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Episode Recap: Year of the Dragon


The contestants meet McKenzie at a Chinese temple in the heart of L.A. where they're treated to a dynamic performance by a Chinese dragon dance team. These acrobatic puppeteers are the artists' inspiration for this week's challenge: Working in teams of two, the contestants will build their own interpretations of Chinese dragons. For added depth, they'll use their own animals from the Chinese zodiac as a foundation for their concepts.

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Tommy and Derek, whose signs are Ox and Monkey, respectively, start designing and find they're totally on the same wavelength with each step. Laura and Alana, whose signs are Rat and Goat, are similarly happy about their collaboration, but when Alana slices her finger open and needs to get stitches, the duo panics about getting everything done in time. Laura starts speed sculpting, and when Alana returns, she does as much as she can to gain back the time.

Glenn comes by to give feedback on everyone's projects, and Sarah and Eric worry that they might not have quite the right blend of original and classical elements in their creation, but still they press on. Everyone has an eye out for mobility, since the big twist this week is that the designs have to be performance-ready, as the dragons will execute an acrobatic dance like those in a Chinese New Year's parade.

On the final day, Roy and Jason apply their prosthetics at last looks - always risky - and Laura and Alana hope that they can cover the huge rip that appeared in their cowl. But worries are momentarily forgotten when the artists step onto a stage decked out to look like a Chinese temple and see their makeups fly through the air in a choreographed spectacle.

The judges love the naturalistic aesthetic Laura and Alana employed for their sculpture, and agree that the movement and color scheme are great. Sculptural movement also won big points for Rod and Nicole's Snake/Rat dragon, which has a crown of flags ringing its temples. But the prize this week goes to Tommy and Derek for blending the rules of the assignment with their own, unique vision in an excellently crafted piece. Derek is the overall winner, as the judges felt his concept and tattoo artist background drove the piece.

Derek's twin brother, Eric, is in the bottom four this week, since his Monkey/Boar collaboration with Sarah lacked critical elements like sculptural symmetry and a coherent color scheme. Jason and Roy are also up for elimination due to the jarring paint job and the mismatched animal elements - Snake and Rabbit - in their dragon. Eric's infirm concept causes him to be eliminated, a decision which makes it hard for Derek to enjoy his win, but he's determined to work hard enough for two and fight all the way to the top.