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America's Next Top Model

America’s Next Top Model Cycle 18, Episode 9 Recap: The Queen Is Dead! Long Live the Queen

Bless her, she was always delicate.

Remember when Queen Catherine cried in front of the judges and The Sexy Nigel Barker called her "a wretched mess"? She cried again on America's Next Top Model Cycle 18, Episode 9: "Barney Cheng."

She was asked to channel heartbreak and instead of thinking about her ensuing ANTM elimination, how much her fellow models hated each other, or how her red hair keeps getting scraggly like the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons, she decided to think about DEATH. Maybe we should blame guy in Macau for not warning Catherine, “You are a wood element, you should wear green — but not green lipstick — and by the way, don’t burst into tears during your upcoming photo shoot or pose with your hand out like you’re serving tea.”

But the real folks to blame are the judges. Catherine was probably just a victim of being a UK girl when there are only two US girls left. They don’t want the show to turn into Britain’s Next Top Model: All-Stars. It helps that Laura and Eboni hate each other and that’s good for drama — just like Alisha vs. Sophie is good for drama on the UK side. At least Sophie and Laura have finally figured out that they are the frontrunners for the final two. But since when has ANTM ever done the obvious thing? For all we know, this will come down to Annaliese, Eboni and Alisha and one of them will be disqualified during the finale with no explanation. If that happens, they should just give the win to Allison Harvard. That’s the best way to improve ratings (not firing Nigel and the Js.)

Anyway, in lieu of a traditional recap, we’ll be ranking the girls (and judges — we see you, too!) based on their photos, attitude and all-around fascination level. Check out our ANTM Power Play below, starting with our Top Model loser.

Credit: Walter Sassard/The CW ©2012 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved    

Ranking: 11, Alisha White (UK)
Rank on the show: Bottom two
Alisha should’ve paid attention to her fortune cookie: "It's a long fall from the top." Last week she was called first. This week, she almost went home. She should’ve focused on her own talent, instead, she was too busy insisting she doesn’t envy Sophie: "Who envies Sophie?” she asked the cameras. “No one! Who wants pink hair?” [Um, us?] “I do feel like she does get majority of the great feedback. I personally am not envious of that because I feel like my time will come." It didn’t come this week. This week was mostly about Alisha 1) trashing Sophie because others like her and 2) trashing Sophie because Sophie moved her clothes around when they arrived in Macau. Sophie said she was sorry, but Alisha is apparently someone who can’t move on, even after an apology. "Alisha's good at getting on her high horse sometimes," Annaliese said. "Sometimes she thinks she's the leader of the bunch and it's a little bit like watching high school.”

It’s a shame Alisha can’t bring that off-shoot drama to her photos. This week she thought she was “in the zone” with the silkworms but her instincts were way off. Jay Manuel thought she was probably going home. Barney Cheng, the guest judge who made the clothes, said the dress wasn’t shown well. Tyra said girls think modeling is about selling themselves and that's the last thing — it's about selling the product. Alisha got to stick around over Catherine because, Tyra said, Alisha has the most high fashion look and it's up to her to put it in a photo. Too bad they didn’t care that Catherine put it in photos more often.

Ranking: 10, Catherine Thomas (UK)
Rank on show: Eliminated
Alas, the queen is no more. Mr. Jay said Catherine's poses were too wooden and stiff. Alisha said Catherine has one of the best faces there but if she breaks down it's good for Alisha because it’s a strong contender down. Way to support a fellow UK girl! Barney told the judges Catherine totally froze on the set and started bawling. He said the shot didn’t do anything for the dress or anything else. Tyra said Catherine is so much better than this. Kelly said it's like she's pointing to Door #2. Nigel said they all like her but at this point it's about modeling results. She also doesn't have a good walk, Kelly added. Tyra, to her credit, remembered the music video where she noted there was “something special and magical” about Queen Catherine. It’s too bad she didn’t fight for her to keep the throne.

Ranking: 9, Tyra Banks
Rank on the show: Host/creator/diva (un-ranked)
Tyra said "it's all about neck when you're modeling." But earlier in the show, Nigel told the modelstants “it's all about the eyes." Which is it? Here’s another “which is it”: Tyra told Alisha girls think modeling is about selling themselves when it’s really about selling the clothes. But her complaint about Sophie’s photo was that she would still buy the dress — and she would tear the photo out of a magazine for the dress — but not because of the model. Isn’t that the whole point she was just trying to make? That it’s about the clothes? Isn’t that a point in Sophie’s favor?

Ranking: 8, Kelly Cutrone
Rank on the show: Judge (un-ranked)
By now it’s pretty clear that Kelly is first and foremost Team Laura and, at a close second, Team I Don’t Get Annaliese. Kelly admitted that Annaliese took a great photo, but she still doesn't see Annaliese as a model. As Annaliese said last week, Kelly doesn’t even want to like her. It seems unfair. Kelly also gushed over Laura’s admittedly gush-worthy photo, saying “I think she has really woven an amazing blanket of culture, couture and consciousness." Yeah, it doesn’t mean much, but she got a shout-out from Tyra for her alliteration. Kelly also gets points for pointing out the ridiculousness of them keeping Eboni around when all they ever do is find fault with her. Kelly claims they all love her in person (even though last week they trashed her lack of pigtails) but they keep finding excuses to push her along each week, hoping she'll eventually look like a model. Yes. Yes, that is rather silly.

Credit: Walter Sassard/The CW ©2012 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved    

Ranking: 7, The Sexy Nigel Barker
Rank on show: Judge and noted fashion photographer (un-ranked)
At the start of the episode, Nigel showed up at the US mansion with bags of Chinese food. Ideal way to start a day. (Can we order Nigel to go?) He told the models that, as a photographer, he looks for life in their eyes. “It’s all about the eyes.” So it was disappointing to hear him dislike Sophie’s photo because the look in her eyes was “too extreme” to sell the garment. Overall he thought Sophie’s photo was “average” with a pose he’s seem a million times before. Nigel loved Eboni’s body language, for some reason, and used the word “stunning” to describe the top two, Laura and Annaliese. At least he’s willing to stand up for Annaliese.

Ranking: 6, Barney Cheng
Rank on the show: Guest judge (un-ranked)
Barney designed the silk gowns they wore in Macau. Barney’s main concern was the ladies showing off his gowns. Since Tyra said that’s the model’s #1 job, that’s where everyone’s focus should’ve been. He adored Annaliese’s photo, saying “love” about a half dozen times. Barney got pretty deep about Laura’s pic, saying it was very Chinese, caught between hard and soft. He was not into Alisha or Catherine because they did not sell his designs well. He had no problem with Sophie because she did sell the dress. But maybe it’s his fault that Eboni wasn’t even in the bottom two, since he said her pic wasn’t high fashion but it made him curious. If he gets really curious he should ask Tyra to explain the theory behind “30 Never.”

Ranking: 5, Eboni (US)
Rank on show: Bottom two
Eboni was bottom two last week and Alisha called her a cat with nine lives. She’s on her 10th right about now. When the episode wasn’t about Alisha hating on Sophie it was about Laura hating on Eboni. It would’ve been nice to show some of the reasons for Laura’s distaste, but instead we just heard about it. Laura told Eboni, "You can seem so vain sometimes it's, like, sickening." Annaliese said Eboni does look in the mirror all the time. Laura made fun of Eboni posing in every reflection she sees AS IF THEY AREN'T ALL MODELS. Sorry, but maybe if this were Top Chef the mirror argument would carry more weight.

Eboni’s fortune was typically ridiculous: "For what you lack in maturity you make up in youth." Translation: Stay a baby! Don’t even turn 20, never mind 30! Fear age! Fear wrinkles! Fear anything but eternal youth! And don’t forget to wear your pigtails! Great messages. That Eboni has yet to kill anyone over the youth thing is to her credit. However, she did not impress Mr. Jay during the photo shoot. He called her performance “middle of the road” and didn’t know what her emotion was. Tyra was horrified that she had no neck in the shot and her waist was the same width as her shoulders. Nigel liked her body language, but not her lack of neck. (Unless she was channeling a linebacker?) Kelly thought her photo was her best fashion shot — comparing it to a World War II postcard — but she added that the judges keep making excuses to keep Eboni around. You mean like calling an average photo her best fashion shot?

Credit: Paul Tsang/Pottle Productions Inc ©2012 Pottle Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved    

Ranking: 4, Mr. Jay Manuel and Miss J. Alexander
Rank on the show: Director of photo shoots and runway diva coach extraordinaire, respectively (un-ranked)
We’re already in pre-mourning for the loss of Nigel and the Js. As usual, Mr. Jay’s photo shoot commentary gave a good preview of the judges’ panel. He’s a director, a therapist and a great oh-no-she-di-int face maker. Miss J. made a welcome appearance in Macau, making up for the lack of his fabulousness last week. He is perfect for a trip to China — since he loves to dress in far-out Far East garments, even when no one else does.

Ranking: 3, Annaliese Dayes (UK)
Rank on show: Called second
Why do the judges always feel compelled to qualify every good photo Annaliese takes? Tyra said Miss Commercial keeps doing high fashion every week. Nigel said her shot is perfect around the neck and he loved her hand on her hip and on her face. He called it “stunning.” He said it’s her best shot. Kelly said yes, it’s best for her but she should stick to TV. (Grr.) Tyra also seems unsure of whether it’s just a good shot for Annaliese or a good modeling shot, period. Barney loved it. He said "love" over and over ‘cause Annaliese made the dress look amazing. That was her job. Jay also said she took direction really well during the shoot — and she showed off some fit and amazing abs during the change-your-aura challenge. Maybe she’s not the most “typical” high fashion model, but she’s earned her spot in Cycle 18’s final five. Give her a break, Kelly!

Ranking: 2, Sophie Sumner (UK)
Rank on show: Safe
It was like Pile On Sophie Week. As her fortune cookie warned, "Keep your friends close and the envious closer." Alisha really went to town on Soph — and she must’ve been happy to hear the judges also be harsh with the mod pixie. Nigel all but yawned looking at Sophie’s photo. Tyra said the dress looked amazing but not because of Sophie’s posing. Her arms were just there. She didn’t give anything odd or quirky. Tyra said she looked like an actress who booked Vogue and was nervous about it. And yet Tyra made the point to say models were paid to sell clothes and they all agreed that the dress looked great in Sophie’s shot. It’s too bad they couldn’t give her credit for her part in that.

However, Sophie gets extra points for naming one of her silkworms Edwin and telling him to “smize” in their photo. The element guy also told her he could sense positive energy from her and said "You're destined to be famous but at the cost of jealousy." (Point to ponder: Do you think that guy got notes from the producers or early copies of this season to watch before talking to the ladies? It all seems a little too spot-on with their storylines this cycle.)

Credit: Paul Tsang/Pottle Productions Inc ©2012 Pottle Productions Inc. All Rights Reserved    

Ranking: 1, Laura (US)
Rank on show: Called first
Sophie said Laura is her strongest competition and she wants to see them as the final two, battling it out. Agreed. That was our thought right after AzMarie's elimination. Laura returned the compliment, saying Sophie has talent and charisma and she's definitely her biggest competition. Sophie is still our #1 girl, but this week definitely belongs to Laura — even if she almost ruined it for herself by going on about Eboni. (It’s like after Kyle, Laura needed someone new to rant about. Why?)

Laura won both challenges this week and deserved both — especially the change-your-aura challenge. How chic and amazing did she look in black, with those dark eyes? Clear winner. Laura was also at home during the silkworm challenge since (why is this not a surprise) she likes bugs. Jay asked her what makes her feel powerful and she answered, “Really good sex." Jay replied, "Just go for your best orgasm, then.” It worked, even if Alisha sniffed that Laura is “too sexual”: "A f**king silkworm is sexual to this girl!" But Laura was gorgeous. Her poses went awkward and bizarre, almost eating a silkworm. "Genius," Jay said. The judges were just as adoring. Nigel said she was stunning and looked unbelievable. Tyra said it's almost like she was doing a dance and caught in a moment. Kelly couldn’t even believe it was Laura; she regretted giving Laura a white-blonde makeover, ‘cause Laura was giving girls with black hair a great name.

But what about her walk and attitude? Laura’s runway work is a weak point and she admitted she’s “a very emotional person.” Will that come back to haunt her or be something she overcomes in the finale?

Catch the next episode of ANTM Cycle 18 on Wednesday, May 9 at 9 pm ET/PT on The CW.

Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.

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05.3.2012 / 07:14 PM EDT by Gina Carbone
Related: America's Next Top Model, Recaps

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