March 24th, 2009
When three people left in the first episode of the season, this was an inevitability: it was almost required that there would be some kind of twist where people could gain the chance to come back into the season. It was even something they did last season: finalist Marie-Genvieve was eliminated after a particularly erroneous garment, but then returned to end up clearly better than most of her competition.
However, the difference in Season 2 is that, to be entirely frank, there wasn’t anyone who felt like they particularly needed to come back, people who went home for reasons that weren’t quite true. While an argument could be made foy Baylor, that isn’t who the producers brought back as the designers head into this week’s challenge, and it’s really hard to get excited about Jason and Genevieve coming back into the game when the designs they were eliminated on were, well, deserving of elimination.
So while the show is perhaps justified in using this as a big “A-ha” moment, it’s all backwards: rather than people we missed returning to create some sort of karma, it feels like we’re being punked. And, I don’t like being punked, and neither do the designers who get sent home in the wrong fashion.
Now, of course, there’s a catch to all of this: they need to win the challenge to “replace” the other teams, so this is only buying them one extra week, and considering Jason and Genevieve’s struggles the chances of them winning the challenge seemed as if they were pretty slim. But still, it’s kind of frustrating even if they don’t win, and the show tries to play it off as a big twist when it’s really just a stall tactic: much as Jessica/Sunny/Adejoke were looking forward to a scenario where Kim was more civil and integrated into the group without being off in some sort of catty mean girls scenario, I was looking forward to it too, and putting it off another week didn’t make for a more entertaining show.
Especially when, at episode’s end, the judges make the decision to send home Kim and Adejoke in such a way as to totally deny the fact that Jason and Genevieve already had their chance. I understand why they choose to get rid of Kim, considering that her construction issues go beyond the complex to the basic, but at the same time I don’t know if Jason’s construction issues have been any less obvious, or that Genevieve’s repetitiveness hasn’t been its own problem. All of that was thrown out the window here, as this one challenge (even with Adejoke’s design being called her best ever) was the only one that mattered in the end.
The episode also struggled, again, from being overgarnished. Not only is there the element of the returning players, but the challenge involves one avant garde look and one ready to wear look, made with camping survival materials that they need to sacrifice for their night out in the woods. It’s all a bit too much: sometimes less is more at this stage in the game, and while I know we just saw a fairly simple challenge this one didn’t need the camping element to achieve its desired effect. If this was going to be the ultimate test of who they wanted to see go through to the finale, then perhaps letting people use their own fabrics and more carefully express themselves might have been more fair, even if it didn’t seem like the materials were ever the major problem.
I’m not against the idea of Genevieve and Jason returning, as both have done some solid designs and are capable of good work. However, they aren’t likeable enough or good enough to feel as if this was anything close to fair. I also know that it doesn’t matter in the end: Sunny is going to walk away with this competition once he gets into the Final Three, so we’re really just killing time right now. There’s a moment where Sunny is very concerned at the idea of this whole upending, but he has absolutely no chance of going home in this scenario, so I can’t feel too morally outraged for the sanctity of the competition.
Instead, I’m left kind of sad for Adejoke, who was given such a positive critique and went home for all of the wrong reasons. If this had just been a normal challenge she would have stayed, and making this a “2 or nothing” deal was another layer to its injustice. Yes, Sunny and Jessica’s outfits were the most cohesive, and yes Jason and Genevieve’s looks captured a particular tailored look that played to their strengths, but Adejoke was unfairly treated for being stuck with a partner, something that the show rarely does – I can’t think of a double elimination group challenge like this, especially not one with this second chance motif pasted onto it.
In the end, it’s all just really sad: Adejoke will keep thinking about how she lost her chance, even if she did get to hug Iman and get some very positive comments from her favourite designer, and Kim resigns herself to an existence designing for other people. The latter is almost poetic, considering how hard a time she gave Jeff earlier in the competition, but it’s also sad since she doesn’t have construction skills, so who in their right mind is going to hire her?
- I found it interesting that, just as I first started questioning just what streetwear is, Shawn points out that Kim’s outfit, rather than being avant garde, was 90s era Toronto streetwear. That doesn’t REALLY tell me what it is, but that’s fine.
- I enjoyed Kim’s packing for camping (14 beers, fur scarf, legwarmers), and the overall reaction of “Oh god, we have to go CAMPING?!”
- Kim just didn’t have a good episode at all, with her shortlist of friends and family totally not picking up the phone: it painted this picture of a girl without friends, family, a job, or a house, and seeing her go on that note actually made me feel bad for her…until she was petty beyond belief when attacking Jessica’s construction in the awkward moment before the final decision.
- I found it interesting that there were some questions of whether Adejoke and Jessica’s looks were ready to wear, and yet nobody pointed out that 99% of women* would probably not be ready to wear a skirt as short as Jason’s. (* I, uh, have no evidence for this figure. I have no idea what women would wear. I’m a fraud).