‘Ink Master’ season 8, episode 13 review: Was Nikki Simpson, Kevin La Roy, or Ryan Ashley Malarkey eliminated?

Who is going to win “Ink Master” season 8? Not much longer until we find out, but first, we have a few more eliminations to get through. Tonight’s episode was all sorts of intense, so let’s get ready to dive into it!

Flash Challenge – Before we get around to specifically what happened later in the episode, we have to discuss one of the most-questionable decisions of the entire season so far: Nikki’s decision to not put herself, Ryan, and Kelly on separate teams of two in order to game the challenge. If she’d done that, she would have ensured that at least one of them would be able to fight in the skull pick no matter what happens. Yet, she didn’t do that, which allowed Nate and Kevin to easily win this brick-laying task of accuracy in one of the biggest landslides in the show’s history. The judges didn’t even need to debate, which has never happened before.

So while this was a pretty colossal mistake on Nikki’s part, at the same time it’d be ridiculous to sit here and proclaim that this was a death sentence for anyone. These are all good artists, and they’ve got the skills to overcome almost anything. This is a statement that certainly holds true when we get to the results a little bit later.

Skull Pick and Elimination Tattoo – Here’s what made this rather interesting: Ryan is not someone who works often in color, and she had to figure out a way to convince her canvas to change her mind. She did that, and her persuasion skills are one of the reasons why she’s a favorite to win this. If you act too aggressively towards your canvas, they’ll fight back, but that didn’t happen here.

Despite all of the talk this season about the women’s alliance, we actually think that Kevin and Nate gave the second-hardest tattoo tonight to Gian: His canvas not only wanted to get a portrait on his chest (not easy), but he’d never had a tattoo before. The whole idea here was to do portraits, and there would be face-offs between two artists who were doing the same one. Of course, they still could change things up with the portrait as they saw fit. For example, Kevin decided to do a color portrait against Ryan, even though it was clear that the judges don’t really like color portraits. Is this him preparing for his own demise? Consider this a prophecy.

Judging – The first showdown was between Nikki and Kelly, and to us, this one felt pretty clear: Kelly was the winner. While Kelly didn’t necessarily go for the more realistic portrayal of the portrait, she went more for the spirit of it — and sometimes that works.

Meanwhile, the second one was between Nate and Gian. Remember all of that talk that Nate wasn’t really trying to do that well in the competition? Well, it seems like he’s bringing it now! He’s known for doing great portraits, and he won here — and it wasn’t really close. Gian’s tattoo was still solid, and we’ll give him credit given what he went through earlier.

This leaves us with Ryan versus Kevin, otherwise known as black-and-white versus color tattoos. This was the closest battle easily of the three; neither tattoo was perfect, but Ryan narrowly won … and still managed to be upset at the judges for what she thought was an unfairly-hard critique on her. Nate ultimately was declared the winner of the challenge.

Elimination Challenge – After a particularly contentious deliberation, the jury of peers made it clear that they were at a deadlock between Nikki and Kevin. The judges threw Ryan in there, as well, but that didn’t really matter since we didn’t think there was any reasonable expectation that she was going to be leaving the competition at the end of the episode.

Here’s the rough thing about saying goodbye to an artist tonight: Nobody did a terrible job. All of the portraits were pretty good, and you were splitting hairs to figure out who was worst at the end of the day. Kevin was eliminated, but it wasn’t a unanimous decision. Three people voted for him to go home, while Dave Navarro chose Nikki instead. The main critique from the judges (and guest judge Tim Hendricks who we absolutely love!) to send home seemed to be related to longevity.

Grade: A-. “Calm down!” “No, you calm down!” Pretty much the theme of the night. There was constant fighting and that made for GREAT entertainment.

Who do you think should win “Ink Master” season 8? Leave us a comment in the box below.

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