Sometimes Shear Genius can seem a little bit random. People who you know are talented struggle, and others whose continuing presence is an utter mystery remain safe. And sometimes people who brought something to the table with personality get the hook. This week, some of all of the above happened.

The short cut challenge, to me, could easily have been called the Little Punkin Challenge — the stylists had 30 minutes to create new looks for their clients: 6-year-olds who are just starting first grade. And what a passel of adorable kids these were. It may have been the magic of editing or maybe I’m just a sucker for little kids, but they were all incredibly well-behaved, sweetly well-spoken, and on occasion downright funny.

The girls got to pick out their own stylists, and Charlie did an only OK job of not looking like he was worried someone was going to get jelly on him. Nicole, nervous about the assignment, says that her only real experience with cutting kids’ hair is holding down her nephews and giving them buzz cuts — which is totally what my sister does with my nephews, so I get that. Daniel’s client, a precocious sweetheart named Veronica, turns out to be the most brilliant client on the show yet. When he asks her what she wants her hair to look like, she points to Jaclyn Smith. Yes! Exactly. Her hair always looks good, and week after week it amazes me that no one ever requests her cut. Veronica, you will go far in this world — and you’ll look good doing it.

Dee talks her client into shiny, straight bangs, even though the kid says she wants layers. Charlie’s girl is instructing him on how to cut her bangs. Paulo’s client wants a bob, and tells him she picked him because he looks like it would be good for her to do his hair because it’ll look good. Paulo’s response is equally cute: "I just love you. I want to keep you forever — can I take you home with me?" But then she knocks him over with her adorableness: "No, because my mom would miss me. She’d say, ‘Where’s Katie?’" It reads a lot less cute than it played, trust me. I want to hug them both.

Charlie’s client’s favorite celebrity is Paris Hilton — God help us. The most stunning part of this whole thing to me is how poised these little girls are, how well-spoken they are and how much they know what they want. When I was their age, my mother was cutting mid-back-length locks into a modified Dorothy Hamill that made me resemble a boy. I’ve never forgiven her for that one.

Anyway. When it’s time to judge, each client is effusive in her praise for her cut and her stylist. Daniel’s put long layers and some "age-appropriate" (read: non-pageant) curls around Veronica’s face. Paulo’s Katie has long layers and shorter bangs. Nicole’s client, Claire, has kind of severe bangs, but she looks like a cute little girl. Charlie pulls off a rockin’ double pony tail with curls — huge for a fine-haired kid whose hair doesn’t curl and doesn’t stay in a pony tail. Dee’s little girl ends up with bangs that look like they’ve been hacked with kitchen scissors. Paulo and Dee are in the bottom two, and Daniel and Charlie are in the top. Daniel, whose Veronica is pressing her palms together like she’s praying for him to win, is victorious, and he’ll have an advantage in the elimination challenge.

"That’s one way to impress the judges," Paulo says, referring to the fact that wee Veronica has hair like a mini Jaclyn Smith. "Next time you see my client, she’s going to look like Kim Vo."

Back at the house that night, the remaining stylists put on a pointless and needlessly bitchy show impersonating the stylists who’ve been booted from the show. Dee dresses up like Oshun and struts around talking about how deep she is. Paulo dresses up like Matt and talks over and over about how he’s straight. Nicole impersonates Meredith’s crazy eyes. Charlie dresses up like Nekisa — and has surprisingly nice stems in his skirt. It’s a weird scene, and it looks like something gratuitous that the producers encouraged them to do.

In the elimination challenge, the stylists are charged with transforming the looks of family members — their mothers, sisters, cousins. But they’re not allowed to work on their own family members. Another Project Runway rip-off — season 3, episode 7, if you’re keeping track. Yawn. But Daniel, the short-cut challenge winner, can choose his own client and assign everyone else’s. He takes Nicole’s mom — who is determined to hang on to her blonde hair. Charlie gets Daniel’s mom, who sounds exactly like him and looks exactly like him, right down to the ears. Dee gets Paulo’s cousin, Nicole gets Dee’s mom, and Paulo gets Charlie’s sister.

Daniel decides to keep Nicole’s mom blonde, adding highlights and lowlights — and despite Nicole’s concerns, not going too Texas big. Paulo’s hand-painting highlights on Charlie’s sister — the color’s great, but the cut, his signature disconnected layers, end up looking like a big old mess. Nicole takes Dee’s mom’s hair darker — a risky move for a 60-year-old woman — and extremely short. She makes a point of talking about how she used the color to cover Dee’s mother’s gray. Which makes me wonder: What’s so terrible about seeing gray hair on a 60-year-old woman? No offense to Jaclyn Smith, but come on — is gray hair really so horrible? Never mind — on this show, I know the answer. At any rate, while the cut is really short, Dee’s mom has the features and the spunk to carry it off.

Dee’s putting burgundy pieces in Paulo’s cousin’s dark hair — I’m not crazy about the color, and neither are the judges — but the cut’s flattering and she looks great. Charlie makes Daniel’s mom’s hair a nicer, richer blonde, and goes much shorter with layers in the back that show the shape of her head — it looks god. Jaclyn says it’s now clear that she’s not a slave to her hair. Amen!

Unsurprisingly, each stylist is a little critical of the new styles of his/her loved ones. But mostly they stay at least somewhat positive — except for Charlie, who we have by now established will throw anyone under the bus. In the end, the judges liked Dee’s cut for Paulo’s cousin, but not the color. They liked the color Charlie did for Daniel’s mom, but thought his attempt to hide her ears looked like earmuffs. Kim Vo’s comment about how that’s a trick in Beverly Hills to hide evidence of, ahem, surgery, is just hilarious. The judges like the cut Daniel gave to Nicole’s mom, and thought the color was close, but didn’t have the brightness it needed. Paulo, they said, does the same cut every time. And they think Nicole went way too short with Dee’s mom’s cut.

In the end, while Daniel joins Dee and Charlie in the favorites circle, it’s essentially a head-to-head Dee-Charlie faceoff — and Charlie wins. Nicole and Paulo end up in the bottom two, and I’m sad to see Paulo go. His goodbye is classy and genuine, and I think the group will be less without him, if not his disconnect haircuts.

What did you think? Are you getting tired of the repurposed Project Runway challenges? Do you think the right person went home? Would you want any of these stylists to cut your hair? 

Posted by:Lisa Todorovich