In teasing this week's episode on Twitter, Tim Gunn promised "HIGH DRAMA" (yes, in all caps). And when Tim Gunn uses his outdoor voice, you know things are about to get real.
Let's talk about the quitters first. Andrea left in the middle of the night because of last week's runway critique of her and Chrisopher, which she found demeaning. As the designers discuss her reasons for leaving in the workroom, Kooan suddenly announces that he wants to leave, too. The designers' reactions vary — Alicia thinks it's all "kinda lame," Ven says Andrea's decision to leave is a bad example for a teacher to set, Elena announces that "the fashion industry is a shark!" and Christopher tells Kooan he's special and should stay. They all agree that it's unfair for Andrea and Kooan to leave when other designers wanted this opportunity so badly.
Kooan's departure is easier to take than Andrea's. Maybe it's because he comes off as forgivably naïve. Maybe it's because he seems to have created some sort of interpretive-dance apology video. Or maybe it's because forcing him to stay someplace he doesn't want to be seems like kidnapping an elf from the North Pole. But Andrea claimed she hadn't seen Project Runway and expressed so much surprise at the very predictable unpleasantness of life on the show (long hours, catty fellow designers, critique sessions that don't stop until someone cries). I can't help but blame her for not knowing what she was getting into, so something about her departure feels unduly indignant. One of her tweets asks, "What if everyone was supportive, well rested, and critiqued intelligently?" That sounds nice! But it sure isn't the show she chose to compete on.
But on to the challenge! The designers meet at Michael Kors's flagship store, where they learn that their challenge is NOT to design a look for Michael. Missed opportunity! Instead, Tim and Michael tell them they'll be making a look for "a woman on the go" — something pulled together, versatile, stylish, and comfortable that carries a woman from day to night. Michael tells the designers they'll need to make sure the outfit is true to their own aesthetic, which seems obvious.
Once the designers settle in to work after Kooan's departure, Tim comes into the workroom and says that Raul will be re-joining the competition. Everyone is either happy or indifferent about Raul's return except for Ven, who says all of Raul's work is a mess because he has no point of view.
As for their designs, Melissa is excited to go back to black (last week's gray was too much for her, I guess) and Dmitry reveals he's doing an entire dress with a single seam. Tim makes an uncharacteristically positive lap around the workroom, although it's not completely clear whether that's because the designs are so strong or because he's desperate to lighten the mood. It's still a little dismal and punctuated by Buffi bickering with Christopher. (Related: I feel like the Runway producers are being very equitable in their division of the Mean Kid edit between Christopher and Gunnar.) And speaking of Christopher, when he sees Fabio's model trying on her much-too-short dress, he gasps, "I can see her fish whistle from here!" Is this really what we're calling it now?
Hayden Panettiere joins the judges along with designer Rachel Roy, who provides a refreshingly specific, detailed critique. The top three are a uniformly strong showing from Christopher, Sonjia, and (at last!) Dmitry, but it's Sonjia's cleverly constructed gray jersey dress that takes it home. I've made no secret of my love for Sonjia, and it's great to see her make good, but these three designs were strong enough for me to think that this could very well be three who'll show at Bryant Park. While the suit Raul made to redeem himself landed him in the bottom three alongside Fabio, it was Buffi who finally went home this week. In her exit, she leaves us with this: "Maybe it's tacky to some people but I do like being unique, and I wouldn't like to dress like anyone else."
Click through the slideshow to see this week's looks and weigh in on your favorites. Who should've been in the bottom three? Will you miss Kooan and Andrea?