My dear runaways, I'm horribly sorry it's taken me this long to watch the episode and to get a review
up. Partially because I hate it that you all had to wait so long, and partially because that was a whopper of an episode and I can't believe I'm only just watching it. I love the challenge, I love the teams though I've said that before, I love that Kelly Osbourne is the guest judge! It was one of the better episodes this season. And away we go!
After waking up and chatting for a bit, Amanda decides she's done being in the bottom three as she has been for the last few challenges. I think she said something similar at the beginning of the last episode too, but this time you can tell she really means it and all her fortunes are about to change. Blake's not nearly as annoying after his first win of the season as I expected him to be, so there's that at least. Then it's off to the runway for Heidi and Tim to make some horrible puns about the paintball guns they're toting, and to pick teams. And so the drama begins. It's a school yard pick, which is the easiest way for the show to craft drama from teams, and it doesn't disappoint. Ashley has a confessional moment explaining why she's sure Candice, who is the first person to pick a team member after Blake, will surely pick her, and of course then she picks Amanda. From there, it just snowballs until Ashley's worst nightmare is confirmed and she's picked last, and still ends up on Candice's team.
For her part, Heidi points out what all of us are thinking which is that it's ridiculous that Ashley wasn't picked earlier as she's the only contestant here with two wins under her belt already. Tim points out early on that the teams were easily grouping off into boys vs girls, but it felt more like an observation than a judgement on his part. For me, I was all judgement since that made it obvious from the start that teams were being chosen based on who's friends with whom instead of on any strategic level. But it also left me confused in this sense: is no one friends with Ashley? She's been nothing but sweet and lovable this whole time; is there something we aren't seeing? I don't want to jump to the easy assumption that they really are just all a bunch of mean girls and they've been keeping her at arms length because she's heavy, but I can't think of another explanation. Maybe they resent her for her two wins and early successes? To her credit, Candice at least seems to have a reason for picking Amanda. It's a dumb as fuck reason since she's basically looking at her like a charity case, but it's a reason nonetheless. But as I said before, the teams have nothing to do with strategy, and that's how the person who's been in the bottom so many times consecutively gets picked over the person with multiple wins.
From there it's off to field where the teams are going to play a kind of capture the flag with paintball guns. They're firing off shots and paint grenades at the opposing team while said team tries to run up and collect fabric from a few big steel drums. I think there might have been a mention about having to rush back to the start if you get hit with something, but I also might have missed that because I was honestly impressed with the construction of this challenge. It was fun, enjoyable to watch, and seemed like a nice spot of bonding for the teams. I know we haven't gone to Mood much this season, and I certainly miss Swatch, but they seem to have figured out ways to make fabric selection more interesting than just following designers around a store, and I appreciate that.
Turns out Ashley has a lot of practice with paintball as she used to play with her brothers, so yet again we see how someone picking her would have been a great move. But whatever, she at least seems to take some of her frustrations of being last picked out on the guys all trying to run in and get fabric. When that's all over, Tim tells them about the next twist which is that their main fabrics will be the ones they're wearing and not the fabric they stole. This I also thought was brilliant. Both that someone thought this up from start to finish and that they had the foresight not to tell the designers, leaving them with truly random textiles. Blake of course was too much of a princess to run out and get pelted with paint, so his jumper is as white and clean as ever, but once Tim announces this twist, it doesn't seem like his inaction was a bad idea after all. At the very least it gave them a purely white fabric to work with. The teams then have two days to create a nice and cohesive collection.
The boys and Merline hit the ground running and quickly have ideas, inspiration, and plans on how they're going to go forward. The girls, not so much. This is another aspect of what bothers me about the teams being split down gender lines: it gives the girls the opportunity to conform to some stupid stereotypes. From the earliest moments of picking teams that seemed to be happening, and it never really stops. Granted, that's not a fault of the editing or the episode itself, it's just that these girls all seem to be rather shitty, and it sucks. Ashley can't ever seem to get a word in edgewise, and to make it all worse I don't think she tries very hard. I can't blame her since being picked last always sucks, but the nature of the schoolyard pick is that someone is going to be picked last, and the hope should always be that that person still shows up and tries their best to help their team. Merline was picked next to last and she didn't seem to take it as hard as Ashley did. But I also assume (and maybe it's not fair of me to do so, but hey) that this is yet another moment in Ashley's life where she's been left out of a schoolyard pick, and at this stage where she's more than proven herself to be worthy of greater consideration, it might just hurt a bit more than it did when no one wanted her on their dodgeball team.
Either way, it all goes about how you'd expect: the guys work well together, communicate, all get a hand in on each design somehow, and cruise through the challenge, and the girls are the opposite. The guys have a seamless meeting with Tim where he loves it all, and the girls get ripped a new one and kind of start all over, deciding to use purple as the thing that unifies their collection. The guys get their models into the looks early and with ease, while the girls don't even have anything to put on the models for the fitting. The writing is so clearly on the wall about who's going to be in the top and who's in the bottom that there's really nothing left but to get to the runway.
Blake: Yes! Actually the best thing I've seen from him thus far.
Joseph: This look screams Flight Attendant to me. Actually, what it screams is Stewardess. It isn't modern enough to have achieved enough equality to just be a flight attendant. It isn't horrible, but it certainly looks like Joseph's.
Swapnil: POCKETS!!!! And the hang of the skirt, and the intricate nature of the top, and the general beauty of it all. My God this man needs a win already!
Jake: No glitter, no sequins, no sparkle of any kind, and it's the best thing I've seen from Jake thus far. I wonder if those things might not have something to do with each other.... Either way, I like the cape, the collar, and the fact that it's a look with pants instead of another dress. It all came together well.
Merline: I thought that this was the most interesting piece in the collection, it's not that it's necessarily good, but it's certainly interesting to look at. I don't hate it, and indeed I like the asymmetry of it, and the ombre effect on the dress, and I like the collar. But I don't like belted dresses in general, so there's that.
Edmond: WOW! That just kind of took my breath away. The construction is impeccable, it looks like something a lot of women would love to wear, and it's just beautiful. I love it!
Ashley: Oh, no sweetie. Just no. It looks cheap and crafts-y to me.
Laurie: I don't know. I love her and am kind of blinded by my love for her, so I want to like this, but I don't think that I do. Outside of a team setting, it'd probably be safe and we wouldn't have to talk about it at all, but it's not my favorite.
Lindsey: Get the fuck out of here with that shit! No! Never do that again!
Candice: Oh man, execution is a big bold no, but the thought and the design I at least enjoy. I can see what she was going for, and maybe with more time (which is stupid given how much time they had) or better fabric she could have done something workable with it? As is, it certainly isn't good at all, but I'll give her credit for ideas while still lamenting the lack of execution.
Amanda: What a nice maternity poncho. I didn't know anyone was in the market for maternity ponchos, but maybe Amanda can corner that market with an entire line. Granted I would have assumed that ponchos were immune to issues of pregnancy, but I guess I was wrong since this one is clearly meant to be worn by a pregnant woman. Also the back reminds me of the stupid parachute like back Blake won with last time and I think she tried to mimic that instead of coming up with her own idea. Either way, I hate it.
So the boys' judging goes as expected with the judges being nothing but impressed all around. There's credit given to everyone, and no one on the team can overstate just who hard they worked, but also how great they worked together, and it's a bit lovely. And then it's the girl's turn, and holy fucking shit does the fur fly. There was a moment earlier in the workroom between Ashley and Laurie where Laurie told her if they were in the bottom, the other girls were pretty much all probably going to throw her, Ashley, under the bus, and boy did they ever. After being soundly handed their asses for the lack of cohesion and the lack of vision on who their girl is, they're asked who should go home and almost universally say Ashley. It's understandably painful (but also admittedly manipulative) to watch her stand up there crying as they lavish so much unearned hatred towards her, but what got me the most about it was how gutless it all was. For them to all stand there and look at those garments and really say that Ashley's is their least favorite and should go home is ridiculous. In the face of Amanda's piece of shit look and her multiple trips to the bottom, as well as Lindsey's bore-fest 2015, and whatever the fuck that was from Kelly, anyone suggesting Ashley should go home has got to be insane. It's not that Ashley's look is any good, far from it, it's just that it is not at all the worst thing this team put on the runway, and it's tragic that she has to put up with this shit.
Kelly Osbourne calls it the bitchfest that it is, but no one took it the step further that I would have had I been a guest judge this week and called them all cowards for not actually picking Amanda's piece of shit look and citing the fact that it's ugly and that she's been in the bottom so many times as the reason she should go home. It's not that Kelly treats them with kids gloves as we've seen other guest judges do in the past, it's just that she wasn't as mean as I had hoped.
Leave it to Nina, however, to say what we're all thinking and to rightfully point out just how useless Amanda is. She waits until the closer look at the dresses segment to do so, but in the face of Heidi seemingly wanting to claim that Amanda's look isn't the worst thing out there, and seeming to be trying to keep her around a bit more, Nina goes for blood and points out that at this point they're just keeping around dead weight and it's time for Amanda to go.
Nina wins that argument and Amanda goes home while Edmond wins. Which....OK I guess. The truth is that Edmond's look certainly took my breath away when it turned the corner, so I'll give him credit for that, but do I really think it was the best look out there? It was certainly the most well made, and he gets credit for that. But I think the moment he mention what Swapnil did with the shoes in creating the lace up for the corset top, I was sold on that being my winning look. Swapnil is the opposite of Amanda at this point in the competition: he continues to be in the top with other people getting wins. But he also seems very gracious about it all. I only watched the hour long version of the episode so if I missed anything, please let me know, but if there was a single moment thus far where Swapnil has pointed out that he deserves wins and isn't getting any and he's frustrated by it, I haven't seen it yet. His seemingly gracious humility only makes me love him more, and he needs to win one already!
--Heaven help me for saying this, but I actually kind of loved Blake this episode. His idiotic and slightly racist comments from earlier in the season haven't been forgotten and are still grating on me, but the way he was ready to stand up for Ashley in the greenroom, coupled with the fact that I honestly liked his look this week, all combined to make me love him a bit. It's probably just the edit's fault and I'm sure he'll be back to his usual idiot self next week, but snaps to him for being cool and so worthwhile this go around.
--Swapnil used the shoes they were wearing for the back of that corset top! I'm sorry but that so bears repeating.
--Nail consultation in the middle of the episode was about as useless as you'd expect it to be. What did that have to do with anything?
--I don't want to call for any kind of lessening of trips to Mood, but I also would like to seem them add these sorts of fun elements to the fabric selection more often. I don't know how to balance that, but they should certainly figure it out.