Early on, Louisville's Nicole Fox seemed too quirky to have a real shot at taking the America's Next Top Model cycle thirteen crown. But over the past few weeks, she's become a force as unstoppable as her flame-colored hair, and her chances of becoming the first major reality-show champ from Colorado since Top Chef's Hosea Rosenberg grow with each episode -- even one as weird and frequently uncomfortable as last night's.
Clue one that Nicole was safe: The main drama of the evening involved Albino-riffic Erin and stoic mathematician Brittany. As Brittany touted her skillage while repeatedly describing Erin as immature and annoying (and not without reason), Nicole floated calmly through a location shift to Hawaii and a challenge that called on the models-in-training to pose while trying to ride a surfboard -- something none of them knew how to do. She wound up in the top half of the group and was chosen to participate in a helicopter flight over Maui with first placer Erin, who would have rather earned a $1,000 shopping spree at Walmart. Poor baby! Next, host Tyra Banks served as photographer in a shoot in which the contestants portrayed assorted "hapas" -- a Hawaiian term for people of mixed race. Suddenly, all the Caucasians were being having their skin painted darker hues, turning them into high-fashion Al Jolsons. (Thankfully, they weren't asked to sing "Mammy," too). However, African-American Sundai was allowed to keep her skin tone despite posing as a half-Russian. Okay, the other half was Moroccan, but if everyone else had to go Soul Man, why was she spared a White Chicks moment?
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The judging round generated zero suspense. It was clear from the start that Erin and Brittany would land in the bottom two, which they did, with bland Brit eventually doing the weep-and-walk. And just as obviously, Nicole won, thanks to a snapshot Tyra and company repeatedly described as "stunning." The victories are starting to pile up for this particular Fox -- and she deserves every one.