The final four models try to step up their game as they model out-there outfits in a Dutch field in front of a windmill

By Mandi Bierly
Updated November 13, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST
Russell James/The CW

America's Next Top Model

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‘America’s Next Top Model’ recap: Three’s company

This was an episode of America’s Next Top Model tailor made for me: an insane but practical teach, lots of romantic comedy (Mark Vanderloo! Marjorie gets proposed to in a bathtub!), and plenty of Paulina. I just wish the photo shoot had been as compelling as the rest of it. And that Sam had gone home instead of Marjorie. Oh, I said it!

Let’s skip over Sam “Hoo-hoo-hoo”ing like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, wearing her hair like Pebbles from The Flintstones, and performing a bad cartwheel, and let’s pick the action up at Paulina’s school of silent modeling. This lesson should’ve been administered way earlier in the competition. Paulina said she was teaching the girls how to “incorporate your senses into selling wordlessly,” but what she really was doing was asking them to live the moment and find their motivation. See that bucket of herring? “Smell it! Smell it! Smell it!” Sure, McKey sniffed at it like a puppy pushing something away with its nose, but then she busted out with her most eloquent quote… ever. “Quite honestly, it kinda smells like when you go to beach in the morning.” We didn’t get to see her channel that, but I’m sure it was beautiful. Or, at least better than Sam’s cartoonish sniff-and-sigh. I agreed with Paulina’s assessment of the ladies, as usual: Marjorie is real. Like, I believed there was no way she would use that rough toilet paper. Sam is a clown; too immature to work with high-fashion TP. McKey immerses herself in her surroundings and somehow still manages to focus on the camera. And Analeigh is a great actress, who, if nothing else, should land a walk-on role on a CW show that needs a guest star who has great legs to look upset while reading a letter.

This week’s challenge was one of my favorites ever because honestly, who doesn’t love Mark Vanderloo? Also, because the treadmill reminded me of the time that my friend Susi was on one, dropped her Walkman, forgot where she was, stopped walking to bend down and pick it up, and was propelled off the machine on to her ass. (All in front of a guy we’d gone to high school with. Wish I’d been there.) Anyway, like Sam, I expected the girls to shoot their sports-shoe ads in the street, but I guess Paulina wanted to test their acting abilities by making them jog on a treadmill and flirt with Vanderloo as he passed by in an imaginary cab. Sam had an appropriate reaction to this assignment — “We’re gonna be kissing Mark Vanderloo. Calvin Klein supermodel. Kissing him. Together. [Smooch sound.] Weeeird” — followed by an inappropriate thought (Should she tongue him?). I thought Sam would be a train wreck, but she wasn’t horrible. Just, um, enthusiastic. (“Very convincing,” Vanderloo said, when asked about her face-swallowing kiss. He’s got a sense of humor, too!) While McKey looked the most like someone you’d see in a sneaker ad, and, in my opinion, made a nice move when she wrapped her arms around Vanderloo’s neck, the judges’ clear favorites were Analeigh and Marjorie. Analeigh was a master at the double take — very sly, very sweet. I actually watched her scene a couple of times, which means she’s totally getting a guest spot on some CW show. But Marjorie took the prize (a $10,000 denim shopping spree that she split with Analeigh). She was, as Paulina put it, “sorta awkward and at times a little scary, but the originality level was a 10.” She was bumbling and unpredictable, which Vanderloo correctly surmised didn’t require much acting.

NEXT: Marjorie gets her drink on

That Marjorie finally let go of her nerves and had fun at the commercial audition made the shutdown that occurred later at the photo shoot and panel all the more upsetting. I’m happy that her downfall wasn’t blamed on her drunken interlude with her friend named wine — I know him, too! — and the pizza-bearing, alcohol-in-a-backpack-toting boys who ferried the girls around on their go-sees. I have only this to say: I’m sure those guys loved their time modeling high heels, playing Charades, watching Sam’s sleight-of-hand magic tricks, and wrestling with McKey (okay, that guy might’ve had a good time). The best moment was, of course, when Marjorie ended up in her happy place, the bathtub, (fully-clothed at least!) with Bernard, who could be the first man on reality TV to propose there (“C’mon, let’s get married.” Really, Bernard. Really?). I love how Analeigh, a good, sober friend, thought the other boys urged her away from the sudsy duo because they didn’t think she should stop a competitor from doing herself in. We all know that they just wanted to give Bernard a moment to seal the deal.

At the photo shoot — crazily-coiffed aliens invade Amsterdam! — Marjorie laughed when Mr. Jay suggested she looked like she was high or drunk. (And so did I.) But it was kinda true. Perhaps she was trying to feel her alien surroundings, and took it a bit too far. If she’d had the kind of props and structures that McKey had on her set, I think she’d have been so much better. (Think back to the bathroom shoot — the girl made that stall work.) McKey’s shoot was amazing, and practically orgasmic for Mr. Jay. I watched it multiple times myself and wished we’d seen all of Gumby’s shots at panel. (Anyone else disappointed that Tyra chose one of the strong and beautiful but also boring stand-with-chains pics? I wanted one of her leaning back or hanging.) This episode cemented McKey’s future as the next Top Model, in my opinion. She’s the only one who looks like a model on and off set. If Tyra and Co. really want someone who is bankable, they have to pick her — did you see how the photographer lit up when she arrived? McKey is simply the best makeover in Top Model history. Her darker, shorter hair frames her face perfectly and makes her eyes hypnotic. And somehow, she’s learned how to pose like a mofo.

Sam is definitely going into next week’s finale as the dark horse. Once Jay had to verbally beat a good photo out of Marjorie, he had no tolerance for poor Sam, who let it show in 53 of 60 frames that her clogs were killing her. Sam used a rake as a crutch (in more ways than one) and finally got her broken doll shot, but the judges have serious doubts. She’s a wild card on set and in person. And she can’t dress for s—. When in doubt, wear a black shirt, jeans, and heels, girl!

So, who do you think will take the title? Will Analeigh’s accessible personality and fluid creativity put her over the top? (Jumping in her field shot did, as Nigel noted at panel, tie in with the windmill motif nicely. She’s peaking at the right time.) Will McKey, who’s never been in the bottom two, find her joker lips in the pages of Seventeen magazine? (Her eyes burrowing right into Tyra’s soul.) Or will Sam, who whimpered like a puppy when she “sucked, really bad” at her shoot, end up crying happy tears?

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America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel
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