As you read this review, dear readers, I want you to be mindful of the fact that I was up late last night at a party, so I may not be at my absolute best.
I also want you to be mindful of the fact that I have a little cold. And before you pass judgment on my recap, I want you to be mindful of the fact that any decision you make today can have dire consequences the rest of your lives.
Oh Gretchen, Gretchen, Gretchen. We’ve had people beg on the runway, get defensive, cry, spaz out, bargain, even filibust—but we’ve never had someone ADVISE the judges on what to do. We’ve never had someone tell the judges to be freakin’ MINDFUL. And we’ve certainly never had a contestant so odious, so crassly manipulative, and so transparently self-serving, that it caused Tim Gunn to lose his (very dignified) shit.
But I’m ahead of myself.
The show starts and everyone is still bitching about the fact that Michael C. won the last challenge.
And poor Michael, so sweetly oblivious to all the animus last week, is beginning to smell what The Rock is cooking: “I feel good about my win but I would’ve felt better if the designers were, like, ‘Hey Michael, good job.’” he sighs. “I didn’t really get that from them.”
And it’s only going to get worse, buddy.
On the runway, Heidi informs the gang that it’s a team challenge.
Since Michael C. won the last challenge—and has immunity (I repeat: HAS immunity)—he gets to pick first.
He picks Gretchen. Poor, deluded lad.
“Michael C is such a dumbass for choosing Gretchen,” says April. “Do you want to hire Hitler?
I think I love April now.
So it works out in a Bad News Bear-ish sort of way. On the one hand, we have the successful, cocky, much-decorated Team Awesome: Michael C, Gretchen, Christopher, Andy, Ivy, and AJ.
And on the other hand, we have the nose-pickers, the cast-offs, and the duds—April, Mondo, Michael D., Valerie, Casanova, and Peach—a.k.a. Team Suck.
They have to create a whole fall collection using a kind of MadLibs of styles and fabrics.
Team Awesome (who call themselves Team Luxe) chooses menswear for women and camel.
Team Suck (who call themselves the incredibly obvious Team Military and Lace) chooses safari and leopard print. Just kidding, they choose military and lace.
They go to their respective corners and start brainstorming.
Although Heidi had made it perfectly clear that there should be no one leader on the team, Gretchen is obviously taking that role with Team Awesome.
And she’s pleased as punch.
“Guys, I’m so proud of us. We’re working so well together!” says Gretchen. Translation: “You’re all listening to me so well!”
It’s almost the opposite on Team Suck. No one really wants to take the helm of this potentially sinking ship.
“I think everyone in our group thinks we’re going to be on the bottom, and doesn’t want to be the one going home,” says April.
But Casanova, who is wearing some sort of odd pleather turban, is excited about the direction: “I love military and lace. I am like a fish in water.”
Tim Gunn comes to check on their progress.
He likes most of what Team Suck is doing but pauses in front of Casanova’s station.
“I’m going to be blunt,” says Tim. Everyone holds their breath. “You’re garment is looking like the mother of these women.”
This pretty much sends Casanova into a (hilarious) tailspin.
“I’m making clothing for old ladies or sluts!” he cries.
Then he really lays it on thick, acting like Camille, lying on the coach, impervious to pep talks, so very tired, so very sad, so very misunderstood.
“Casanova is having a major diva moment,” says Valerie.
It seems that Team Suck may have to finish Casanova’s garment for him until a blessing appears in the form of a 5’8” malnourished girl— Casanova’s model.
She tells Casanova some trite things about following his heart and not letting anyone tell him what to do and it perks him right up.
“My model. She always has the greatest words. She’s like angel,” he exults. He’s ready to get back to work.
Meanwhile, over at Team Awesome, there is some foreshadowing.
“I’ve met with the other team,” says Tim. “By comparison this is looking very ho hum.”
But Team Awesome is undeterred, so confident are they in their own undeniable awesomeness.
“I don’t know if the other team has a chance!” gushes Ivy.
Team Military and Lace comes strutting down the runway.
In the back row, Gretchen is whispering things to Christopher: “This has very little relationship to the rest of the collection,” she says of Valerie’s suit. “I think we got it.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but it took me a few minutes to register how much Team Awesome’s collection blew. I mean, one garment after the next—frumpy, ill-fitting, and not even the slightest bit luxe.
The designers line up for the evaluation.
Heidi, clearly loving this moment, methodically begins to announce the names of the designers on Team Suck: “Mondo, Casanova, Peach . . .”
Over at Team Awesome, looks of dread are slowly creeping onto their faces.
“. . Valerie, Michael D., April. . .”
Oh no, this can’t BE!
“Congratulations. You’re our winners.”
Team Awesome, now renamed Team NotAwesome shuffles back to the Green Room.
They are flabbergasted. Enraged. Defiant.
They vow to stick together during critique. No one is pointing any fingers or throwing anyone under any buses. Unity, all the way!
Team Suck, now renamed Team Doesn’tSuck, is picking up its kudos. In particular, yes, Peach and Casanova are getting high marks for their respective looks.
“Who should win from your team?” asks Heidi.
“Casanova,” says Valerie.
“Casanova,” says Mondo.
“Peach,” says Casanova. “For me, Peach should be win. That is the best garment I ever see from her.”
I could die from the cuteness of it all.
Okay, off to the victory waiting chamber for them, time to pay the piper for Team NotAwesome.
“Who is the weakest link?” asks Heidi.
“We all tried really hard,” Gretchen says. “I just hope you can be mindful of that when you make the decision you make. I don’t think there was a weak link. We all tried really hard. I just really want you think about that. We all did the best we could for each other, for ourselves and you!”
This little speech renders her fellow team members overcome with emotion. AJ’s knees buckle, he is so moved, he can barely stand without collapsing. Team NotAwesome is practically weeping over this display of unity.
It’s at this moment, it occurs to me that Gretchen actually believes that they still have a chance to win. That the judges will be swayed by her logic, moved by her passion, touched by her team’s brave display of loyalty—and that they will change their minds:
“Team Suck, our bad. We’ve changed our minds,” they will announce to the losers in the Green Room, who will handle it well as they are comfortable with defeat. “We thought you guys did the better job, but now that we’ve spoken to Gretchen, if we are truly being mindful, we must admit that an error was made.”
Once the dim realization that no such reversal is coming, Gretchen tries a different tact.
“Can I say one last thing? I ask you to be mindful of who you want to see more from,” she says, adding half-heartedly. “We stand united.”
Oh, to have screen caps of the looks on the judges faces. Disgust doesn’t quite do it justice.
“Quite frankly, fashion is a tough competitive business,” says Michael Kors. Translation: Enough of this kumbayah shit.
The judges explain what they hate about the collection:
“With cohesiveness, you lost individuality and flair,” says guest judge Georgina Chapman.
“Almost every outfit has a proportion problem. it has no sex appeal, no design. The colors are ghastly,” says Nina.
“You’re team luxe and I don’t get any luxe at all,” says Michael Kors.
“This look is the worst,” says Heidi of Ivy’s look.
“It’s a Golden Girl vest with granny shorts,” says Kors. “Its unfortunate.”
They also call out of the horrible styling.
And all of a sudden, Gretchen has changed her tune.
“I knew we had a granny moment. I’ll take credit for styling it,” she says. “But maybe I realized that I was styling a crappy collection.”
“A minute ago you loved it!” says Heidi.
And now they’re all singing like jaybirds.
“I do have to say that out of the group, Michael’s technical skills were the weakest,” says Gretchen.
“Michael has immunity,” Heidi points out. But the designers, initially hoping that Project Runway would have its first judgment reversal, now seem to actually think that they’ll abolish immunity, just this once.
“Michael had not the strongest skills,” says Christopher. (Oh, did he not?)
“I agree with my team members,” says Andy. “Michael had the least amount of skill sets.”
“Michael HAS IMMUNITY,” Heidi repeats. Thank God she is there.
“Someone’s going down,” helpfully adds Michael Kors.
“It’s not my time,” says Gretchen, beginning to fully accept the gravity of the situation. “I really feel like Michael was our weakest link.”
“And I don’t know if it was laziness or ignorance,” says Ivy. (Really Ivy? That’s your contribution to this discussion?)
Folks, give it up! Michael C is not going home!
“We’re going to have a little chat,” says Heidi. “Or a big one.” Heh.
And with that, the team formerly known as Team Awesome skulks off the stage with their tails between their legs.
“Wow,” says Nina Garcia. Pretty much sums it up.
So they deliberate. And call the designers back on stage.
Hooray! (His looks wasn’t my favorite. I actually preferred April’s design. But those pants were pretty fab.)
And then it comes down to AJ and Gretchen for elimination.
Oh, the dramah.
For a brief moment, I actually think that Gretchen might be going home.
After all, they made it clear to her that past performance would not be a factor in the judging. And she WAS the ringleader of suck.
But it’s AJ. A shame. Kid had potential.
It’s very awkward backstage, because Michael C is crying and no one is comforting him and AJ is bumming that he didn’t go out on his terms.
“I would’ve felt better if I had left for something that was my point of view,” he says.
Tim comes by for his usual “time to pack up your work station blah blah blah” moment. Except that’s not what happens.
Because Tim Gunn, ladies and gentlemen, is pissed.
“I don’t get your behavior, demeanor and affect on the runway,” he says. “I don’t understand why you allowed Gretchen to manipulate, control and bully you. I don’t understand it!”
Gretchen’s mouth drops open. She’s having a David at the Dentist moment: Is this real life?
Yes, Gretchen. This is real life and Tim Gunn just called you OUT.
“AJ you’ve taken the bullet and now I have to send you to the workroom to clean up your space,” says Tim. He is not a happy man right now.
The good news is, this whole experience was very humbling for Gretchen. She really got some perspective on herself, her need for control, her over-confidence, her disregard for others. She’s truly going to turn over a new leaf.
“I was just trying to help,” she says. “In the end, AJ said he wanted to make a shirt dress. It didn’t have to be a boring shirt dress.”
In other words, if he’d just been a bit more mindful, he might still be in the competition.