If you think back to Tommy Helm’s previous appearance on Ink Master, one of the things that ultimately did him in was pin-up week (but to be fair this usually slaps all the artists in the face every season). It’s one of the hardest challenges Ink Master throws at the artist — there are anatomical issues, technical problems, and of course difficult clients who are pickier than ever with what they want on their body.
Basically, we felt for all of the artists as they tried to make people happy tonight — this was not easy, but the good news is that Tommy and Marvin Silva from Empire State Studio managed to skirt by in their first week. It was close, but they can thank their lucky stars that some other artists fared worse.
After a string of veterans leaving the competition a mere matter of weeks after they returned, tonight saw the exit of Pinz and Needlez — a shop we thought had a chance to make it all the way a couple of weeks ago. They’ve won some challenges, but also struggled in others and seemed to routinely get stuck with bad human canvases. If you were to autopsy what went wrong for them this season, a bad canvas would be at the top of the list. She wanted a tattoo in color, and they wanted to go for black and gray. Maybe being pushed outside their plan was a part of the problem, but it wasn’t the only one.
We’re still going to miss these two — they were the only all-female team this season, and they also managed to steer clear of most of the chest-puffing and bragging going on elsewhere. These two were there to give us solid tattoos and that’s what they gave us.
Christian Buckingham keeps playing the game
The man is fantastic at coming up with ways to get under people’s skin, and he did that yet again here by dubbing the likes of Artistic Skin Design, Allegory Arts, and Unkindness Art the “cool kids club.” Whatever he said to Black Cobra Tattoo was enough to make Matt O’Baugh and Katie McGowan want to screw over those three shops in the elimination tattoo (even though they were kinda cold on being part of any alliance). It didn’t quite work, but they delivered one of the best tattoos of the day alongside, ironically, Christian’s Basilica Tattoo. (Love the self-awareness from Christian talking about how terrible he is in Flash Challenges in comparison to how dominant he is in the other part of the competition.)
Christian’s probably the best strategist remaining this season, but through two episodes, Matt and Katie are one of the teams to beat. They have yet to deliver anything bad, and they won the Flash Challenge thanks in part to Matt being a trained sculptor. (We like the idea of Matt having a wide array of secret hidden talents that present themselves over the season.)
Beyond all of this…
We do think this was one of the funnier episodes of the season, in between Old Town Ink’s super-cranky canvas (he doesn’t want the axe covering anything up!) and how Marvin completely misheard what the theme of the week was going to be in the Flash Challenge. He and Tommy created a sculpture based on “perspective” rather than “proportion” and then had to sell it to the judges that weren’t buying it.
Also, this was one of the first episodes where a medical emergency sidelined one of the judges. Oliver Peck wasn’t in attendance for the Judges Critique, but as Dave Navarro noted, he was going to be just fine. (He is in the preview for the next new episode, so there’s nothing to worry about there.) We don’t think his presence would have tilted the end result of this episode in the end, anyway.
Overall, this episode brought some entertainment, a good challenge for the remaining artists, and also an opportunity to see the veterans turn things around. This was the strongest episode for the show since the wildly entertaining Think Before You Ink departure episode earlier this season. Grade: B+.
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