America’s Next Top Model 9, Episode 11: Swan Songby Jenn Brasler -- 12/06/2007
Regular recapper Phil Kural has run off to try to convince Tyra to change her mind about Heather, so I’m taking his place for the week. I’m sure he’ll be back here next week - possibly with a brand-new weave.
Previously on America’s Next Top Model, the five remaining girls went on go-sees. Heather got lost, and didn’t do well in the one go-see she made it to. Bianca won the challenge but didn’t do very well at the photo shoot. Jenah was sarcastic with Nigel and the judges took notice. However, it was Heather who was eliminated, leaving us with our final four: Bianca, Chantal, Jenah, and Saleisha.
The girls are still in Shanghai but getting ready to head to Beijing. Back in their hotel, they find Heather mail. Jenah interviews that she’s sad to see Heather go. Bianca reads Heather’s note, then hands it to Jenah, who says Heather had a great look but trouble communicating. Heather’s note says she hoped to make friends but made family instead. Bianca interviews that she wasn’t even really trying, so it doesn’t even matter that she’s not here. How sweet. Chantal reminds everyone that they’re in the top four. She interviews that it’s great that they’ve had the opportunity to go to two fashion capitals in just a few weeks.
In Beijing, the girls meet their tour guide, Kevin, who shows them a portrait of Chairman Mao. Bianca says it’s surreal to be in China and she’s learning a lot. Jenah says she couldn’t picture herself going home because she came to win. She interviews that it was great to be in the bottom two; “you should try it.” No, thanks. She admits that she’s really stressed right now and is trying not to let it tear her apart. Chantal interviews that Jenah is falling apart this close to the end. Chantal tells the others her whole life has led up to this and she knows this is her destiny. Bianca is sick of her talking about that stuff.
The girls arrive at a garden, where they see some people chanting and carrying Ms. J and Twiggy. Ms. J says Beijing is one of the new fashion capitals. Twiggy explains that they’re going to learn about China’s culture. In ancient Chinese history, there’s a story about the Four Beauties, which I’ll let you read about so I don’t have to recap the information. Saleisha interviews that the final four girls are all beautiful show-stoppers. Bianca is bored, but says, “When in China, do like the Chinese.” Ms. J tells the girls they’ll find out how the Four Beauties story relates to them soon, though Jenah seems to have already figured it out.
The girls head to their new home, which is a beautiful lit-up pagoda. They’ve graduated to double beds. Saleisha says that this is an experience of a lifetime, but it’s scary, too. They find boxes and Tyra mail telling them there’s a great mall in China. The boxes contain dresses worn by the Four Beauties, which the girls must wear in the morning.
When morning comes, the girls wear the dresses to meet Ms. J and Twiggy at the mall. Twiggy tells them they have to distinguish themselves like the Four Beauties. Their challenge is to modernize and individualize the outfits, using things bought at the mall, then model them on a runway.
The girls run off for an hour of shopping with about $200. Jenah’s sure they ticked off some people. Chantal’s Beauty had a basket, so she goes for a bag. Bianca’s Beauty put flowers to shame, so she finds a flowered bag. Saleisha is going off of the colors of her dress and is having a great time. Bianca goes to the other side of the mall, since the others haven’t been there, but there are just shoe stores. She runs back across the street, unhappy, and decides to tell Jenah to go across the street to get more stuff. Jenah listens, which makes Bianca happy. “Where is across the street?” Jenah wonders. That’s deep. Bianca interviews that there are no friends in the competition, only competitors.
Jenah is almost out of time and upset that there’s nothing on the other side of the mall. She’s done with the sabotage and psyching out. That’s not her.
When time is up, the girls meet back up with Ms. J and Twiggy, who are now with Seventeen’s editor-in-chief, Ann Shoket. Ann reminds them that one of them will be on the cover of Seventeen. The girls go off to put on their own makeup, and Saleisha is nervous about Ann being there. Bianca knows Jenah’s mad, but she doesn’t care. Jenah says it’s every woman for herself.
Saleisha is first on the runway. She says she felt herself becoming one of the Beauties. Ms. J loves her walk and her modernized outfit. Next is Chantal, who wanted a soft face. Twiggy likes her natural, smooth walk. Bianca wants to prove herself, and Ann likes that she used rosettes to raise her dress and show off her legs. Jenah wanted to look like royalty, and Twiggy likes that she turned an evening dress into a mini dress.
Ann tells the girls they all did great and have been working hard. She advises Saleisha to loosen up a little and show more personality. She liked Jenah’s modeling. Bianca obviously liked the music she was walking to, but she bopped a little too much and was too hip-hop. Ann likes Chantal’s shoes. No, that’s it. The winner is Jenah. She gets to pick a friend and both will have Chinese couture dresses made for them. She picks Chantal. Bianca claims not to care. Ann adds that Jenah also gets runway lessons with Ms. J, which is an ANTM first.
Later, Ms. J has Jenah and Chantal try on their dresses. Jenah’s is a beautiful blue and she loves it. Chantal’s is a really nice green and she hopes to find a place to wear it. Jenah walks in her regular clothes and Ms. J shows her the attitude she gives with her walk. Jenah says she learned a lot from Ms. J’s little tweaks.
Back at home, Tyra mail asks if a Top Model can be seen from outer space. The girls immediately know they’re going to the Great Wall. Later, they lounge on their beds and Saleisha says she’s tired of games and needs to concentrate. Bianca is ready for the competition to be over; she came to win, and she’s going to win and then model. She and Chantal bicker a little, and Bianca interviews that Saleisha and Chantal think they’re going to be the top two, but Bianca won’t leave until she wins.
Jenah wakes up from a nap and tells the others that she had a bad dream about her boyfriend. Saleisha interviews that they’re all homesick and Jenah needs to be stronger. Jenah admits in an interview that she wants to go home because she misses everything. She just wants to get this over with.
The next morning, the girls take a bus to the Great Wall, sure that this shoot will be beautiful. Saleisha gets really excited when she spots the wall. Bianca is getting excited because the others are excited. They take photos of themselves on the wall, then snap a shot of Jay when he arrives. He tells them that the wall was erected to keep out the Barbarians and Mongols. Today the girls will be posing as warriors, along with six others. The shot will be the girls pretending to invade and get over the wall.
When the girls reach the spot where the shoot will take place, Jay tells them the wall is recognizable all over the world - as is this shoot’s photographer, Tyra. She’s excited to be on one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and today she’s looking for the eighth wonder. Chantal wants to show that she’s that wonder. Tyra asks for strong faces, but not ugly ones.
The girls get their hair done, and I can’t even describe it. You’ll have to get pictures. Jenah interviews that she’s been under a lot of pressure and hasn’t slept much. I’m getting sick of her whining. Tyra greets the other warrior models. Bianca says she’s supposed to be a “soldier who doesn’t care” (how fitting!), and she’s done thinking about the other girls.
Chantal is up first, looking like Pippi Longstocking’s braids exploded. She’s loving the model life. Tyra advises her to look like a dancer in her shots. She learns how to say “1, 2, 3” in Chinese and keeps saying it through the rest of the shoot. Chantal does some leaping, and Tyra and Jay tell her she had a great shoot. Chantal felt creative and is sure she got a good shot.
Tyra asks Jenah what walls she wants to overcome. Jenah says she wants to learn who she is, as well as who the judges thinks she is. Tyra tells her to picture the real Jenah on the other side of the wall. Jenah does her shoot without any leaping, interviewing that she was excited to shoot with Tyra but knew she had to do really well. She doesn’t get very creative until her last shot, when she arches her back. When she’s done, Jay tells Tyra that Jenah was nervous with Nigel but not with Tyra. Tyra says she’s good, but who is she?
Bianca is next, and she says Tyra is the biggest person to impress, so the pressure is on. Tyra tells Bianca to try not to laugh because she’ll be going crazy and yelling. Jay whispers to Bianca, “No stiff poses today.” She doesn’t listen. She interviews that she didn’t know what Tyra wanted her to do until Tyra actually showed her. Bianca starts doing better towards the end, but the rest of her shots are just eh.
Last but not least is Saleisha, whom Jay says is becoming more editorial every time he sees her. She interviews that she has to really bring it. Saleisha does some action shots, trying to get away from looking too much like a ballerina. Jay says it’s very Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. When Saleisha is done, Tyra and Jay gush over her, and Jay tells her it was her best shoot ever. Tyra tells us Saleisha had a presence, and Jay says she really used the environment.
After the shoot, Tyra gathers the girls, who are still in their wardrobes, and tells them they’re going to pose together. Chantal is happy to get to shoot with the others and work with Tyra a little longer. They do their thing, and Saleisha tries to stand out, which is the point of this. Bianca isn’t happy because Saleisha’s huge hair is right in front of her face.
Back at home, Bianca tells the others she’s nervous about panel. Chantal knows she did her best, so there’s nothing else she can do. Bianca wants it to be over with. Chantal tells us people always remember the top three, and she’s confident she’ll be there. It’s just another step closer to number one. Bianca interviews that Chantal’s pictures are okay but her personality is too bubbly. She adds that Saleisha has experience with modeling, so it sucks for her not to be amazing. Jenah says the other girls and the critiques aren’t getting to her, but she feels like she’s losing herself. However, she’s sure she won’t be the next person to go home.
Panel time! Jenah and Chantal wear their couture dresses, making Bianca and Saleisha look very bland in their regular clothes. There are prizes, there are judges (including Ann Shoket), and there is still no panel challenge. I miss those! I still love CariDee hiding dizzily.
Jenah is up first, and Tyra congratulates her on winning the challenge. Jenah has great body language in her photo. Twiggy praises Tyra’s photography. Nigel says Jenah is acting in her photos and showing more of herself. Twiggy loves her leg extension and her face. Ann is worried she’s getting lost in the costume. Tyra says Jenah’s shoot wasn’t memorable even right after she left the set. Jenah starts crying and admits that she’s been homesick. Ms. J says all the judges want to be home, but modeling requires travel. Tyra asks if she wants this, and Jenah does, especially so she can be a role model for her little sisters. She says she would do this “a million times over.”
Bianca is next, and her shot is in profile. Twiggy wishes they could see her eyes more. Ms. J says she’s stiff and Ann says she’s a little scared of Bianca. Tyra says she was awkward and this isn’t something that comes naturally to her. Bianca agrees, but she thinks she’s improved and learned a lot. Tyra says that’s why she’s in the top four.
Next is Chantal, who definitely dominates her photo and looks like she’s about to leap over the wall. Nigel says she looks like a statue frozen in time. Ann loves her beauty and the positivity she radiates. Ms. J loves that she’s on her toes, and Tyra reminds her to always model all the way to her toes.
Saleisha is last, and has the best photo, I think. She’s in the air and looks like she’s about to attack. Tyra says she felt Saleisha’s nerves, but she put them to work for her. Tyra also loves that Saleisha just started jumping while she was shooting.
The judges look at the group shot and get to decide who stands out the most. Twiggy says it’s Jenah, but Nigel thinks it’s Chantal. He thinks it’s also her best photo looking at the camera. He’s jealous that she looks at Tyra like that but not him. Oh, Nigel. Sometimes I wonder what his wife has to say about the stuff he says at panel. Ann thinks Saleisha is holding the center. Tyra likes that Bianca looks almost like a guy. …Thanks? Tyra tells the girls that before their shoots, she thought she knew where they stood, but now she has different views.
Shocker of shockers, Heather is once again the Cover Girl of the Week. I wonder if she’ll win it again next week even though she’s gone.
The judges discuss all the girls. Nigel thinks Jenah is defeated. Twiggy isn’t sure she wants to win. Tyra says Jenah reminds her of the girls she used to work with who would break down because of homesickness, then go home. She feels like Jenah gave them her swan song. Ms. J asks what that is and Tyra does a really bad impression of a swan.
Twiggy thinks “Biyanker” is the least-natural model of the group. However, Tyra likes what she said more than Jenah’s defeatist speech. Nigel says there are a lot of sides to Bianca and she doesn’t know how to do it yet. Tyra notes that it takes some girls longer to learn. Nigel isn’t sure there’s time for Bianca.
Ann thinks Chantal’s photo showed her channeling her inner diva (I don’t think Chantal has one of those). Ms. J thinks she looks like a model at a boat show. This is a new concept to Tyra.
Saleisha looks more high-fashion to Ms. J than ever before. Twiggy loves her photo the most of the girls. Ann says something about her being like Tinkerbell with “evil fairy dust.” Can Ann replace Twiggy next season instead of Paulina Porizkova?
The girls come back in and Tyra tells them the judges took both their individual photos and group photo into consideration. The girl who was the strongest in the group photo and gets to keep it is… Chantal. Saleisha is called second, and Tyra tells her the judges were impressed.
That leaves Jenah and Bianca in the bottom two. Whoever stays gets to be in the final three, and whoever leave… well, leaves. Bianca has had a long journey and has proven that an urban girl can do high fashion. However, she hasn’t shown that she can perform without training wheels. On the other hand, she did remind the judges that she’s improved. Jenah was strong in the beginning and takes great photos, but she’s doubting herself. The judges think she gave a “swan song speech” and sounded like a defeatist, not a winner.
Apparently swan songs are better than improvement, because Jenah gets a photo and Bianca is going home. Tyra takes Bianca’s hands and tells her that some girls can model well naturally, while Bianca has a beautiful body and spirit but not that naturalness. She’s just not as advanced as the other girls. Tyra wants her to find some photographers to practice with… and then some other stuff I don’t hear because of a “required weekly test.” Definitely not as much fun as a panel test.
By the time my sound comes back, Bianca is telling us that she’s come far. She came in with an attitude but made friends with people she probably wouldn’t have talked to ordinarily. She’s learned a lot and she has to take it all in. She might cry for a while, but then she’ll pull it together. The experience has been great, especially traveling, and Bianca will never give up because that’s not the kind of person she is. She’s actually happy this wasn’t given to her because she can work for it, and she’ll appreciate it more.
Next week: the finale! Cover Girl commercials! Saleisha isn’t as confident anymore. The final two girls walk the show’s “most amazing runway ever,” and one will be named America’s Next Top Model. My money’s on Saleisha.
Jenn Brasler is an Associate Editor of Reality News Online and an aspiring writer from Falls Church, Virginia. By day she works for a court reporting firm, and by night she’s a spy for a covert branch of the CIA. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jenn wonders where one would get evil fairy dust.