was scarily natural on camera and sounded almost professional. Hannah was somewhere in between, although her piece abruptly cut to black midsentence like a Sopranos finale.

NEXT: Scenes from a marriage

The producers must have noticed that no one had had a good cry in a while—with the exception of Hannah, who cried when she lost, when she won, when a waiter messed up her order, when she heard they canceled Medium, when someone told her that she cries too much, etc.—so they sent in Tyra to play the role of analrapist. Molly shed tears when she started talking about being adopted, Brittani lost it at the thought of her mother’s agoraphobia and their life in the trailer park, and Hannah cried probably because she was thinking about the Houston Rockets or something.

Tyra took them all into the backyard, promising, “I’m gonna shoot you guys!” Well, I guess that’s one way to end a season, although then what would they do for the finale? Oh, wait, she meant with a camera! Ahhh. With the help of some makeup and handfuls of hair grease, Tyra fixed up the models as they sat scared and helpless like a young boy whose older sister has decided she wants to make him over. Then Tyra had them practice moving their hips and necks in an absurd series of movements worthy of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

Later, a Tyra Mail arrived asking, “Are you really committed? Because you will be tomorrow!” Perhaps Tyra had completed her psychiatric evaluations from earlier and decided everyone was to be locked up in the rubber room.

Nope, instead the girls were to pose with a male model for the first time this cycle, pretending that they had just gotten hitched. The male model was named Younis. (Until I looked it up, I was positive they were calling him Eunice.) Brittani told him that he smelled nice, which is a totally normal, not weird thing to say to someone the first time you meet him, along the lines of “I collect roadkill” or “Yes, yes, your skull is just the right size!” One of the stylists remarked, “I want Molly today with a lot of hair,” clearly demonstrating that she had gleaned nothing from the terrible lessons of the past. After a few uninteresting poses, Brittani pulled a page from Hannah’s book and made her face start leaking, which Jay loved. All three seemed to be following the same narrative of being trapped in a marriage that they didn’t want. Poor Younis. None of his wives appreciated him.

NEXT: As tears go by…

Ivan Bart of IMG sat with Nigel, Tyra, and André Leon Talley at the judges’ table. Hannah told them that she had come to the life-altering realization that her emotional tendencies weren’t a weakness, but rather a strength that she could draw on in times of trouble. To which they responded, “Nope, not really.” When discussing her photo, André Leon Talley only talked about the belt she was wearing…actually, I’m pretty sure André Leon Talley only talked about belts this entire episode. What’s going on? Are his wizard garments from last season no longer fitting? Do his immaculately tailored pants keep falling down?

Molly’s pictures were great as usual, but Bart said that she needs to work on the “psychic feeling” that she gives out. Seriously? Does anyone have any statistics on exactly what percentage of things said in the fashion industry make no sense whatsoever? I’m guessing it’s somewhere around the 101 percent they keep asking the models to give. The judges also said they liked one of Brittani’s photos because she was crying, which just made Hannah cry harder.

For the third week in a row, Molly took home best picture, setting her up as the favorite to win the whole shebang. Hannah was sent home, gasping in between long, racking sobs that she doesn’t understand why people think she’s too emotional. And thus we were presented our final two contestants, Brittani and Molly, who will fight it out next week in the finale for the right to be called America’s Next Top Winner of America’s Next Top Model.

Who will take home the title? Only time and the unpredictable whims of André Leon Talley will tell. I’m just amazed that this show has somehow made it to a 16th season, with a 17th already lined up. I think I’m going to take this coming week to try to come up with my own hit show using the same formula and then sit back and watch the cash roll in. Which would you rather watch: a show about sports stores called America’s Next Top Modell’s or a competition among toymakers called America’s Next Model Top? Don’t worry, you can say both.

Episode Recaps

Trya Banks
America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel

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