|by Leslie Seaton
What? Nnenna’s gone? I’m away from recapping duties for one week and this is what I come back to? The girls in Thailand and our Ms. Poise sent packing? I just can’t…oh, who am I kidding? Nnenna’s been sliding off the radar for weeks now. I was sorta over her anyway. It seemed like her best pal on the show was Jade and if your best pal is Jade…well, it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of your judgment.
But enough about her, she’s gone, and as usual, the show this week opens with the other gal from the bottom two – in this case, Furonda – fretting and feeling vulnerable.
Sara has also been having a rough time in the judging room, with the judges not convinced that she has enough motivation to be a top model. She has self-confidence but doesn’t feel confident in the arena of modeling, so she realizes she needs to fake it.
Tension is growing between Jade and Joanie, but for now it takes the form of mildly offensive remarks made in casual conversation. Jade tells Joanie that she can see her (Joanie) being “demanding” and “two-faced.” But not, she stresses, in a negative way. I was unaware of a positive meaning for the phrase “two-faced,” but then again, Jade is ANTM’s Ms. Malaprop; who KNOWS what word or phrase she is actually thinking of?
What is clear: Jade doesn’t think Joanie is much competition at all. She thinks that Joanie would be laughed at during a New York casting.
Tyra Mail! Something about “strange positions.” The girls pile into their red tricked-out Thai mini-van. Furonda complains about all the activity and their lack of sleep, and Danielle thinks she needs to relax and focus.
The girls meet with the Artistic Director for a Thai cultural facility, who will teach them traditional Thai dance. They all don more traditional clothing, which can best be described as red capri MC Hammer pants. They watch some real Thai dancers, who Joanie calls “breathtaking” and “precise.” The Artistic Director then breaks down the movements and demonstrates for the girls. She tells them that hands raised above the eyes indicate “arrogance.” Jade takes note, because, she insists, she is NOT arrogant.
Furonda struggles to follow and retain the training, saying she doesn’t respond well under pressure. Danielle is also struggling; she has a migraine and is feeling woozy. Joanie, noting how tough Danielle is, thinks it must be serious if Danielle feels badly enough to complain.
At lunch, Danielle continues to suffer, as Joanie and Jade have a mild verbal spat. Finally, Danielle can take it no more, and is carried off and driven to the hospital. She’s shown hooked up to oxygen, but no info is offered. We only know she’s not going to make it back in time to do the challenge.
The challenge is to perform the traditional Thai dance in front of an audience and some special judges. Jade is first up, and while she claims to have been feeling it, Joanie notes that she never smiled, and the Artistic Director thinks she looked “worried” and “uncomfortable.”
Next to try is Joanie. Even Jade admits that Joanie did a good job, but says it doesn’t threaten her. The Artistic Director finds Joanie “elegant” and “poised,” and likes the small smile that Joanie wears during the performance.
Sara is third to the stage. Previously, I haven’t personally noticed Sara’s awkwardness about her height that the judges comment on nearly every week. But in this challenge, it was the main thing I noted; she seemed contorted trying to fit her long limbs into her idea of the Thai dancer’s silhouette. The Artistic Director thinks she needs to have more confidence.
Furonda… oh, Furonda! She’s a mess but such an adorable and likable mess. Her dance is far from Thai, but the audience seems to love her goofy interpretation. The Artistic Director finds her entertaining, but also thinks she needs to have more discipline in her techniques and knowledge.
The Artistic Director announces that the judges say Joanie is the winner! She will be able to invite one guest to meet for a private dinner with one of the judges, a director from Elle Magazine Thailand. Joanie picks Sara because “Sara has never won anything.” Ooo – snap! Viewers across the nation cringe. Sara is – understandably – not thrilled by this comment.
Back at the hospital, plucky Danielle has decided to leave, even though the hospital staff wants her to stay to treat her extreme dehydration. She makes it back to the house in time to hear the Tyra Mail sending them to their next photo shoot. It says they will need to “rock it in a pair of trunks.”
Danielle digs deep, and although she feels in no shape, joins the other girls as they head to the shoot the next day. They arrive at a jungle park, where Jay Manuel rides up to them on a elephant. Jade is tickled, because elephants are so “preposterous” and big. “Preposterous?” I mean, I guess, maybe that could make sense, but makes me wonder what word she was really thinking of.
Jay Manuel tells them they will be doing a shoot for a razor and contrasting their smooth legs with the rough elephant. Do you think that Jay spends hours scrubbing himself in scalding hot showers trying to get the stink of product placement off of him?
First the girls have to ride the elephants into the jungle in order to get to the spot for the shoot. Danielle, still feeling very ill, is not thrilled, but says her drive is keeping her going.
After hair and make-up, Danielle is first to shoot. Jay is impressed with what she does, saying she looks “animalistic.” Danielle is glad he likes it, but personally, isn’t feeling it at all.
Next up is Jade, who is ready to rock her shoot, feeling the elephant vibe because they are part of the “dinosaur family.”
Oh no, she didn’t. Really really she couldn’t have. How many things are wrong about that? Did she say that? She did say that. Oh my god. Elephants are part of the dinosaur family. Let’s all take a moment to weep for the American education system.
I wish it was a deep and abiding sense of shame for that statement that caused Jade’s poor performance, but Jay thinks it was his direction, saying that anytime he gives her suggestions, she becomes stiff. Her response, he thinks, is because she’s taking direction as criticism.
Furonda is also somewhat awkward perched atop her “dinosaur,” but nails the final frame. Jay thinks it’s genius, and says when she’s on, she’s on. It’s just the rest of the time that’s the problem.
Joanie’s shoot is excellent. She makes a suggestion to pose on the elephant’s leg. Jay loves that she’s being creative, and also that she nails her shots.
Sara, who’s been watching the other girls to get ideas, tells Jay she wants to do the same pose on the leg. Jay doesn’t like that she’s copying or that she also doesn’t perform well enough to justify her cribbing the pose.
After the shoot, the elimination Tyra Mail arrives, and the next day the girls head to the judging room. The Elle director is the guest judge, alongside Tyra, Nigel Barker, Miss J and Twiggy.
Before they get to their evaluations, they have a judging test. Wearing a traditional Thai mask, they each must use only their bodies to convey three emotions. None of the girls does this very well. Jade and Joanie appear to think they need to incorporate the gesture and style of the Thai dance they’ve learned. Furonda is, once again, a mess, but an engaging one.
After they all make their attempt, it’s time for the individual evaluations.
The girls leave for the judges’ private evaluation. Jade is not winning the hearts and minds of the judges, with Twiggy commenting that Jade seems to think she knows better than the judges. Danielle’s photo wins praise, and Twiggy thinks she shouldn’t be penalized for missing the challenge when she was so genuinely sick. Nigel likes her, but comments he still can’t understand her drawl. Joanie knows how to perform at the shoot, but not in front of the judges. The judges think Furonda is likable but just all over the map. Sara impressed the judges this week with her performance in the judging test, so they seem wiling to overlook her copying Joanie’s poses.
The girls come back in. Tyra begins the elimination, and no one is safe from the constructive criticism. Joanie is called first, and Tyra warns her to start to bring the personality to the judging. Sara is called next. While she’s “most improved,” Tyra tells her to not copy next time. Danielle’s picture is next to appear, and Tyra once again comments on her diction.
This leaves Jade and Furonda in the bottom two. Jade is there for her stubborn insistence to march to her own drummer – when it hasn’t gotten her to be a top model on her own. Furonda is there because the judges don’t know WHAT she’s marching to.
Some beat is better than none, I guess, because Mr. Jade is safe – again! – and Furonda is not. That’s a bummer. Furonda was a little sloppy, but she had a great personality. One hopes that her guest shot on Veronica Mars from an earlier episode might open some doors in the entertainment industry for her.
Down to final four! See you next week!
Drop Leslie a line at LQSeaton@realityshack.com.