Photos: David Russell / Lifetime

Budget Cuts

The final four tackle ready-to-wear and a last-minute twist. Watch, or skip?

Look: Alyssa Milano is not fat, but more to the point, if she were, who cares? Shut up, Jay Mohr. You want to help, talk her out of those ankle-strap pumps she loves so much. Better yet, go write a book that doesn't make you look like a self-pitying little shitbitch.

Final Four!

Milano handled Mohr like a champ, but isn't helping her own case with yet another pair of heels that cuts her off across the shins. Girl: why. Why! Stop!

After establishing that Seth Aaron is the only one of the final four who hasn't won a challenge, thereby either ensuring a triumph or sealing his doom, Milano announces that it's a ready-to-wear challenge this week, with one of the only entirely New-York-based fashion houses, Milly, as the client. The designers need to hit a $400 retail price point, approved by Milly's CEO; the winning look will be made and sold at Milly, with profits going to the Save The Garment Center charity.

They get two whole days for the challenge; I hope Seth Aaron spends part of his rethinking that weird Hilterian hair swoop, because no.

Millood

The designers frolic through the Milly fabric showroom; Palu does a hilarious imitation of Elena's accent, but other than that, it's dull. I wish they'd show more of how the numbers add up, which production challenges inflate the numbers and which elements the designers fight for, but they don't.

Workroom

Elena interviews that she wouldn't have believed she'd make the final four. I wouldn't have either, frankly, but good for her. Seth Aaron gives his all to praising the QVC accessory wall as Korto worries that she only got two yards of her fabric, so once she cuts it, that's it: "I just married my fabric, y'all."

Palu disapproves of Elena's "stark white" because it doesn't fit into the rest of the Milly collection -- not that it'll matter when she tears her leather with an hour to go on Day One. For Elena, she takes it pretty well, saying there's no way to really fix that but she's just going to sleep on it and maybe make something else. Palu struggles with a chiffon overskirt while Seth Aaron puts together a fit-and-flare mix of black and white prints with a chevron bodice that's totally him and really cute (except for the neon squibble running down the front).

The next day, Elena starts over with another dress, and Korto's like, good luck walking that when nobody approved that design as within the budget. Agreed, but at least Elena explains the raglan sleeve to the folks at home.

Zanna Mixes Pastels Like A Boss

She also brings Milly designer Michelle Smith to the workroom and inspires Seth Aaron to add a polka-dot pattern to his skirt, but the segment isn't essential; Michelle's note that Elena's shoulder is "very designer" is like a parody of itself, and while Seth Aaron and Elena explain to Palu using small words that you can't just put two zippers into a look and expect that not to cost more, his intransigence on the subject isn't all that entertaining.

Model Fitting

Various changes have improved the looks, but the runway is imminent and you'll see them all then. Nor do you need Korto to tell you, re: Palu, that "the advice boat is gone."

Runway Day

Palu is the only one dashing around last-minute. Mary Kay and Alterna yay whatever. Elena dismisses Seth Aaron's look as cutesy, and I agree -- it's a bit on the Delia's side in terms of the shape -- but then has nothing to say about the matcherrific polka-dot pumps he's putting with it? All righty then.

Runway

My notes: "Putting the 'no' back in 'Milano.'" I...I don't even know. She's wearing a Milly design, I'm assuming, and it's a sleeveless flared shift, which, great, except there's a yoke thing happening around the waist that once again is the opposite of flattering on her figure. And her figure IS FINE, so why does she keep doing these things to it?!

2014-01-02-pras-alyssa

(Loving her mane of '90s rock hair, though.)

The gorrrrrgeous Georgina Chapman has returned, along with Le Miz, Kristin Chenoweth, Nick Cannon, and Michelle Smith. …Nick Cannon?

Palu's is a good concept, but the pleating of the leather in the bodice looks loose and unfinished, and the chiffon overskirt seems thrown together, even after all that refitting in the run-up to the runway.

Seth Aaron's is very cute; I love the keyhole neckline, and it's cut extremely well and shows off the model's butt like whoa (but not in a trashy way). It's still Delia's to me, but with nicer fabrics, so it sort of splits the difference at Nanette Lepore, if that makes any sense? Just maybe a bit too young.

I would wear Korto's, of course, because my girl put pockets in it, and the broad T-back feels new, but it's a bit too short and seems kind of cheap in the front.

I don't know about yellow and white on Elena's, but I love the shape, and I think the shoulders Palu sniffed looked like elf ears are really great. It's cut straight as a string; really nice work.

Judging

Le Miz calls Elena's color combination -- which is actually a white mesh backed with a neon yellow -- "chamomile ice cream," and Nick Cannon thinks his wife would look great in it. I agree, actually. Everyone really hates the zipper, though; Milano thinks it "junks it up," which is a zingy comment from her although I don't concur. Chapman loves the side profile on the dress.

Le Miz makes skeptical face at Palu's, though Milano likes the contrast of the sarong over something "hard" like leather. Everyone calls out the blobbish bodice, and Chapman feels like she doesn't know who Palu is as a designer, which because this is the excuse they've manufactured to send him home we will hear several more times even though it's horseshit.

Korto's is deemed the most wearable, but it falls flat.

There's disagreement on the neon ruffle of Seth Aaron's -- Cannon loves it; nobody else cares for it -- but none on the cut, and Chenoweth wants to buy it straight off the model. Milano is concerned that "when I got close, did I see nipple?" Hee. Honey, wear it anyway and just get some tape, because you would look adorbs in this.

More Judging

Hey, Nick Cannon: please stop talking. We heard you about the "easy access" zipper on Elena's dress the first three times. Wasn't funny then either. Also: "Dresses with pockets. Is that hot?" On behalf of all those ladies who, unlike your missus, don't have people to carry shit for them? Yes. So hot. Korto-for-president hot.

Then they talk about whose full collections they'd rather see, and Le Miz wants to see Korto's. Milano parrots Chapman's line about not knowing Palu's designer identity, and again it feels to me like, well, we've got to get rid of somebody so this is the party line.

Win/Auf?

Seth Aaron wins. Fine with it, though I would have voted Elena, who's very excited to be called safe -- and who wants to cry, but isn't going to "because I've cried enough, this season." Aw. Learning!

That leaves Palu and Korto, and for one of them to get through, "we have one more challenge," Milano says: remix three looks from previous challenges into one new look, in one hour. Garment racks, sewing tables, and models are all trundled out to the runway for a Rocky montage that, alas, is so short that we don't see any of the decision-making process or how, say, Korto's Bonnie-and-Clyde challenge pants become a skirt.

Remix Judging

If only for Le Miz being his usual encouraging and respectful self about how much admires Palu and Korto for what they created in an hour, especially Korto's refinement of a rough-hewn shape: "Come on, an hour, darling? It's Michelangelo." Man, he's such a good judge. Can we Kickstarter Nina out of the center chair for PR: Mothership next season and replace her with Le Miz?

Milano is also good here, thumbs-upping Palu's shoulder pads, which she always loves: "Must be my days on Who's The Boss with Judith Light." Hee! …You know, she should wear more of those; it would give her a longer line, plus they go great with a Grecian drape, which would also flatter her figure without hiding the good bits. I really don't mean to harp, I just don't get it. Free Milano!

Then, a very long sequence in which the other judges pass their cards to Milano and she repeats that somebody is going home. And despite Chapman's declaration that now she can see who Palu is, it is Palu who's leaving. Aw. Korto is relieved but sad. Palu looks ill. We're out.

Verdict

It missed a couple of opportunities, but thanks to a thinned herd, you see more sewing; the judging panel is firing on all cylinders; the twist isn't tacked on; the result is correct. The show's gaining speed in the homestretch, so watch this one.

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