And then there were three. If I was saddened and embittered by Dakota’s elimination last week then Courtenay’s departure left me completely dumbfounded. She definitely had a soft episode, but I’m starting to suspect some grand conspiracy to hustle Michaela to the finale. She has never at any point looked like the winner, whereas Courtenay had poise, a walk, a variety of different facial expressions… all that modelly stuff that those who make it to the finale tend to possess. For her to come crashing down because she can’t read a map seems rather cruel.
But life is cruel, and the designers were unremittingly cruel in their assessments of her. When she slipped up at World and “when I become a model” fell out of her pretty little mouth the writing was on the wall, and if you want metaphors for this episode’s performance you only had to watch her ask her driver to pull over on the motorway. Her campaign had been slick and well directed, but as soon as reality (or as close to that substance as you’ll get on this show) bit, in the form of actual clients and deadlines, she was done.
Aside from that the highs came from Ford. And by ‘highs’ I mean the kind of brain-meltingly stupid moments that makes this show so great. Like the super-dated, incredibly embarassing graffitti-d Fiestas for the mods to get around in. Or their marketing manager sounding exactly like David Brent at his most over-weaningly desperate-to-be-liked. Or the fact that never in the hsitory of brand-personality alliances has their been a less well-matched pairing than Ford and Danielle. Watching that one flame out will be a good time. Rankings:
1. (LW: 2) Danielle
Who else? Seriously, that might have been the single most dominant performance in one episode in the long and storied history of this fine program – eclipsing such classics as Hosanna vs America and Elza going to fashion school. Danielle got ticks for both runway and photo shoot from everyone bar the sportswear people. She had double the ticks of the opposition combined. It was truly devastating, and she’s gone from that-feral-hick-who-takes-great-pics to the unquestioned favourite for the title in a few short weeks. But it was her confidence that did it for me. “They love me,” she cackled delightedly at one point, and they really did. Every designer lavished praise on her, and seeing her unleashed, outside the artificial confines of the NZNTM-verse it all makes sense. She is the real deal, and those bookers can smell that stink a mile away. When she whipped open the curtain at World it was the mark of a woman with a flair for the dramatic, and she made even quirk-machine Elza look meek and mild by comparison. Plus she had the unmistakeable swagger of a champion, that give-me-the Goddamn-ball (© Andy Morton by way of Tom Hanks) attitude which spells DANGER for all concerned: “I’m home. Get this shit on me,” she said of the basketball shoot. Right now, baring a severe mishap, she is riding this thing home in two days time.
2. (LW: 3) Elza
I’m really, really sorry about the quality of the images this week. My sister-in-law house-sat for us and soiled herself very badly by deleting the crystal clear hi-def version from our MySky, leaving the shoddy On Demand version as my visual ref for this week. Aside from that, you’ll notice that even when dressed as Katy Perry Elza looks strange and mercurial. No mean feat, as when Katy Perry is dressed as Katy Perry she looks like a medium-sized plastic bag of syphillis flavoured M&Ms. But yeah, Elza disappointed a bit this week. I thought 27 Names would be jumping her bones, but they stood stony-faced and immune to her charms. World was similarly unmoved, damning her with the faint praise of a runway booking, while even Sable + Minx, whose gothy vibez seem custom built for an Elza-type, could only manage a shrug. I think two factors stand in her way. Firstly, when we see Elza, we imagine her with Nellie alongside and it’s fucking magic. The bookers (at least right now, with Nellie watching on teevee) don’t have that benefit. Secondly, we love her because of her funny, quasi-mystical ways and ridiculous positivity and politeness which somehow doesn’t grate or seem ingenuine. Whereas the bookers just see some happy, dippy redhead – they don’t have time to get familiar with the real Elza. So this episode played away from her strengths. The finale may not – she still takes some gorgeous pictures, and has the best screwed-on head of anyone in the comp’s history. She had an OK ep – heaps of people would have grown sick with bitterness after Michaela’s cheap trick to push in ahead of her, and basketball (feat CJ Bruton! and, um, Pauly Henare) definitely isn’t her strong suit – I thought she expressed it well in saying “I have the height, but I don’t necessarily have the coordination.” Next week we find out if she has the stomach to stand in front of a raging Danielle and turn this procession into a real dogfight. My gut says no, but with elements as mismatched and volatile as Danielle and Elza nothing is certain.
3 (LW: 4) Michaela
DeadBall’s resident statistician pointed out to me that this is the first time one model’s been on the bottom four weeks in a row*. That could indicate one of two things: either Michaela’s secretly amazing and I’ve been wrong the whole time, or there’s been a whole shipping container full of bad judging dropped on the show. After extensive research I have in fact determined that it’s bad, bad, awful, shithouse judging that’s the problem. She straight up shouldn’t be here. Tentative, emotionally stunted, cry-y,one face – you all know the reasons. Yet they give her best photo! The photo was pretty good, I suppose, but nothing to fill your pants about. I can picture right now every other photo from this week in my head, but Michaela’s is a blank. Fundamentally I just cannot for one moment buy into any argument which suggests that she has a chance on Friday. Which makes it a two horse race. A shame, because it needn’t have been, and they’ve seriously devalued the anticipation with having someone who barely scraped into the top eight make the final. Bloody MacIntyre system! This week’s performance was another perfunctory effort, lowlighted by that stunt she pulled on Elza. “I pushed in front of her and it was kinda rude. But oh well!” cue cutesy smile. NOT CUTE. Just a bit of a lame, immature, bullying thing to do. Very Michaelavellian, really (so sorry). Before the shoot she had the 38th breakdown of the season, and somehow pulled it together. Felt staged to me. Maybe I’m being too hard on her, but I just have felt NOTHING for Michaela for weeks now, and this episode did nothing to rescusitate my fandom. Next week – comeuppance. And a post-series wrap up of some description, mainly because once that’s done deadball will go back to being an unpopular sports blog again, and I’m just kinda delaying that moment.
* Fact not checked, because DeadBall doesn’t have a resident statistician. Obviously.