‘Ink Master: Rivals’, season 5, episode 11 review: Was Joshua Hibbard kicked off for breaking rules?

Ink MasterLast week on “Ink Master: Rivals” we lost our very last female contestant in Emily Elegado (you can check out our interview with her here), so now it’s a battle between the remaining men for who will win the title. We still see a final 2 between Cleen Rock One and Joshua Hibbard, but tonight has us a little worried for Joshua after the preview for this episode revealed that some of the other artists think that Joshua is “cheating” in the competition. Is this really true or just clever editing from the masterminds behind the show?

Flash challenge: The artists will be focusing on their ability to use finesse and a big part of that is how you work with your canvas. This week the remaining contestants will be tattooing amputees, which requires a lot of finesse as this can be a sensitive area to tattoo, and there are some pretty intense story behind the loss of their limb. Tattooing on the residual limb can be difficult as there can be a lot of scar tissue which is not always easy to tattoo.

Don has been fairly invisible this season when it comes to screen time with all of the huge personalities in the house, but we learned this week that he was hit by a teenager that was texting and driving leaving him paralyzed on the street and not knowing if he would ever walk again, so this tattoo is a little more personal for him.

Aaron has the biggest challenge as his canvas’ residual limb is shaking uncontrollably, and we hear the canvas not only apologize, but also say that he doesn’t want to screw up Aaron’s chances in the game with this piece. This was such a sweet moment and the first time that we can remember ever hearing a canvas worried about the artist.

There were some really nice tattoos, but we were a little disappointed to see that Cris moved the shark eating his canvas’ limb to higher up, when everyone else tattooed exactly what the canvas wanted exactly where they wanted. It was tough for the judges to pick a winner (tough for us too!), but the win went to Erik. We would’ve given this win to Joshua for that crazy beautiful fire tattoo, but Erik’s tattoo was fantastic as well.

Rule breaker: So it has been hyped up all week that Joshua was breaking a rule on “Ink Master” and we’ve been dying to know what he possibly could’ve done. It’s against the rules of the shows to smoke pot, but apparently he brought some to the show to help with his anxiety and the other artists are not okay with it… not because he’s smoking pot, but because it is against the rules of the show. How will this all play out? Joshua says that he surprised that this is such a big deal and it’s an interesting situation since the other artists didn’t bring this up as an issue until this deep into the competition.

Elimination tattoo: While still testing finesse, they artists will be tattooing a very sensitive and painful area… the spine. All of the canvases want the same tattoo as another canvas so there is a head to head component to this challenge. Erik paired up the remaining rivals, which was fun to see as well as a few other interesting choices like Cris and Cleen.

Judging: There were some really great tattoos tonight, but the person that blew us away was Aaron – such a gorgeous tattoo. Cleen Rock One’s Helix tattoo was also out of this world, absolutely beautiful. During judging Joshua decided to come clean to the judges about his pot smoking. He apologized to everyone and asked for a second chance to continue competing, but the judges said that it was out of their hands (meaning that they would have to consult with the producers).

Everyone was called back to the judging room with Cris being called out by the human canvas jury. Joshua’s pot smoking came into play tonight and his choice to bring pot to the show was against the contract he signed and he was sent home.

We know that we don’t get to see everything that was aired concerning this situation and it seemed that the other artists may have used Joshua’s pot smoking as a way to get him out of the competition, but at the same time Joshua handed them the ammunition. We get that breaking the rules has consequences, but at the same time it was heart breaking to see Joshua go home without the title. Episode grade: B

If you are looking for more news on “Ink Master: Rivals” then head over to the link here where you can check out previews, reviews, interviews with eliminated artists (Caroline Evans, Elton “LT” Duarte, Jayvo Scott, Tim Lees, Ryan Eternal, Robbie Ripoll, Ty’Esha Reels, Angel Bauta, Julia Carlson, and Emily Elegado) and podcasts all about the show (or head here if you want to download our podcasts from iTunes).

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