Although this is the season of “high fashion,” the model wannabes begin this lackluster episode at Walmart. Their assignment is to sell Cover Girl’s newest product, a smoky eye kit, which actually doesn’t make their task any more high end: In the hierarchy of drugstore makeup brands, Cover Girl is one step above Wet n’ Wild. Since only nine modeltestants remain, they are divided into teams of three in order to devise the best possible way to demonstrate to onlookers how to apply the makeup. The purpose of this task—aside from shilling for Cover Girl—is to demonstrate how charming and authentic they are to the public. Modern Orthodox contestant Esther Petrack ends up with Kacey and Kayla. Kacey takes over the presentation from her teammates and turns out to be a skilled salesperson, perhaps hinting at what her post-ANTM professional life might look like. She propels her team to the win. Their prize? They get to raid the Cover Girl aisle for all the makeup they can stuff into a bag.
Photographer Nigel Barker decides that Esther did the best job applying the free cosmetics to her face, and awards her a gift card. In previous recaps, I’ve blamed our girl’s lack of nastiness for her lack of a substantial presence, because reality shows are really about conflict. But during this episode, others get to confess about their insecurities, so being mean is clearly not a prerequisite for a direct address. So why is there so little Esther? Did someone clue The CW in on the true meaning of her name? Perhaps she should change it to something more showboat-y or scandalous, like Jezebel or Lilith? Or what if I’ve got this all backwards: Maybe she is not sweet and goofy at all? Maybe Esther curses like a sailor and forces The CW to eliminate her confessionals altogether? The world may never know.
Now off to Rodeo Drive for the photo challenge. Or as Kendall pronounces it, “ROW-de-oh.” As in, send in the clowns. The Alabama native admits that she had seen the famed shopping thoroughfare in the movies and on television and had dreamed of one day of seeing it in person, so I’m going to stop being mean and let her have her Pretty Woman moment.
Famed photographer Patrick Demarchelier is shooting the girls, and in Esther’s one and only confessional of the episode (or in recent memory), she rhapsodizes about his holiness. “He’s like the top of the pyramid,” she comments, using her fingers to illustrate her point. Just like the pyramids your forebears were forced to build in Egypt. (Sorry: I know that one was a stretch but this episode is so devoid of content, Jewish or otherwise, that I was forced to go for it.)
The girls’ assignment is threefold. They must take a walking group shot with another one of the contestants and a male model. Then solo, each girl must take a running shot. And finally, a close-up beauty shot.
Esther is styled beautifully for the picture in a dress that is a mix between hippie chic and gold-plated armor. With sunglasses perched atop her head, she seems perfectly at ease walking past the shops arm-in-arm with her model (who is not the sexy Jesus of the Fallen Angel challenge). Kayla, on the other hand, looks like she should be trolling Hollywood Boulevard looking for johns. She is wearing a leather hat, cutoff shorts. and a pair of high-heeled shoes one or two sizes too small, which she complains about bitterly. She has problems “running” with Esther, and her pain is the only emotion she manages to convey in the pictures.
Esther’s photo is judged very favorably. “I see the belt, the dress, the boots, the bag. There’s a lot to buy there,” Andre Leon Talley notes of the pose she strikes alone. Wait, this show is about selling stuff? I thought it was about instilling confidence in young women?
Kayla and Kacey are this week’s bottom two. Tyra chastises the former for wearing her tight shoes all over her face. “So many people think modeling is easy. So much of modeling is being in pain, being uncomfortable. If it ain’t gonna kill you or scar you forever, it will make you stronger,” she advises the young wannabe.
But it is ultimately Kacey who is sent packing. As the realization dawns, she begins crying and hugging the other girls as though they had been friends. “This sucks so bad man, so bad,” she says into a camera, looking like a hot mess. “I feel so defeated. So drained out. How do you go home after this? I’m never gonna get over this.”