Well, Tim Gunn sure wasn't wrong when he warned us on Facebook ahead of this episode that it was a doozy. The editors give us a heads-up right away with an action-movie technique - Sandro is shown backstage, yelling at the other designers, then storming out. Then - "36 hours earlier..."
In the morning montage of the designers in their apartments, we learn that Sandro wants more direction from the judges, Helen is glad she has immunity, and sadly Jeremy's grandmother has unexpectedly died. And of course, since he's on the show, he's not going to be able to attend the funeral.
The challenge this week is one of the simpler ones - they have a bajillion bowties in the workroom, which they must use as inspiration. And of course, they have to use at least one in the outfit (but not in a traditional way).
At Mood, their suggested budget is $200 - and we get to see that Miranda only spent $120, whereas Sue dished out a whopping $400. Either could spell trouble. Back in the workroom, Sandro is still ranting to himself about the judges. We are treated to a number of delicious shots of him grousing, with someone else sneering or eyerolling just over his shoulder.
Dom is making a dress out of narrow black and white stripes that, at least on my TV, interfered with the refresh rate and caused crazy moire patterns every time it appeared. When Tim shows up, he warns Miranda that her design is veering too far towards prim fussiness, and that she should do something to sex it up. When he gets to Helen, he gives her what seems to be only the very mildest criticism (such as he sees the outfit as being more feminine than she does), but for some reason it completely derails her and she has no idea where to go next.
When Tim gets to Sandro, Sandro makes it weird right away by deciding to call him "Top Gunn." They have a long discussion about Sandro's apparent delimma, of wanting to win the challenge, but feeling like the judges (Zac Posen especially) have it in for him. If he does his own style, then they'll keep telling him "too much, too much!" He is essentially trying to get Tim to tell him exactly what to do that the judges will like, but Tim of course tells him that he needs to be himself.
Ten minutes before the runway show, Miranda decides that the needed sexiness will come from her blouse becoming a crop top. Hmm. Also in the sewing-until-te-last-minute club are Bradon and Sandro.
Dom's striped dress comes out great, with graphic piecing and well-chosen bowtie patterns. It's my favorite of the bunch. Jeremy produces a red jacket and brown pants, in a thirties/forties style as a tribute to his Grandmother, which makes it hard to dislike. Bradon's is a bra top pieced entirely from bowties, paired with a shorts suit. It's a striking look, but falls into that category of things I don't understand where you could actually wear it.
Ken's leather dress looks ok but the halter neck looks awkward. And speaking of awkward, Miranda's! Ugh, houndstooth suit with a weird gappy waistband and that terrible green crop-top. Helen's dress has some elements I like - the piecing in the shape of a bowtie outline, and the harness made of ties - but those two elements overlap exactly and interfere with each other, so it just looks fussy instead of graphic. Alexander makes a black suit with a big rainbow bowtie collar. Interesting idea but I find it unappealingly clown-like.
Sandro has made a big pink red-carpet dress with gray ties that just look like they were slapped on at the very end. (We did get to see him placing them there early on in the design process, but there still seems to have been no thought put into making them make sense there.) Sue's also appears to have very little ideas or time behind it, even though we also got to see her working on it for a long time - a basic black dress with an octopus of bowties draped over it.
Justin makes a very sharply tailored black dress, with an interesting pieced line in an hourglass shape. Kate's is also very polished - a belted tunic and equestrian pants. On the other side of the pants spectrum are Karen's, which have a weird belly bulge. Alexandria's colorblocked dress is nice enough but unremarkable.
Ken, Helen, Alexander, Sandro, Justin, Karen, and Alexandria are named safe. However, the judges warn Helen that had she not had immunity, she would definitely have been in the bottom three. Then to add insult to injury, Heidi implies that perhaps the only reason Helen did well in the last challenge was because of Kate.
Then, Sandro brings all the proceedings to a halt by demanding that the judges give him some feedback. After some back-and-forth, Zac Posen tells him that his looks like the walk of shame after an awards show, and that overall his work has good construction but a bad taste level. They don't see "any designer" in his work. He tries to counter by saying he's still learning, and Zac counters by saying this isn't a show for students. They eventually manage to pry him off the runway, and Heidi tells him that if he wants detailed feedback then he should end up in the top three next time.
Backstage, Sandro gets more and more upset as the other designers try to talk him down. He proves himself to be the kind of bully who has no problem yelling at everyone around him with no provocation, but if anyone else dares to raise their voices to him, then he feels justified in threatening physical violence in return. We're back to the rampage at the beginning of the episode: he storms out of the room, knocking down curtains and rigging and whatnot on his way out of the building, and finally punches a camera as a huffs across the street. At that point the camera guys wisely stop trying to follow him.
Back to the judging - they love Bradon's colors and textures. Kate's is sexy and modern, and Heidi wants to wear it. Dom's is amazing and adorable, and the piecing is fabulous.
In the bottom, Sue's gets compared to Alien, an octopus, and kelp. It's a disappointing mess. Jeremy's is lackluster and not modern, and very unfortunately highlights the model's bellybutton. Miranda's is too eighties, has too little of the bowtie, and is completely killed by the crop top. Plus they call her out for always making pencil skirts.
At this point, Tim comes in to break the news that Sandro has run off, and that they'll be updated if they manage to track him down. The judges seem amused and exasperated, and not at all worried or upset.
Bradon is named the winner! In a very sweet moment, he takes the opportunity to propose to his long-time partner Josh. Heidi backs him up and promises to go to the wedding. At first he plans to wait until the episode airs, but then gets to have a video chat with Josh a few days after this was filmed, and they settle the business then.
When it comes time to name a loser, they announce that Sandro has eliminated himself (though they never make it clear whether they actually managed to find him again or not), so none of the bottom three will be out this time. Miranda has decided that she would have been the one out if not for Sandro, doubling her burden of survivor's guilt after last week's debacle with Timothy. I have a feeling she's going to be too far off her game to make it much longer under such pressure, especially since next week is yet another team challenge, as well as yet another 'unconventional materials" challenge.