"Okay," Will said as he looked down at his note cards. "Who is Mercedes Jones?"
"I am," Mercedes said, her voice bereft of her usual confidence.
"What were you trying to achieve with your room?" Will asked as her zebra rug den came back up on the big screen.
"I wanted to give the flavor of a man cave but Mercedes style. I hung changeable large portraits on the wall to add some masculine flavor to the space and accented with animal print, which is a personal touch from the house of Jones."
"Mercedes, I look at you here with your neon colors and your personality and I don't see it in that room. I feel really underwhelmed by it. I mean, the rug would have been a nice touch but it feels out of place in your man cave."
Blaine nodded at Will's comment. "I have to agree. It feels really safe to me Mercedes, and in this competition, safe is a killer. If this is the best you have then I'm not sure if this is the right place for you."
"Okay," Mercedes said in defense of herself. "But I thought if I let my full personality bloom too soon I would give you too much, thought it best to ease you into it a little."
"All I feel eased into is a coma," Sue snapped. "I want to talk to- I think it was- Asian Girl about her backyard space."
Mercedes' room flashes from the screen and is replaced by the blue and green room with a column of hot glued inflatable creatures. "What on God's green earth made you think we would like this?"
"I wanted to take a risk," Tina began, "and I thought if I played it too safe and just did some tiki torches or something that I would not be showing you that I'm unafraid to try things."
"Yes," Will said with a furrowed brow, "but there's also a practical side to this competition. It looks daring, but.."
"Sloppy," Sue finished. "It's an inflatable fun house totem pole with no reason or confidence. Asian Boy and Gay Surfer both also made backyard spaces, but their spaces were better executed and had functionality behind them."
"Woah, I'm not gay. Not that being gay isn't cool or anything.."
"DID YOU JUST INTERRUPT ME?" Sue exclaimed while staring daggers at Sam.
"No ma'am," Sam replied.
"Okay, moving on," Blaine Anderson began. "I'd like to review the room of...Kurt Hummel?"
"That's me? And if I may," Kurt began as he raised his hand," I would like to explain the room."
Blaine shook his head. "There's not much need. You took a huge risk including no furniture and mocking up those staples. But there's a uniformity to the pattern that you don't see at first. With the right accents, It's very close to genius."
Will nodded. "I agree. And Mr. Anderson has proved he has an eye for eccentric patterns. I remember that room from last year with the pennies motif that I thought was insane but then I looked at it again and was super impressed."
Blaine looked over at Will. "I think I won a prize for that, didn't I?"
Sue looked between her two fellow judges. "Okay fellas, kiss later. We have more rooms to go through. Teddy bear princess room! Where are you?"
"That's me," Sugar says, peeking out from behind Noah's mohawk. "I really, really like pink."
Blaine flourished with his hand for emphasis. "It's got a great set-up, no one's going to deny that. I like this as a back story and I think Will will agree with me that this would be an interesting story concept for any architecture magazine, but.."
"But?" Sugar squeaked.
"But is it Capture The Flag material?" Blaine said uneasily, "I'm not sure."
"I disagree," Sue injectured. "I am intrigued by how you gored those teddy bears to create theme chairs out of nothing and the shag was a risk. Reminds me of this Apocalypse Now tea room I did for a retired three star general. I find this room more acceptable than over half the other challengers. Is this a winning room? No. But it is at least slightly more innovative than the others. Now, New York Bridge room!"
Sue snapped her fingers and Santana looked out from behind her sunglasses. "This is mine. It's a dream design I concepted for a New York fashion couple. The actual room never came to fruition because they questioned too much of the design and I do not compromise."
Will thought for a moment. "It's very daring and graphic. It could have come off completely wrong, but with you it looks amazing. It's quite an achievement for the time limit and it's very impressive."
"I love the way," Blaine continued from where Will left off, "that you took the dimensions of the room and you gave it a flow and movement that most of the other rooms didn't achieve. You certainly prove here that you are a force to be reckoned with, Santana Lopez, and it will be a pleasure to see what you design for us in the future."
"Thank you," Santana said as though she had been expecting the praise all along.
Will sighed. "Okay, I know we're running long but we have more rooms to see. Some of them look a little sloppy and unfinished. The room with the neon stripes was innovative but messy looking...Mr. Puckerman? And there was a room with a dresser in dior grey and marble black, points for efforts but missed execution, Mr. Abrams. Finally, we have the unfinished purple room...Ms. Berry?"
"Yes. And originally the walls would have had more volume instead of just being painted, but another competitor refused to give up the material."
"You sound like you're making excuses," Sue said in an accusatory tone, removing her reading glasses for a moment.
"I'm simply stating..."
"I know what you're stating, Barbara," Sue snarled, "but this is not a competition in who can make the best excuses. This is the fourth season and none of this boo-hoo crap will cut it. You can't find what you want, you get enterprising. Excuses are not an option."
"But if I could..."
"You may not. William, were there any rooms you actually liked this week?"
"There was a white room," Will said quietly, "very subtle. About ten shades of white in the room, actually. Blended together, texture on the walls from different types of squares. Whose room was that?"
"Mine," Dave said, looking like he was sweating a little.
Will nodded. "It was a good try. Not very daring, but your execution was fantastic. You definitely have an eye and a vision and I can't imagine why anyone who saw this room wouldn't hire you for a job. Is it Capture the Flag material? Well.."
"I disagree," Blaine butted in. "I think it could be. There's a lot of promise in this season, though, so step your game up. Give us something unexpected. Challenge yourself."
Dave nodded. "Thanks, thank you so much."
"Okay," Jesse St. James clapped his hands together, "the judges have given their two cents, contestants, please head back to the Haven Lounge and you'll be called back after the judges have deliberated."
The judges waited until the designers had left before Sue launched into an attack. "Let me just state for the record, that the potential in this group is very low."
"You always say that, Sue," Will stated. "You even said that about Unique in the beginning."
"Yes, but then I was surprised when Mr. Sister proved me wrong."
"I think we can all agree who the winner was this week," Blaine said.
Sue and Will nodded. "Yes, I can easily pick the top three for myself," Sue added. "But we need to decide whose leaving this week. That Barbara girl..."
"Was not attacking you, Sue," Will said, "she was merely trying to stand up for her room."
"I hate excuses and I don't like people who make them, you know that William. If we decide to let her stay, you can guarantee I will have my eye on her room from now on."
Blaine rubbed his hands together nervously. "I have to admit, the rooms that I really didn't see any potential in were..."
A camera interview with Lauren cuts off Blaine's sentence. "This is great. Ms. Berry got on Sue's bad side and I knocked her pretty much out of the running. Best white room challenge ever."
While Rachel glared at Lauren, Dave looked at Kurt while his camera interview runs in the background. "I don't get what they see in him. Would I praise him for that room? No way. There was nothing about his room to like! What? You can't even put a damn ottoman in there? Who the fuck would buy a room made out of denim?! If he stays, I just don't know what I'm going to do."
Sugar looks deflated in her camera interview, even her bow tie is a little limp. "That was horrible. Do we have to go through this every week?"
"I can't believe they dissed on my room," Noah barked. "My room was way better than Mr. Crown Molding whatever the hell!"
Jesse St. James enters the unnatural silence of the Haven Lounge with a grave disposition about himself. "Follow me back to the Judges Chambers. They've decided which two designers will be going home this week."
The designers fall in line again and end up at the same spaces they were before on the staircase. The judges blink back at them until Jesse turns up again by their side. He reads from note cards.
"Welcome to the first elimination of Season Four. Fourteen of you stand before me, but two designers will be leaving this week. That means your designs did not show what the judging panel was looking for and you'll be asked to leave immediately. Will the following designers please step forward? Finn Hudson, Lauren Zises, Noah Puckerman, Artie Abrams, Mike Chang, and Sam Evans. Your designs were all acceptable. You are neither winners this week, nor are you in the bottom. You may leave the Judges Chambers."
Slowly they file out, but not before Mike stops at Tina's hand and gives it a squeeze.
"Well, now that we've cut the wheat from the chaff, I will say that you eight represent the best and the worst of this fourth season. If you are in the top or the bottom, I will be watching you very closely to see what you do in the following weeks. My suggestion? Get your shit together, because I do not play for fun times."
"Thank you, Sue," Will says. " Will Sugar Mott, Quinn Fabray, and Dave Karofsky please step forward? Your designs were very good this week. I'd like to congragulate you on your efforts and can't wait to see what you create in the weeks to come."
"Holy shit," Dave says in voiceover as he leaves the chamber. "I thought they really hated what I made. This is really cool. Can't wait to show them that you don't need patchwork denim to be classy or breakthrough."
Blaine looks down at his card next. "Santana Lopez and Kurt Hummel, please step forward. As you are all well aware, winning the white room challenge is both a gift and a curse. We all remember what happened to Donatello when he won, so take this as a challenge. You've shown us amazing designs this week but it is a heavy mantle. Accept the crown with pride but don't let it get to your head. We expect the best from you from now on. The winner of The White Room Challenge is Santana Lopez."
The zoom from Kurt to Santana's face is a study in facial change. She remains impassive, merely showing a small smile while Kurt's shock is real in being so close to being this week's winner. He covers his mouth with his hands and follows Santana back to the Haven Lounge.
"Okay," Jesse sighs. "Three designers left standing here and one spot remains in the competition. The question is: Who stays and who goes?" Jesse takes a moment to read his card and then looks at the designers. "Rachel Berry, your designs are not finished here yet. Mercedes Jones and Tina Cohen-Chang, we must ask you to leave."
"No!" Comes a shout from outside the room, Mike Chang barreling in and running to stand by Tina's side. "Send me home first! She's so much more brilliant than me! And I won't stay in this competition without her."
Security is just seen on the camera shot as the judges deliberate. "Fine," Sue snarls. "But this is your one and only get out of jail free card, Asian Girl. You will be watched very closely next week and your design better stand above the rest. I swear to God, if I see another inflatable totem pole, I will buy you a parrot that will give you tuberculosis. Understand?"
"I don't understand why he did that," Tina says while her mascara runs in a camera interview, "but he's an amazing guy and my best friend and this competition can't be the same without him."
Mike nods, looking into the camera soulfully. "I did what I had to do. She's the designer, I just do the building. I know she's got amazing skill and I just couldn't stand by and do nothing when I heard she was going home."
Mercedes sighs as they show her walking through the work room back to the metal door. "This sucks. I don't deserve to be going home. I played it safe and I regret that decision. But you haven't heard the last of Miss Jones and her animal print design, no sir! The best is yet to come."