Thirty-three aspiring models board a Caribbean cruise ship and are immediately greeted by their cruise director, J. Alexander. Tyra surprises the girls with a lounge singing performance, and the competition gets tough as strong personalities rise and the catfights begin. One model gets sick and one model is hated by the rest of the group. Meanwhile, the models must participate in a life jacket runway walk and a beach photo shoot. Later, Tyra, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander deliberate and Tyra names the 13 finalists.
Jay Manuel meets the models and introduces them to their new "green" form of transportation. The models move into their environmentally friendly Los Angeles mansion and get a lesson of style from J.Alexander. Two girls start an early feud that erupts, and one model has a hard time relating to the others. Later, the models participate in a style challenge and perform a photo shoot of the negative effects of smoking. The judges send one model home.
J. Alexander shocks the girls with a scary lesson on perfecting their runway walk while wearing straightjackets. The models help one girl with her image, while two competitors get into a heated argument. After a couture runway challenge sends one girl to Paris, the girls are left hanging in the air for an edgy fashion photo shoot on a rock-climbing wall. The judges send one model home.
Tyra gives the girls a sneak peak at their makeovers at a Beverly Hills salon. Most of the models get dramatic makeovers, but one is driven to the breaking point when she has to cut off all her hair. Later, the girls participate in a runway challenge and "pose-off" in a jungle photo shoot. The judges send one model home.
Benny Ninja gives the girls a lesson on how to pose with movement. The models must pose in the air while jumping on a trampoline, some girls rise while others flop. Later, the girls participate in a challenge where they have to pose in the air while being hoisted up by an ice skater in the rink and when the challenge winner is announced some girls become jealous. Finally, the girls participate in a photo shoot on top of a building where they must pose as fashion gargoyles.
Male model Tyson Beckford surprises the models at the house and gives them a lesson on being a spokesperson. Most pull off an impromptu sales pitch for their teacher, but a few have a hard time concentrating on their task. Later, the girls split into groups and create a public service announcement for a charity. The surprising winner of the challenge stars in a makeup photo shoot directed by singing star Mary J. Blige. Finally, the girls take part in a "green" photo shoot representing recyclable materials.
With the finale only six weeks away, never-before-seen footage includes Bianca's confrontations with Chantal and Ebony, and Jenah chips her tooth. Later, Tyra talks to the girls about body image and Bianca runs into a glass door and hurts her lip. This episode recaps the process that the eight remaining girls have survived in hopes of becoming America's Next Top Model.
Tyra surprises the girls and gives them an in-depth lesson about how to model in front of a moving camera. One model continues to get jealous and be very critical of her competition. Later, the girls are greeted by music video director Jesse Terrero and find out that they are going to participate in a music video with Enrique Iglesias. During the shoot one model from exhaustion collapses.
The models go to FIDM and are paired with a student designer to be their creative muse to design a dress. The next day, models have to work the runway in a fashion show and talk about the custom made dress they're wearing. In the house, one model gets fed up with being bullied by the other girls. Later, the girls are sent to the desert where they participate in a photo shoot with a burning car.
When the models arrive in China they are introduced to their new penthouse suite, and one model who is left without a place to sleep becomes very upset. Meanwhile, the models get a lesson on body movement by a martial arts expert and are challenge to perfect the poses while in mid-air on high wires. One model who is terrified of heights has a hard time. Later, the girls must let their personality shine through in a Cover Girl photo shoot and commercial.
The remaining five models are sent on designer go-sees in Shanghai. Some girls get the designers' praise while others do not impress and one model loses her way. Later, the models are photographed by Nigel Barker and must stand out in a crowd of Chinese costume dragons and lions.
The girls learn some Chinese history from J. Alexander and Twiggy and move into their new Beijing home. During a shopping challenge the models must change a traditional Chinese dress into their own style by purchasing accessories at a local mall. One model gives another bad advice. Later the girls participate in a warrior-themed photo shoot photographed by Tyra Banks.