Tyra, J. Alexander and Jay Manuel whittle down 35 aspiring models to 14 (surprise)! This is done through an elaborate Prep School scenario, complete with locker room shots, report cards and diplomas for the lucky ones.
Some thoughts and reactions:
-So the episode started with some filler - a cheesy countdown narrated by Tyra - where we're showered with a barrage of old faces, the majority of which I cannot attach a name to for the life of me (despite watching every ANTM episode ever aired).
-Why has it become practice to bring back at least one reject from a prior season (or an 8 time reject in Shalynda's case)? I get that Tyra is trying to teach us that dreams do come true with a little persistence, but it just seems like cruel and unusual punishment to show Shalynda missing the cut again, her 9th time (in the context of the school metaphor, I think it is time for Shalynda to drop out). However, we can quickly forget about poor Shalynda and focus our attention on Marvita, who on her second time around does make the cut.
-So for the first round of the Prep School scenario, Tyra has the girls dress up in uniforms - looking pretty disheveled, I might add, kind of like they just hooked up in the janitor's closet or something - and take their best locker room shot. The girls are then subjected to Runway 101, where J. Alexander tells pretty much every single girl that her walk sucks. Next they are shuttled to the Football Stadium where former Top Modelers make cameos as cheerleaders. Not surprisingly, Tyra soon emerges as the Homecoming Queen - and annoyingly attempts to act in the cliche manner that a cliche Homecoming Queen would.
-The interviews with Tyra fit appropriately into the Prep School theme of the episode, as each of the girls does her best to kiss-up to Tyra, mentioning things ranging from the boyfriend in Iraq to domestic abuse to small town dreams to plus size pride. However, every sob story ever told in this episode (or any previous season) pales in comparison to Fatima's story of female circumcision.
-Speaking of Fatima, she seems like she is going to be this season's Yaya (Cycle 3) - she kind of speaks with an air of superiority - which won't make her any friends (as soon as they get past her tragic past, which will probably be by next week). Some more comparisons to other girls: Amy is going to be another Lisa (Cycle 5) - weird as hell. Lauren is going to be another Michelle ("flesh-eating bacteria" Michelle, of Cycle 4 fame); this is Tyra's favorite kind of girl - one that needs to be (or at least pretends that she needs to be) "molded" into a model because she is utterly clueless.
-Saleisha's CoverGirl Commercial: Is it me or does she seem incredibly bored with the whole thing?
-"Marvita is an abrasive b**** because she yells at everybody" - Courtesy of Allison the Midwesterner; I like this girl - for playing the small town girl role she clearly has some bite.
-"How would you trick out your Impala?" - a bemused Tyra
-She has a "beautiful face" (complete with hand motions) - Jay Emanuel about one of the aspiring plus-sized models, which if you ask me comes off kind of mean.
-"She's got the noun but not the verb" - Tyra the English professor about a girl that is a model but doesn't know how to be a model
-I particularly enjoyed how the first batch of girls to advance received Midterm Grades, which consisted of their locker room photo and large print reading "Pass". Though the girls that didn't advance received nothing, that's an implied "Fail". Ouch.
-The final exam - extending the Prep School thing nearly as far as it will go - consists of a Senior Class Portrait. The played-out theme concludes with Commencement Ceremonies where the lucky ones receive diplomas. As a surprise, Tyra accepts one extra girl (Dominique), bringing the grand total to 14.