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Freeze Frame

CariDee faces down hypothermia at a photo session, Melrose melts down after a flamenco challenge, and Eugena's left to stand up to blond ambition in next week's season finale

ONE NON-BLOND While Melrose and CariDee both danced on the edge, Eugena won the flamenco challenge and stayed in the running
Image credit: Eugena: De Yonker/The CW
ONE NON-BLOND While Melrose and CariDee both danced on the edge, Eugena won the flamenco challenge and stayed in the running

''Top Model'': The heat is on (just not in the pool)

Oh, it's getting down to the wire, niblets. Can you feel that buzz in the air? I know you thought it was just the holiday season and/or the wine, but you are wrong... that is the buzz of your impending Next Top Model, America!

The bad news is, if you're not into psychotic blonds or stoic black women, you are, as they say, S.O.L. Tonight, Amanda was sent home, foiled by her awkward elbows; never mind that she looked the most like a high-fashion model, or that she may have been the sanest of all — Cover Girls do not amble about like Gumby scarecrows, no matter how well they may photograph. Off you go, to join your twin in anonymity — where I am certain you both will be more comfortable.

But before, before, before: Tonight's episode kicked off with the girls facing yet another Spanish man named Nacho. Happily, this pocket-sized flamenco teacher did not want to make vague statements that were misinterpreted as racist; rather, he wanted the ladies to dance, and your challenge winner was the rhythmic, graceful Eugena. The result was a bit predictable: Of course CariDee is gonna be hyper; of course Amanda is gonna be able to twist her leg 180 degrees backwards; of course Melrose is gonna be cocky... cocky until it was over, that is, at which point she burst into tears. ''Dancing is my soul, my passion!'' Mel wailed, all red-eyed and sniffly. She wanted it to be perfect, you see. It had to be perfect. Well, I'll be damned: Melrose is looking like a lunatic. Like, Tracy Flick levels of crazy. I guess I always knew that was under there, but to see her mental collapse thanks to a couple of missed dance steps really ripped the top off her facade. As CariDee put it a little earlier: ''Melrose has three different personalities, and she's really good at it. Maybe she should be medicated?'' Sure, honey. I mean, you would know.

Ah, but no time to concern ourselves with these deep psychological issues: Into the pool, bitches! Tonight's photo shoot took place in a swimming pool on a chilly day, and the temperature played a huge factor — if not in the judging, then at least in the drama. Their task was to partner up — Melrose with Eugena, Amanda with CariDee — and then float together, sprite-like, in the water. Mel and Eugena went first, and despite being a total cold fish by nature, Eugena couldn't really ''get her float on.'' (Nice one, Mel!) Then came Amanda and CariDee, at which point all hell broke loose: Amanda was stiff, and CariDee, despite being from Fargo, N.D., was frozen. Literally. After she was helped out of the pool while convulsing from hypothermia, Amanda went on to finish the last 50 shots alone.

As a bonus, there was a huge surprise at the shoot, because we're getting down to the wire and they really want to ramp up the intensity. That surprise was... Tyra! Oh. Wait. Instead of getting a normal, entertaining photo shoot, we get Tyra's overbearing presence, barking half-orders in Spanish? Nifty. (Seriously: We all took Spanish in junior high, Tyra. No one is impressed.) She especially enjoyed CariDee's trembling breakdown as a chance to remind us that models have to push themselves, yet know their limits and not let any sort of physical issues get out of hand. And I am sure, given the way this season's gone so far, that had CariDee asked to get out of the pool before reaching the popsicle point, Tyra would have understood and totally not hollered at her for being a weakling and not wanting it bad enough. I am sure.

How sure? Just as sure as I am that when it comes to Tyra's outfits at panel, there is no one to blame but Tyra herself. Tonight: Horrid fright wig, goth lipstick, pale Baby Jane eyes, and yet another ill-fitting corset top. Egads!! I have resisted really going to town on her appearance this season, preferring to simply allude to it because I know I personally look like ass pretty much every day... but I'm not a former model, dude. TYRA. YOU LOOK LIKE CRAP. PLEASE HIRE SOMEONE TO DRESS YOU PROPERLY. I'm going to assume you can afford this service, and if you cannot, call me — I'll do it for free. We'll start here: Put on a shirt. With sleeves. Your armpit fat is stealing focus, woman, and for someone who likes to be the center of attention as much as you do, I cannot believe you're letting it get away with that. Okay. That is all.

What was I saying? Ah, yes. Panel. Everyone just seemed cranky tonight, even before Tyra let loose with an impromptu, excuse-me-but-the-only-word-for-it-is-retarded flamenco dance. Miss J. pretty much didn't get to talk — he'd already had dinner with the gals earlier in the show, a meal that seemed like a bit of a letdown (isn't this usually the point in the season where they dine with Gisele Bündchen or something?) and is really only worth mentioning for the moment when he told Melrose she'd make a great ''car model'' and she took it as a compliment — Twiggy seemed bored, and Nigel went to town on everyone, calling Mel fake and CariDee high-maintenance, in the bluntest of terms. But these revelations were irrelevant, as, predictably, the shy, smart, freakishly normal wallflower of the bunch went home. Amanda, we'll miss you — but congrats on one of the best parting lines ever: ''It's kind of like I'm breaking up with Top Model. But I got broken up with.''

So we're down to three. And I leave you tonight with two quotes, which I find prophetic, and perhaps sum up whatever feelings I have left about this increasingly wretched television program:

''Melrose only looks out for herself.'' — Eugena

''I was freezing but trying not to complain about it because [shrugs shoulders] we're competing here.'' — Melrose

Discuss.

Originally posted Nov 30, 2006
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