America’s Next Top Model Recap: Total Knockout

America's Next Top Model

Out for the Count
Season 23 Episode 6
Editor’s Rating *****
The models. Photo: VH1

This iteration of America’s Next Top Model lives and dies by the amount of time we spend with the judges. It’s not that the new collection of wannabe models isn’t cutting it — they’re quite the dynamic (and loud) crew — but they’re just coming onto the scene. How could they possibly compare to a supermodel, a super-stylist, a super-blond, or a super … Rita?

While Tyra may be missed, ANTM’s new panel of experts are plenty charming, both on their own and as a unit. In this week’s episode, Ashley Graham acts as the contestants’ mentor for the entire hour, and her presence is much appreciated. Pretty much anytime she’s not around, this group of young women devolves into a screaming, fondling, onesie-wearing bunch of hooligans. I would not be surprised to find out that every sink in that house has been peed in at some point.

We have to wade through a lot of personal antics tonight, most of which revolve around the developing epic romance that is Kyle and Marissa. Two things are very clear from the beginning of this flirtation: (1) Marissa could potentially win this competition, but Kyle will be lucky if she make it through one more judges’ panel, and (2) Kyle is way into Marissa, while Marissa is just bored enough to tolerate a flirtation. Yes, Marissa is 18 and Kyle is 23, so they’re permitted a little immaturity, but it is rough watching Kyle explain how she’d like to “lay on top of” Marissa and having Marissa be all, “Kyyyyyle!”

So, fortunately: Ashley Graham.

Ashley enters the dirt-floor mansion to tell the girls that this week’s theme is all about the body and strength. Being a model doesn’t mean not eating, it means eating right, so they’re must make Ashley’s favorite kale-pesto pasta together. Also, for the entirety of Ashley’s dinner-party visit, there is a double bottle of white wine sitting in a sketchy pot of ice water, so this is a real just-one-of-the-gals visits of the most classic Tyra variety. (I would not put it past VH1 to have asked Ashley to shop for and buy these dinner groceries, either.) While pal-ing out, Krislian opens up to Ashley about what a hard time she’s having with the judges constantly mentioning her sexiness, especially after having been sexually harassed in her adolescence. Ashley tells her that she can relate to that, since her goal as a model is to show women that you don’t have to be oversexualized to be beautiful. “Tell your story,” she says. “That’s your message.”

In what quickly becomes a running theme, Courtney lurks on the outskirts of this private conversation. Meanwhile, in what has already become a running theme, Binta screams at Tatiana about the shower being dirty, and then screams about screaming, and then screams some more.

Finally, at long last, it’s time for the first challenge. There’s nothing I love more than a jumping photo, and for this particular one, Ashley brings the contestants to Queens to jump on a tiny trampoline in front of the Manhattan skyline while wearing their snazziest sportswear. She says action shots show why it’s critical for models to keep their bodies in tip-top shape — the catch here is that they only get one shot to get their photo. The goal is to nail the face, body, and attitude of a sports campaign while still looking like a model.

Krislian and Binta try to go too high-end, Tatiana hits the face but doesn’t quite get the body in the frame, and Kyle doesn’t seem to try at all. But it’s Paige who goes in with a plan, executing a full-body pose and perfectly powerful face that Ashley says would look right at home on a Nike billboard. She wins a 90-minute massage along with a friend, which is perhaps the first legitimate “prize” of the season, but I’ll assume the faceless masseuses are actually Rita and Law in disguise.

A RitAlert informs the women that Rita has been “known to knock out my competition in business,” which, while unverified in its legitimacy, still means with that there will be some boxing in this week’s photo shoot. What the amateur models don’t realize is that their shooting partner will be Ashley’s good pal and fellow Sports Illustrated model Chanel Iman. In addition to trying to out-supermodel an actual supermodel, Ashley explains, they’ll need to show that they can keep control over their bodies and remain beautiful in a high-impact editorial shoot.

Tatiana continues her rise, showing that she’s comfortable on set and working in tandem with Chanel. Ultimately, Ashley says at panel that she would have appreciated a little more diversity in Tatiana’s frames, but Law thinks the long-legged shot is her best one yet. Paige doesn’t exactly continue her winning streak from the challenge, as Drew has to switch her activity to jump-roping to make her look more at ease, but it works out anyway because she manages to take all the focus in a photo with Chanel. Cody also manages to hold her own in the boxing ring, and Law tells her, “Your current wave is becoming prominent.” Agreed … I think.

Binta, on the other hand, has become a little boring to Law. Though her wild battle photo with Chanel is interesting, he wonders if her presence and personality are strong enough to compete with the other girls. Considering that Binta’s favorite hobby is competing loudly with the other girls, she does not seem to love that critique. Surprisingly, Courtney might not be one of those strong girls Law is referring to — she looks editorial in her photo, but Drew (who kind of hilariously hates Courtney) wonders if they’ll ever get anything else from her than that “cold face” she’s really good at. Krislian continues the trend of mixed reviews: Ashley thinks she finally brought out her high-end side like they’ve talked about, while Rita says she looks crumpled next to the professional Chanel.

Of course, the ballad of Marissa and Kyle has been playing out in the house, where they get in a fight because Kyle tells Marissa she’s turned on. At panel, Marissa takes a dope “grown woman” picture because she’s not at all distracted by any feelings, and Kyle takes a meh picture because she was totally distracted by Marissa (and also maybe because she’s kind of a meh model). Meanwhile, Rita insists that India should be an incredible model because she’s got an incredible model face, but she’s not elevating in her photos.

Not blending in at all is CoryAnne, who kept a low profile in the drama department this week but showed out in her photo, totally upstaging Chanel with never-ending legs and the fiercest of faces. Those two things help her edge out Cody for Best Photo for the second week in a row.

As for the bottom two, Krislian and Kyle once again find themselves at risk.  The judges are concerned that Kyle’s efforts just aren’t enough, but it’s their ultimate belief that Krislian has reached her peak in the competition, and so they send Krislian home. But, as she says, she’ll be going home a better model. Girl really gave it her all — hopefully she’ll have the Instagram-follower bump to prove it.

America’s Next Top Model Recap: Total Knockout