The fourteen finalists arrive in freezing New York and are welcomed by Niki and Tyson, who send them straight to a photo shoot in the middle of Times Square. "We're selling sex, fantasy and drama," the photographer tells them, and they go into makeup and put on flimsy clothes and stand out in the frigid weather trying to look...sexy and fantastical. Ben, our favorite prison guard, wears hot-pink pants, a shiny silver jacket, and a pink scarf. So awesome. Some of them are so cold, their knees are actually knocking. Everybody does pretty well. Later, the models move into the place they'll be living -- a gorgeous twenty million dollar house they will no doubt soon wreck just like every other expensive dwelling reality-show people have wrecked in the past. Tyson personally awakens them the next morning at 7 AM for a go-see. Except that first, Tyson makes them burn their clothes in a trash can. Something about being ready for a new start, and shucking their material possessions? And the ones that "want it most" are the ones that burn the most stuff? I don't know, it's ridiculous, and some of the guys are so desperate to win that they strip down to their underwear and burn everything on their backs. Which turns out to be convenient, since their next stop is a visit to Corey, the president of New York Models, who makes them change into brightly-colored underwear and have their bodies criticized. He particularly rips on Holly's hair, which breaks my heart. The next morning, they all must don unitards and have their walking fundamentals checked out. We find out that before he got to New York, Perry hurt his foot pretty badly and is working through the pain. He ends up having to go to the hospital about it, and comes back on crutches. His foot is jacked, but he is determined not to let it stop him. The next day, the contestants will walk in their first runway show, wearing swimwear. But there's a catch! Two girls and two boys will have to wear THONG swimwear -- Ben and Casey and Jacki and Shannon have their names drawn for that humiliation. Jacki breaks down in tears over it, but come on -- Casey has to get his butt shaved. Suck it up, girl. They all look smoking hot, but Jacki ends up not wearing the thong and gets a stern lecture from Tyson. The panel must choose three for the online vote, and Sarah, Katy and Dominic get put on the chopping block.
Niki reminds us in clear, slow tones -- so that we will be able to absorb this complicated backstory -- that the show's producers criss-crossed the nation to find these fourteen aspiring supermodels. In the online vote that closed last week's show, the nation chose Ben, the Nashville prison guard, and my sweet Katy from the Heart of Dixie. This week, joining Niki in the decisionmaking is the world's greatest male supermodel, Tyson Beckford; Cory Bautista from New York Models; and Jennifer Starr, big-cheese model casting director.
So, the kids arrive in NYC, looking fly in their winter gear and blessedly unable to hear the voiceover quotes being played on my screen, such as this gem from Perry: "If you're gonna be a star, you're gonna be a frickin' star. You know? You just gotta keep pluggin' away at it." If this modeling thing doesn't work out for Perry, he can maybe send that gem in to Reader's Digest's "notable quotes" and make a cool $50.
So, here they are in the middle of Times Square, enraging the already-angry-enough citizens of New York, standing around freezing their asses off. Tyson says he wants them to be willing to pay attention and learn, and Niki adds that they'll be stripping them down and seeing what they're made of. "The competition starts right now," she says, adding that they'll be going straight to work with their first photo shoot like, right now. With no further ado, she brings up Lee Strickland, famed photographer, fumbling a little over his credentials, possibly because her brain stem has frozen to her spine. Lee -- who is English and thus likely slept every night of his childhood in a bassinet sculpted from ice -- says he knows that it's cold, but the models need to be ready to sell sex, fantasy, and drama as they model their summer clothes.
In an interview he gives while wearing a metallic silver jacket accented with a bright pink scarf, Ben says he's ready for whatever happens. Surely he wasn't ready for that scarf. In any case, no way is he as ready as Dominic, who pompously drones on that he can handle everything since he's, like, ridden ten-foot waves and snowboarded and stuff. Y'all. Ten-foot waves. He says the main intimidation to him right now is the cold weather. Moments later, we see him on the platform, trying to pose, and...yeah, he must be cold, because he's moving like an actual robot. The photographer keeps trying to tell him to relax, but he can't seem to do it, and Lee says he seems to be trying too hard.