So we soldier on toward the end of the End, the Last Cycle after which, no doubt, Siva will simply erase the universe and start again, and who could blame him?
Life can be cruel, and so we start off with our reminder that Mikey won Best Performance last week. He’s handling it by gloating his butt off about being on top telling us that it’s unbelievable that he’s made it this far.
Mikey’s #TyTyTip is just flat-out incomprehensible. She tells him to rep and rock his brand (Are we pretending he’s really going to sell Tocks?) And to just chill on the beach but not forget the high-fashion side, just like his photo in the darkness “High. Low. In-between. That equals money for Mikey.”
No, for real: It is exactly that incoherent. Mikey seems to get it, though, so maybe Tyra is speaking to him in some special model language that uses tones too high for the rest of us to hear.
Mamé and Mikey are in bed flirting. In bed, under the covers, flirting.
Mamé interviews that Mikey is cute and flirty (hairball), but she wants Justin. But there she is in bed, flirting with Mikey. Mikey calls Mamé a pageant girl and Mamé calls Mikey a bad boy and the rest of us call for some ipecac. Mamé says that the night in the cabin solidified the fact that she wants a relationship with Justin for her and brushes it off. Mikey, however, has a different story. Ever the gallant, Mikey says he was sleeping and then noticed Mamé wasn’t breathing well and so he gave her CPR. Way to work the hint of sexual assault into your creepy fake explanation that’s just an excuse to brag, Mikey. Now that he’s made sure we all know Mikey got some makeout time, he says he’s all about staying focused.
Lacey marvels that she’s so close to the finish line and obligingly reviews the prizes for us. She says this would be a childhood dream come true. Mamé also says she never would have seen herself as America’s Last Top Model. She reminds us that she was “raised over the phone” after her parents sent her to live with her aunt and uncle in the States. That’s maybe a small exaggeration. She was sent to live with close relatives. It’s not like she was dropped off in a storage closet.
Miss J. comes over to the Model House to celebrate the Final Four with a special treat. Everyone goes out to the grill and a mysterious woman is grilling away! Surprise! It’s Chrissy Teigen!
She’s a stylist on Tyra’s new talk show! Oh, did you know that Tyra had a new show? Now you do. Funny how that worked out.
Chrissy is introduced as a Supermodel, which is very nice, but I didn’t think we were still giving out that title. The models drink some odd fruit juice and eat meat and Chrissy does that same thing that the world-ruining Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show does where they pretend that models are just muscle and fitness enthusiasts who totes eat just like regular folks – maybe even more! Hey, model shows, research shows that this sort of pretense makes young women with body issues and eating disorders feel even worse about themselves for not being able to eat like the models claim to be doing without consequences, so how about you knock it the hell off, OK?
Chrissy says she still does castings even after doing Sports Illustrated, so don’t get all swell-headed. She tells Mikey his treat is her, which gets him all revved up like he’s 12. Has Mikey ever had sex? Chrissy immediately says she’s married. Mikey tries to flirt with Chrissy as they pose together and she calls him Kid Rock.
Heh. She says it with a smile on her face, but that is a wicked burn. Mikey says he’s trying to keep it together since John Legend is her husband. (And also because Chrissy has zero interest in sleeping with Mikey.)
Mamé interviews that Mikey flirts with everyone as Mikey runs around to illustrate how very horny he is. He’s basically that cartoon wolf whose pupils extend out into hearts while an AOOOGAH! noise goes off. OK, I’m calling it. Mikey has not actually slept with anyone ever. I’m not even sure he’s been to second base, or knows what that would be.
Trya Mail! It says “Ever Been mocked? As A Model, You Better Get Used To It…”
Jesus Christ. Is she actually trying to kill people who understand the rules for capitalization? Lacey thinks they’ll be put on display somehow, and hopes no one will throw tomatoes.
Nyle is sad about having been in the bottom two last week. He wishes that he could go back in time and do better at that shoot. Nyle points out that a lot of the time the deaf person gets the opportunity to compete, but they aren’t actually allowed to win, as though the opportunity itself is enough. Which, if you expand that concept to other outliers, actually describes a fair chunk of Top Model history. (Hello, Cory! We still believe in you!) That’s pretty ballsy of Nyle to just put that out there, even though he does it diplomatically.
Yu Tsai is here, and also some people from Nylon that we are going to try real hard to care about!
Each model will shoot a mock cover of Nylon and – ooh! – we’re told we’ll hear what real consumers think. Yu Tsai presents this as though there will be some frank and juicy insults, but really we’ll just be hearing who people like and/or think is hot. Yu Tsai tells the models to bring their A game, which is excellent, helpful advice as so many of them had been considering bringing their pass/fail game to this one.
The models are sort of styling themselves a bit? The stylist tells Nyle to pull a few things he likes and then they’ll build around it. Lacey describes herself as young and fun, a baby from the South. Um. Mamé also describes herself, going with fun and also regal. Yu Tsai and the stylist like the word “regal,” and do not point out that it doesn’t go with “fun.” They choose a prim and proper dress for Mamé. She loves it!
Mikey wants to be really chill and cool and exciting, because he contains multitudes. He picks a terrible shirt and an oddly unfinished updo.
Mikey reminds us that he’s made something out of nothing and they’re really hitting hardscrabble backstory hard, hoping they can run enough of it to cancel out his ongoing dickery to the women in the house. Mikey lets his hair down for the shoot because of course he does. It seems to work on Yu Tsai and the Nylon folks. What does he rub into his hair? Opium? Ether? What?
As she shoots, Yu Tsai say that Lacey is beautiful but not Nylon. Urgh. Mamé says Lacey isn’t different, which is the storyline we recently picked up to justify Lacey not winning. I think Tyra must have figured out that she’s smart. Lacey is trying not to be safe during her shoot and Yu Tsai yells that he told her not to do the crazy mouth.
Nyle starts out doing kind of a De Niro look and then is counseled to do subtle movement that suggests signing. This helpful direction does not come from Yu Tsai.
Oh, no. You know those little white silhouette cameos that prudes are depicted as wearing at their buttoned-up necks in old movies? Mamé is wearing a dress covered in giant ones.
Lacey says Mamé relies on being pretty. Mamé interviews that she’s trying to loosen up, but her dress was stiff. Because, I wish to stress, it is covered in giant fake ivory cameos.
The Nylon folks like the models, which is a bit of a refreshing narrative change. Next, we set up a fake newsstand that sells nothing but Nylon (AIEEEEE!) and Yu Tsai grabs people off the street who, after they have signed their on-camera release forms, are to tell him which cover they would buy.
A woman buys Mikey and Mikey says “Mikey’s Killing it” out loud in third-person, but we nip that in the bud before too long. Then Nyle gets one, and then Lacey, and then those three all have two apiece but Mamé isn’t getting picked up. (It’s a sample size of six, so let’s not worry too much on that point, Mamé.) Mamé thinks it’s the dress, and it would be tricky to argue otherwise.
Soon its three each for Mikey, Nyle, and Lacey and none for Mamé. Ouch. Mamé gets one! And then Mikey hits 4 and also tries to hit Peak Awful, running in place and chanting for himself. Lacey notes that the ladies love Nyle and his eyes. Nyle is ahead with 5, while Mikey and Lacey each have 4 and Mamé has a perfectly respectable 3.
The Nylon folks give their critiques:
Mikey is an edgy surfer dude (what?), but he shouldn’t rely on hair so much. O, RLY? He’s gotten that critique before. Do we think he’ll actually get dinged for it at some point?
The Nylons were skeptical about Nyle at first (Why?), but ended up really impressed with his final image and eye contact. Mamé is deemed stunning but stiff. Lacey has both an edge and sweetness but was also too much the same in all her poses.
And the winner is… NYLE!
Thank you, Universe. Who knows what would have happened to the upper atmosphere if Mikey’s gloating had continued to expand?
Back at the Model House, the scores are up. Nyle has his 10, Lacey and Mikey get 9s, and Mamé gets the 8. Mamé is upset and wishes she’d gone with a leather jacket. Mikey says she should be glad she didn’t get a 7 and Mamé says “Fuck you.” Whoops, Miss Maryland!
Here’s the thing: Mikey is in the right on this one. He’s accurately pointing out that instead of two people tied with 9, the producers could have made the call to award the scores with 10-9-8-7. In fact, it’s a little fishy that they didn’t – Devin certainly got nailed with a devastating 6 last week. I think I’ve been underrating the flexible challenge scoring as a method for tinkering with the results.
Mikey heads to the Tyra Suite.
Morning in the Model House!
Tyra calls to the models in English and Spanish. She’s just here for a visit! A completely ordinary visit. Tyra is playing her Casual Cheerful Tyra character really hard. So hard that she and Mamé do a lightning-fast Mary Mac together. The character reminds me of Happy Tyra Who Loves Coffee from Halloween: Resurrection. (The clip has a gory moment, but you need it in your life.)
Oh, saints be praised, we’re finally getting some variety with a new photographer. I think Erik Asla does a fine job, but one of the great pleasures of cycles past was seeing very different styles of photography, and that really has not been happening this season. So here we go, a photographer who is fresh and new! One who is not Tyra’s boyfriend! In fact, it’s Tyra’s FIRST photographer and her first coach and I’ll stop the buildup because you’ve known it’s Tyra’s mom, Carolyn London, ever since you read that it’s not Erik.
And now we go into a one-two punch of Tyra weirdness. It’s all in the service of what I will call establishing Tyra’s history for a general audience. Definitely not rewriting it. Nope. Just getting a few things clear.
First we learn that Tyra was “discovered” at 13, by which she means another girl sitting near her told her she should be a model. Pretty sure that’s not how “discovered” is usually used. If that’s the standard we’re going by, I have been discovered as a stand-up comedian, a musician who should choose a more feminine instrument than the saxophone, and someone who might wish to put her tray table into the upright and locked position at this time.
We also hear about how Tyra’s mom definitely did not encourage or even want her to go into modeling, so quit accusing her of that. We go over that point quite a bit. Tyra, after having been “discovered” by another girl on a bench, decided to actually get a modeling agent instead of just walking around being a model and her mom wasn’t OK with it but then Tyra’s passion and begging won out and Carolyn reluctantly said OK and then took one million photographs of Young Tyra and brought her around to modeling agencies.
We get to see some of the many Young Tyra photos and it’s interesting to see a glimpse of the budding pathology.
Anyway – and let’s just wonder quietly who insisted on this – we hear again that Tyra’s mom did NOT want her daughter to be a model. She just supported Tyra when she chose it. Mikey, no dummy about Tyra being right there, says she made the right choice. Mamé talks about Tyra having her mother’s support when she’s had to be on her own. (Mamé was with relatives! She wasn’t out selling matchsticks.) Mamé says sees her parents every couple of years, which would be rough under any circumstances, yes. But let’s not bury the aunt and uncle.
Tyra’s mom also praises Tyra’s ambition and industry – and who could accuse her of slacking even now? – and tells us that Tyra would go to 15 go-sees a day. And then Tyra tells us that she would make every one of them on time, because Young Tyra knew even then that this would one day be an important challenge.
Carolyn also says you need to know who you are and where you came from and to plan ahead for the end of your modeling career at the beginning. And, for real, points for Tyra for always being realistic about that bit, even as she pretends that real models frequently have to do things like style themselves for shoots using only bark, swamp mud, and crocodile teeth.
And now it’s time for some loving encouragement: Tyra says their moms are all here! The models all run to hug their moms. Mikey loves his mom a whole lot and says they’ve been through a lot together. He even weeps as he talks about her. And you know what? I give Mikey credit for rising out of what sounds like some truly toxic masculinity in his family. I just wish he would connect the fact that he loves and respects his mom to not seeing every other woman on the planet as a sexual object and not being a dick to every woman he wants to bang.
Yes, he probably felt powerless for most of his life. That doesn’t mean he needs to take power by homing in on and bullying Courtney. Yes, he’s probably terrified of being emotionally vulnerable. That doesn’t mean that spending his life being a horndog until he gets a woman into bed and then becoming a total prick immediately afterward is an acceptable life choice. The brave risk opening up and being hurt. Or at least make an effort to not be cockbags.
Mamé is crying and happy to see her mom too. It’s a sweet moment, even though in last week’s promo they totally implied that she would be seeing Justin. Nyle is so happy to see his mom! She signs “I’m proud of you!” He tells us that she’s also deaf, and she raised three boys alone. He says they’re always there for each other.
Mamé’s mom came all the way from Ghana! Mamé is really happy to see her and thanks Tyra profusely for bringing her over. So far we’re light on moments with Lacey and her mom. Uh-oh.
Hey! The moms aren’t just visiting. They’ll be attending the shoots and asking the models if that’s really what they’re wearing and why they have to do their hair like that when it looks so good the other way. Just kidding! The moms will be in the photos too, in high-fashion styling. Oh, this is going to be a treat. Tyra reminds the moms that there will be an elimination based on both people in the photos, so they should try not to fuck this up for their kids. Damn, Tyra. TyraMom says “bring the hot mama out.”
Tyra says the moms will be queens for the day. Mikey tells us his mom worked two jobs while he was growing up, just working one and going straight to the other and then going to sleep and getting up to do it all over again. Props to Mikey’s mom. MikeyMom starts crying when she hears that she’ll be a queen for the day because she never does anything for herself. Dear God, I hope they don’t play any of their cruel styling tricks. Not today.
Momé says she’s happy to be modeling, but she’s very shy. We finally see LaceyMom with Lacey and she’s super cute! Lacey says she was a mama’s girl and also that she didn’t take care of herself well after her parents’ divorce. I think Lacey is maybe coming to grips with the fact that she was depressed but hasn’t quite wrapped her mind around it. She takes her mom out back to show her the pool.
Nyle remembers his parents fighting all the time and tells us that he, as a kid, told his mom that she needed to get a divorce from his dad. Holy crap, young Nyle was hardcore.
Mamé says there’s a little bit of a disconnect between her and her mom because they don’t see each other very often. Mamé tells her mom she wishes she’d grown up living with her parents – pretty much just that. And I understand the sentiment, but she doesn’t seem to be taking her parents’ reasoning into account, or why they felt the need to make such a big sacrifice. We don’t get much of Momé’s response. I don’t think she’s crazy about the idea of doing this as an on-camera confrontation. Mamé takes her mom into the next room, presumably to explain a little something about the relationship between being willing to cry on camera and one’s final score.
In a highly staged moment Yu Tsai asks Lacey about how it was growing up “in the South,” like he’s saying “lost in the swamps” or “in the middle of a war-torn futuristic dystopia.” Lacey says she always had her guard up, because she’s never felt confident about herself. Presumably she just means growing up in general, not that being in the South forced her to have her guard up all the time. She says she felt worthless and always wanted to protect herself.
Yu Tsai tells Lacey to take that negativity and turn it to a positive. I know he’s being nice here, but YU TSAI IS NOT HELPFUL! Turn that frown upside-down! Hey, are you sad? Well, don’t be! If something is bad, just make it good instead! You’re welcome!
Tyra pretends to have a big hand in dressing and styling the moms, because of course she does. At least she’s not trying to recruit them as beautytainers. Jesus, how fast would Tyra’s “empowerment” scheme have bankrupted Mikey’s mom?
LaceyMom is getting a completely bananas hairdo, but she’s a cheerful good sport about it.
Tyra says she’s so inspired today that every Mom-and-offspring set will have two pictures and two looks. Hooray! I hope they also get Second Breakfast, but I’m less confident about that.
Tyra welcomes NyleMom to set by signing “beautiful,” which is a nice touch. I’m glad that everyone is really putting in some effort to be at their best today. TyraMom says that NyleMom should think of nothing but her beauty. NyleMom puts her foot up on the set in a dynamic pose and we’re off!
Nyle says that NyleMom has told him to just be himself in the competition. TyraMom loves Nyle’s eyes. So say we all. If only she’d gotten a load of Bello. Tyra teaches NyleMom about the turtle and how to stick one’s neck out. Tyra seems seems genuinely happy about the shoot, which is sweet.
NyleMom says how proud she is of Nyle and wishes him luck. (I’m sorry I’m using these abbreviations. I do not for one moment wish to suggest that moms should be defined by their children. I’m just trying to save us all from keeping track of a kazillion sudden new names.)
Lacey says she knows Nyle will be big competition. Lacey and her mom look wild with Lacey in a top hat and LaceyMom with hair that’s teased straight up in the middle and cornrowed on the sides.
We get just a short time with them and then it’s on to the next look! Lacey knows she needs to break out of her shell. Yu Tsai says they got it.
Mamé knows her challenge score hurts her. She doesn’t think the shoot is going well because her mom is so shy – and indeed, Momé is holding back. Wouldn’t you if someone had just questioned your most difficult childrearing decision on national television?
Tyra coaches Momé to think about her fantasy (WHAT?) and her favorite singers. Momé does indeed open up under Tyra’s tutelage.
It might be staged, but it’s really fun, so we’ll roll with it. Mamé hopes it will be enough for Top Three.
MikeyMom says her life wasn’t easy, but she did her best. Mikey is giving some weird sex bomb energy during their shoot.
Let’s politely ignore it. The two get a change of clothes and everyone seems happy. I don’t know if Yu Tsai is being restrained because Tyra is there or because everyone’s moms are there, but it’s a nice change. It seems like a generally good-spirited and enjoyable shoot.
Tyra is super proud of moms and models alike. Sparkling cider all around! We toast moms and babies and fashion and Cycle 22.
Nyle’s goal was to win the challenge and now his second goal is best photo. Lacey feels like she has more to prove. Mamé tells us she’s a strong model who deserves this. Mikey cries over how much he has overcome and says he’s here to win it.
Mamé was in shock to see her mom and says it was life-changing to shoot with her. I love their first shot. Mamé looks great and her mom looks so happy. In the next one, honestly, Momé steals the shot while Mamé just looks pretty and polished.
Mikey was so happy to see his mom and he is at panel in a fucking tank top. Rocking his brand! Mikey says he’ll put the picture of him and his mom in his bedroom and all the judges beg him not to, right in concert with every last person in the viewing audience. In the first shot, MikeyMom looks ahead and Mikey looks at her. It’s a loving shot, and he’s not doing his sex bomb thing. In the next picture, they look like a biker outlaw family that is about to make your diner shift absolute hell. It’s great. But seriously, some dishes are getting broken.
Lacey says her mom is her best friend so she was happy to get to do a shoot with her. Aww. The first picture is cool, but Miss J. doesn’t like Lacey’s arm position. That’s silly; she looks beautiful.
The next one looks really cool, like they’re maybe they’re old friends and colleagues in a circus together instead of related.
Nyle is also in a tank top. OK, fine. I will at least try to be evenhanded about this. Someone should be. Nyle says his mom is a New York Italian, and tough. Holy Five Boroughs, NyleMom looks completely like a model! She looks freaking fantastic. Nyle gets overcome with emotion as he looks at the first shot and the judges do a sign-language shout-out to single moms. NyleMom looks amazing AGAIN in the next shot.
She and Nyle just look like they’re in a professional shoot. Well done, you two! And some credit should also go to TyraMom for getting some genuinely fantastic shots. This was a really fun shoot.
Four models! Three photos!
Best Performance: Mamé. Wait a minute. Really? Her shots with her mom were good, but are we really saying they were so splendiferous that they leapfrogged over Nyle’s amazing shots and two-point challenge advantage? I am skeptical of this result.
Runner Up: Nyle. You were robbed, son.
Oh, snap! It’s down to Lacey and Mikey. Tyra says they’re both very strong. Interesting – she’s not cataloging their weaknesses for once. Lacey was comfortable on the set! Mikey had passion and unconditional love!
Who stays? Who goes? The numbers roll and… IT’S A TIE, Y’ALL.
Well, hell. It’s the last cycle. Might as well bust that out. But why are we not calling it a #Ty? Tyra says that when it’s a tie, the judges debate and they decide among themselves who’s in and who’s out. And…
LACEY IS IN. Mikey deflates as champagne corks hit the ceiling in a certain recapper’s home. But wait! Cap those bottles and stop crying into that tank top. Tyra has psyched us all out because MIKEY IS IN TOO. Goddamn it all to hell. Mikey damn near loses his composure entirely, as does Recapper Central. I know that Tyra is merely illustrating the Cathar truth we are all just pawns in the cosmic struggle between good and evil, but boy damn, that was a needlessly cruel way to do it.
Mikey goes ahead and loses his chill. There are four in the running again instead of three. I’d be pissed if I were in the top two. OK, I’m pissed as it is. Tyra does indeed only have one photo left in her hands. It’s a composite of Mikey and Lacey. Ha, ha!
Tyra is proud of the four! So proud that they’re keeping both of the bottom two.
And then Tyra throws this whole elaborate lie COMPLETELY OUT THE WINDOW before it has even had a chance to breathe.
Turns out there are two spots for the end: One for a guy and one for a girl. And the guys will line up against each other and the girls will too. Which means this gender-even final four and this week’s tie were pre-planned all along and nothing means anything and that Cathars are right: It is the bad god who created this world of matter.
Mamé will be up against Lacey, which should be a good even battle, except that given the sudden “always the same” rap they’ve been cutting Lacey down with and the suspicious vaulting that happened with Mamé this week, I suspect that Lacey may just be toast instead of a competitor in a fair fight.
Also maddening is the fact that the models will be vying for the top two spots by giving a freaking presentation to the judges. In the first place, we JUST HAD THE MODELS GIVE PRESENTATIONS LAST WEEK. (Golly, do you think Mamé will have a Redemption Moment in which she presents well this time?) Second, and more frightening, is the fact that last week the judges found a dumb made-up reason to ding Nyle’s professional-looking pitch and pretended to love Mikey’s when it actually sucked filthy moose dick.
The models take pictures in a high school! Quite the empty-school theme this year! Also Justin is back and he looks pissed.
Bring your mom and your tank top. I’ll meet you here.