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Episode Recap: Dark Magic
Eddie is gone from the competition, and the absence of his smile has everyone down - but none more than Laney, who was in bottom looks with him last week. She's incredibly homesick and feeling her passion to stay in the competition wane with every moment. Tate gives her a pep talk to keep her spirits up before they meet McKenzie to find out about their next challenge. The lovely Ms. Westmore stands in front of several monoliths and tells them that they'll be creating dark elves based on the Norse runes written on the stones behind her. There's a twist, of course: the artists won't know what the runes mean until after they've chosen.
The artists have a little time to sketch in the sunshine, then it's back to the lab. Laney has a cool concept for her rune - Immortality - but she's still struggling with homesickness, and can't move forward with her usual inspiration. She disappears to the bathroom temporarily and when Tate tries to cheer her up again, she waves him away. Roy is able to convince her that she should make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and she returns to work.
The next morning, however, Laura discovers a note from Laney saying she's gone home. Everyone is stunned and unsure of what to do next, but all they can do is return to the lab and keep working. Miranda is having trouble moving forward since she feels she already created two dark elves, once when she designed a pixie and once in the Seven Deadly Sins challenge. She takes inspiration from the look of the rune, itself - a kind of Mayan design - and makes her elf a Mayan warrior with a regal headdress. She's just not feeling the flow, though, and fiddles with it all day, leaving herself in a bind to create a mold in the final hour that she'll have to crack, clean, and fill all on application day. It's definitely the farthest behind she's ever been, and if anything goes awry, she may not have anything to show the judges.
Tate created an ambitious piece, as usual, but is clipping along with his work at a good pace. He chose Regeneration and is using a skin texturing technique that makes it look like his elf's skin is molting. Laura, like Tate, is tearing skilfully through a ton of work, powered along by her love of dark elves. Her rune is Occult Powers, and the one snag that her work hits is when the scars that she molded in the shape of runes don't turn out. This was a key part of her concept as the elf would gain her power from the runes being carved into her skin, but she has a backup plan: she paints the runes on. Good thing she knows something about a good paint job!
Miranda's rough time management problem may not be solvable. Although she enlists her model to help with everything - cleaning out the mold, painting his own body, drying pieces with a hair dryer - she's still behind when she gets to last looks, and the piece she sends onstage isn't even painted completely. At this point, she knows she's going home, but that doesn't make the judgment process any less excruciating.
Roy decided to stay away from the usual concept and make his elf less humanoid and more simian, with a huge cranium to reflect the rune of Psychic Powers. Although it's a solid character with a paint job that's a step up from his usual work, the judges feel he stepped too far outside of the parameters of the challenge.
Laura and Tate share the Top Looks platform for their expert concepts, high ambition, and masterful application. The judges love how smart Laura is in her design, from start to finish, and how vibrant the character that Tate created is. They award the win to Tate for the vigorous visual storytelling he incorporated, and he's thrilled at this boost as they come closer to the finale.
Miranda and Roy find themselves in bottom looks and though they bear themselves well, the fear of going home is apparent on both of their faces. In a tense moment before any name is called, they brace for the worst, until Glenn announces that no one is going home. He stresses that this is only because they didn't give up, and Laney's departure effectively means that she eliminated herself. Both Roy and Miranda advance to the next round, with the knowledge of how hard they'll have to work to redeem themselves stinging in their ears.