Last week’s episode concluded with the offed Sucklord quoting the original Star Wars: “if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” While the vow itself is moot, Work of Art has now lost its most reliable font of comic relief. In the wake, chaos: Sarah K. is spooked back into putting thought into her work (“I feel like I really let my partner down, which I feel bad about”), Lola has matured into the villain of Episode 2′s prophecy, and most importantly the sexual tension—no longer constrained by Sucklord and Lola’s chemistry—sends the thinning herd into psychosexual crisis. Dusty takes the lead, with Young’s short shorts: “I can’t even get my junk in these things.”
The gallery has undergone some frightening changes. A red Fiat 500 chassis is the only entrance, birthing the artists into a jarring array of the car's other entrails laid out in what looks like a Song Dong installation. The challenge is simple: to use at least one piece in their work. Dusty thinks it's “hard to gather materials when you don't know what you're working on,” failing to recall half of the other challenges and the frequent pre-studio trips to Utrecht (strangely absent in this episode). The group exclaims their ignorance of car mechanics, especially Young, whose favorite car as a child was the limousine, “because someone else was driving [him].”
The audience is given little time to ponder why he would be driving at such a young age before the unprompted sexual remarks begin. Kymia starts the trend during the Sucklord’s eulogy: “[he] supposedly had sex with every single one of us, including Young,” indeed a petite mort for all involved (save Dusty for some reason). Sarah K.’s breaks the ice with question – “So how many people first made out with a boy in the backseat of a car?” – that, for whatever reason, leads Sara J. to claim that she’d had this experience with Young. The camera pans to Young’s default scowl and an uncomfortable narration about high school “dates” with cute boys in vans. Well past his quota for banal sexuality this far into the show, we are relieved by Sara J.’s soliloquy about how art saved her from drugs and alcohol.
Meanwhile, Dusty lies on the floor with his face covered in purple resin, abandoned by his helper Kymia, able only to moan as his nasal passages slowly fail to supply him with oxygen. His exposition, ending with “there was blood everywhere,” regards a car accident he wishes to portray by imprinting his face into a steering wheel. The artists weep for his facial hair.
There are still attempts to add humor to the team’s artistic process—Dusty’s face mask and lotion are an easy Silence of the Lambs reference, and the gossip at the cool kids’ lunch table has deemed Lola a witch for boiling something in a pot. That, and her grandmother's a witch. Even the comic relief isn't safe from emotional family photo montages.
Simon de Pury, the last smiling face in art, waltzes in to prod the crew one last time. He makes his usual “Michelle’s art” face, pointing out that her expanded human body pressed up against glass is a nice nod to her own accident. This prompts her to cry and start over on two inferior pieces that look suspiciously like Pixar’s Lightning McQueen and the handprint scene from Titanic, “like, maybe you’re being plowed from behind.”
Kymia drills shreds of metal off a key, distracted by painful flashbacks of waiting for the scanner and “oh, Dusty, fuck.” The shards, set in wax, are set in a backlit box with a peephole, and rotate with a knob to resemble constellations. Kymia is crying over it for some reason and Simon leaves the workshop confused. Dusty starts over, using tires to roll messages about the monotony of commuting, because he simply hates the sponsors.
Lola's inability to communicate (through art or otherwise) is not new to Simon, who must have practiced his “none of your ideas seem to impress me” speech in the mirror before the studio visit. Not only does she predictably fall back on an inferior art piece provoked by another teary backstory segment about driving with her father to the Grand Canyon, but her choice to trace from a projection insults the integrity of the “real artists” like Kymia.
After a short segment in which Dusty confirms “goats: they scratch your car all up,” the artists exhibit their work to the judges. The guest judge this week is Liz Cohen, who makes exactly the kind of car-related art that the team should have been making. Young believes his pile of wires in the shape of a person “has a lot of presence in the gallery.”
The critics are bored. Jerry Saltz utters uninspiredly: “it’s interesting ’cause it stays a car part but also transforms away from it.” Cohen seems to think that Kymia’s now-broken black box should be even simpler, and that Michelle “needs to get [her] freak on.” Bill Powers churns out another B-pun for Michelle’s piece (“talk about caught in the headlights, right?”) and China tries out a ‘black hole’ remark with Kymia’s cosmic box but sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum, or whatever.
The critique is girls-only. Sara J.’s meaningless but nice-looking foam sculpture takes the cash. Sarah K.’s car-seats-as-animal-hides hangings, that mimic her late father’s bear- and buffalo-skin rugs and her time in the automotive industry, is a close second.
The three who took Simon’s advice are the losers. China wrings as many tears from Kymia as she can before kicking Michelle off. After all, Michelle did lose at Exposition Roulette. Next episode’s preview cuts to the chase: Lola is naked, Kymia is crying, and Young is selling his underwear in the street. What more could we want from Work of Art?