In an episode that puts the "bla" in "bland," the Top Designers are thrown together into a mass group challenge that requires each of them to take on a particular role under the direction of one of their fellow contestants. This works out better than you might imagine, with the stronger designers strutting their stuff and the weaker links -- Carisa! Michael! Ryan! That's your cue! -- bringing everyone down. The designers are then evaluated based on their individual contributions by the judges. And that works about as well as it has in the previous four episodes -- which is to say, "arbitrarily and with only a passing nod to Earth logic."
Anyhow, the challenge: The Top Designers have to remodel a garage for a family that wants it to include a place for the kids to play, a space where mom can work, lots of storage containers for stashing their mountains of crap, somewhere for the dog to sack out, and -- oh yeah -- we got to fit our car in here, too. Oh, and can you make it pink and blue and a pale yellow and purple and green? Fabulous. I think the family may have also demanded a pony and world peace, though I can't be sure. Anyhow, Andrea's proposed design wins the family's approval, so she gets immunity from elimination -- that's the good news. She also has to manage the six other knuckleheads in implementing the design -- that's the bad news. For her, anyway.
The judges are smitten with the contributions of Goil, Erik, and Matt; they join Andrea on the fast track to returning for another episode. Ryan, Carisa, and Michael are singled out for a scolding. But in the end, Carisa's slacking and Michael's love of inappropriately purple fabrics are no match for Ryan's remarkably bland walls and predictably poor attitude. He's sent away, and he's as glad to be gone as we are to be rid of him. You keep fighting that there power, Ryan -- the snooty interior designers will be first against the wall when the poseur artiste revolution comes.
Also, we get to watch the much anticipated carpenter draft. With the first pick earned by winning last episode's challenge, Carisa selects Carl. I suppose this would be a very big deal if we knew who the hell Carl was.
Previously on The Real Top Designers of Orange County: Carisa won the challenge to design the perfect three-walled live-work studio for a design student, and, as a reward, will get first-choice of the nameless carpenters from now until the ending of time. Ryan's design was an affront to the eyes, and his attitude an affront to the senses -- or at least to Jonathan Adler's senses. But Felicia was inexplicably sent home, leaving us with seven designers to compete for: Money! Fame! And a car I'm sure we'll never see mentioned in this episode again! If you're feeling it, give me a hey, hey, hey-yeah, Top Design theme song.
Top Designers, roll call! Ousted! Goil! Carisa! Ryan! Ryan's Skateboard! Ousted! Matt! Andrea! Ousted! Ousted! Michael! Erik! Ooooooouuuuusted! If you're wondering how we judge them all and other contest facts, just repeat to yourself, "It's a Bravo show; I should really just relax."
As if to remind us what we were missing during Top Design's break, the show opens with the grim, glass-enclosed visage of the Pacific Design Center. And I don't know about you folks, but when our time is together is done, and Top Design is just another filthy memory whose outcome I've long since forgotten, I imagine my night terrors will still be accompanied by cutaway shots to tinted glass and curvy buildings and artificially composed showrooms. And I plan on waking up screaming. Matt is feeling a whole lot more better about the sight of the Pacific Design Center than I am -- he's excited that he finished in the top two of the last challenge, though he finds the results bittersweet since the judges gave him so much negative feedback. Wait... wait... the judges' comments don't seem to jibe with the results of the contest. I did not notice that. Carisa, meanwhile, says she's weirded out by winning the last challenge, as she was expecting to go home. "And I could go home in this one," Carisa explains for the benefit of recent visitors to our planet who have never watched a competitive reality TV program. "Anything could happen," she concludes, and again, that's true enough. Let's run down the myriad scenarios for Carisa's benefit.
1. The judges could be so moved by the winning design that they declare a winner here and now, forcing Bravo to run more Law & Order: Criminal Intent reruns the next five weeks. 2. All the remaining Top Designers could be replaced by ousted candidates from other reality shows. Yes, Mary and David, you may have been last to the matt in Chile, but now you get to remodel some rich guy's mud room.