Kacey gets ugly in the house, but a Matthew Rolston photo shoot turns out beautifully
Top Model Kasey
Credit: Matthew Rolston/The CW

Model behaviorists, this week’s episode is a little thing we in the biz like to call “a dud.” Oh sure, there was bitchtastic in-fighting, and yeah, there was a pretty rad challenge, but… nothing really clicked into place or seemed to have much influence over other aspects of the episode. On the one hand, nice pictures. On the other… oops, my other hand wandered away out of boredom. Luckily, it enjoyed Raising Hope.

We opened with Lexie telling us that this week was “gonna be really crucial” for her, and Kayla talking faux-smack that she “[couldn’t] handle a third week” of Ann taking top honors. Rhianna droned that she and Ann had the same look, and that was pretty much the sign of doom for the be-hatted one. No one can top Ann, you guys. Fo reals. Liz said that she was on food stamps, and thus wanted to win more than the other contestants do, and Chelsey said she found Kacey “confusing.” I also find Kacey confusing, because on camera she’s got some serious bags under her eyes, and yet in the photo shoots, she looks glam and pristine. Is it makeup? Photo retouching? A restorative night’s sleep? Inquiring minds, etc.

Speaking of confusing, when did everyone get purple knit sorta-beret hats? Anyway, Kacey decided to throw a barbecue with the model dudes from last week, and visions of cycle 2 danced in my head. Remember in Milan? The night of the great Shandi scandal? Ah, memories. Instead, Kacey threw an unbearably awkward “mixer” (as Jane put it), and no one had fun. Maybe there’s a “no booze” rule in Chez Modelhaus these days, but oy, that party had “seventh-grade disaster” written all over it. We were basically one first period away from an actual middle-school dance. Save us, Judy Blume!

Challenge time! Off to an amusement park, where Nigel and Ms. Jay told the models they’d be riding a rollercoaster. Let’s pause here to outline Ms. Jay’s outfit. He was wearing a cockamamie top knot (on trend for this season, but…no) and headband, drawn-on bushy eyebrows, a black blazer/jacket with nothing underneath, some kind of flowy skirt, and black pants. Well, you know what they say, dress for the job you want. I just didn’t know “bag lady” was a paying gig these days. Rhianna was wearing thigh-high socks with shorts and an absurd hat, and yet she looked like the blinking beacon of sanity in the sea of Ms. Jay’s truly ludicrous get-up. But seriously, enough with the hats, Rhianna.

Nigel and Ms. Jay gave each model an emotion or style to attempt to convey while on the coaster, which everyone gamely tried to execute. Unfortunately, physics exists, and everyone looked like a crazy flesh monster making a visit to Unflatteringville. Ye gods.

Liz won the challenge by nailing a “catalog” pose, and she earned a special photoshoot with Tyra. She brought Kayla and Chris, who both sorta showed her up at the shoot, but then they all bonded during a tea party with Ty Ty herself.

NEXT: Who likes Kacey? Anyone? ANYONE?

There was an old-skool ANTM marathon on this weekend, and lo, I watched a lot of it, and a few big differences stood out: One, this show used to look hilariously low-budget. And two, Tyra used to be a lot more involved. She gave small notes here and there during this three-person shoot, and those notes…actually helped! They worked! Her guidance, uh, guided them! It was nice to see her back in the game a little, even if the “I ate all the cake, time to go” bit at the end seemed bizarre.

Back at the house, things were less peachy. Lexie decided to call Kacey out, and announced in front of everyone, “I have consistently not liked you since casting week.” Ka-blaow! I’m not sure what a normal reaction would be to that, but Kacey decided to poll the jury one by one and ask people to “be real” and tell her individually that they don’t like her…well, it didn’t seem like a normal reaction. Lexie insisted that Kacey needed “to be genuine,” and then Kacey confessionalized that “the girls are tripping — they suck.” Well! Rhianna was wearing yet another hat, so I was distracted during this fight.

I get that no one likes Kacey, and I’m not a fan either, but I so wanted more build-up to this blow-out. I guess you throw one crummy mixer, and you’re through? (All this mixer talk makes me miss Greek. Aah, I can’t wait for that show to come back.)

Photo time! This week’s guest photog was Matthew Rolston, and if you’ve picked up a magazine in the last 15 years, you’ve seen his stuff. The photoshoot itself didn’t generate too much panic, even though the ladies were draped with sea creatures. Again, flashback to the tarantula jewelry shoot of cycle 3, or the snake shoot in cycle 1, or the beetle-on-the-runway challenge of cycle 6. Each was good for a serious freak-out! But no one seemed too bothered by the marine life.

First was Kendal, who again picked “sensual” as her inspiration. Who knew the celibate had such an investment in sensuality? Rolston said she was beautiful, and all done up for the shoot, she really was. Kayla was next, and had the advantage of straight-up looking like the Little Mermaid thanks to her red locks, but she also did well. Chelsey looked a little harsh, but Esther was classic and dreamy. Chris was “surprisingly together,” according to Mr. Jay, and Lexie said the shoot itself was disorienting.

Kacey bitched that Lexie was just trying to psych everyone out, and last week, I might have believed her. But this week? This week Kacey was the villain, and thus, Lexie gets a pass.

I can’t overstate how gorgeous the styling was for this shoot. Everyone looked amazing, perhaps thanks to Rolston’s intense direction on how to smooth their flaws, from evening their brow lines to rounding their lips more. It was sort of brutal, in a sorority hazing sort of way (at least according to Lifetime movies), but it resulted in the prettiest hair and makeup like, ever.

NEXT: WHO!? Will be eliminated tonight?

Jane was just okay, but of course Ann turned on the heat. Homegirl is intense. Rhianna sounded like she just emerged from an acid-tinged coma, and Liz couldn’t keep her eyes open thanks to her uncomfortable contacts. Uh…why didn’t Liz just take out her damn contacts? As an ex-contact wearer, I sort of sympathize: When it hurts, it hurts. But stop for five seconds, take ’em out, and wear your glasses home, Liz. Come on. Mr. Jay again noted that she was a “pain in the butt.”

Back at the house, Chris was now wearing a hat. This is not America’s Next Top Haberdashery! Stop with the hats, ladies! Fashion hats are no one’s friend!

At panel, Tyra was again in a sleek hot-pink sheath, with some mega-voluminous curls. Ugh, I hate that this is true, but: She looked great. What is going on this season, you guys? It’s like I don’t even recognize this show. I miss Nolé’s little dog. And how mean Janice was.

First up, Kacey. She was wearing some super fug shoes, which the judges scolded her for, but they loved her photo. I found it a little mouth-centric, but to each her own. Kayla was deemed a chameleon, and the judges and I totally had brainphone re: her Ariel look. Get out of my mind, Tyra!

Esther’s photo was stunning — ALT said wanted to eat her lips for breakfast — but it was the only time we saw her all episode. There aren’t that many people on this show. Spread the love, editors! And spread it toward Ann, whose photo was, duh, amazing. Rolston said Chris was his favorite photo of the day, but it didn’t do much for me. Jane’s was meh at best, Lexie’s profile shot was solid, but Rhianna’s sleepy-eyed shot was not up to snuff.

Kendal’s shot was unreal, though Rolson said it was hard to get “the warmth in the mouth” for it. Chelsey’s shot looked exactly like C.C. from The Nanny, but we had barely seen her all episode, which meant she couldn’t be the one going home. Right? Liz’s photo was lousy, which she chalked up to the contacts.

The deliberation was not at all contentious, and Rolston described Ann as memorable. “You can break the rules if you’re extraordinarily gifted,” he said, when Tyra pressed him about Ann being 6’2. The early front-runners on this show pretty much never win, but jeeze louise I hope this season is different.

This week’s best photo? Ann, of course. Three in a row! My notes here say “hollaaaaaa,” and I think that says it all. Runner up: Kacey. Hotcha! I bet the other models will really warm to her now. Esther, Chris, Kendal, Lexie, Kayle, Jane, and Chelsey were safe. Would Liz and Rhianna please step forward?

Ah, the legendary showdown between Man Face and Hat Woman. Man Face prevailed, which meant the trippy hippie was sent packing. I will seriously miss Rhianna’s loony earth goddess shtick, but if we had to suffer through one more piece of noggin flare, we all could have been killed.

Your turn, Model Behaviorists. Were you sad to see Rhianna go? Did you think Chelsey’s smirky look was worse, or should Liz’s constant complaining have been the kiss of death? Any what does Lexie’s tattoo say?

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Trya Banks
America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel

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