Early in last night's episode, after all 14 designers had paired off into teams, a distressed Ra'mon told the cameras: ''Being with Mitchell, I feel like I have this giant bullseye painted directly in the middle of my face.''
No one can blame Ra'mon for feeling like he had a price on his head. Who wouldn't when forced to work with the guy who ''squeaked by'' two weeks in a row and has had no qualms about flaunting his lack of seriousness? In the end, though, the target emblazoned on Ra'mon's mug was an auspicious one — the very opposite of what the poor chap feared.
As I randomly guessed in a PopWatch postthree days ago, this week's challenge was indeed a beach-oriented one. The designers sped off to the nearest sandy shores, where Tim Gunn greeted them as he has never greeted anyone on Project Runway: in flip-flops and shades. (We interrupt this TV Watch to inform you that the Tim Gunn adorability factor is now officially off the charts. Also: Anyone else notice that Heidi pronounces ''California'' just like the Governator does?)
After explaining that they were to create a surf wear look that was ''fun and fashionable,'' Tim divided the designers into teams. Oh, how the fates must have laughed when Mitchell's name popped up as a leader! They likely giggled even harder when Mitchell chose Ra'mon to be his partner. I didn't think Mr. Squeak By was capable of topping (or is it bottoming?) his declaration of underachievement from last week, but he did, explaining, ''I wanted to work with someone who could carry me on this challenge.'' Hey man, points for owning your incompetence.
When it came time for the designers to ''caucus'' with the surfer girls, everyone seemed to be grooving on the Hang-Ten vibe except for Nicolas, who apparently felt that the entire theme was beneath him: ''Hoodies and sweatshirts are not for the runway.'' Uh, hate to break it to you, Nicky, but there's this thing called sportswear — a multi-billion-dollar branch of the fashion industry that sees more than its fair share of runways.
It wasn't until the designers returned to FIDM that the real fun began. Team challenges are always the most rife with drama, and last night played like an episode of The Young and the Feckless. In one corner, you had Team Capital WTF?, which saw poor Ra'mon juggling the majority of the sewing and designing, as well as the unenviable task of trying to keep Mitchell focused. What if they had used sequins or sparkles in their garments? Ra'mon would have had to lock Mitchell in some sort of neck brace to prevent him from going completely gaga over the galaxy of shiny things before him.
In the other corner, we had Team Bad Marriage, in which Qristyl complained that Epperson was too bossy, Epperson spoke of needing a Tylenol (''Yeah, I just took some too,'' Qristyl shot back), and eye-rolling was the currency of choice. Their power struggle was in full force even before Tim, the self-described ''Prophet of Doom,'' informed all 7 groups that, in addition to the surf-inspired look, they'd have to come up with a corresponding avant-garde number as well. (Cause, you know, nothing evokes avant-garde more than Jeff Spicoli.) Of their many tense exchanges, this handsome one stood out:
Qristyl: I don't know what kind of woman you're used to, but I'm not going to let you speak to me that way.
Epperson: No, no, no. Let's not talk about what type of woman I'm used to talking to.
Qristyl: I'm done. I'm trying to finish. And that's it. I said I was done and I mean I'm done.
NEXT: Avant-garde or just out there?