It's product placement and animals galore as the models fight to be in the final eight.

By Keith Staskiewicz
March 24, 2011 at 05:40 AM EDT
Baldomero Fernandez/Pottle Productions Inc/The CW
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This installment of Top Model recap is brought to you with limited commercial interruption by our friends at Home Depot and Melanie’s Cat Pajamas—where our cat pajamas are the cat’s pajamas!

You may notice that something is a little different this week. No, I’m not talking about the fact that my hair has more bounce and luster thanks to TRESemmé’s Volumizing Shampoo, or the renewed get-up-and-go I got from drinking a can of Face Punch Energy Drink—Get Puunnnnnched!™ Rather, I have been inspired by last night’s episode to make a little extra money through the magic of product placement. Sure, I know what you’re all thinking: “But Keith, you’re the last true bastion of journalistic integrity, the Edward R. Murrow of sassy hair jokes! And this is totally unethical!” To which I say, do you know what’s really unethical? How delicious Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is. I mean, it’s the cheesiest, people!

Like emotions and blood alcohol content, product placement on reality TV is heightened to almost ludicrous levels, and last night CoverGirl got their money’s worth. The first 20 minutes of the episode were essentially a single extended commercial for silky skin moisturizers and color-enhancing eyebrow pencils, and the word “CoverGirl” was mentioned more times than “dude” at a Big Lebowski-themed frat party. Much in the same way that Top Chef contestants really seem to love that Swanson broth and Jon & Kate Plus 8 was basically one long implicit advertisement for condoms, Top Model’s just trying to pay the bills.

As usual, we spent the requisite first few minutes establishing Alexandria’s meanness. By this point, all the other girls think she’s a monster, but calling Alexandria a monster is an insult to real monsters like Molly’s weave, which has returned from the grave and refuses to leave. Look, we should just accept, as Molly seems to have done, that nothing will be able to kill the Weave Beast. Here’s what I think happened: Tyra tried to get it booted like she said she would, but the Weave Beast responded by promptly devouring a cameraman and then gradually eating its way up the line of production until Tyra finally caved in and agreed to let it back on the show. Molly has taken to wrapping it in a purple turban that makes her look almost exactly like Professor Quirrell, which is apt since she too has a force of unstoppable evil growing on the back of her head. I’m pretty sure at one point I heard the weave growl, “Bring me the boy!”

NEXT: Easy, sleazy, beautiful…

At the challenge, the models were tasked with writing, producing, and performing in short ads for CoverGirl. So the girls put their heads together to figure out how to best showcase CoverGirl’s exclusive line of CoverGirl products, including CoverGirl NatureLuxe Silk Foundation, used by CoverGirl cover girls as well as CoverGirl’s CoverGirl CoverGirl, CoverGirl. Or at least that’s what it sounded like to me. Again, Alexandria went into total control mode, which is very similar to “yell angrily mode” and “hate puppies and rainbows mode.” Needless to say, she and her partners Monique and Molly exchanged some harsh words. I’ve noticed that every time there’s a hint of a fight among the girls, the Top Model sound editor dubs in gladiatorial horns that sound eerily like the Amok Time fight music from Star Trek. Which is awesome. I can only hope that at some point two of them will fight to the death, Trek-style, or at the very least a kind, loving, and reasonable Mirror version of Alexandria with a goatee will make an appearance.

Mikaela’s performance in her ad was actually surprisingly natural and convincing. Dalya, on the other hand, sounded like she was suffering from a complex migraine. “It almost feels smooth,” she commented wondrously, before anything was even applied. “It feels so silky like silk and it’s almost like I’m naked, but just my face is naked, like I’m face-naked but with smooth silk on it too,” she continued, mumbling incoherent nonsense about Smoky ShadowBlast eye shadow. (By the way, I’m planning to name my first child Smoky ShadowBlast because that is the best name in the history of names.) With Dalya’s free-association beat poem and Alexandria micromanaging her way to mediocrity, Mikaela’s team rightly took home the win.

After spending about four and a half episodes building Alexandria up into a worse person than Stalin and Simon Cowell combined, they decided to throw in 30 seconds or so of humanization. As Alexandria talked on the phone with her boyfriend—who, if he can put up with her, must be a better person than Jesus and Jim Henson combined—Monique snuck into her bedroom and read her diary, which is about as stupid/brave as sneaking into a she-bear’s den and pretending to steal a cub. We actually managed to get our hands on an excerpt from the diary:

Dearest Journal,

I apologize for neglecting you for nearly a fortnight. My own dilatory nature has been compounded by the difficulty I am having forcing my swirling maelstrom of emotions into the limiting strictures of words. O woe! This morn, not long after my morning perambulation, Molly had the utter temerity to snatch from my very grasp the towel I was using mere minutes earlier. I tried to calmly—as calmly as I could in the face of such outrageous injury—explain her error, but she reacted with a stubbornness equal only to that jenny Father used to keep on the farm. I mean, seriously, right? What a totes bee-yotch!

NEXT: If I ran the zoo…

Before anyone could get mauled to death by Alexandria, it was time for a trip to the zoo to possibly get mauled to death by another deadly animal. Luckily, it was the old L.A. zoo and not one of those depressing ones with, like, one mangy lion and a sick giraffe whose neck droops in a way that it probably shouldn’t. In appropriately animalistic fashion, the models were made up to look like raccoons in drag. They were going to be modeling Rachel Zoe fake fur (because killing a Rachel Zoe for its real fur is inhumane) while holding a painfully adorable baby jaguar named Murato. The stylists taped up everyone’s eyes, which was supposed to make them look more like “lionesses” but actually just ended up making them look like that scary Cat Lady.

Alexandria insisted that she loves animals, but didn’t specify whether she meant as pets or meals. Kasia was totally, utterly awkward with Murato and almost dropped him about five times. Please nobody hand that girl a baby. Somehow, among all of them, the jaguar was the one who growled and snarled the least. Go figure.

At the judges’ table Tyra hugged guest judge Zoe, towering about four feet above her. For her part, during the judging Zoe refrained from misapplying “literally,” although that may be because she was figuratively unable to get a word in edgewise among all of Tyra’s nonsensical quotes. Some choice cuts included “Grab on to the handlebars of fierceness and hold on” and “I’m the Queen of the Bad Weaves,” to which Molly’s hair responded by threateningly waving a tress at her, so she quickly shut up.

Most of the models’ photos looked a little awkward, especially Kasia’s, although the judging panel seemed to like it. In hers, Alexandria was either roaring at Murato or unhinging her jaw so that she could better swallow him. Either way, the judges were not very impressed. For once, Molly’s weave wasn’t the worst thing about her picture, and it was clear that she would probably end up in the bottom two when Tyra told her, “If you survive this week, I am yanking that weave out,” referring not to whether she would be eliminated but to whether her hair would permit her to live.

Hannah’s very neck-y photo won, while Brittani came in second. The individual elimination winners this season seem to be very mixed-up, so it’s hard to pick a favorite for the cycle even five episodes in. As we guessed, Molly was on the bottom, along with Dalya, whose bone structure Tyra continued to talk about so obsessively that I feared she actually wanted Dalya’s skull for her collection. Combined with the creepy assertion that “she’s not wearing her face, her face is wearing her,” it’s hard not to picture Tyra as some sort of haute couture Leatherface. Unfortunately, the empty spot on her bone mantel would have to remain empty: Molly was allowed to stay, and Dalya sadly shook her trophy skull and left.

Man, this season’s really sticking to the whole “boring” theme. I’m yawning as we speak, which just makes me want to reach for a steaming cup of Folgers coffee. It’s the best part of waking up and writing recaps. But now that I’m all done, I think I’m going to go rest on my Sealy Posturepedic mattress and maybe flip through the IKEA catalog. Ba-da-ba-ba-bah, I’m lovin’ it.

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel
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