‘Ink Master’ season 4 premiere review: Should Kyle Dunbar compete for his shop?

Ink Master season 4Ink Master season 4 is upon us and if you’ve been following our coverage of this show for the past 3 seasons then you know that we are huge fans of this competition. Last season there was a lot of drama surrounding Tatu Baby and the judges favoring her, so we wonder if this year with Kyle Dunbar coming back for a second kick at the can, if the same thing is going to happen or if they are going to be even harder on him because of the criticism they got last year for hand holding Tatu Baby. Excited? So are we, so let’s jump right into the action.

Flash challenge: Right away the contestants are thrown into the fire with a flash challenge that we loved – A tattoo convention style challenge. They are told that this year they have to earn their “tattoo shop”, so who ever loses this flash challenge won’t get a shop at all. Because Kyle was voted back in for a second chance by America the judges tell him that he doesn’t have to compete and he’s just handed a shop. We are not thrilled with this (and neither are some of the contestants) and feel that Kyle should’ve had to complete just like everyone else (we have no doubt that he would’ve earned a shop, he’s incredible)… we are hoping and praying to the tattoo gods that this isn’t going to be a repeat of last year and that Kyle is not going to get advantages because he’s America’s favorite. He is good enough to win this without any help.

The challenge is to tattoo as many clients as possible in the time allotted while still showing great line work, design, color, black and grey… the works. The judges want to make sure that there are well rounded artists this year and that the people who earn their shops can do the basics. There were a couple of people that stood out like Halo who did 7 tattoos (and also gave the middle finger to Cancer treatment when he learned he couldn’t tattoo while going through it. Also, he kicked Cancer’s butt up and down the street,) and Ashley Bennett who has basically said that she’s going to play the game like Parvati Shallow from “Survivor” by using her looks and charm to get the men to do what she wants (and by the looks of it she’s pretty good at it!)

So who earned their shops from their work at the flash challenge? Besides Kyle who was handed a shop, Ashley, Matti, Sausage, Scott and Jim all earned a shop, while everyone else had to go into the elimination challenge to prove their worth.

Elimination tattoo: In this elimination challenge, everyone got to have an open canvas where they could tattoo anything they wanted – a tattoo artists dream. While there were a few people that stepped up to the plate, we were surprised at how many people dropped the ball on this. Roland, Randy and Damon landed themselves in the bottom three (not the bottom three we would’ve chosen) and Damon was sent home. We were happy to see that the judges were actually judging this year and not all over the board like last season, so hopefully they’ll stay this way.

Over all we think that the cast is pretty well rounded and there’s a couple of artists that really stand out already (which is pretty good for a first episode where it’s easy to get lost). Every season there’s been one artist who gets the villain edit, but so far no one has been painted into that box yet (although Gentle Jay did start the charge that Ashley didn’t deserve a shop) Episode Grade: B –

Photo: Spike TV

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