First of all, I would apologize to all of you who emailed me to tell me I shouldn't be writing about this show since I am clearly an idiot for not agreeing with the judges' elimination last week. Except that I don't want to apologize because I am not sorry. I didn't love Erik, by any means. I just thought it was unfair to send him home when he was on a team monopolized by a crazy (if talented) person and his harem, none of whom would let him add anything creative to the project. It would have been nice to see him kicked out for actual art he did badly (which there has been plenty of so far). This time, Peregrine should have gone, in my opinion. She hasn't done anything truly standout since she's been here, and she proved herself a complete puppet last week. Oh, well. There's always tonight. So, previouslies: Nicole's team chose her as the winner, which didn't give her immunity. And Erik got sent packing. China repeated herself robotically.
In the morning, Mark and Ryan are happy to have won, but are upset about Erik being gone just for dealing with personalities he didn't click with. Ryan says he also thinks Miles is playing a part most of the time. Miles, on the other hand, wakes up and ... wants some cornflakes. Then he remembers Erik's gone and breathes a sigh of relief. As Miles struggles to open his cornflakes, Abdi suggests breakfast on the roof, so they go next door to invite the ladies. Abdi thinks it would be awesome to get rid of last week's tension, so they all head up to the roof and look at the beautiful view of the city. Ryan and Abdi bond over ... having nothing in common, I guess. Abdi's lived in lots of East Coast cities. Ryan's only lived in Chicago suburbs, and was raised a Jehovah's Witness. He says his mother is very religious, so when he left the religion, he essentially became an outcast. Nicole notices how few of them are left. But a special guest, Simon, joins them. He's very privileged to take them to an amazing museum. Nicole: "Everyone's super excited. Artists really love to see art and be around it." Wow. Deep.
Simon over-enunciates his excitement as he walks the group through SoHo and finally takes them to the Children's Museum of the Arts. Not exactly what they were expecting. China's there to greet them. They sit at the little kiddie-sized tables, and China tells them their next challenge: To create a piece of art that explores the first experiences that shaped them into the artist they are today. They will only get to use materials here in the museum. Which means pipe cleaners, tempera paint, colored pencils, etc. Miles says he wants to throw up and sneeze at the same time (?), because his tools are a huge comfort to him and he doesn't want to go home for not knowing how to use popsicle sticks. Simon gives them all day at the museum and then just one hour at the studio tomorrow to finish up. Simon gruffs: "Be bold! Be amazing!" He is really overdoing it this episode, even more than usual.
Jaclyn's not excited about this challenge at all. Presumably because she doesn't feel comfortable getting naked and photographing herself in a place where children might see her. Nicole and Ryan, on the other hand, are like kids in a candy store. Or, you know, in a children's museum. Ryan interviews about how amazing it would be for him to make it to the end and win $100,000. Then he pauses. "Or, I don't know, $1,000. I have $24 in my bank account. Um. And actually if my insurance kicked in, I might be negative right now. I'm not really sure." How can you not love this guy? Nicole talks about her twin sister and her dad, as we see her childhood artwork. She's cutting a series of frames (out of what looks like Styrofoam) that have rough edges getting to a perfect rectangle that gets to what her art was about as a kid. I'm sure we'll understand it later. Or, you know, we won't. Which is more likely.
Abdi talks about his relationship with his father, which is non-existent. He was raised by his mom since he was 1, so he's making a comic book of his mom as a superhero giving him art, to keep him on the right track. Miles tells Nicole her work is too surface. Then he works on his own, which is to remake a piece of a piece he already made, about nine months ago. It's a series of geometric designs. He says even though it isn't reminiscent of his childhood, he feels good about it and thinks it will work. And, because it's crazy Miles, it probably will. Peregrine notices Jaclyn's moving slowly on this, then Jaclyn says this is hard for her because she doesn't like to think about her childhood, since she was very lonely. She would go eat her lunch alone in a bathroom stall, so she knows she has to re-create that feeling of isolation. Hey, it's better than voyeurism.
Nicole's still working, and having a hard time cutting her pieces without a knife or exacto blade. Mark says he didn't have nice materials as a child, so used white-out, masking tape and pens instead of real art supplies. He decides to make a children's book about how he became an artist. That might be a little too on-the-nose. Then again, this is Mark, master of the obvious. Peregrine says her dad saved her sketchbooks from when she was a child, and she did a lot of sexual drawings. We see a series of weirdly anatomical line drawings. She was raised on an art commune, where there was a lot of experimentation and drugs. She says her piece is an idea of a child at an adults' party. She's making a My Little Pony covered in sex ads (uh, where did she get the sex ads at the Children's Museum?) and a cigarette out of a piece of chalk. Jaclyn's still at a loss, because her childhood years weren't the best. She starts to play and experiment to try to trigger memories. Ryan's coming up with memories that he didn't remember since he was little. He remembers being closer to his mom, and how she inspired him by telling him he could do those illustrations someday. He gets very choked up when he says he knows his mom still loves him but can't be close to him because she doesn't respect his life choices. "But she is the reason that I'm an artist, and she gave me all of the initial impetus to do all of the work that I do now." Okay, finally we have someone getting to something deep and important without being totally egotistical.
They all take a break and hang out on the bouncy balls. Nicole and Miles flirt, and he says he'd like to take her on a date, which would be magical. Mark hopes their like for each other will weaken them in the competition. Simon comes in with bagged lunches for them and takes a look at their work. He starts with Ryan, who shows him the drawings he's doing, which look like a child did them. Simon's concerned it's too literal a way to interpret the challenge. Then he goes to Abdi, and tells him his work looks like he did it when he was eleven. Nicole agrees with Simon's criticisms being like what they did as a kid. Nicole shows her frames and says there are two pencils that represent her and her sister. It is layers of her memory. He likes that she's not re-creating the works she did as a kid, but is using her memories. Then Peregrine, who's also made candy to go with the cigarettes and pony, which has a very long tail. He thinks it has the potential to be interesting.
Simon asks Miles what his duct tape piece has to do with his childhood, and Miles says it doesn't. Mark thinks Miles is very talented, but thinks that using a piece he's already made is cheating, and Mark doesn't respect cheaters. Simon doesn't seem to have an opinion, but thanks Miles. He moves on to Jaclyn, who says she's finally figured out what she's doing. She'd like to fold a piece of paper in half after painting it to make an abstract work. He doesn't like it, but says she has to do what she feels inside her is the right thing, and was more intrigued by seeing her working with pipe cleaners, but she's gone away from that. She says it's a hard thing for her to be really open. Right. Simon tells them all he's concerned and unimpressed, so they better get their act together. Ryan says this really hurt morale, even for the people who got a good crit from him. Simon also announces no one will get immunity from now until the end, so they really have to get it right each week. Abdi takes a step back and realizes his piece is cliché and doesn't know what he's going to do now.
Two hours until midnight. Mark doesn't get Peregrine's piece. But she says children thrive under harsh conditions and her parents letting her grow up in a sex and drug culture was a "blessing." Abdi decides to not do the tribute to his mom, and instead to do a series of drawings of things people would ask him to draw as a kid. Jaclyn goes back to the pom poms and pipe cleaners, but can't figure out what to do with them, even though she wants to listen to Simon. Ryan also agrees with Simon, so he wants to add another layer to his piece and make it more complex. He knows being too literal has been his problem the whole time. Abdi says they all underestimated how difficult this piece would be. With a half-hour left, they're all working. Miles has started making rubber band balls in primary colors to add color to his piece. Ryan says he has only started to realize recently that Miles is a douchebag. Dude, it took you this long? Ryan says Miles isn't doing the challenge and instead is making rubber band balls to make it look like he did the challenge. They're done for the day. Abdi, of course, has a lot to finish the next day.