Credit: Mathieu Young/The CW ©2010 The CW Network Photo: Esther Walks the Runway

Here’s a distinction that means very little on its own: Esther’s commercial was better than Ann’s. Here’s where it becomes important: Esther’s commercial was better than Ann’s, and Esther and Ann were the bottom two. There were no accompanying beauty shots last night, so the judges made a bold reality competition move — save someone by rewarding past performance.

“The reason why I called your name,” Tyra told Ann, “has something to do with you taking fantastic photos, but the reason why the judges decided you should really stay is because you have an awkwardness that is actually beautiful.” Please. Even without this defensive statement as proof, we all know they just didn’t want to send Ann home. And why would they? She’s likeable, and she takes the best photos. Ann should be in the competition. Ann’s going to get work. Anyone with smizing eyes can see it. But what we didn’t hear from Tyra is why specifically she beat Esther last night, and that’s because the commercial was totally irrelevant.

Before her feeble attempt to build suspense (“Esther, a ponytail tonight, I see. Well done.”), Tyra made it a point to mention that Esther’s photos weren’t as strong as Ann’s. Maybe it wasn’t such a bold move after all. Two people underperformed, and the one with the better photos made the cut. But remember Zac Posen’s critique of Ann after the runway challenge? He basically foreshadowed the second half of the show: “I think you had a little panic moment right before you went out. However, you’re rare. Rarity is the definition, for me, of luxury. That’s a very powerful thing to have.” After Tyra told Ann the judges didn’t think she was capable of speaking or presenting herself well — which came after numerous reminders that speaking and presenting herself well is essential — the weakness in the commercial was magically transformed into a strength. After two bad interviews, she still got the job. Chris and Chelsey heard their names called last night, but it’s silly to pretend anyone other than Ann was the winner.

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