John begins the episode by letting his fellow Top Designers know just why he was so aggressive during last week's challenge -- he's HIV-positive and hopped up on testosterone. Which is kind of a bring-down, really. Let's move on.
The ten remaining decorators are given an individual challenge -- build a bedroom for a mystery client based on a few select bits of information on their likes and dislikes. The only trouble is, the most crucial bit of information is withheld until the Top Designers have already laid out their plans -- the clients are all little kids. Oh, and the elaborate headboards they've designed had best fit a single bed-sized mattress and box spring because that's all they're getting. Todd Oldham rules through whim and caprice, apparently.
After much forced kid interaction and frantic assembling, the rooms are finished, and Erik is judged to have created the Top Design for building a pirate ship-themed room. For his efforts, he wins immunity for next week's challenge, as well as the grateful thanks of freebooters and privateers everywhere.
Less fortunate is John, who finds himself over budget and therefore unable to lay down a floor. As a result, he presents a partially finished room to a panel of dubious judges. After declaring John "The Mayor of Excuses Village" -- man, that's my favorite XTC song -- Jonathan Adler adds injury to insult by giving him the "See you later, decorator" treatment. Probably the best for all concerned.
Previously, on Project Top Design: Todd Oldham summoned 12 designers to Southern California to compete for prizes and the honor of their village. Michael and John fought like a pair of mismatched house cats. Goil and Elizabeth won the admiration of a grateful nation for their design. Lisa and Heather were dismissed after their Panda Express anteroom was deemed, correctly, to be unacceptable. Then Todd Oldham reminds us what's at stake -- Elle Decor profiles! Chances to design at charity events! Their very own GMC Blandia! $100,000 American! Yes. We know. We can read.
Top Designers, roll call! Gone! Goil! Carisa! Ryan! Felicia! Matt! Andrea! John! Elizabeth! Michael! Erik! Gooooooooooooooone! Allez decor!
Back in the Top Designers' Lair, the 10 remaining contestants are chillin', doubtlessly reveling in the comfort that comes from dodging Jonathan Adler's scythe for another day. Goil is demonstrating that his prowess with designing rooms for members of the Arquette clan does not extend to riding Ryan's skateboard -- Carisa shows him how its done by rolling from one end of the room to the other. By now, I feel like Ryan's Skateboard is the 13th member of the Top Design cast and should have its own billing in the skateboard. ("Ryan, you may go. But leave the skateboard -- we like its style.")
Sitting close to, but not exactly with, the main group is John, who, unlike in last week's episode, is not savagely berating anyone. Ah, but there's a reason for that, it turns out. John announces to the assembled group that he's HIV-positive and has been for the past 13 years, and, prior to coming on Top Design, his doctor shot him up with 400mg of testosterone. (Or, to put that in layman's terms, about the same amount of testosterone used to create several episodes of 24.) Thus, the reason for all that shouting aimed at Michael, although the only thing I'm on right now is a mixture of bourbon, soda water, and NyQil -- amateur bartenders: write me for the recipe! -- and I feel like yelling at the dithering twit, too. Anyhow: "I am not making excuses," John concludes. "I am not apologizing for the way I feel. I am apologizing for the tension. I do not hate Michael. I do not wish evil upon him at all." In a post-confessional voice-over, John notes that no one could get past the drama of his skirmishes with Michael -- least of all the Top Design producers -- and that he wanted to clear the air of any lingering tension. "It's not what I'm all about," he says. Going to need some convincing evidence to the contrary to buy that, my man.