Well, I will let you all in on a little secret. I'm watching this thing because I'm one of Clay Aiken's long time fans, and most of the people who are interested in this portion of my blog are also primarily interested in Clay. So I am going to try a new format here, stressing Clay more.
Just the facts, Ma'am: The task this week: the two teams are each tasked to create a "living window display" especially made to highlight Ivanka Trump's new fall collection. Yes, it's a two hour long advertisement for one of Trump's business projects. Well, every episode is, pretty much, an advertisement for something. It's all about the money, money, money. Forte selects Dayana as Project Manager, not for her strong leadership skills, but for her fashion background. Teresa gets to pout a little about that. Unanimous selects George as Project Manager, not for his strong leadership skills, but... because... he's gay. That's it. That's... appalling. And hilariously disastrous in the long run.
Dayana may have the title of Project Manager, but Aubrey takes over as she creates the concept - A Day in the Life of a Woman in Power. They will show vignettes of a strong, decisive woman going through her day. She's got Dayana eating her dust in five minutes. When they consult with Ivanka Trump, the women become even more certain that their concept is in line with what Ivanka wants... and whatever Ivanka wants, Ivanka gets. Ivanka wants coral. Ivanka wants strong branding. Ivanka wants to show women as leaders. The women gave her what she wanted.
Penn wants to use twins. George can't seem to grasp the task at all. He finally manages to decide that they should show Ivanka by Day and Ivanka by Night. Arsenio believes he is good at dressing women; I think we can amend that to say that he may indeed have been a little bet less awful at this than everybody else would have been, but really, he should have consulted Ivanka about her clothes. Because whatever Ivanka wants, Ivanka gets. And if Ivanka doesn't get it, you are toast. Ivanka did not get some of Arsenio's clothing choices, and neither did I.
Adam Corolla got to exhibit impressive carpentry skills. Who knew? Lou Ferrigno remains a bull in a china shop. Who knew? We all did. He's not winning this.
The women had complications: The window settings turned out to be much smaller than they expected, and they had to adjust. It gave Lisa an opportunity to be bossy and caustic, which is clearly her preferred state. They also overcame a huge problem when sketches and photos which were
crucial to the success of the project did not not appear on time the
morning of the project. There was a printing error. Aubrey came to the rescue in an instant, replacing the photos with live models, and this quick thinking saved their hides.
The men had judgement errors. Paul's signs were the wrong size. Their daytime exhibit ended up looking sexist. George left too many things up to Adam Corolla and did not pay close enough attention to how the product looked. I suspect that George will never want to look at the color Midnight Blue ever again. It will haunt his dreams even more than memories of working with William Shatner, reportedly not his favorite person.
Dee got to miss all the fun and have surgery done on his broken finger.
Ultimately, the women won the challenge, and George Takei was fired.
How Clay did: Clay dodged a couple of bullets here, although neither were his fault. I've loved him for long enough to know that he does not need to be setting up displays for women's fashion, and my heart skipped a little when Lou suggested that he be Project Manager for a task involving clothing. I would like to smack these guys for thinking that sexual orientation was a criteria for deciding who would be good at this task... but George was a little less self-aware of his limitations on this task than Clay was, and he paid the price for that. As Clay himself put it, hilariously, "I know well enough to know that I don't know enough to know what do know." Now, say that three times fast.
This gave Arsenio Hall an opportunity to make little snarky remarks about how our gay teammates rarely look at women with the added caveat that people who know more about men's fashion need to let Arsenio be the expert on women's clothing. Ah.... no. At the very least, he does not understand the difference between day wear and dresses for the red carpet. Well, that attitude put Arsenio in the Board Room. Clay did not get blamed for the failure this week.
Once they actually began the task, Clay was the first person to understand that George was not really thinking things through as sharply or as quickly as they needed him to, and it caused tension later in the episode. At one point Eric Trump asked Clay how George was doing, and Clay laughed. He tried to play it off as a light-hearted giggle for no reason, but then accidentally revealed that some members of the team were picking up slack, and Eric picked up on that. Clay's expressive face pretty much told the story. I hope he never plays poker.
Clay offered commentary several times during the show, and as the project headed for showtime, he was critical of George's passivity once again. Clay was steaming one model's clothing, and Arsenio was making adjustments for another, but George "did not make himself useful in any way". George did bark a few orders, earning a big eyeroll from both Clay and Arsenio, who were working much harder than he was. At one point Clay observed that George "worked himself out" of a job; George gave away so much authority, he had no purpose.
They put Clay in the window to act as a young assistant to several
businesswomen, but unfortunately, they had him sit as the women stood.
He ended up looking like their boss. As he was sitting in the window, Clay watched the reaction of the crowd and seemed to understand that they were not that pleased with the tableau and he expressed concern in a confessional.
Trump didn't let him get away with his concerns. In the board room, Trump asked Clay to give an assessment of George as a project manager, and pounced at Clay's initial tactful reply. He told the entire boardroom that Clay laughed at George, and in my mind's eye I am now envisioning a new, lifelong feud between the Trekkies and the Claymates. As I am a member of both those groups, I am going to have to develop a split personality to deal with the conflict. Clearly Trump likes to try to make well-behaved people hate each other if he can.
The important thing though, is this: George was in fact too lax, too passive, and too unsure of what he was doing, and Clay knew it. As soon as Trump called the contest for the women, everybody was quite willing to criticize George. Clay, pressured once again to assess George's ability, said it was difficult for him to speak against George because he's such an advocate for the gay movement... but....
And here's where he nailed it on the head. George did not delegate authority. He gave it away, and people in the project found tasks for themselves in ways that might have been bad for the project. Lou in particular comes to mind here. I have been told that George Takei does not like Clay, and now we know why, but... Clay was right. Sometimes the truth hurts.