Tuesday, October 8, 2013

REALITY TV AS ART: CONSIDERING AND DEFENDING REALITY TV AS A LEGITIMATE ART FORM; A CONSIDERATION AND ANALYSIS OF "PROJECT RUNWAY: SEASON 8! (PART 2 OF 2)



This is the second part of a special 2-part blogpost, where I defend and consider realtiy television as an art form, using "Project Runway" Season 8, as the standard/example. You can find part 1, at the link below:

http://davidbaruffi.blogspot.com/2013/09/reality-tv-as-art-considering-and.html

START OF PART 2

Everyone's sleepy and barely getting out of their beds, despite Mondo and Christopher, having to move in with Michael C. and Andy, as we're now down to 4 guys, 4 girls and 2 apartments. Andy talks about having people he can "trust" live with him now. Again, with this supposed distrust of Michael C., now just Michael, with people. Valerie's particularly having trouble seizing the day, or morning, after being on the bottom again, after a particularly rough judging last episode, for everyone, except Mondo. The L'oreal Paris challenge is up, and Collier Strong, the makeup specialist is in the workroom with Tim to announce the next challenge, which is a big one, requiring two days of work. A high-fashion outfit for L'Oreal Paris, to be show in a Marie Claire advertorial, with an emphasis on "high-fashion", and Wow moment, and for incentive, while immunity is no longer available, the winner of the challenge gets $20,000! An announcement that wakes everyone up. The challenge also requires an inspiration from one of L'Oreal Paris's new eyeshadow finishes. No more than two people can take the same finish however, and Mondo, gets first pick, taking "Bright", with the rest of the designers picking from the Velvet bag. Christopher takes crystal. April takes matte. Michael takes metallic. Ivy takes the 2nd bright, after her having been constantly criticized for among other things, a severely muted and boring color palette. Valerie takes the second Crystal. Gretchen goes against Tim's warning, and takes Velvet, which he said that unless you're used to working with it, don't bother. This starts another chapter in the Gretchen vs. Michael feud, as he tells us, "Velvet a boring fabric, and Gretchen's a boring designer." Andy's last and takes metallic. Mondo and Ivy takes bright in different way, as he bases his design on a kaleidoscope while Ivy, uses Hawai'i as inspiration that's gonna be ocean and wave inspired. This, we recall, was basically her original aesthetic for two challenges ago, when she edited and cut down her design severely for Michael Drummond. Is this the makeup for that, for her? Some funny moments at Mood this episode regarding Swatch, the dog that hangs around at Mood as the place's official mascot. He's been a frequent cameo on the show many times before, but here they showcase him. First he starts barking at Tim during his start-off speech, and Tim invites Swatch to join in the competition, but of course, when Tim says "Go," the they cut to Swatch, he doesn't move, while all the rest of the designer are in a panic. (There's a cure random cutaway during the time at Mood later of Tim playing with Swatch as well) Valerie' doing evening, and begins looking for very fine fabrics, in white strangely enough, since we remember her red outfit that damn-near won the last Marie Claire challenge back in episode two; she knows bright reads well in ads. (That said, in the workroom, she starts working and complaining about the black silk she bought. So much for fine fabrics.) Mondo takes, numerous multi-colored and seemingly random printed fabric right away, saying that "Who wants to play with a box of crayons, with one color?" April, forewarns that everybody begins taking their time on this two-day challenge, while she starts working furiously warning that, "You never know?" More than anyone, it's occurred to us that April seems to often be ahead of the game in terms of twists and turns. Ivy's being ambitious again with her outfit, as is worried about time, as she makes more strips of fabric, similar to her notorious first challenge outfit, the blouse that just two episodes ago, Nina Garcia was still bitching about regarding Ivy's taste. Michael C. and Gretchen, seem to be using the same color palette for the challenge, and Valerie even confuses Michael's fabrics for Gretchen's. Both of them throwdown as Gretchen believes Michael stole her color palette, while Michael just claims that they both like the bordeaux maroon color they're using. We only saw one quick shot of Michael at Mood, picking out the bordeaux for his dress alone, but we do recall, that it was Gretchen, who swooped in behind Michael last challenge, when he was about to take a fabric, which Gretchen immediately took. Gretchen calls him a replicator, and April backs Gretchen up. Andy is also using an inspiration that he did before, the Warrior Woman he calls her, with an exaggerated cat's eye makeup. We recall, while not brought up on the judges, a standout piece for Andy was the first challenge, where he also used the warrior woman inspiration. Valerie's dress with strips and pulled-apart hand-sewn crystal seems unusually ambitious and Tim's clearly concerned. Gretchen's velvet kimono is looking like a robe, which Michael, really just doesn't like, not that he needed inspiration to like Gretchen's work, but still.... Ivy's dress is looking pageant gown and her conceptual piece is somewhat too literal with the blue strips seeming like waves. Mondo and Gretchen share a bite to eat in the breakroom, and they discuss something Tim supposedly said, but isn't shown on camera, where this outfit could be a turning point for the designers, being like a showcase for what their fashion week collection would be like. Gretchen also says that, she believes that her and Mondo, both are supposed to be at Fashion Week. (Prophetic? Maybe.) Model fittings come in, and most of the designers have nothing to put on their models. Valerie hasn't even sewn anything yet. April and Michael are prepared though. Andy fits his model head and tapes it up to create a skullcap mold. Mondo's in trouble. He's finished the bodice but it's too big for Eyen, his model that's substantially smaller than his model dressform, and when he keeps taking it in, it looks worse and worse. Finally, late on day one, he abandons and starts over from scratch and is now way behind. Girls are still sleepy the next morning, and April needs a Red Bull. Early day 2, and everybody's either still cutting and sewing fabric. Tim suddenly makes an unexpected entrance, with an announcement, and April sighs, correctly fearing the worse about to come. Everyone stops what they're doing, except Mondo, who doesn't even turn around, knowing it's not good, as Tim announces that they're to design a second ready-to-wear companion piece to their high-fashion piece, and there's no extra time to do it. Everyone's pissed, April and Gretchen's mouths haven't closed yet, and they're all dumbfounded at this point. Mondo starts describing his gameplan, but finally ends the sentence, with "I don't know." Andy says he doesn't have time to draft new patterns, so he's adapting from one's he already has, and Ivy's got nothing left other than to rely on her quick sewing skills. Everyone's running around Mood frantically, except for Valerie, who's simply still in disbelief and talking to Swatch. Ivy's getting more of the same fabric as yesterday, and Mondo's just looking for stretch fabric. In the sewing room, the contestants talk about the $20,000 prize for the win. April, the 21-year-old fashion school graduate, wants to pay student loans, and get a miniature pony. Gretchen, who's broke, just wants to get credit card companies to stop calling her. Mondo mentioned previously that he's never made more than $12,000 in a year (although he wants drinking money, he jokes), and we're starting to get a sense of the personalities and kinds of risks everyone made just to be here. Valerie is slumped over an ironing board when Tim comes back for second inspection looks, having just screwed something up and mumbling to herself. Valerie's not confident in her look, and frankly, isn't sure what to do, and Tim warns her to just lie and fake it on the runway. A make-it-work moment if there ever was one, and tells her to completely scrap the original design, as there's no time. Valerie has her breakdown and escapes to the women's bathroom and cry. Ivy and Gretchen follow her in to help her out. A second model fitting starts soon, and Ivy's measurement were off way off, and now her second look is way too small, and by the end of the day, she's still at the sewing machine, with two unfinished looks. Andy hypothesizes back at the apartments that Ivy and Valerie have just run out of idea were too ambitious. Michael and Gretchen are still blasting each others looks, even with just hours 'til runway. Everyone, especially Ivy is scrambling when Tim announces the last ten minutes, as she's still finishing her dresses on her models. Still ironing them, and she's gone from hoping to win, to hoping to finish, to now, just hoping to get by, in regards to the runway. There's an unusually high amount of talking during the runway show. Gretchen even hollas out loud about her own design. Michael C. mentions the beautiful color on Ivy, and that Heidi's gonna take Mondo's ready-to-wear look right off the model. Valerie's mentions that "She's in a dress and it fits her, to her own look. Andy feels he's got redemption from last week. April and Christopher are safe. Ivy, Valerie and Michael are on the bottom as they enter the waiting room. A few are surprised that Gretchen's on top,but theorize that it's because of her second look, not the high-fashion one. The high-fashion look is wearable but Heidi's think it should be flipped around, and the exquisite back be the front. Andy's warrior woman with the extreme armor-ish top, with the metallic blends, and they adored his ready-to-wear chic. Mondo's multiple bow-kaleidoscope-inspired avant-garde dress impresses the judges, although they complain about the length being too short, but the back is dreamy, and enjoy the simple ready-to-wear black with white chevron-like stripes. Ivy's wave inspiration looks like bridesmaids under the sea and nursy on top, from Michael Kors Her fifth time now, on the bottom. Valerie's dress looks like Miss Guatemala, and Michael Kors says she needs a wand, and Valerie's simply defeated and hoping she's not eliminated. Michael C.'s not as criticized by the judges, but the evening ball gown with the ridiculous train, which is falling off the runway was too over the top. His evening look's cure, but the skirt needs to be longer, because now it's showing off her boobs and her legs as Heidi points out, and it's just confusing, but they agree that they're salvageable. Ivy and Valerie are neck-and-neck in the judges eyes, but the Ivy Show is finally over, and she's out, while Mondo, wins his second challenge in a row, just barely over Andy, and he now has "$20,014 in his bank account now, and he's got tears of joy in the waiting room. Valerie's almost shocked and befuddled by being safe, especially as Ivy, her best friend during the competition is now gone. She's goes back, and confesses that it should've been her in the waiting room, and that Ivy had more fight to stay than her. Ivy breakdowns in the breakroom as well, crying over not designing anymore. (Which is a little odd, since, she can still design, just not on the show, as April points out.) Valerie's wants to be a martyr at this point, and Tim comes in, saying that he knows the looks weren't finished. She leaves giving Valerie a pep talk, and still takes a shot at the supposed lack of creativeness from others (Michael). The show ends on Mondo's photo shoot with his designs, and he's on cloud 9, while Valerie is just emotionally defeated.

Still shocked she wasn't sent home, arguably the best and most memorable episode, outside of the last episode of the season, Valerie begins by confessing how she still wants to fight for Ivy to have remained in the competition. We cut to closeup from the last judging of Ivy, remaining on the runway, as Valerie's best friend, and the other half of "Latasian", the nickname the two of them gave their two-person cliq based on their ethnicities, is now gone. Gretchen's now focused her energy on Mondo, as her main competition. Mondo's now won two challenges in a row, just like Gretchen, and has joined the tie with Michael for most challenges won, although he goes out of his way to praise Andy's work, which is a lift for him, since the last time he showed a piece that was truly him before, it was literally laughed at by the judges. In what will become numerous pieces of foreshadowing/predetermination on Valerie this episode, she sings  "You can't go home, 'til Heidi says so," as the girls walks out of the apartment and off to the runway. When the contestants arrive in the workroom, they're greeted by pictures of their young selves loaded onto HP Touch computers for everyone to see, and everyone suddenly gets a little homesick. A young picture of Michael in his underwear makes him tear up, as emotionally, he realizes how much his young son looks like him. Gretchen mumbles about not having seen her Mom in a while, while talking about how emotional everybody suddenly is. Tim announces that they're bringing back a memorable challenge that was introduced the season before where the contestants will use the HP Touchstone computers to create their own fabric, with their own design, to be produced and delivered to the workroom the next day. Tim announces that the textiles design should be something deeply personal to their own personal lives, hence the personal dossier of childhood photos uploaded onto their personal computers. While there is time for everyone to design their fabric, before they do that, most everybody goes and looks through each other's photos. This is first rare time, where everybody seems to be letting their guard down. They even start having sympathy for Michael, after talking about the aforementioned picture, taken after his mother ripped off a skirt he was twirling around in, and he mentions very briefly about how close he is with his mother now, but that also, there was a time where they weren't so close. They all see Mondo's eccentric style started young, with photos of him dressed as a 5-year old matador, and as a mime. Valerie zones in on a picture of her and her sister at the first house her father built for them, and creates a blue-print inspired designed, with construction-like blue lines over a black background for her fabric. Michael talks about an evil eye red string that his family, with names like Spanky and Peaches that his family wears, and designs a black and dark purple fabric with small dots concentric circles in white, red, blue and black, a literal representation of an evil eye. Gretchen uses her southwestern roots to make sunbonnet and/or squashblossom Native American-type design, over simple white fabric, that's based loosely on her Mom's jewelry. (This foreshadows jewelry that she herself designs, later.) April makes a handdrawn print of a family tree with disfigured heart-shaped branches, that represents her parents' divorce, which she claims was her first dose of reality, and considering her typically dark demeanor and aesthetic, if anything this explains young April more than anything so far, as we can presume still see to some extent, just how that moment's effected her personality to this day. Mondo tells an emotional story about coming out to his mother at age 17, which she told him to keep secret from his father, and family at first, mentioning that this has been instilled in him, this lack of ability to tell people about himself, which we recall back to the early episodes and his surprisingly introverted and shy nature that caused him to not connect with others early on. This is before one of the best edited sequences in the entire history of the show occurs. We see him discussing and debating between fabric designs with April, who says that the colorful purple and black pattern that he's designed is more like him, but strangely, Mondo's chosen to not reveal the inspiration for the design, only saying that it's very personal to him. April soon leaves his side, and we see Mondo designing his print, which we realize now, looking over his shoulder as he designs it in the computer, is based on a plus sign the separates the squares. It's at this moment, does Mondo reveal only to us, very reluctantly the inspiration, right as he finishes the design in the computer, that the plus sign represents his HIV-Positive status, and suddenly, the cutaway to a bright purple yellow and black design, leaves us with a darker undertone, shocking us, the audience, as Mondo emotionally reveals that this secret has been held by him, for the last ten years of his life, because of the guilt and shame he fears his family will bring us, but now, he believes it may be time to start opening up. At "Mood", Andy talks about his inspiration of overlapping circles which he calls memory bubbles. Christopher creates a pretty wave-inspired textiles that has blue and gray lines, representing his mother and San Francisco respectively. Valerie, has trouble reaching on the top shelf for something again, recalling the party store challenge from earlier in the year, when her height meant that she couldn't reach for an object. She then mentions that for this challenge, she just plans to focus, and design "like she did at the beginning of the competition." After briefly starting to work at Parsons, Tim comes by unannounced saying that there's going to be some special guests coming into the workroom shortly. Most are unsure of the odd announcement, until they arrive and Valerie, Mondo and Andy start freaking out at who walks through the door, which we don't see 'til after the commercial, but by the reaction, they're pretty clearly their moms. Valerie starts crying as confesses to crying at Hallmark commercials. Mondo's hugging her Mom, Andy's crying so hard he has to take his glasses off. After that sudden attack of family, Gretchen of all people, has a panic attack, and starts crying at a realization that her Mom, who we learn, takes care of Gretchen's wheelchair-bound stepfather is probably unable to make this visit. She goes from crying to blubbering idiot when her mother, along with April's Mom, does walk in, and cries in her arms, and looking a deranged doll with her ruby red lip and her crying face. Whatever portrayal of confidence or bitchiness Gretchen was trying to portray up until now, has just been shattered, almost beyond logic, as she's immediately turned into a little girl missing her Mommy. Even regularly downtrodden April, starts crying. Michael's who's emotionally on the verge of tears half the time to begin with,  sees his young son Juannie with his Mom, and he's crying his eyes out. Christopher's husband J.J., surprises him, as he half-expected his mother, but they kiss and embrace. Everybody starts meeting and talking everyone else's relatives, and Tim Gunn's announces a first ever suspension of the workday so they can spend the day out in New York with their family. Valerie and her Mom go to Hell's Kitchen Pizza, and talks about how crazy the show's been. Andy still off the high praise for his last piece, is talking about how great it is to have your work appreciated by others, and not just at home in Hawai'i. April and her mom, who's just as pretty and very young herself, get a pedicure; she might be the first person ever to do that, with perfect irony, and they talk about how April's held firm to her dark aesthetic, which she's convinced is why she's still here. We remember that she had two very close calls earlier, and seemed on the verge of getting knocked out, before reaffirming herself as one of the strongest, despite her youth. Mondo talks with his mother about his early breakdown, and Michael talks to his Mom about all the crap that's happened to him, and he confesses about how he's had no one to talk to throughout the show, and now's the time for him to discuss the group challenge, and everybody thinking he can't sew and whatnot. Christopher and J.J. probably went to their home, and just hang out in a very nice room and talk, and there's a great closeup of Christopher wedding ring, as the couple holds hands. Very touching. There's a cross cut of Mondo's Mom, being excited when he tells her about winning the $20,000 L'Oreal challenge, and Gretchen's Mom, talking about how great the exposure is she got after she tells her Mom about winning the Marie Claire challenge (Gretchen and her Mom are eating ice cream by the way.) This shows the intriguing differences between the two, as we get to see Mondo's Mom react with joy, and Gretchen's act with quiet strength, and not-so-much encouragement, but a firm sense of "That's what you were supposed to do." Well, now we know where Gretchen gets it from. Andy talks about her Mom, a single Mom of five, who devoted her life to her kids. Mondo's Mom gives him a bracelet that appears to be handmade, and Mondo talks to us, about how he thought about revealing his HIV to her there, but decided against it, as they were in such a good place, sitting in the part on her first day in New York and all, that it was better to wait until later. He's still feels guilty, as his family we learn is deeply Catholic, and he's worried about giving her pain and fear. The next day is Valerie's 29th birthday, and everyone's in a more reflective mood than usual for the throws of competition. Andy, in particular, seems to have lost the fighting instanct to continue. However, everyone's fabric is waiting them in the workroom as Mondo pins Valerie with a Happy Birthday button, jokingly saying "Happy 43rd." Valerie's chosen to make sure she does a paper pattern for the first time in a few challenges, after having been working straight from muslin before. Andy's the only one stumped with his fabric, and he's not inspired nor motivated by the print or his designs, and is having the hardest time getting his mind back into the competition. He's now just determined to get something done and has scrapped his dress idea. Tim in the workroom, tells April to take emotion out of the editing. Michael's done an Annie Hall like halter dress with his print, with the evil eye, that's almost too small to even notice, by imitating a suit and tie in the top. He's only warned by Tim to make sure it fits, as Michael needs his editing eye to make sure he doesn't go too far. Christopher's water-inspired print is pretty, but he seems to be over-designing his outfit. Gretchen call it a C+. Andy's troubled completely, barely with a gameplan, and frankly, his family's on his mind. A reminder that, while there's a lot of talk regarding April's youth, Andy is only a couple years older than her, and is the 2nd youngest in the competition, and is much farther away from home than any other designer. Gretchen's got an inspiring print, but has put a yolk-like flap on the top-back of her skirt, that worries him. Gretchen's dress that looks a little '80 ice skater outfit, with a shear top and the folded skirt below. Tim asks Mondo about the print, but Mondo decides to double-talk regarding it's inspiration, still not willing to reveal yet, too much. Tim likes it, but is obviously curious. Tim's as leaving, suddenly gets emotional, as he's just realizing that from 17, at the very beginning, we're down to the last 7, and it's been a more emotional season for everybody so far. Gretchen decides to stick with the yolk upon model fittings, while Andy has chosen to turn his pants to shorts. Christopher's pants, which he took some design elements out of after Tim's advice, are starting to look old to him, concerning him, but Andy's desperately hoping for safe, saying "Just okay is not enough he says." Valerie's still desperate to win one challenge despite being on the runway, by far more times than anybody seven previous times up until now without a win, and she at least knows, that after the nightmare of last challenge, she at least has a clear vision regarding her outfit. Everybody's still cutting and sewing and it behind as the models come in. Christopher's chosen to scrap a last-second jacket that he thought of putting on his model, deciding to go with just a top and pants look, in a strange move. Michael's made up a funny country song that entertains everyone, and is finally starting to be accepted into the group. Andy's grown to accept him, even April. Whatever it was that finally earned him appreciation and respect, it's still tentative, but they all seem to have finally begun trusting Michael. Similarly, Gretchen's chosen to drop a sweater idea, that and like Christopher, also go with a two-piece outfit of a shirt made out of the print, and pants. Andy's looks a little better on the model, but now he's still concerned that it doesn't resemble him at all. Valerie's finally gotten confidence in her dress, but is the last one of the workroom, very late, as Tim remarks that "It wouldn't be a runway day without you," as she finally makes it out the door. While there had been remarks made by the contestant regarding outfits there had never been, just complete gasps of admiration before, and this is the first clear time when everybody in the room know who was gonna win, the second the outfit hit the runway, and sure enough, Mondo's print, which he made into superhigh-waisted pants of all thing, looked unbelievably chic, as all the designers Wowed the garment on the way out, paired quixotically but brilliantly with a black short jacket and a shadow-inspired black and white checkered halter top that almost makes the outfit seem like a one-piece. There's some talk during Gretchen's look, and Christopher's seems California to everyone. A strange twist in the judging they keep all seven on the runway, out of conflicting opinions, within the judging, and extreme rarity up until then, but it also means no talk in the waiting room during judging, Gretchen gets raves for her sunbonnet outfit, with the skintight pants with the yolk, representing the sun we learn, in the back, being inspiring, although the print could've been adjusted slightly, while Nina Garcia and Guest Judge Rachel Roy are more critical, saying that she could've gone further. Michael's magnified evil-eyed spells some mixed reaction as well, with Michael Kors not crazy about the belted tie effect, despite it being a creative use of a blah print, while Heidi's more favorable to the outfit, although the styling is criticized by all. Christopher's is panned by the outstanding for being boring, particularly Nina seems to have gotten frustrated with a lot of the designer for not being entertaining and show-y enough for a fashion show, and Christopher's mundane looks overall and today, have finally started catching their attention. He's been on the runway least of everyone, and during deliberations, they realize that, they can't remember any standout, memorable piece of his. (Even his one top three, if you remember, was during the Jackie Kennedy challenge when everyone except Mondo got criticism, even the others on the top.) Andy's get praise for the print but the outfit, as expected get panned, even the short shorts make everyone seem sad and unsexy. He gets emotional talking about his mother and how it just distracted him too much, but lesson learned, and he was lost today. April gets great praised a lot for her print, and Michael Kors really enjoys the push/pull hard/soft aesthetic of April, who we remember he took under her wing during the samplemaker challenge when he visiting the workroom, and was while there was some issues with the skirt, overall, everyone liked the outfit, and loved the family tree print, creating the gorgeaous one-sleeve of her dress. Every foreshadowing possible spells the final runway for Valerie, who gets the worse of the group, when her blueprint-print, flapped skirt, reminds Heidi, and subsequently the other judges too much of her party store challenge napkin dress. She did say that's she designing like she did at the beginning of the challenge, and after being on the bottom last challenge and barely saved, a dress that the judges see as a repeat, is about the last straw for them all the blue underlaying on the bottom also ruins the dress for most of the rest as well. Of course, everyone's waiting for Mondo's judging at this point, still speaking of the print as symbolic and tells a story. Then a complete break with the traditional structure of the show, even by this season's standards, as there's a sudden cut-to-commercial break, at the beginning of Mondo's judging, right after Nina Garcia says that she wished she knew what the "Story" of the print was. The first time ever there's been a commercial break, in the middle of someone's critique from the judges. Part building tension to what we suspect, will happen, but also foreshadowing what we know, that the judges, nor the contestants don't. Everyone's as expecting raving over the outfit when we come back, but Rachel Roy starts discussing being held up on the inspiration, saying that the print is "too perfect", and happy-looking, which we can see is getting to Mondo. We can plainly hear Heidi's calling it kooky but cool, and Nina wanting to shoot it as editorial, but Mondo's clearly not listening at this point. And finally answers Nina's question, of the story, revealing the meaning of the plus signs to her, as well as the judges, the other contestants, and everyone else quite frankly, including his family. Yes, he told us earlier in the interview, but, we know now, that the editors of "Project Runway" aren't that sadistic, and that they easily could've edited that out, if he so chose to, but now the world knows and henceforths quieting the judges, and the contestants get emotional, particularly Valerie and Michael, after admitting, that he now feels "free", and nobody talks about the upcoming results in the waiting room, although Gretchen still talks about it in that weird annoying 2nd person way of hers. He reveals now how he that he completely unplanned revealing that, but felt it was the time and place to reveal it. The strangest of ironies of the episode, that the inspiration was about emotional and critical moments of your life, and yet, the winner, had arguably the most emotional moment, right there on the runway. The judges deliberation went from climax to coda in this episode and Mondo became the first designed to win three singles challenges in a row on the show, in the least-surprising outcome in the show's history, and he hugs an awaiting April in the waiting room before breaking down in tears of joy. Christopher and Andy are in the bottom, Andy's barely getting saved, and Valerie's long-foreshadowed exit is now the merest of footnotes, although she cries in the waiting room to, as she exits and thanks everyone personally, even apologizing for misjudging Michael in the beginning, before Tim sends her to the workroom. There's a closeup of Tim Gunn looking on as Mondo hugs Valerie goodbye, and you can tell his somberness hides his own emotional ringer that he's also gone through too, learning about all this as well, learning about all this. Mondo tries to give a speech to Mondo himself, but stumbles over the emotion of it all himself. Mondo admits being scared of telling his family, and he'll be dealing with that until then, but we sense that everything will eventually be okay with him.

Mondo's excited at his three wins in a row. Meanwhile, Gretchen talks with April about how she's happy to not be woken up by Valerie and Ivy giggling with each other. Everybody's still in bed, as the waningness of the challenges is starting to get to all of them. A shocking and sudden twist starts off the next challenge, when Heidi, velvet bag in hand, enters with an announcement that each designer is required for the next challenge to switch models. This is particularly weird, considering that, while it's not particularly focused on as much, models paired with winning designer get a Spread in Marie Claire magazine and a $25,000 cash prize, and while they've toyed around with ideas on with the influence of the models in certain seasons, including mandatory and/or likely switches, this is particularly late in the show to make such an announcement, especially since, no designer has switched models at all during the competition, and on top of that, one is guaranteed to be eliminated. Mondo in particular, has gotten particularly used to Eyen wearing his clothes, and the two have in recent weeks become particularly synonymous. He picks Tina Marie first, Christopher's model. Christopher takes Gretchen's model Alexandra, Michael takes Andy's model Cassie, who he's particularly gotten used to as well. Gretchen picks last, and takes Milana over Eyen, who is now eliminated despite having worn the last three winning garments. This is the first hint that Mondo's pent-up frustrations are boiling to the surface. Heidi announces that she's the client for the challenge, which is for the contestants to design a look in her new line of activewear from New Balance. he's provided many yards of fabric to help make garments to aesthetically go with the line and the lines, are cool, but oddly generic and muted-color collections, plus the look gets sold on Amazon.com. Reaction is strongly mixed to the challenge. Christopher and April have never done athletic wear before. Mondo doesn't find the aesthetic particularly inspiring, and has already resorted to "Pulling something out of his ass." Michael's happy oddle enough, and is already inspired by the fabrics that the designers see available in their workroom. Andy, like his previous foray in the bottom 3, is coming back to the next challenge annoyed with himself and more determined than ever, and is liking the activewear challenge. Gretchen is a sportswear designer, but doesn't like the retail-driven aesthetic, is immediately begins sorting through Heidi's catalog to find out what's "missing", from the line. Shopping at Mood for supplemental fabrics, lead everyone to rush the same aisle, although Gretchen wants to find a color wave that speaks to her, and not-so-much matching the provided fabric. Christopher's getting fabrics he likes, but in neutrals and shades of gray. Andy's working on a jacket and pants, that aren't leggings, which seemed to be a trend in Heidi's collection. April's planning on a maxi dress. Mondo's working on a different silhouette entirely, not paying much anticipation to Heidi's aesthetics. Gretchen's got a jacket in mind, and doesn't think Heidi's collection's meant for exercising. (She's right there, it is more activewear.) Soon after, Heidi and Tim enters the workroom, to some people's dismay, particularly Gretchen and Mondo. Immediately, Tim informs Christopher however that his model, Alexandra, Gretchen's former model, just dropped out of the competition due to a family crisis, so Eyen will be back replacing her. Recall that this is the second time now that a model has left on him, recalling the bridesmaid challenge where a last second replacement was brought in as well. Heidi's worried a bit about Christopher's open armholes which are big and drapy, she's worried they might not stay up, but she does like the idea. Heidi's visit with Mondo was unusually uncomfortable. His cross-heart gray top with pink was unusually small, and Heidi, challenging his size six assertion puts it on to see for herself. It's clearly a little small, and she questions Mondo about the usefullness of it. Is it good for errands, and dropping off kids? Mondo's who we recall now feels free, give her major attitude, particularly when his tunic see-through purple, and Heidi, rolls his eyes as she can't even fit her head through the top. Maybe Mondo feeling free is a little bit of a whiny bitch; who knew? Frustrated, with the confrontation, and with Heidi onto Andy's critique, he finally pulls a Casanova and escapes to the breakroom, and sits on the couch unnerved, having finally just gotten too pissed off at the whole show, and Heidi's critique being the last straw, after losing his model, revealing his HIV, the unispired challenge, and the emotional run of it all. Christopher tries to buck up Mondo mentioning how he thinks he could win the whole thing, which doesn't effect Mondo much, but it does give us a hint to Christopher's state of mind, this late in the show. After an uneventful look at April's critique, Gretchen's may actually have gone worse than Mondo's as her frustration seems to have gone worse. Heidi's wondering why she doesn't just make the clothes out of the provided fabric, so that it goes with the rest of the line, annoying Gretchen who's trying to create something that would expand out from the line, before finally Gretchen, furiously agrees to forego her fabric, throwing it literally against the wall as conceding to using it in Heidi's fabric. April's brings up what has been another common theme, Gretchen's pushy and disrespectful attitude, especially in the face of constructive criticism, as Gretchen's also not in love with her curly butt leggings. Mondo's finally off from the couch, and looking around the empty sewing room as Michael C.'s critique begins. April, complains again about Michael's lack of skills, as his drapy top and orange draped pants, seem to go by otherwise uneventful, until Heidi brings up the group challenge agai, and how everyone who said he can't sew isn't here anymore. After the critique, Tim and Heidi announce that they want two addition pieces outfit from each contestant, on top of the one they're creating. Gretchen's pissed and sarcastic, and Mondo's back in the room, but doesn't even look at Heidi and Tim, is drawing a new design and admits he's not even paying attention to them. She however, announces that some help will be sent, which scares Michael C. Everyone's designing and going back to "Mood". Gretchen's trying everything starting with leggins, but she's clearly stumped and uninspired. Christopher's lost. Mondo's not even designing, he's playing with a needleball. He's also no impressed with Tim's speech on positive thinking. Michael's begun working even more in his colors, which are brown and orange, and he's realizing that he might lost sight of the Heidi Klum part of the challenge. Gretchen's standing close to Tim, looking for some kind of approval by Tim about a direction to go, but he rejects everything. Frustrated, she arrives, throwing her Mood bag onto her workstation, as Tim, introduces the help, the last 6 eliminated contestants, and Michael's heart sinks, reflecting that now comes everybody who hates him. So much for Heidi saying those who said he can't sew aren't here anymore. Ivy, walking in last, and everyone hugs everyone else, except Michael, who wishes the Moms would've been the help instead, and Gretchen knows that chaos is on the way. Mondo takes Valerie first, and Gretchen takes Casanova, and their bosom buddy friendship begins again. Christopher takes Ivy for her sewing skills. Michael, with no really good choice available takes A.J. April's ecstatic to take her old roommate Peach, leaving Andy with Michael Drummond and once again, Andy decides to simplify his design slightly for him, recalling back to the samplemaker challenge when Ivy had to simplify his design. Mondo decides it's time to start designing, not out of inspiration for the challenge, but to not look like a dumbass for Valerie. Mondo and Gretchen are consulting each other with their frustrations throughout the episode, and while Mondo's freakout on it's last rides, Gretchen's is still in the middle of hers, as she's no longer feeling like a designer anymore. Valerie's her bouncy self, as she's wearing a pink and white pinstripe tie, to match Mondo's traditional sweaterjacket. Christopher grateful for Ivy to be around to help him edit, while April's frustrated with how Peach overworries about details. Casanova and A.J. start joking about Michael C.'s color palette for his outfits, which they realize are a little too Thanksgiving-ish. Michael jokes off the criticism, but he doesn't joke off Ivy's confrontation about him cheating. This causes tension in the sewing as Michael and Ivy start at it again. This actually began during the Jackie Kennedy challenge, as she claims that Michael taped the entire dress together for runway. This dwells on something that happened off-camera previously, when after the challenge, the next day, Ivy and several other contestants recalled seeing a lot of sticky tape in the ladies' bathroom after the runway. Michael defends his statements by saying that was sewn together and that and also says that his model Lenka always wears stickky boobs and topstick tape for the runway. He's right, as we go back and check back on multiple episodes, including the Jackie O one, Michael's consulted with Lenka about her sticky boobs, telling her to put them in and making fun of them a bit, but there's no indication of him using them to hold a dress up. Ivy's continues to claim it despite proof, and the exchange gets heated, and Michael uses vulgar language out of frustration, which suddenly, reveal to Ivy, Michael's low class, despicableness. Michael calls her a bitch who's treated him like crap for no reason, and Ivy's bitter as hell, claims Michael's still here because of playing the game and sabotaging others, but when confronted she doesn't give specific, nor can she back up her claims. Michael talks with A.J. in the waiting room, about the confrontation, and how A.J. himself, mentioned that he didn't trust Michael when he was on the show, and that for some reason, everyone thought he did cheat. Michael talks about how he would've given up if it weren't him becoming friends with Mondo in the samplemaker challenge, because he couldn't deal with nobody talking to him. Ivy goes around person to person, bragging about her accomplishment, strangely enough. Only April, who is frustrated by Michael C. lack of sewing skills is somewhat amused. Even Gretchen who's pissed at the world is over it and sees Ivy's action as bitter. There's a funny edit though, as she continues to justify her belief that Michael C. shouldn't be here, saying that the world will give him what he deserves, and that she believe in karma. Just then, the perfect seamstress has a needle shoot out of her sewing machine, directly into her eye. Michael's laughing at the incident. Soon after Michael comes back and calls for a roundup, and discuss the cheating accusation. Ivy discusses the topstick tape all over the bathroom, which is confirmed by others around, which Michael points out, would be strange for him to cheat so blatantly while leaving wrappers over the women's bathroom. (We also recall Valerie having her freakout moment in the women's restroom, with the other girls during the Garnier challenge, where we didn't notice anything. Ivy also mentions how the next day, the tape was brought to the producers' attention, but they said that it was too late. Time confirms that it was too late, and that there was no malfeseance and that the whole situation is a he said/she said incident, with nothing of Ivy's claims being validated by the judges, Tim, nor the cameras finding any evidence, and instructs everyone to put the incident behind them. Michael's still hurt afterwards, as despite his numerous attempts, he's just come to the conclusion that there's just nothing around that'll satisfy Ivy, and since he's got nothing to prove, he's not gonna bother trying. The next day, it's a little more relaxed and normal morning. The guys are all joking, and while April still wants it to be Michael's time to go home, and thinks it might be as she discusses the possibility with Gretchen's in some way, it's clearly out of frustration with his skills, not him personally. Andy's worried about finishing, as is Christopher who's quietly consulting with Ivy, who's basically been shut up by everyone else. The sight of Gretchen, trying to help buck up Michael must've been a heartbreaker to Ivy though,who must've thought up until now, that she might've been one of those most on her side. (She admitted to being one of the ones who saw the topstick tape before.) Casanova and Gretchen have a fun argument over her shorts for her design, which Mondo thinks look too biker, saying it's for active mothers and five children, while Gretchen fires back with "who still wants to have sex." Michael's feeling he's definitely at least safe, maybe win, while Mondo's quietly gotten back into the challenge, and has designed kooky headbands to go with the outfits. The runway was rather uneventful, although Heidi mentions how the six of them have the highest and lowest scores, although there's only six competitors left, that was somewhat dumb of her to say. Michael, Gretchen and Christopher are in the bottom, and sent to the waiting room, where Gretchen's surprised she's in the bottom and trying to rationalize it. Michael's sighing and nobody else is talking, so Gretchen's back to normal Gretchen. Heidi's wondering wear her favorite pieces are, which Mondo scrapped, and left behind creating a nice three-piece geometrically inspired look, as each piece was based on a triangle, circle and square, which match the headbands, which despite not being apart of the judging, the judges actually liked. They particularly like the satin circle jacket he made, and found whimsy, even in the muted color palette, although they weren't impressed with the three leggings bottoms that they thought was a throwaway. April's got a darker palette, and her clothes aren't as active as the others practicality-wise, but her beautiful asymmetrical dress, with an armband sleeve is appreciated. Although even Heidi thought the shorts were too short for activewear, but they still liked the darker blue and gray throw-on looks. Andy is the clear winner slightly over Mondo, with all three of his looks being made into the line, with cool plays on striped patterns, mixing the typical activewear looks with a more relaxed easiness. They love the asymetrical dress that's a little hipper than the other two, but it all looks good, allow Nina's unsure of the black and white stripe ghost-like feels, that comes off kinda like Halloween, but it's not as disconcerning as Michael's Thanksgiving palette, which Heidi's not a fan of, for practical reasons as it wouldn't fit her color scheme. In the back, they're surprised by Gretchen somewhat, but are worried about Michael and Christopher. Michael's not overslammed for Thanksgiving, but the accessorizing and styling are too much for Nina, and Michael thinks they looks, just a little too fancy for everyone. Christopher's clothes are frightenting cheap andd uninspired by everyone. Noone liking his sad shirt dress with feels pajamas, and the butterfly-designed jacket with the red ruffles out of the bottom, look horrendous with the tight great sweatpant that's tortured to death and a complete loss of Christopher's refinement. Gretchen's becomes overly confrontational on the bottom, again (This is her first time here since the group challenge remember, so it's a pattern) Gretchen talks immediately about what she thought the line was missing, but Heidi's doesn't see much activewear in it, and it's a little too busy for her as well. No one's liking the odd bike shorts over the ruffled skirt (One of two ruffled skirts),  or the bathrobe-looking coat, and like Michael she overstyled it to death, although her's look like '80s dance video. Gretchen's convinced that Heidi just hates her at this point, but the judges are annoyed at her lack of ability to take criticism, and are frustrated that she "Tried to fix" Heidi's collection. Mondo leaves the runway doing a doggy butt walk on the waiting room floor, having gotten his metaphorical itch relieved. Gretchen is safe, but with stern advice from Heidi to not find constructive criticism as her enemy, but Christopher, as he probably suspected for much of the episode is out. Michael cries at his defeat, Christopher asked him why, as he's suspected that it's his time, for awhile.

In the prologue to the next episode, Tim Gunn repeats that we're down to the Final Five from the last episode, and we notice of the five designer's left, April's face and most of her body, is obscured in the shot by Gretchen. (I didn't even bring this up much until now, but the way the opening prologued of what happened before and what'll happen the next episode are just as critical to the show as well. For instance, there was no hint going into the last episode about the other contestants coming back, but there was a mention of the cheating accusation, which was an effective manipulation, into us thinking that the cheating accusation was gonna come from one of the designers that are left, not the case, but those often use great techniques to either foreshadow the next episode, or in some cases, lead us thinking one thing while swerving us another way going in.) Unlike most episodes that start the day after the previous runway show, this one starts, right where we left off, directly after the last show, and Tim is still talking to the designers after escorting Christopher to clean up his space in the workroom, announcing that Heidi is meeting everyone, immediately on the runway. On the runway, she tells them to relax, as she's sending them to one of the most spectacular places in New York City. Michael doesn't believe her, fearing a twist, but Heidi insist on the designers to recharge, as this is the last challenge before Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. To the designers' shock, they are sent to the Presidential Suite at the Mandarin Oriental and the contestants are overjoyed and they open a bottle of champagne. Michael points out to us, that in most seasons of the show, the traditional champagne toast started most seasons of the show, but it didn't this year, and now they're actually having it, at the end. Michael's wondering how exactly did he get to this point as they click glasses and toast, and enjoying the huge upgraded surrounding, with real cappucino and exquisite chocolate ice cream sundaes. They're all in a reflective mood as they're just hanging out, all of them, in a non-competitive setting. We realize this is the first time that's actually happened, as the guys and girls have been in separate apartment for the whole show beforehand. April's proud of how she's extended herself, and as the most inexperience of the entire group from the year, and how cool it'd be if she actually won the whole thing. Michael reflects on how the perception of his work has been altered. Mondo's journey, the most emotional of them all, he reflects, has set him free and is almost spiritually-driven at this point. On the rooftop, where that champagne toast also traditionally took place, in the morning, the designers are greeted by Tim Gunn and Mayor Bloomberg of all people. Michael shows us, how he wants to talk about his love of New York, revealing an "I Heart NY" tattoo on his chest to us. Bloomberg announces that for the final challenge, the entire city of New York is open to them for inspiration, and they can go anywhere in the city for the day. They also are given a $500 budget to be inspired. Michael, unsuprisingly, takes the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, inspired by the beautiful symbol of freedom that greets the world, in a beautiful draped dress. Very Michael. April is at the Brooklyn Bridge from afar and starts drawing inspiration from the shapes. Mondo is also on the bridge, but it taking overhead shots from on top of it, looking at a 2D perspective of the wires and cables, and the cars below. Andy's inspired by the organic lines of Central Park, but he says that, he just wants to do a dress. Gretchen goes to the Lower East Side, but is underinspired, and hopes to find something more like her in the environment, but isn't finding quite what she wants.  She gets pretty and soft fabrics at Mood, to reminder her of the brick building outside, as she plans to do a leather jacket. Michael's a little confused about what to make, still, as he can't find the right fabric quite yet, but Tim warns him about being too literal to his design. He also tells April to make sure she has surprise consider her palette throughout the season until now. Mondo's going what Tim calls "Full Mondo", with his mix of colors, prints and textiles. Designer say goodbye to Swatch, as they leave Mood for the final time. Tim warns the quiet workroom, that at least one of them are going home. Mondo's confident, Michael's worried as he's been on the bottom for three straight challenges (Although for the print challenge, he was technically in the middle but he's been called out negatively by the judges three straight times however.) and he feels a real need to step it up. April says that she's wants to really show the crazy shit she can bring on the runway, and that she wants to "Go out with a bang." Michael's really pushing it with his dress, struggling to get the execution ready, but Gretchen says that he reminds her of herself five years ago, when she could still only replicate other's designs, and that's all he can do, only making dresses. Everyone's pressing hard, Mondo presses so hard, he decides to take a break, which becomes a nap in the breakroom for 2 1/2 hours. Boy he is free, isn't he, just able to sleep in the most high-pressure of situations. However, he wakes up concerned, especially as he tries to tackle a vomit green sequin fabric, which he's never cut before. Michael's started working on a ruffled alternative dress, as he's worried his dress might be too simple, but it's not looking good to him, or anybody. When they're not working so hard, everybody's on the edge of craziness and starts doing and saying funny things to let out their frustration. Andy crawls on the wall, Michael puts a fabric shiek-like over his head and starts sewing and doing a Michael Kors impression. Andy's dr looking good, but Gretchen, correctl points out that it's looking a little too "madam" and now Andy's worried cause he sees it too. "I give birth to a Chinese prostitute," Andy reflects as day one comes to an end. Everyone's exhausted. Mondo's way behind, hoping he'll catch up. Michael C.'s more disillusioned as he works on his alternative dress, really not feeling it. Mondo's gave the sequin fabric a try, but gave up as it was too hard to cut, and is now going with a black-and-white outfit exclusively, his suspicions confirmed by Tim Gunn's acceptance of the idea, as he goes around the workroom. Tim's okay with April's dress, although warns about editing, but Mondo suspects that it might be somewhat too costumey. Michael switches back to his original vision after Tim Gunn's thought, even though he warns about it's simplicity, he sees the tortured ruffles alternative Michael's working on, and agrees with him that it's a mess. Mondo's worried that Andy's dress may be too safe, Tim's worried it could go to "Real Housewives..." slutty, but Andy seems somewhat relieved. He's cut the dress from floorlength to knee-length we've notices, and it isn't looking as madam as before. Mondo, who for some reason is suddenly telling us his opinions on all the other designers apparently, notes that Gretchen's piece looks as exhausted as she is. She talks to Tim about it, saying that she wants to present the judges with something that she would wear, and Tim tells her to say "My customer..." instead, knowing that being pegged as only able to design for yourself is a red flag to the judges. Gretchen gets emotional at the prospect of this being her last critique with Tim, and they hug at the end. Strange how emotion she's gotten towards Tim, particularly after he called her out during the group challenge, but Gretchen's grown quite a bit, and has been humbled, may too much. Andy's dress looks better on the model than on the mannequin, and he's somewhat relieved as there's another Garnier hair session for the model. April's got little to try on, but she's already looking at adjusting her model's boobs. Michael's model fitting is good, and he's in love with Cassie in his dress. Mondo's in trouble, as he's got nothing for his model to try on. Gretchen's talking herself into the outfit being something that's more like her, particularly with the leather jacket. Michael, essentially finished, starts weaving together a silk shrug by hand, thinking it might help his dress. Some are still worried for Michael, despite this. Andy and Gretchen argue whether Michael C.'s an idiot savant with his clothers, or just an idiots as he does the hand-weaving. The next day, everyone remains excited but nervous, and they're all terrified about the runway show today, and as the models come in, everyone's emotion are running a little wild. April's models boobs are looking naturally bigger for her dress, but Gretchen worries that it could look too witchy. Michael tries the new shrug he made for his model, but he's decided against it as will, and is sticking to his simply black draped dress. Mondo's the most concerned as this fitting is his first, and he's got a lot of work to do on the outfit. Andy and Gretchen are still wondering about Michael's dress, which they think, was just the Statue of Liberty dress in black, as Michael gives it one last steam. Everyone talks about the emotions of the moment, and how much of a stress-filled rollercoaster the show and their careers have been. As Heidi warns that less than five will go to Fashion Week (Not sure on actual number however), an intriguing guest judge for this challenge is announced, Season 4 winner of the show Christian Soriano, who like April, was actually 21 when he won the show.  Michael asks the others about his dress as Cassie walks down the runway in it, and they say it was sexual, especially with the very high slit leg it has. The judges, like the other contestants, like Mondo's a lot, Michael Kors says that he proved color's not his crutch, as the fitted black and white dress look chic, and that his logo should be his name in patent leather (Interesting, all the designers went with black as a main color, except for Gretchen who's muted brick red might as well have been black.) Heidi's a little disappointed in the houndstooth, but otherwise, everyone liked it. The designer aren't impressed with Andy's Central Park influence, as they think he's gone back to the warrior bitch muse he's used to good success for much of the show, but they still like the matted wet effect, and the lines. Gretchen's lined leather jacket in black, gray and beige, is the only bright spot, as the judge's are just confused. Michael thinks it's rock'n'roll Midtown secretary, not Lower East Side. Gretchen admits to being tired of the challenge, and tired in general. Christian tries to come to her defense, but against Tim's warning, she mentions that these are the clothes she wears. April's like her avant-garde look,black dress with the blue skirt peaking under the stuctured-to-death top, but Michael Kors is tired of it. The "pregnant witch" he calls it, feel like another version of other dresses she's done, and they're tired of April's palette and aesthetic, just as Tim predicted at Mood. April's cries at Heidi's frustration with the lack of surprise in her clothers, and Nina worries about her range. "There's never any joy in your clothes", Michael Kors reflects.  Michael C.'s dress, to the judge's is the clear winner, and think they the easy flowy drape is a true showstopper, as Micael C. set out to make. Michael does admit to not knowing what the fabric is, strangely enough, but the chiffon-jersey is admirable. When they ask who should go with each designer to Fashion Week, and defend themselves to got to Fashion Week, a question that's terrified former contestants at this point in the past, and here today, Michael picks Andy and Mondo, Gretchen picks Mondo and April, just over Andy. Andy selects Mondo and April, just over Gretchen. Mondo takes Michael C. surprisingly, and reflects back on the samplemaker challenge, talking about how he listens and isn't afraid to grow. Torn between Andy and April, he takes April. April admits she's stuck in a bubble, as she selects Mondo and is the only one who takes Gretchen. Everyone's nervous in the back. April's crying in the back, finally letting her stonefaced emotions come out, while Gretchen's trying to bulk her emotions up, but it's clear that she's not frightened as well. Mondo reflects the Hell of picking two people, and the "Playing God" aspect of it all, wishing all 5 would be able to go. The room gets unusually quiet after that, as they cut to a commercial before the judging, an atypicla commercial spot, again. As the five come out after the judging, they all hug eachother on the stage before hitting the runway, Michael, Gretchen, Andy, Mondo together, and April last to join it. Heidi announces that one's out tonight.  Michael's announced as having a major high, and the first one in to Fashion Week, also getting his third win, tying him with Andy and Mondo. Tears of joy comes as he heads to the waiting room. Mondo, to no one's surprise is in next. Michael and Mondo embrace emotionally in the back. Andy's warned about his warrior woman aesthetic, but is in. Andy reflects that he didn't reference her for the previous five challenges, which is true if you go back, including the athletic wear challenge he won, but it's definitely become his strongest and most memorable aesthetic however. An intense 11 o'clock moment from Heidi, leads to Gretchen barely getting in for creating separates and sportswear, to separate herself out, even thought it was a watered-down version of herself. She hugs everybody on the couch, starting with Michael, just happy she's still in. The youngest competitor in the show, is finally out and emotions run heavy as she's out, still considering her bittersweet ending to an amazing run. Tim Gunn, still in the waiting room, informs the contestants that they've got a collection to make, but that no one's is assured a spot at Lincoln Center, as the four will compete for the three spaces to show, when they get back. She show ends with closeups on everybody, Gretchen last, looking the most worried and concerned.


Per tradition, the 2-part Finale of "Project Runway," would win the show's first Emmy for it's editing, and it begins with Heidi on the runway, giving the designers there checks to produce their collection, this year $9,000 for a ten-piece collection, before Tim Gunn joins Heidi on the Runway, wish the designers luck, and warn about Tim's upcoming home visit, before Heidi and Tim head off behind the silk screen stage. Tim even comes out this time saying, "You knew it would be me," as a little wink to the now, not-so-surprising reveal of Tim Gunn being on the Runway. The designer's hug again and also give out some last thoughts as they pack and leave their Atlas apartments for the last time. Mondo's reflects on his journey from odd-man-out to full-fledged respected designer. Gretchen just keeps repeating her fashion week mantra, of how she feels that she can do it. Michael and Andy leave their apartment together, the odd couple roommates throughout the whole season, we reflect. Michael's fun side comes out, with an evil "last laugh" he predicts for fashion week as his cab arrives. Andy's wants to make sure he can surprise the judges when he gets home for fashion week. They're departures begins Tim Gunn's annual trips to visit the designers where they're making their collections, starting with Andy South's family estate in Waianae, Hawai'i, a month after they left New York. This is where we get sometimes more insight into the designers than we ever do during the show, and we can really see their inspirations for their works in a new light. Andy's large estate from Hawai'i, a huge farm is quite gorgeous, but a lot of work. We see the plants his family grows, and there's a funny scene where he shows Tim the Chinese catfish they farm, which Tim is freaked and grossed out by. When Andy says they look like Chinese men, Tim retorts "I've never seen a Chinese man look that unattractive. Andy we learn is first generation Laotian, and his mother Nora, who we met earlier has cooked lots of food for everyone. (A common occurance on many of Tim's visits.) Tim wonders about the natrual and lang-base way Nora raised her kids, and querries how this bloomed a fashion designer like Andy. She smriks lovingly and she mentions how much she supports them. It teas Andy up in the interview, while he's happy and breaking coconut for coconut water for Tim. He's worried about his collection, being very early in it, with only two weeks left. His inspiration is Buddha Park in vieng Chen, Laos, as wel as an old photo os hif grandfather, standing on an, elephant. (He was an elephant hurder in Laos) He's recently gotten the last of his Laotian textiles in the mail, which were delivered and hand-woven in Laos, as well as some beautfiul metals as well. So, he hassn't started making clothes yet, but he's certainly got a direction going, and some sketches, but he's unsure about the clothing, although ideas for headpieces are popping into his head. TIm warns about the potential for a hot mess, but basically tells him to make sure he starts making clothes now, and in a hurry. Tim leaves, and Andy's scared and worried but the fabrics do look amazing. Tim's back on the mainland as his tour of the American West continues, by clicking on "Palm Springs" of his rental car's GPS and heading off to visit Michael Costello. Tim and Michael hug at the front door, and Tim's excited to be in air conditioning, as it's incredibly hot in Palm Springs. Michael is packing with his partner Richard. Michael's made an incredible amount of work so far, after falling in love with the colors of the sky, approaching sunset, photos that covers his inspiration wall, as well as feathers as inspiration for his silhouettes. Michael's pushing himself a little too much it seems, threatening to make 150 pieces if he can. There's some pretty looks here so far, some wonderful died looks, and colors, beautiful beeding, but he's got too much. Not counting the reject rack, he's already finished or close to finished on 12 looks and Tim says it's like "Design diarrhea," to which Michael laughs in understanding how right he is, and actually warns Michael to stopped designing. At the dinner counter, another big meal, we see Michael's friends and his young son Giovanni again, who we haven't seen since New York either. Tim asks about Fashion Week, and Richard says he's coming, but GIovanni will be in school with his Mom. Richard then says that he doesn't hink Michael's parents should be there, as they haven't been supportive of him, until he was on the show, and they used to constantly berate him to give it up and say he's not talented and needs to give it up, etc. We see Michael, trying to push out those troubling thoughts from his mind. We learn that Michael was outed to his parents by Richard many years ago, and they still wish he was married to a woman, and continued to disuade him from his lifestyle and career choice, until recently. You can see Michael holding back tears (and we recall during the HP challenge, him mentioning that him and his family went through some hard times with him, and now we realize just what that might've meant.) Tim hugs Michael, tells him he's in great shape, but warns about him about having a critical eye going forward. Michael's working like hell, but he's still nervous. Mondo's nervously joking as Tim Gunn finds his way to his house, where Mondo introduces Tim to his great design and hopes he isn't f-ing up his collection. Mondo discussing his upbringing and the Mexican area of Denver he's from, and has photo of turn-of-the-century Mexican circuses as his inspiration, mixed with cultural images of the Day of the Dead Festival. While he's still going prints, he's surprising by using a neutral pallette as his base. Tim's intrigued by the marriage of the inspiration, especially after seeing some silk screens Mondo's design for a t-shirt dress and a handbags later. He's got a painted leather skirg and some trapeze-inspired jumpers that are intriguing. We also see, a rare eveningwear look from Mondo, a silky longsleeved blacks dress, with a tantalizing bubble print on the front, (the dress, that little does anybody know, will become the most infamous piece of clothing in the history of the show very soon.) Tim thinks it's fabulous, but he's worried about the junior pink outfits that is wear Mondo occasionally falls into trouble, and Tim calls it "childlike," and worries about Mondo looking like he's trying to hard. At another wonderful dinner, Mondo's family has a front porch dinner, where we meet the rest of Mondo's family, including his boyfriend Ben, sister Tanisha, and we see his Mom again, as well as his father. They talk about trying to get Mondo into sports as a kid, and having him fit a typical mold, but obviously they laugh it off now. We're a little concerned as it's unclear whether or not they know or have seen the episode about Mondo revealing his HIV status, but his traditional Mexican Catholic family couldn't be more excited and proud of him. It's a fun dinner table, and Mondo talks about his piano lessons as a kid, coming from an extortion attempt to get him to play baseball, and we see Mondo playing on his piano very beautifully, with a black leather-spiked wristband. A surprisingly breif and happy visit. (It's not completely delved into but he was a classical pianist before switching to fashion design.) Back in Portland, Oregon, we find Gretchen, and she's packing up, her house. Her Mom is there, and apparently, everything has crumbled for Gretchen. Her relationship with her boyfriend ended, and she's being evicted from her house, and her bank account is empty. We recall her once talking about wishing credit card companies would stop calling during the L'Oreal Paris Challenge, (the one with the $20,000 prize that Mondo ended up winning. There's a chalkboard outside with "Welcome Tim!" on it as he knocks on the door, and she's embarassed at Tim coming during these most inconvenient of times. This is not the confident overbearing Gretchen we remember, and she's more humble than ever. As Tim and Gretchen share a cup of coffee over a countertop, Tim reflects on a relationship of his that devasted him, that ultimately changed his life for the better, and how  it ended up getting him to move to New York in the end. Her influence is taking Western and Southwestern influences, and mixing them with similar rural cultures to create a modern ready-to-wear collection. It's Safari and tribal influence mixed with intriguing combinations of leather and prints. There's a silk bloomer that hasn't been died yet, that Tim's worried about, and Gretchen realizes how it looks "diaper" at the moment, as we reflect back in our minds on April's triple-panty outfit during the Philip Tracy Challenge, where Tim had a similar observation. Tim worried about some of the pieces looking costume-y, and too hippie granola, particularly an Aztec-inspired backless jumper. She has some stunning jewelry to go with her pieces as well, that are impressive. He's glad that she's progressing in her work as well, and that her work won't be neutral and will cause a reaction. Gretchen's quietly confident, emphasis on quiet. The refreshing Spring lunch with Gretchen and her Mom, they immediately discuss her controlling behavior, beginning as a kid, and Gretchen refuses to go to pre-school if her pants didn't fit just right. Gretchen reflects that the first step is recognizing it. She's clearly been humbled by the entire experience, and the way she's been shown on "Project Runway", the real way she seems to act, and it seems like finally, she's able to step outside of herself a bit. It's now a couple days before the show, and Mondo arrives at the Hilton first, and like always there's incredibly glamourous rooms the designers stay in. Mondo observes that he's never slept in a bed that big. Michael arrives scared but excited. Mondo hides behind a bed scaring Michael and hugging him as he arrives. Andy's hair is a long flowy mohawk that everone's jealous us. "Unbeweaveable" and "Lost of the Mohicans" it's called as he walks in through the door. Michael says he's Pocahontas meets Naomi Campbell (In a good way.) Gretchen sneaks into the room with everyone waiting for him. She's reflects on how much she missed "her boys" as they're all glad to see each other again. Shortly, Tim surprises everyone by his appearance, as apparently they left the door unlocked, and as he welcomes them all back for Fashion Week, everyone notices that notorious velvet bag he's holding, and everyone goes from excited to afraid. Michael's mouth-open shock expression is priceless, as they've grown to despise that bag as all other "Project Runway" seasons' cast members have in the past. However, it's good news, as the Hilton has given each of them a vacation to either Costa Rica, Barbados, or comically, Hawai'i where of course Andy lives. Everyone's happy that something good finally came out of the button bag, and now armed with a vacation, it's a good night's rest until the next morning at the 1407 Broadway Building to work on their collections some more. Their collections are waiting for them, and this is where everyone reveals the contents of their collections to each other for the first time. Mondo's unsure about the supposed effortlessness of Michael's work, especially when one dress has 20,000 ruffles sewed together for the bottom. Tim comes in and informs them that they'll have to show three of their looks to the judges before the show, to see which of the three of them will actually compete, with an additional caveat that one of the presented looks, must be made in the next two days from scratch. It's back to "Project Runway," full steam ahead, 30 sketching minutes, $300 bucks and a trip to Mood. No one's particularly happy with this bomb dropping, but Gretchen decides to create a casual piece to counteract the sophisticativeness of her collection. Andy needs one more Wow factor special piece, but is concerned about Mood considering the rarity and exclusiveness of his fabrics, and he's not sure he can match his greens at Mood. Michael wants an effortless-looking one-shoulder draped dress, and is looking at luxious fabrics that are copper and gold. Mondo's stumped as he doesn't know what silhouette to make and gets advice from Tim to do a riff on something he already has, and that gets him going at Mood at least. Mondo's settled on a funky jersey dress, while Andy's decided to abandon his Mood fabrics and start making a very-detailed and time-consuming pleated piece with some extra fabric he already has. At the fall o'clock hour, Mondo's brown-striped jersey dress with the pink side and light blue, is not looking good to Mondo. It's the end of the day, and he's becoming more flippant as he's decided to scrap it entirely and start all over tomorrow. Tim Gunn comes in shortly after everyone's started working the next day to check in. Michael Costello's drapy one shoulder copper dress looks good, but he doesn't know which two pieces he's pairing it with, and it's concerning Tim. Michael mentions how it usually comes together late but Tim looks at his watch worried that it's not good to have that happen, and both Tim and Michael are worried for Michael right now. Gretchen's got her youthful showy dress, and Tim points out that it's so continuous within her collection that she could pick pieces at random and have continuity. She agrees and is currently working on a bag accessory. Tim points out that Mondo's always surrounded by flotsom and jetsam, as his area is a mess. Mondo shows Tim his first dress, which Tim agrees is too junior, and now she his two piece blue-teel draped top with pyramid cuffs on the polkadot sleve and the brown and grey print skirt with it. Tim's excited, and Gretchen points out her surprise that Mondo's looks are subdued for Mondo, which she wasn't expecting. Tim's amazed that Andy's green pleated one-shoulder dress is his new look. Tim can't believe how fast he worked, even with a pleating board, and especially considering the entire rack of clothers which, didn't exist two weeks earlier. Mondo notices that Andy's collection is oddly flat and 2-dimensional, mentioning how it seems to lack texture, but Tim thinks he's in good shape. Tim shockingly leaves with an odd word of advice for Gretchen, Mondo and Andy, telling them to continue on, but warns Michael Costello specifically, 'Don't choke"! This stresses Michael out a bit, as he heads towards his "make it work"-moment, finishing one dress, and pairing it with two other looks as day two ends. Micahel's still struggling the next day with what to show, and now the models are here for hair, makeup and fittings. Andy's feeling more confident as his models get dressed, and he fits on them these wire headpieces that he's made. At the ten minute point, everyone's getting emotional. Mondo's tearing up as he fixes his model's hairpiece. Gretchen's tearing up as well, recalling that there's nothing left for her, including a place to live other than this collection. Andy's determination's linked to how everyone who's helped him get here, and how he has to win for them. Michael's terrified at how close he is, and the stress and the constant work he's put into his collection is making him nervous. On a nervous runway, Michael comments, n how much he loves Mondo's Day of the Dead silk-screened bag, and Gretchen does her "Bow chick-a-bow-wow", again, this time to Michael's two-piece with tight pants, but it's still awefully quiet overall. The judges speak to Mondo first, and bring out his models, and Mondo talks about deferring color to the accessories and not the clothers, although the teel turquise top and shorts is Mondo's new outfit, does introduce colored fabric. Heidi doesn't love the top, but adores the skirt, and she's in love with Mondo's bubble dress.  However Nina, despite the boldness of the collection, hates the evening dress as wacky and worries that without temperance, the collection could be circus. Michael Kors also echos Nina's concerns, as Mondo says that they'll be surprised by. Andy's next, and talks about his Laos inspiration, but they're all shocked by his pleated green dress, not that it's not gorgeous, as they all love it, but that it's his tenth piece, everyone thought it was the silver bikini instead. That said, Nina's worried about the bareness of the clothes, as he's presented two minidresses and a bikini. They are concerns that Andy's thought the heavy-collar silver evening dress was a classy day look, and with Nina's eye roll, Andy now officially has a range issue. Andy's worried about sending all his best stuff now, but Nina's remarks on that huge of a gamble, and that gets a reaction from all the judges. Heidi's worried about him choosing these three looks, and she's concerned about the two kooky headpieces he's made with the wire and stars, as is everybody, unsure they like them. And Michael kors warns about styling and editing. Michael Costello's up next. He talks about wanting to show a structure mixing hard and soft and details. The 11th look one-shoulder gown draped dress, and it's beautiful effortlessness. Heini loves the fringe top he created on his two-piece, and how it coats her body beautifully while being sexy. They all worried about why he picked the same color for each piece, this copper color that's glaring on the runway. He mentions also having some grays, but they're worried. They also don't like the feather's skirt dress, which they find very boxy on the model and has little flow to it. He talks about being worried to show, dress, dress, dress, which they agree would've been a problem, but they aren't happy to see the copper-colored evening clothes he did present. They concede that it's beautifully done, but that overall they've seen it before. Gretchen's last, and talks about her silhouettes, a and hats that were made, as well as just showing enough to picque the judges' interest. Nina's immediately says her interest wasn't picqued, and that it looks a little too crunchy granola for her, and completely lack drama except for the leather hipster jacket with the belt and the bloomer underneath. She hates the sack dress 11th look, which makes Nina wonder where the birkenstocks are. Heidi disagrees however, liking the pieces individually, even the 11th look with the interesting details, but like Nina worries about being too wearable, and not enough drama. She tells her to put them in high heels and give them posture to the clothes. Michael Kors likes the jewelry, hatest the handbag which makes her model in the leopard print jumper look too wearable, and that the clothes don't look expensive. He also makes a funny comparison to Michael's clothers, where, "His girl doesn't get out of bed until midnight," but your girls locks herself up in the house in the evening." Michael Costello's laughs at the comparison, which he would probably concede to be true. Gretchen says she has a cocktail and evening look, but this confusing the judges' more, "I don't get how you guys edited today." Micahel Kors questions, and worries that her looks lack variety. Everyone sits on the couch in the lounge. Michael C. and Gretchen in eachother's arms, exhausted. Everybody's even in the room, as Gretchen observes, and how nobody likes the idea of anybody going home now. Everyone's worried in the unusuall quiet workroom. After deliberations, Heidi congratualate everyone for making it his far. Mondo's warned about the fine line between fashion and costume, but is clearly in  and excited. Gretchen's admired for her attitude, and is warned about attitude and styling, but she's in second. Mondo congratulates and hugs her when she arrives in the workroom. A sense of relief filling her, as they mention that they made it, and it's looking like her foreshadowing earlier about her and Mondo being in the final has come true. Andy's told he gave a disservice with his underwhelming look, and that the last-minute look was their favorite. Michael Costello's creaftmanship was clear, but his color pallette is troubling, as they're worried he has anything new to say. Andy's announced as in, and showing, and Michael's heart sinks as he hunches over holding back tears, as Andy hugs him to and Michael can't even look up, his so distraught. Andy quietly walks away as Michael's stand still, alone, spotlighted on the runway. He's officially choked as a rare use of a darker somber music is played and Andy returns to the waiting room. Andy breaks down in tears excited that he made it, getting hugged by Gretchen and Mondo. Andy's worried about Michael though, his sadness and guilt destroying him possibly. Heidi finishes telling how Michael's a great designer with a great future ahead of him, to try and lessen the blow, it doesn't work, and officially says he's out. After Heidi's hug, Michael's crushed as he slowly walks off the runway for the last time. Michael slams through the door of the waiting room, unable to get ahold of his senses and to even look at the other three designers. We've seen him cry before, but never like this, never so uncontrollably. He barely gets out the words through tears that he can't take it, and starts to bang the wall and explode. We realize now, that no matter what he had to deal with on the show before, the challenges, the ostricizing, the loneliness, getting through under the bus by his team, Ivy claiming he's sabotaging her, Ivy's cheating accusation, being told of his horrid constuction, and that he can't sew, all that, was nothing to what he dealt with back home, as we remember his family disregarding him after coming out, and how his drive to succeed was filled with the fear and shame he could get if he did in fact fail to make it to fashion week, which he's now done. It puts an entire different light, on the entire season and forces us to reconsider the show entirely differently now, knowing this, and now his emotional exit, in an uncontrollable somber. And who's there to get up, and consoul and hug him? Gretchen of all people! Is this a shock? Has she just come around, after everything they said to each other and about each other? Go back to the very first episode of the season, Gretchen comes back from the runway winning the opening challenge, excited. Who's there first to congratulate and hug her, in the far left side of the camera? Michael Costello. A seemingly inocuous moment, was the beginning of an arc, and friendship, that has now come full circle. He's there for her in success, and now she's there for him at defeat. In voiceover, Michael reflects on thinking about his family, sobbing uncontrollably in a corner,unsure of how to go back home and tell them he's failed, scared-to-death of such a cisceral negative reaction, and things going back to the way they were. Michael's made it to the chair, and Tim's tells Michael to get up and he starts blabbering about his family's expectations Tim's shoulder. Gretchen reflects about her fear for Michael, which it's possible that neither her or any of the other contestants probably realized until now. He finally cries himself out and tells the contestants to "Give them fucking Hell!", Which Tim repeats as he hugs everyone and leaves, taking the box of Kleenex with him. Reflecting that it's hard to say goodbye to the friends he's made, which were hard to make as well. He leaves the workroom, cleaning up his space, saying that he knows who he is now, "Effortless Chic", that's Michael Costello, and his long-expected exit, is the sinlge-most emotional one from the season.

And that should've been it. For all intensive purposes, in terms of the story and arc, that should've been the end. We had completed the story arc for the season, there was no drama left. Nothing left to do or find out, other then, to have the three contestant show their collections, and have the judges determine a winner. We've been through more than most seasons ever can handle. A contestant eliminated before getting to the apartments, a contestant eliminated and then walking out before Tim Gunn even getst to talk to them, an control-freak designer wins the show's first two challenges, a double-elimination, early, a contestant rushed to the hospital for dehydration, one contestant overcoming extreme loneliness and shyness to suddenly coming out and admitting he's HIV positive to the world, controversial wins that lead to a rebellion in the group, and contestants throwing him under the bus only to see him remain on top, Tim Gunn calling out a contestant as a bully, and the entire team for allowing themselves to be dominated by her, rivalries, arguments, disagreements between designers, a cheating accusation, a team challenge from Hell, a Jackie Kennedy challenge where even the winners were cut down to size, beloved and kooky contestants leaving, others staying, when no one thought they would, emotional home visits, complete turnarounds of personalities and behaviors, and complete emotional eliminations that put earlier events into a different and new light, among the more memorable twists and turns of a show that literally had hundreds. And now, with seemingly nothing left, everything that was foreshadowed yet unpredictable, was now setup perfectly to relax into a subdued but perfect anti-climax of an ending. Yet, suddenly, without warning, every single thing that happened beforehand would be completely forgotten, after one notorious judges' deliberation.

At the time of course, this wasn't known, and the three contestants wake up a week before fashion week, still coming to terms with the sheer unbelievableness that they are all about to achieve their goal, and premiere at Fashion Week. Andy wakes up late, after Mondo's curled his hair after his shower and Gretchen's fixed the crick out of her neck as she crawls out of bed. A message at breakfast tells them to meet friends over at Parsons and Tim and Heidi are hosting a cast reunion. Usually, if there is a reunion, a whole other show is devoted to it, but for some reason, not clear as to why, this one's limited to being just part of the finale. The finalists show up and most everyone seems happy to be here. It's a rather unremarkable reunion in hindsight, with only breif montages of the finalists' journeys. There's some interesting moments when the talk switches to what people want to know about other contestants. Nicholas mentions always being asked if "Jason's crazy, Ivy's mean and Gretchen's a bitch?" Gretchen tries to laugh it off, by saying that she's "not a bitch, she just plays one on TV," but it's clear that with this group of contestants at least, the tensions is pulpable. Ivy and April surprisingly, come out and talk about, how she seemed to be two-face to them in the room, complimenting each other there, but being really nasty and saying the opposite in the interview segments. Michael Costello, stands up for Gretchen, surprisingly, talking about how she always means well. Nobody answered the question who they thought would win, and this brief reunion clearly seems cut because of tensions and ill-feelings between some of the esigners, despite attempts to disguise it like voiceover that's were clearly recorded after the event, and the shortness of the entire thing in general. You'd think with a group with this much tension and excitement between them, that there'd be more discussion of some of those events in hindsight. Either way, it's still to raw to even go into that, and we immediately skip from, a week before the runway, to a day before the runway. Andy's worried about showing his range and his best pieces showcased during the show. Gretchen's looking for more drama in her work, and is mostly re-conceptualizing the styling, and Mondo's mostly worried about forcing too much, and  about being too costume-y. Tim Gunn comes in announcing that, despite the 11th look they made, only ten will show on the runway, so one has to be cut. Mondo's trying to talk himself out of the polka-dot dress with a more solid look that interesting, but Tim Gunn says just isn't him and despite the harsh criticisms from Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, ondo's nod to evening wear remains the showcase piece of his collection. Confident that, "it's a show!"  Andy's scrapping a bathing suit, but an avant-garde one he's showing is iffy at best, as the top one-shoulder looks like hair, and hair that's growing out of the crotch region at that. Andy's concerned, but stays with his design. Mondo reiterates his concerns over the 2-dimensionalism of Andy's looks. Gretchen's completely scratched her 11th look, but is working on the drama, and Andy's worries about the looks seeming too simple for them. Nerves are high, but as Tim leaves, he expresses his excitement and says that "We have three winners as he talks to the designers one last time. Now it's back into the swing of the norms of Fashion week, hair and makeup consultations, model fittings, etc. Gretchen's being extra time on getting hair right, and Mondo's talking with his model Tina Marie about getting rid of the new, solid black piece, which she also thought would make a nice breather in his overall show, but Mondo's not worried if "Two of the judges" don't like his looks, (Oh what prophetic words those will be) and decides to end the show with Tina Marie in the infamous bubble gown, confident in his design. Gretchen's got all her planning done, and has got the looks and the outfits right for each of her models, as day ends. Andy's announced that he'll be changing and tweaking details right up until runway. Mondo's had model issues, and three of them didn't even show up, as he promises  forces himself to sleep at night. All of them reflect on the long journey, and we flashback to the very first episode and first meetings between the contestants, and how long ago that moment now seems to them. And us. They all go to bed, emotional and nervous. Mondo's even emotional and crying over the rough journey he's had up until now. The next morning, around three in the morning, the three wake up, get dressed, try to contemplate their nerves, and head off to Lincoln Center before the chaos begins. They hug each other at the end of the runway. Gretchen lies down on it, before they head backstage. Mondo's having model issues and trouble getting things in order. With 40 minutes 'til Runway, and the crowd coming in, Mondo's clutching his rib and Tim makes sure he goes back and forth between hair and makeup and getting his outfits in order. Andy's still sewing this late in the game, as he switches out an outfit for a pair of pants that everyone's now sewing. One of Mondo's  models doesn't show up, and he needs to use an alternate who has very short hair, mildly screwing up the cohesion. With the judges on stage, Tim tells Andy to make a decision, frantically, and tells him that the pants are a mess, to which everyone else agree, so he decides to geo with the skirt, and the finale begins, with Heidi introducing the judges and poor Jessica Simpson doesn't know what she's in for. Gretchen's collection, which she calls "Running Through Thunder" starts off the show and she takes a deep breath backstage as calming music plays as her southwest chic collection comes out. As always former contestants and past winners from this and earlier seasons are shown for cutaways during the designers fashion (Including curiously enough Michael Costello) as well as cutaways to the judges reactions. Andy's excited that his family's there to watch him as he's up next, and his Laotian-inspired collection plays with an appropriately matching mood music. Mondo's talks about how his pain inspired his fashion which he considers his dreamworld, and with rocking Project Runway music, introduces the audience to his Mexican heritage-inspired collection. Mondo's worries about every little detail backstage with Tim. Afterwords, the commotion of the runway falls to opinions of experts and former contestants who are interviewed as the press commotion takes over. Opinions are split mostly. Back on the runway for judging, the judges seem blown away overall by everyone's collections, which they liked for each of them being distinct points of view and different aesthetics. They start with Andy, who discusses his Buddha Park inspiration. Michael Kors's admires how his Asian inspiration wasn't costume-y and was personal to him, and adored the two one-shoulder dresses, but did feel it was too narrow a focus. Heidi again comments on the green-pleated one-shoulder he did the challenge before, and Heidi also admires the weave see-through top, but thought the collection lacked some wow pieces, in the show, and opened with a snooze. Nina wonders if we lost Andy completely, and while she liked many pieces, including the silver jacket his model is wearing on the runway with him, she thought the collection lacked an edge and turned towards modernity, and really didn't have a strong base outside of the Asian influence. Jessica Simpson's says that she thought there was some edge, like the silver one-shoulder, and how he mixed the fabrics with the structured and deconstructed. Gretchen's up next, and Nina's praises her wide range of choices, lots of singles pieces as well as dresses, and especially liked where demon & leather patchwork pant, and loved that her complete ready-to-wear collection was more polished, but thought the collection should've been less monotone with the prints, and thought the opening look was weak and didn't say much about the collection as a whole. Kors likes the vibe of the girl, but doesn't understand the leather influence, including on her model, but adores the jewelry she designed, as does everyone else. Jessica Simpson, mentions the lack of a pop extravagant piece. Michael Kors calls Mondo, "Molto Mondo" as it was all very him. Heidi commented on how the loud pieces which are full of Mondo, were surprisingly mixed with some of the quieter ones, admiring his skull t-shirt, as well as the t-shirt tunic dress with the aztec inspiration. Nina loved the strapless checkered dress, and the way he constructs and mixes prints, but thought the show was too overwhelming, and that the over-detailing lead to the collection looking too young, but admired his shear lace two-polka dot top and printed black-and-white shorts that opened the show. Jessica mentioned the uniqueness and personality of the collection, and quietly mentions her love of the polkadot evening dress that his model's wearing, the same one that Michael Kors and Nina hated, but Heidi adored, and Heidi's ecstatic she's got someone on her side on the dress. Heidi questioned why he brought it again, but Mondo defended it. Michael mentioned how he had the same fabric in a top look which he paired with a silver-painted leather skirt. He also mentions the crazy plaid pants that another outfit was simply humongous, which he liked 'cause it's Mondo's style, but felt that the release of skin was still necessary for some of his prints to work. Still, loved his variety and cohesiveness. Heidi then asks the tough question of why each designer should win. Mondo's response about his growth almost made Jessica Simpsoncry. Gretchen mentions not only growing, but listening and trying to get people into her clothes. Andy's talks about how he's just getting started. Heidi's talks about having a big chat, and the three exhausted and overwhelmed designers in the workroom, quiet on the couch, as their fate lies in the judges' hands.

I've rarely mentioned the judges' deliberations until now, and that's because I never really needed to. They usually elaborated on one or two things, but usually it seemed they were simply re-analyzing what they had gone over and thought before, and occasionally mentioned a good zinger or two, but other than that, the footage for every single episode until now, wasn't worth mentioning. We'd see their results in a second, and the congealness and insucient discussions they had were hardly worth overdiscussing or even discussing at all. Even major ones, and like I mentioned before, they rarely disagreed, and even if we did, they'd show just enough so as not to be able to argue their logic. Decisions were quick, and based mostly on some form of skill and technique and talent combination that experts should have on reality shows such as these, and we always understood their decision, even if we did not agree. Very quick in fact. Despite always being edited down, like on all other reality shows, they were known for being quick to judge, even compared to other reality shows. They discussed, usually about three-to-five minutes on the show, which is maybe an hour or two in reality. This one lasted ten minutes, on the show, and who knows, how long in reality as legend of the deliberation and discussion has only grown since. They quickly determine that Andy's out, from the narrowness of the collection, as well as a dislike for the headpieces he created with the star influences. This itself was a bit of a shocking early dismissal in of itself, how they simply showed the judges' just saying Andy's out, instead of leaving it more of a mystery up until the reveal. After that, they discussed Gretchen and Mondo, and it went on and on from there. And on, and on, and on..... And on.... Somewhere, there's the tape of the entire fight, discussion as finally it seems, they were just stumped and tied. Nina offered a compromise of making both winners, which everyone rejected. The damn bubble dress, being argued for minutes, discussions on the state of fashion and what the objective of the show actually is.... With poor Jessica Simpson, pushed to observer, pointing out, how fun it is to see them fight, and Michael rebutting quickly, "We've never done this before!" and eventually summizing, "I don't know, we're just split." The most uncomfortable final reveal ever, ends with Heidi, quickly announcing that Andy's out, and just like Gretchen foresaw weeks ago, it's down to her and Mondo. Then Heidi, reluctantly announces that this was the toughest decision in Project Runway history, and that Gretchen is the winner, a decision she still disagreed with. (As does Tim Gunn, who apparently was also brought into the judging off-camera at one point) A decision that still shocks viewers on repeated, and the most subdued victory celebration ever. Gretchen being the only one truly happy. Until her family comes out, and even Tim Gunn's somewhat flummoxed, at having to congratulate Gretchen, especially considering everything they've been through. Gretchen dances her way behind the silk screen victorious. Did she deserve to win? Over Mondo? Was the decision right? I'm not gonna pretend I know. I know who'd I vote for, but I'm not a fashion expert either, but the competition ended in a way that was uniquely unsatisfying, especially after the season we had, but of course, we don't always get the ending we may want.

The show might've climaxed itself at that point, with this never-ending unbelievable season, that seemed to get more and more shocking as it went on, and managed to surprise us. The fact that it didn't end satisfactorally makes it all the more intriguing. Time's passed since. "Project Runway" would go on. All discussion over Michael Costello's supposed lack of sewing skills, would get eliminated next season when Anya Ayoung-Chee, a former Miss Trinidad & Tobago would win the entire season, after previously having only learned to sew for 4 months. Michael Costello would earn his redemption on "Project Runway All-Stars" finishing third in that show's first season, the following year, and making it to the finals. Mondo would win that season, in what some would consider a correction of the season 8 error. Michael Kors, who was apparently the one who first starting pushing for Gretchen to win, left the show after season ten, replaced by Zac Posen. There would be more constant split decisions later on, but still, none so dramatic and never at the critical stage of deciding the ultimate winner, but now, the moment is archened-back too, when there's even the smallest of divisiveness in the judges' room which used to be known for having almost no divisiveness at all. I'd argue that it hasn't reached the storytelling heights of Season 8, but some years have been close. It's not just enough to be able to create a story out of nothing. The reason reality shows, and the really good ones especially are so good, are the way they can tell those stories. Editing, directing, music, tension building, cutting of images, every little shot, has importance, even if it seems like throwaway at the moment, or at least it should. With this season, every little infliction and conversation seemed to be adding to the story, that was both foreshadowed miles ahead, and still remained utterly unpredictable. Granted, it had eight years of build-up, to have something happen that hadn't, and in some peoples' shouldn't have happened before, but great set-ups can lead to great moments. Like any other art, a moment can only be important and memorable, if indeed, the dramatic tension was built-up correctly first. It was certainly doneso here. Therefore, I conclude that at it's best at least, reality TV can, and in fact is art. Leave it to one controversial debate, to start another.

 
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