“I knew there was no constellation prize,” said Dakota after losing the charity challenge, and on her way to an inevitable, intense elimination. Her star had finally fallen, and even given the spectacular loathing for her that exists around the country, I think few could deny that the girl wanted it more than anyone else on the show. Compared to the emotion shown by previous evictees – which was more on the level of getting to McDonald’s drive thru at 10.35 when you wanted a McMuffin – Dakota was convinced that she had been thrown straight onto the human garbage heap, and high class hooker was her ceiling. I happen to think that with some of her wilder impulses toned down she could well become a Nightline reporter or children’s TV presenter. Sure, we’re talking a few years of humanity integration, but she can penetrate the camera and her enthusiasm, when channeled in the right direction, is very infectious. Either way, putting her and Elza, the co-winners of the first challenge, in the bottom two was really poor form, and I think the judges kicked her out at least a round too early from an entertainment perspective.
All that being said, it was a terrific episode, almost making up for the debacle in Phuket. Things didn’t start well, with that atrocious Nivea informercial chewing through the early minutes. You know you’re watching bad TV when the highlight is two pretty teenage girls complaining about stress pimples. But the charity thing was a genius concept, which a couple of the girls totally nailed, and the shoot was fun, though perhaps not the best way of showing their strengths as models to probably the most qualified judge we’re likely to see this cycle. Regardless, I had a fine old time on Friday, and if my fave reality TV villain of recent times had to go, at least she slung a few arrows and threatened to stab someone along the way. Rankings:
1. (LW: 2) Courtenay
This really feels like a reach (like Bargnani in the third, but nothing can be done about that now), so let me explain myself. She got photo of the day and totally deserved it. Despite an inkling that anyone would look good under all that alien cake (though I would probably have batty issues), Courtenay seemed to embrace the enterprise more wholeheartedly than any of the others, who seemed to get a bit psyched out by being 100% nude around Sisarich. Fair enough. But Courtenay, for all her Christianity-as-a-crutch has seemed most comfortable with her own body throughout – she comfortably won the lingerie-inna-church challenge too, remember – and that’s enough to get her over the line here. Which is not because she totally devastated the field, but more because she screwed up the least in a week of very average performances all round. As fine as her photo was, I still can’t get over how unpleasant her invocation of Nia Glassie and the Kahui twins’ memory was. It’s a freaking modeling competition. Sweet cause sure, but when you’re trying to get yourself a f***ing Ford Fiesta (very limp enthusiasm for that prize from the mods, I thought) raising the spectre of dead children to get yourself a W seems a little, I don’t know, horrid? She then delivered it in a terrifying monotone, and only scraped into the top three of that segment by virtue of everyone else being so rubbish. So here she sits, but less on her own merit than on a slightly lower number of demerits.
2. (LW: 1) Danielle
Bad week for Danielle. I mean, a real stinker. I’m getting more and more irritated by the way this can frequently feel like a slo-mo coronation for her. Because as much as she’s a different girl to the one who skulked indifferently onto set a couple of months back, she still petulantly refuses to even try anything which might expose her as lacking a particular skill. So she makes the glibbest attempt at creating a charity – eco houses, which I’m pretty sure is actually a business – then doesn’t bother to present it. But she didn’t have to worry about the judges raining down on her, because, well, they never have before, so why start now? And I hate to sound like some kind of remonstrating, tut-tut-ing parent here, but the whole reason she doesn’t bother trying in challenges that play away from her strengths (anything that doesn’t involve a camera, basically) is because the judges have never once called her to account. This has consequences. Because in the final, she’s going to royally screw something up through lack of effort, and they’ll either have to give her the prize against all logic, or give it to someone else because they’ve carried her through on some weird coming-from-a-small-town-is-such-a-handicap-she-deserves-our-patronising-city-folk-affirmative-action shit. It’s a big problem, and will only become more apparent over the next couple of eps. Anyway, that aside she said some cool shit, perceptively noting that one of Dakota’s defense mechinisms is to try and “find your weakest points, then she’ll pick at you until she takes you down.” Well spotted. Maybe that’s because DAKOTA WAS ACTUALLY TRYING TO WIN. Sheesh. Also she thought Christobelle (very flat, I thought, though taller than I recalled – maybe she’s had leg extensions?) was “a real cool chick”. Which is somewhat surprising. I always like to know what the stars are like in real life.
3. (LW: 3) Elza
For the love of God, make it stop. This whole fragility thing with Elza is a total crock. I’m not buying what they’re selling. She had a cry because she was talking about bullying on national TV at the age of 18. Well, who the fuck wouldn’t? Maybe y’all should have paid more attention to the fact that she A) made a super duper cool charity, B) drew an amazing logo/brand thingo (I want to buy it at a charity auction – can that be arranged?), and C) caned the delivery.
Where’s the problem? I mean, the photo was whatevs, but can you actually read anything into that ludicrous shoot? Call me crazy, but I feel like a model could quite comfortably say to her agent “I’ll do anything, but I’m not into that nude sci-fi airbrush crap OK? Straight up, not my deal.” and that would be fine and non-career threatening. I also enjoyed how deeply cynical she looked about the infomercial at the start. I’m projecting all this shit onto her, I know, but in my head she’s part of this Dunedin anti-commercial, cynical-about-all-government, back-to-the-land survivalist culture. Like she’s friends with Matt Middleton on facebook (which I must have mentioned before), but I reckon it’s more for his extreme leftist conspiracy-theorist political views than his music. That will come later. But yeah, she’s strange, and prone to doing awesome shit like crying when she gets a wad of twenties in an envelope (anyone else think they handed over Sisarich’s coke money to her by mistake and then covered it up by saying it was a prize?), and when listing great redheads she said “even chickens – my favourite”. The girl is deeply dippy, and I’m into it. As long as the behind-the-scenes machinations don’t continue to have her on a downward curve then I think there’s every chance she can take the thing home.
4. (LW: 5) Michaela
Kidding! Michaela is stunning. She’s maybe the most conventionally beautiful girl left on the show. She seems like a nice person. She’s devoted to her family, and God, and the memory of her Nana. She cares about poverty in Africa. All this is great. But this is TV, so here come the knives. Firstly, no one in the known universe thinks she has the remotest chance of winning. Too conventional, only one look, a bit drippy. With that being an immutable truth, her continued presence is a real head-scratcher. The producers want to have us enjoy the final couple of eps, right? At least I hope they do. So why send home an equally talented entertainment machine and keep the meek and mild Michaela? It’s just a big, glaring error. And while I might have climbed down from the very, very high horse that had me throwing down my notepad on Friday and declaring that I was never again watching the show after Dakota was eliminated, I still think we lost at least one great ep by chucking her out out and keeping Michaela in. And it wasn’t justice! That’s my main problem. Because her photo was average. She has a fine bod, which was all exposed, cool, well done etc, but her face was just a slightly more seductive version of her regular look, and her charity pitch was a total disaster. She referred to Africa as a country twice, and was entirely wooden and detached at delivery. The only redeeming feature was CMj’s curt dismissal of her idea with “what Africa needs is straightening irons”. Genius. She instead talked about “feeding small families” – again, not something Africa’s known for – and committed the ultimate reality TV sin by admitting she’d be happy just to make the top three. Ugh. Ursula rightly ripped her a new one, and now we have to enjoy a totally pointless episode where they eliminate her. Bo-ring. But once she’s gone we’ll have a finale with three very different, very strong candidates, and it will be totally amazing. Which is something to look forward to.