The eight models are divided along hair-color lines as the blondes and the brunettes fight it out.

By Keith Staskiewicz
March 31, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT
Chris Frawley/The CW
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Ah, the age-old battle between blonde and brunette. Marilyn Monroe or Jane Russell? Betty or Veronica? Lady Gaga or Stefani Germanotta? There are pros and cons to either side: On one hand, gentlemen prefer blondes, but on the other, awesome, laser-watch-toting British agents prefer brunettes. And while blondes have more fun, brunettes are better at more practical matters, like single-handedly screwing in lightbulbs. To be honest, we may never know who will ultimately win this follicular feud, but one thing is clear: It probably won’t be gingers.

The judges have somehow managed to produce a final eight composed entirely of white girls—probably in honor of White History Month, which runs from March 1 to January 31—and which is further split evenly between the two hair colors, so naturally they decided to dredge up old high school enmities and pit them against one another. There was also another major hair development: This was the week when we finally said goodbye to one of this cycle’s most compelling characters. Farewell, Weave Beast, you were too good for this world. All you did was attach yourself to a model, absorb half of her cerebellum, eat two cameramen and a key grip, and threaten Tyra’s family, and suddenly they’re throwing you out in the garbage along with all the pleading letters home Tyra has been intercepting. I’d like to think that you’re in a better place now, running happily in open pastures with other weaves, occasionally being worn by the ghost of Rick James.

Tyra showed up at the house for the first time in about three or four episodes, finally dispelling my theory that she actually lives under the judges’ table. She explained to the contestants that being a model is all about being yourself, especially if yourself is exactly like everyone else. In the spirit of easy taxonomy, she assigned “archetypes” to each of them. Unsurprisingly, these archetypes also tended to match up with the well-known archetypes of reality shows (albeit without “Insane Screaming Frankenstein”), so Jaclyn was branded a Girl Next Door, while Alexandria was called edgy, because like certain sharp edges, she…will…cut…you.  There were more “bombshells” than a military depot, and Brittani was labeled “couture,” which, based on the image of Sessilee Lopez they used, means you’re willing to wear bows larger than the average Newfoundland on your head.

NEXT: I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna learn how to fly!Fame! If you’re going to be a Top Model winner, you’re going to have to learn how to deal with being swarmed by literally tens of fans asking for your autograph, or at the very least asking you to please stop strutting around the store if you’re not going to buy anything, because you’re upsetting the other customers. Tyra outlined the burdens of being a famous face, including talking on the phone to complete strangers. Monique acutely observed, “There are just a lot of weird people in the world. I can’t imagine what Tyra goes through.” True that. It is tough to imagine what it would be like to be a weird person like Tyra. She summed up by telling the models that in order to truly be prepared for the spotlight, she has to be ready “for them to throw roses at me and darts.” Oh please oh please let that be this week’s challenge please oh please oh please.

Oh, man. Instead of an awesome game of Rose Darts, we ended up with a simple meet-and-greet with the models’ biggest fans. Wait, what’s that? Nobody knows who they are? And who would take time out of their day to meet them? Only crazy, creepy people who live in basements filled with empty aquariums and disassembled doll parts, you say? Why, that’s ridiculous. In fact, let me introduce you to my friend James. A totally normal, healthy, all-American boy. I mean, sure, he looks like he’s losing his hair in his late 20s and possesses the thousand-yard dead-eyed stare of a man who has seen some terrible, terrible things on the Internet, but don’t judge a book by his cover. Just look at him, the charming devil, trying to steal a kiss and get the models’ phone numbers. And home addresses. And times they would be most vulnerable to a kidnapping. And scream decibel levels.

Okay, fine, maybe James isn’t the most stable example, and maybe he yells at a stuffed moose head he calls “Mother.” Monique, who was totally over dealing with the unwashed masses, fobbed a promised kiss for James off on Alexandria, who finally gave in, earning her a place in James’ heart and a shrine in his utility room. Thus the humanization of Alexandria was complete. All of a sudden she was no longer the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad model we all loved to hate, but just a moderately annoying one. It was like when you found out that Roger Klotz lived in a trailer park with his divorced mom and suddenly you started to feel for him even though he was still a jerk. I wouldn’t be surprised if she told us that she got only a carton of cigarettes for Christmas this year.

Monique, on the other hand, between reading Alexandria’s diary last week and her constant eye-rolling this week, has quickly risen through the ranks of the league of villainy, which made it all the more sweet when the ultrafriendly Kasia won and got to take Jaclyn and Brittani with her for dinner at an upscale restaurant. Of course, upscale in this case meant someplace on the level of P.F. Chang’s, but this is Top Model we’re talking about. They don’t have money to just throw around. If they did, they would have already had the models pose for photos while throwing money around. They’re not particularly imaginative this cycle.

NEXT: Blonde on blonde on blonde on blonde…The models returned to Smashbox Studios, where we can only hope Smash Mouth and Matchbox Twenty will record their much-unanticipated collaboration. Photographer Jonathan Mannion—who actually kinda looks like the lead singer of Smash Mouth—split them up into blondes and brunettes to be shot together while caked in dirt and mud. Because there’s no better way to model clothes than with the clothes completely covered by schmutz.

The four non-blondes pulled off the better image, because they at least had mildly varied body posture. The towheaded group ended up with something akin to a very awkward Mount Rushmore, with Alexandria as a hunchbacked, fish-mouthed Abe Lincoln. At judging, Mikaela was critiqued for putting her energy in her mouth and not her eyes and failing to hold on to the handlebars of fierceness, leaving her likely to go flying headfirst off the velocipede of fierceness and into the oncoming traffic of fierceness. Again, Kasia’s uncomfortable positioning somehow not only managed to go by unnoticed, but she actually grabbed runner-up.

Brittani won the whole shebang by donning a new hairstyle and dominating the brunette photo. Despite her own not-so-great performance, Alexandria slipped through to safety, although not before Andre Leon Talley took his finely manicured talons to her outfit. I’m sorry, but someone wearing a black polo shirt and a suede fedora only recently bereft of an enormous bouncing shaving brush does not get to pass judgment on the clothing combinations of others. Heal thyself, fashionista.

Monique and Mikaela, both brunettes, were on the chopping block. And while Mikaela’s image was clearly the weakest, Tyra told Monique that she was on the bottom because she was too often in the middle and not on the bottom enough. Yay, tautology! In the end, the judges chose to keep the terrifying lows and the dizzying highs instead of the creamy middles and sent the newly minted mean girl home.

That leaves us to wonder, with Alexandria almost done making the full transition into a real girl and Monique gone, who will be our antagonist? My guess is that Jaclyn’s giggly demeanor and Chipette voice is actually masking a brilliant mastermind of evil who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Bwahahahahahahahaha! (Imagine that maniacal laugh in Jaclyn’s voice for the full effect.)

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Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel
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