Handicapping the models, I've realized, is a bit of a fool's task, since the judgments -- of all the judges (save the world's first (re: oldest) supermodel Janice Dickinson), but Tyra especially -- are at best whimsical, at worst capricious and arbitrary. It's difficult to really gauge exactly what the judges will determine as good or bad performances from week to week (which also shows up in how weak the show has become (or always was?) as narrative). Of course, it's still easy-peasy to see that some certain ladies can pretty much sleepwalk their way into the top 3 because A) some of the girls simply don't belong on the show; B) Tyra et al have a particular agenda for certain girls that fast-tracks them into the finals (cf. Flak Magazine: America's Next Top Model re: Robin).
Yet, I'll readily admit to being the fool who's up to this task.
TOP MODEL NEXTNESS RANKINGS
1. Naima (2) - I was tempted to keep Janice at number one, to be honest, since Naima hasn't shown a particularly deep personality yet. But it's hard to argue with the cuteness, and the HAIR OMG. Definitely final 3 material, but it's starting to look like she'll top out thereabouts.
2. Kahlen (7T) - From now on, I'll listen to my heart and not try to read Tyra's mind. From the very beginning (i.e. two episodes ago) I could see that she could definitely contend, but the knock against her will probably be articulated as a lack of versatility -- which I, on the other hand, see as refreshing. Fundamentally, she seems to be someone who needs to be pushed a little in order to be expressive and focused, not just the demure, shy cutie-pie that I've decided to crush on for this season. She can do it! I see it in her face. Fierce!
3. Brittany (3) - I'm going to out-think myself here (I'll be careful not to sprain myself): Tyra saying the she looked like she didn't know what she was doing was not a moment of clarity as I would love to believe, but likely just a bump in the road to her becoming the second runner's up of blah blah. She's loud, and the judges seem to understand that as personality, probably because all the rest of the girls are as exciting as peanut butter smeared on crackers. But because I am the KING OF RELATIVISM, my mental acuity PENETRATES through her horsey guffawing. Still, she has the looks of a pro, and she's solidified her position as AMERICA'S NEXT SECOND RUNNER-UP.
4. Christina (7T) - She helped comfort Kahlen, which shows her caring side. So instead of a lipless robot, she's a benevolent alien after all. Which explains why she thinks that baseball is played on a triangle -- "We're rounding second base, and coming down the homestretch." Her pretty shell (I can't give up the robot motif!) will get farther, but until Dr. Noonian Soong installs an emotion chip in her, she'll never understand what it means to feel love.
5. Keenyah (4) - Sinking fast -- that her assignment for this episode was GLUTTONY isn't helping.
6. Michelle (5) - One word: clueless. Remember Nadine Hurley from Twin Peaks, when she got bonked on the head and thought she was back in high school but instead she really had superstrength? I hated that storyline. Michelle is kind of like her -- a very physical presence that'll knock vases over and crush high school guys between her thighs. Michelle's big swing from confidence bordering on arrogance to prostration at Tyra's feet for not eliminating her indicated that the "growth" in her self-esteem had a shambling foundation (cf. her "I spent four(ty) years in drama class, I'm not a totally stiff and inflection-less actress!" obliviousness). Once in a while, she'll stumble into a good, maybe "great" photo, but more usually, she reveals herself to be out of her league. Baseball rating: Rob Deer (which would make Keenyah Salomon Torres).
Indie rating: Can - "Paperhouse"