This week, it's the HP and Intel challenge! As Tim and Mondo Guerra explain, the designers will create a textile and modern runway look that's inspired by their individual cultural heritage. Mondo's there both because he's schilling the bag he just designed for HP (this is the point in the episode at which all those playing the "drink anytime they say HP" drinking game should seek medical attention), and because he won the textile challenge during his season. Mondo tells the designers, "Be honest! Apply your truth to what you create!" Mondo for president! Tim tells the designers that they'll be getting a special delivery of a "cultural heritage dossier," and the specific way Tim pronounces "dossier" is exactly as adorable as one might expect.
The delivery people turn out to be members of the desginers' families! For the record, this is a far more humane way to involve loved ones than forcing them to model clothes. Each designer watches a combination video/slideshow of their home and childhood, and they're all adorable (tiny Sonjia for the win!), but the video of Dmitry's father in Belarus is really touching; both his father and his grandfather were professional artists, and his father tells him, "Inside of you lives an artist, too." Fabio and his boyfriend are darling, Gunnar is delighted his mother wore a dress (and promises her a boob job if he wins the competition), and Elena's mother just plain looks good. Elena is so thrilled to see her that, when the family members head back to the apartments to make dinner and the designers go to Mood, Elena actually skips and giggles. If it is possible, Happy Elena is even more unsettling than Volatile Elena.
After the textiles arrive, it's right down to business. As Fabio unfurls his, he casually talks about how it's penises and vaginas and fallopian tubes, although he never says whether or not this was intentional (and I'm not sure if it being intentional makes it better or worse). When Tim (belatedly) sweeps into the workroom, he announces, "I've been having separation anxiety but I'm here now!" He tells Christopher to follow his heart, suggests Dmitry "sex up" his design, and warns Gunnar not to let his look (inspired by the harassment he underwent as a kid) become a "'don't bully me' suit of armor."
And then Tim comes to Ven. He looks the white dress, with its pink and red-ish splotches, up and down and says, "I ... see an homage to the menstrual cycle." When Ven says he doesn't understand, Tim takes it one step further. "It looks like cloth that's soaked up blood. They look like maxi pads. Designers?! Am I crazy?!" I'm a strong believer in Tim's ability to pluck similies out of the sky; at the same time, he's disliked Ven for a while now, and Ven's designs are reliably white, red, and pink, so I wonder whether this is something Tim's been hoping to say for a while. At any rate, Ven scraps the menstrual dress and starts a new one, but first he cries a little, saying Tim's critique really hurt because flowers mean a lot to him.
Then it's off to the runway for a relatively even show, where Dmitry (who finally wins!), Melissa, and Sonjia are on top and Christopher, Gunnar, and Ven are on the bottom. Things really get interesting, though, once the designers in the top and bottom are sent away to wait as the judges deliberate. When they're discussing Ven, Heidi says that she can't believe that Tim's never told him to stay away from the fanning and the flowers that keep appearing in his designs (she asked Ven whether Tim ever discouraged this, and Ven flat out lied). "Can we please get Tim Gunn out here?" she demands, and out he trots. As far as I know, Tim's never shown up at judging to report on workroom happenings, and it feels a lot like the thing where your mother threatens to call your elementary school teacher to make sure you really don't have homework, only it's actually happening, it's on national television, and everyone is saying "maxi pad" a lot.
In the end, though, Ven gets to stay, and Gunnar's sent home. Ven, never one to do anything graciously, gives a speech about how he really can do a lot more than fans and flowers, while Gunnar just has to stand there. As Ven's leaving the runway, Heidi calls after him, "I hope you show us, not just tell us. I'm telling you. If we see that flower thing one more time ... "
Click through the slideshow to see this week's looks. Was it really Gunnar's time to go?