I can’t believe it’s nearly finished.
I can’t believe there’s only three girls left.
I can’t believe that the instances of people looking diagonally upwards in this show have just been reduced by one hundred percent.
But most of all, I can’t believe that Mauritius is an actual legitimate fashion destination.
Mind you, I wear ponchos.
Don your sarong and shake the sand out of your gusset, it’s the ‘I Bless The Scrags Down Near Africa’ episode of Australia’s Next Top Model.
Dog. Trust me.
We see a welcome (I’m doing finger-inverted-commas) return of some classic catchphrases we haven’t seen in a while, no doubt due to the upping of tension in the final pre-recorded episode of this series. Still, I think we can all agree that “Oh My God” is the Alice Burdeu of catchphrases. Aaand “The Camera Loves You” is Eboni Stocks.
I’m still holding out for “That Bitch Stole My Cigarettes” for the win, though. I just need to get someone to say it at the finale seventy-nine times. My money’s on Jen Hawkins.
The Best Final Four (BFFs) start the day in the kitchen, reminiscing about the time there was ten more of them and they all tried to fit into the kitchen. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for fourteen starving pubescent stick-insects to all cram into an open-plan kitchen in a mansion. Brutal.
Abbie, counting on her fingers, exclaims “We are the top ONE TWO THREE FOUR!”, which for some reason makes Duckie do this:
Which for some reason makes me do this:
And that reason is that I am a grown-up. God, I’m going to miss making you guys fart so. Much.
Dawso enters, making Duckie wonder what she’s doing in their house. The house provided by a television program in which Dawso is a judge and a reasonably constant and relentless presence.
Dawso gushes, as far as her face will allow, about how far the girls have come and how much they’ve changed. Then she starts putting a bunch of long pauses between her words, and you just KNOW that that shit means there’s something big coming.
“Firstly…” she begins,
“…this is your last morning…”
“…in the Top Model house. Shortly…”
“I’m going to ask you to pack your bags…”
“To test your resolve on just how much you want to win Australia’s Next Top Model…”
“… you will be challenged by two photo shoots. And those two photo shoots…”
“…will be off the coast…”
Thank christ that’s over.
|New pants, please.|
Dawso explains that they’re going to Mauritius, and hands over tickets for an ironically-named Air Mauritius flight.
Melissa gives a quick geography lesson to camera, saying “Mauritius is an island in the… something ocean”.
I wasn’t sure if she was right, so I looked it up in an Atlas, and there it is! Of course.
|Well, bugger me.|
Duckie comments excitedly “My family’s originally from Sudan and this is the closest I’ll get to getting back to the motherland”, which is true if she never, ever travels again ever.
Despite being tired from her previous geographical excellence, Melissa adds “It’s islands, so it’s surrounded by water, and they speak French”.
People who actually speak French? Does Jade’s ghost know?
Abbie, presumably whilst looking diagonally upwards at where an Air Mauritius plane would be, says “I’ve never been on an Air Mauritius plane”. Are you sure? That’s like Man Ray saying “Y’know, I’ve never photographed a puppy in a rose garden in Sussex” or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like Perez Hilton saying “I’m not sure if you realise, but I sometimes have opinions that I don’t just keep to myself”.
Shanali notes that “The competition is getting more competitive”, which I was going to make fun of for being obvious, but then I remember that back at this year’s VMAs, someone noted that Miley Cyrus was getting a tiny bit more slut-whorey, and look how that turned out.
The modules land in Mauritius and make their way to Le Touessrok Resort, which is, in a tropically impressive way, complete bullshit.
I even picked up a postcard from the resort.
|The Mauritius Tourism Board likes to tell it like it is.|
Few things are sure in this world. Death. Taxes. The Kardashian Kollection. And now, to add to that list: Diddles Cohen should not wear short shorts.
He’s there in Mauritius, greeting the girls on the beach and geeing them up about possibly battling it out in the grand finale, possibly overstretching the purpose for which the words ‘battling’ and ‘grand’ were intended.
The miracle of television enables the scrags to change their cossies in the blink of Diddles’ eye (which is almost visible in those shorts) and pop themselves on a boat, a happenstance that Melissa is not entirely comfortable with. See, when she was at a school camp once, her canoe bumped a boy’s canoe and he was trapped underneath. Now, two things about this are very important:
- That ‘her canoe bumped a boy’s canoe’ is a very sexy euphemism; and
- I really can’t make fun of someone else’s irrational fear when I am afraid of grasshoppers.
Far enough out in the water to make Melissa wish she’d worn her brown swimming costume, the modules transfer to another boat that has a ladder on it leading directly into the sea/Melissa’s screaming, sweaty nightmares.
Diddles does the “I bet you’re wondering why were here etc” schtick, and then goes on to tell the girls that they’ll be submerged under eleven feet of water.
On the ocean floor, they have to do their best runway walk and then, over the space of a minute and while looking deeply into Diddles’ eyes (and directly away from his shorts), throw the most creative pose-shapes possible, all in a bulbous helmet (which is almost visible in his shorts).
Melissa is so scared that her face starts leaking water, only serving to ironically add to the terror. Diddles tells her that she can’t run away from her fears, because she’ll be in a 40kg helmet, gravity weights, and have you seen anyone try to run underwater LOL.
Seriously, though. There’s nothing to be afraid of underwater.
|Except Basking Sharks.|
Duckie throws her two cents in, saying sagely “If a photographer wants something extreme, well if you want the job, you gotta do it”. I think we all know that the exception here is anything looks like squid or bulbous helmets in this scenario.
Shanali goes first, and waves her arms around waftily in the most sub-aquarianingly enchanting way. I figure I should also be enchanting and take another opportunity to ride the slow train into fart town.
Side note – people do not look smart underwater.
|HURR HURR HURR CLAPPING HURR|
Abbie isn’t even scared one bit, nuh-uh, and she takes her stupid ridiculous body underwater and kind of dances like a retard.
Just before going under, Duckie says excitedly “Africans do not swim. We run really fast”. Adamant Little Guy hops an Air Mauritius plane just in time to get here.
|Honestly, Duckie. I expected more from you.|
She describes herself as being like a drowning dog, and re-interprets ‘catwalk’ as ‘kind of pointing at fish’.
Everyone thinks the experience is really cool. Except Melissa. Everyone goes underwater. Except Melissa. Everyone is really understanding of Melissa’s predicament. Except William Shakespeare.
|Way to be sensitive, loser.|
Shanali wins the challenge prize, which is a traditional Mauritian sugar scrub. Totally a thing.
Phoy-Toys Part 1
Back at the luxury ranch, the girls stand outside a villa, ready to lose their shit when they see Diddles, who they only just saw five minutes ago, and Screamin’ J. Hawkins, who is the host of this program, stand in front of them.
IT’S WEEK ELEVEN, YOU GUYS. LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
The two totally expected people say some dramatic things about doing well in photo shoots, and then introduce this week’s photographer, Chest Smith, who seems to have been working on his traps a smidge.
Chest describes what he wants from the girls in their first Mauritius shoot, telling them that it’s “high fashion” and that the theme is “Sci-fi mermaid”.
Their hair and make-up is greasy, shiny, black, glamorous, and probably just as shootable around the rocky wet edges of a Forster/Tuncurry caravan park, saving everybody at least two hundred and forty-five dollars in Air Mauritius airfares.
I feel like I should work in a retro TV theme at this point. Let’s see, beach location, nobody has good hair, people at the start of their careers....
HENDERSON KIDS WITH BRIEF KYLIE MINOGUE MULLET CAMEO, GO.
Now, I’m a bit of a wordsmith, so I’ll try and put this in a way that even the uninitiated plebiscites will understand:
Everyone looks fuckin’ babein’.
Melissa is first up, and I can’t even begin to talk about her face. Seriously, now.
Abbie, possibly the longest human in existence, gives the onlooking girls a couple of evils while she proves that she is, without a single doubt in the known universe:
|It's an obvious progression from being Princess Constipation-Features.|
Shanali, first to work in a tree instead of on some rocks, moves beautifully, looks stunning, and gives herself one simple piece of advice.
|What's the worst that could happen?|
Duckie, also posing in a tree, says that “I couldn’t really find myself in the tree”. Here’s a hint.
|Theeeeere you are.|
She’s worried about damaging her shoes, right up until the point that she damages her shoes.
It’s a tops photo shoot. It's just tops. I’m getting soft and sincere in week eleven. Don’t tell anyone or I’ll stab you.
Interlude: Family Stuff In A Driveway
Back at the resort, having washed the mermaid grease out of their hair, the modules take their seats at a table in the middle of what looks like a tropical driveway to be smiled at woodenly by Screamin’ J. Hawkins. They have lunch and read each other messages from their families.
It is exactly as endearing as a public pool Band-Aid. Let us continue.
Phoy-Toys 2: The Photening
Back from the break, we go through the prizes, which I think this year include half a packet of antiseptic wet-wipes and a ferret.
The scrags get up ridiculously early for their second photo shoot, and are splurted out of a mini-bus straight into a Mauritian fishing village in extremely colourful outfits, hair and make-up. Melissa describes their surroundings in excruciating detail, expounding: “We got out of the car and there’s locals everywhere, all these fishing boats, like people drinking, and like sick dogs walking around and like one like, threw up”.
To fully illustrate Melissa’s poetry, the editors briefly show footage of a dog, and-
WAIT A GODDAMN FLEA-SCRATCHING SECOND.
Okay, bear with me here.
Remember the dog they showed in Episode 2? The one in the streets of Thailand? Have a reminder:
Okay, THIS is a picture of the dog in Mauritius:
That, friends, and I say this after intensive research and with hand-on-boob sincerity: THAT. IS THE SAME FUCKING DOG.
I shall call him Samedog. We shall be lifelong companions, and I think I deserve this week’s trophy for noticing.
|The Samedog Trophy. For people who notice Samedog.|
The girls line up in front of Diddles, Screamin’J. Hawkins, and Chest Smith, to hear what they’ll
I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S THE SAME FUCKING DOG.
Seriously. I’m sure I’ve seen Samedog somewhere else as well. Somewhere… somewhere fashionable.
|LIKE THE CATWALKS OF MILAN FOR EXAMPLE|
Sorry. I’m sorry. Is it a dogwalk in this instance? Right, sorry.
Of their get-ups and surroundings, Duckie says “It was an explosion of colour, like literally”.
|Don't make Hulk tell you again.|
Jez explains the shoot with yet another sci-fi bent, saying “You’re the woman that fell to earth and landed here”. He asks them to be ‘in the moment’, and to both blend in with their surroundings and stand out. MODELLING IS SO HARD, YOU GUYS.
Duckie is first, and she has to walk down a couple of stairs AND hold her skirt up at the same time AND look off into the distance. See: previous statement about modelling and hardness and stuff.
She does reasonably well until, recognising the unstoppable style maelstrom that is his own mad skill, Samedog walks in on the shoot.
WALKS IN, RIGHT?
ON THE MOTHER-FLAPPING SHOOT. HE’S A MODEL, DARLING.
Samedog is my spirit fashion animal. I mean, how did he even get from Thailand to Mauritius? Like, obviously on Air Mauritius, but how did he even make it out of the airport?
Look, as far as I’m concerned, Samedog is one of the contestants now. See you at finale, Samedog.
Duckie tries not to get distracted by Samedog, but she’s only human.
It’s Melissa’s turn, and she has to flick her hair, which she handles by pretending she’s in the Hunger Games, a totes legit modelling technique, especially because hunger = RELEVANT, AM I RIGHT?
Chest Smith confirms that “there’s actually a technique to model hair-flicking”, a fact that Samedog confirms by nonchalantly munching on a persistent flea.
|Either that or he's just inhaling the first release of his own signature scent: 'Samedog'.|
Shanali has to walk in a straight line, but just in case you think that sounds easy, she totally has to do it first in one direction, and then in another. The Geneva Convention is all over this shit. She absolutely rocks it, because that’s rule eight in the Being Jo’s Total Bestie Handbook.
Abbie has to walk aggressively but nonchalantly towards the camera with a floral-print box on her hips and a pre-teen soccer game going on behind her. She once again brings the cranky-face, but doesn’t seem to click to what Chest Smith is throwing down. Still. Girl is like nine feet tall. Respeck.
The modules walk along the Mauritius beach one last time for a bit of scene-setting before we all inevitably turn up at the eliminatorium with no sense at all of having travelled.
Suddenly, we’re back at the eliminatorium with no sense at all of having travelled. As the girls stroll in, they each get a little bit of voice-over time to mention that they’re quite determined and it would be reasonably nice to win, just in case you didn’t catch that earlier as a general motif.
Screamin’ J. Hawkins is there to meet them in disturbingly luminous scarlet. It almost makes her hair look like it’s been Photoshopped in afterwards. See it?
No, no, stare at it for a while. Doesn’t it look Photoshopped?
|Especially if you squint.|
Jen introduces Dawso, who blows a kiss, Didier, who blows his whole pay packet on hair product, and Shiny Alex Perry, who is dressed as a tablecloth in a restaurant where they serve a dog’s breakfast.
|An oddly familiar dog's breakfast.|
Final photographs are critically leafed through, with a smattering of interestingness:
- Do not try to say “Melissa in Mauritius” with a mouthful of Jatz. Not that anyone did, but I just imagined it, and you shouldn’t do it.
- Dawso tells Melissa that her mermaid shot reminds her of Japanese horror film ‘The Ring’.
- Shiny Alex Perry doesn’t like Duckie’s mermaid shot, saying it’s too dark. Luckily Adamant Little Guy is still in Mauritius, although I think I can hear him from here.
- Abbie’s fishing village shot causes a great deal of disagreement between the judges, who can’t decide if she’s ‘punching it out’ or ‘on a Sunday stroll’. I can’t see any way of resolving this without involving the courts.
|Sorry, Judge Judy.|
Shanali’s colourful shot smashes it out of the park so hard, the park is flung backwards from the force of the thrust and several galaxies are sucked into the remaining vortex. LOOK AT THIS SHIT.
|Don't even talk to me for like fifteen minutes.|
The judges are beside themselves about the photo, but manage to contain themselves. Mostly.
The judges deliberate, Dawso says “Shanali for the finale” because I was going to use that but she got in first GODDAMMIT, the scrags file back into the room to hear who gets to go to finale, and it’s actually really freakin’ tense.
OMG, WHO DO YOU THINK IS GOING, AMAZING PSYCHIC DESK?!?
|I did actually have a feeling you'd say that, Amazing Psychic Desk.|
Shanali gets photo of the week because duh. Melissa is next, because almost as much duh.
Eight thousand million years pass, and the girl who will join Shanali and Melissa in the grand finale is…
Duckie. Which means Abbie gets the ol’ laser eyes.
|Pew woof pew|
Bye, Abbie. You grew on all of us, which is major ironic LOLs because don’t grow any more you really tall weird freak. You’re an awesome, awesome girl, and I think you should, perhaps with wistful tears in your eyes, look diagonally upwards just one more time.
Before we go, I have three things to say.
1. The winner is decided by public vote. I thought my notes just said ‘pubic vote’, though, which is weird. I asked my own pubes who they thought should win, and they just gave their usual answer: James Franco.
2. I am very grateful to be invited to next week’s finale, which means that the recap of finale will be late, and it will be undisputed rubbish. I’ll be doing it from memory, and I will be doing everything I can to erase that memory with glamorous and windswept drinking. Rest assured, though, that I will be sitting in that audience aspirating “I wanna be on top-aaaaaaah” every single time, and expect you to do the same.
3. We can’t go without saying goodbye to one other fashion juggernaut, using the traditional end-of-episode fade-out.
Bye, Samedog. We’ll miss you most of all.