After wobbling on conveyor belts, the ladies step into the ring with some luchadors. Sure, that makes sense.

By Margaret Lyons
October 07, 2010 at 03:54 AM EDT
Mathieu Young/The CW
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What a strange season of Top Model. I keep telling people that this cycle is good, but now I’m starting to wonder: Have I lost my mind? This week’s episode chugged along just fine, but scene-to-scene, nothing really made sense. Why are the women just getting to know each other? Why are there men at the challenge? Why is any of this happening? Why is Tyra toying with us, Model Behaviorists?

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little. We opened with Kacey complaining that it’s “hard to stand up by yourself against a group of bitches who clearly don’t like you,” so she decided she wanted to play a get-to-know-you game with everyone. Chris was skeptical, but acquiesced: “Play the reindeer games, Rudolph! Come on!” Line of the season nominee, folks. I find it suspicious that Kacey initiated this game, and I find the idea that all the women thought “well, okay” to be a little suspect as well. I shall file this complaint at the Reality Show Bogus Premises office.

The women talked about their backgrounds, and Liz said that when she was “pregnant, and alone, and in a homeless shelter,” she wanted to die. Yikes. This confession was awkwardly contrasted with Jane mentioning that her dad’s a “lung doctor,” and everyone ooohing and aaahing that Jane was rich. Take-home message? Tyra brings people together.

Challenge time! Ms. Jay was back in last week’s horror get-up, which again, no one mentioned. Perhaps they’d been coached not to mention the weird outfits, but surely one of them noticed that Ms. Jay doubled up, no? I mean, topknot, headband, drawn-on caterpillar brows, blazer, skirt, pants, pointy shoes? No one recognized this ensemble from rollercoaster day? (Also, yes, I cross-checked the ladies’ outfits — they did not appear to be wearing the same thing. And Rhianna wasn’t there. So… QED, it was not the same day.)

The challenge was this: The ladies had to wear swanky gowns and then walk on conveyor belts. Later, men also walked on the conveyor belts. Why were the men there? Why do we call certain dishes “salad,” when we really just mean “there’s mayonnaise in this”? (I’m looking at you, tuna and chicken.) Sometimes there is no why.

This challenge was basically a glammy version of Wipeout. All the women struggled to walk on the conveyor belts, though some struggled more mightily than others. (Liz cursed, which was awesome, Kendal’s shoe fell off, and Esther stumbled off the end.) What was strange was that one belt was operating treadmill style, meaning the women had to walk double-time to move forward, but the other was operating moving-sidewalk style, meaning the women could just stand still. Again, why? People need to fear and respect those conveyor belts.

Who won this bizarre and sadistic challenge? Uh, Kacey. Who then screamed the way a group of sixth grade girls scream when they see a bee: freakishly loudly, with extra annoyingness. Ugh, I’m siding with Lexie on this one. Kacey is grating.

NEXT: A super-hot nutritionist shows up! (Sort of.)

Back at the house, Andre came over with Karolina Kurkova to teach the girls about nutrition. I’m sure Karolina is terrifically healthy, but if the goal was to really impart some knowledge, couldn’t they have brought in a nutritionist? How about instead of making smoothies (put fruit in a blender! how novel!), Karolina show everyone how to walk the runway, or pose in a bathing suit but not look too skanky? Give a woman a smoothie, and she eats for a day. Give a woman a lesson in how to be a model, and she barely eats for a lifetime.

Later, Kacey and Lexie had fight that I cannot bring myself to care about. The best part of the screaming match, which eventually included Liz getting up in Kacey’s face, was Esther patiently sitting on the bed raising her hand. Yes, Esther, do you have something you want to share with the class(less)?

Off to the photoshoot, where Kacey was excited to “box somebody.” Alas, the women were posing with wrestlers, not boxers, so she had to save up her punching urges for later. The co-models this week were a few luchadores from Lucha Va-Voom, complete with silly masks and spandex outfits. (If you don’t have a Halloween costume yet, consider luchador!) The producers were obviously having a little fun this week, because the chyron for Shamu Jr. read “not really a whale.” Hee. Somebody, give that lady or gent a raise.

This week’s photogs were Moshe and Eddie Brakha, who were more in-your-face than any previous photographers. Everyone was decked out like an ’80s glam rocker from Second Life, who are well known for their domination of Mexican-style wrestlers. Again, I wonder why. Why ’80s outfits? Why punky glam? Why lucha libre? Why do these things go together? Why everything?

Liz had some unfortunate Kate Gosselin-on-crack hair, and she had a hard time dealing with the photographers and Mr. Jay all giving her directions. Kendal was extremely sweaty, which must have meant she was working hard, unlike Jane, who was pathetically wimpy. I can’t tell who Jane looks like, other than Katie Couric, but it’s someone squinty and pouty. Help me out, folks.

Esther sort of reminded me of Judy Nails from Guitar Hero, and Chelsey reminded me of Juicy Judy Nails from Drag Queen Hero. (What I wouldn’t give for DQH….). Kayla and Kayla’s absurd mohawk talked about being the first lesbian top model, but it was hard to take her seriously, what with her absurd coif. Kacey had a similar fate: Her shizztalk seemed hilarious because she was decked out like faux-goth Party Monster extra reject.

Chris tried her best — including jumps! — but Ann totally crumbled under the pressure on set. Noooooo! Ann! Don’t cry! We all still love you very much! She didn’t know how to angrily hold a chicken mask, I guess. Too bad Karolina spent all that time on smoothies, and none of it on how to angrily hold lycra chicken masks. Lexie’s Dolly Parton by way of early ’00s Kelly Osbourne outfit was not doing her any favors, and Mr. Jay got a little Mr. Grumpy Gills on her.

NEXT: Who loves ya, Kacey?

Back at the house, the women had shelves and shelves of cookies. I couldn’t give a flying rat’s airy, hairy ass about what these contestants eat, but after making a big deal about Anamarie’s weight, and then making everyone endure a smoothie lecture (show me again how they go in a blender, Karolina), it seemed sort of weird that the modelhaüs had both a row of Pepperidge Farm cookies and a row of cookies in jars. Cookie Town USA.

Off to panel, where Kacey was wearing a shirt that said “I [heart] me.” At least someone does, Kacey. This week’s guest judge was Karolina Kurkova, who got essentially no screen time. First up: Kendal. She looked gorgeous, but her photo was just okay thanks to weak body language. Lexie’s photo was even more blah, and the closeup showed a total deadface. Agh, just when I was starting to come around to her. Esther and Chelsey’s photos were both solid, and then it was Ann’s turn. She sheepishly approached the judges, and sighed that she didn’t do her best at the shoot — that she felt she had let the photographers and Mr. Jay down. The judges then revealed her photo and it was amazing! They all died over how great her photo was, and their sad zombified ghosts had to conduct the rest of the judging. The coroner’s report will say “cause of death: Ann’s awesomeness,” and the police will know not to investigate, because that is not suspicious at all. “You created magic,” they raved. So true, ghost panel!

Jane’s photo was uninspired, and Nigel dinged her for doing a classic “porn” pose, which he then demonstrated. Leaning back = porny. Leaning forward = fashiony. Scoliosis! It’s so hot right now. Scoliosis. (Paging Deenie! Just when you thought I couldn’t squeeze another Judy Blume reference into a recap, you were wrong.)

Chris’s jumping photo wowed the judges, but it’s a distant second to Elyse in cycle 1’s jumping photo. The judges didn’t like Kayla’s outfit at panel, but they did like her photo, which was pretty fantastic. They didn’t like Liz’s outfit, either, and Nigel made fun of the modeltestants for wearing cocktail dresses to judging. Liz’s photo was kind of grotesque, but the judges were into it.

I, however, was more into the sound effects on this episode. Kacey winked during the runway show, complete with the “gling!” cartoon sound, and she winked again at panel, again, with the sound. Even if segment to segment, this episode didn’t make a ton of sense, these little moments cracked me the hell up. Kacey’s photo was blah, much to Lexie’s delight. Enjoy that schadenfreude while it lasts, Lexie.

Tyra’s asymmetrical white dress might be pretty in other contexts, but here it just looked like the toilet-paper dresses people make at cliched bridal showers. And the uneven hem paired with opaque black tights? I don’t even know who the bad-outfit pots and kettles are anymore. (That said, her highlights remain divine. I want those highlights.)

This week’s winner: Ann! It’s a Top Model first, you guys! The other contestants looked a little annoyed, but I could barely see them because I was doing my dance of joy. Typing “!!!!!!!!!!!!!” in my notes qualifies as a dance, right? In second place: Chris, who started crying.

Chelsey, Kayla, Liz, Esther, Kacey, and Kendal were safe. Would Jane and Lexie please step forward? Tyra said Lexie didn’t look “invested” in her photos, but I think the bigger issue was that she didn’t look good in them. I don’t think fashion editors care that the models care — they care that the models look right. Either way, though, Lexie was sent packing, and the incredibly boring Jane got to model another day. Just when I was starting to like Faux Tisdale/Hilary Duff. Sigh.

Would you have made the same decision, Model Behaviorists? Sound off in the comments!

DON’T MISS: Embedded below, listen to the first edition of EW.com’s TV Insiders podcast. Dalton Ross, Michael Slezak, Michael Ausiello (who also gives his picks for best and worst new show of the new season), Jeff “Doc” Jensen, and Annie Barrett break down the week in television—including our picks for DWTS frontrunners—and present it to you in an easily digestible audio format. Or click here to download TV Insiders to your MP3 player!

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Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel
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