Having rousted the designers out of bed, Todd reminds them that they're building a live/work space for design students. Dude: we know. This couldn't have waited until 9 a.m.? No, it could not, because Todd needs to tell them about this week's surprise twist: "Today, your challenge is going to take on a great American tradition." Which tradition is that? The widespread acceptance of mediocrity? The celebration of style over substance? The promotion of ever widening income disparities between rich and poor? "The garage sale," Todd says. Oh -- so a combination of all three, then. The designers seem strangely thrown by this: "I've never been to a garage sale," Andrea says, "Which I know seems strange." Yes, it does -- extremely strange. Are you sure you're actually from this country, comrade? Todd tells the Top Designers that the judges will be paying extra close attention to how well they'll be able to take their $500 worth of garage sale purchases and "polish that diamond in the rough." And then the judges will promptly ignore that criteria, if the last couple of shows are any indication. The designers will be randomly paired up and unleashed upon the yard sales of greater Los Angeles until noon. With his work done, Todd wishes the Top Designers luck and tells them he's off to take a nap. The designers laugh ruefully, presumably because pelting him with muffins would negatively affect their prospects.
And so begins our garage sale montage, with pairs of Top Designers trying to navigate the streets of Los Angeles in search of furnishing goodness. As someone who navigated many of those streets during a multi-year hitch in L.A., I can say that the only thing less interesting than driving on them is watching other people driving on them. And the only thing less interesting than that is to hear Carisa's socio-economic commentary on the locals: "This is a lovely neighborhood," she says, in that eye-rolling "I really mean the opposite of what I'm saying" way that's so hip with people these days. "We're going to find three dirty mattresses and a ping-pong table." So whatever happened to using using interior design to "Alter the life and the environment of people who don't have the financial means to alter their own environments?" Does that only apply to people without financial means who live in nice neighborhoods? Or were you just feeding us bullshit? Goil and Felicia are the first to arrive at a garage sale, and Goil uses his "Goil-as-in-gargoyle" shtick to introduce himself to the proprietress -- she doubles over laughing, even as Goil tries to get down to business. Maybe she does laff-track work in her spare time. Soon other designers are on the scene, grabbing as many consoles and 70s-era chairs as their arms can carry. Michael expresses confidence in his own purchases, and, because this is Michael we're talking about, dismisses the selections of others -- in this case, Carisa: "Carisa's pieces are kind of clichÃ©d. The white plastic chairs with the orange upholstery -- there's nothing truly unique or high-end about it." Which might be a more scathing critique were they not confined to shopping among other people's leavings.