‘Ink Master’ season 8, episode 15 review: Was Nate Beavers or Gian Karle Cruz eliminated before finale?

Who do you want to see win “Ink Master” season 8? We still have tonight’s episode to get through before the big finale next week, and with that we are going to lose one more artist.

So how was that going to be determined? Well, it was going to take place in a slow, methodical manner where we would see a series of challenges themed around artists doing styles that the remaining artists did not have a chance to do earlier in the season. It was a marathon, and an exhausting one at that with people advancing over the course of the night.

Round One – The remaining four artists had to tackle some very complicated designs, and this is where we saw some take a “go big or go home” philosophy. For Ryan Ashley Malarkey, for example, she decided to try to do a ten-hour Medusa tattoo in five. That didn’t quite work. However, Kelly Doty managed her time well, and created a pretty fantastic piece of art that was enough to get herself into the live finale! This was great news for Chris Nunez, who ensured that his last remaining artist would get a chance to compete next week. Oliver Peck was the only person who didn’t pick Kelly’s tattoo as the best of the four.

Round Two – This is where things got rather interesting, given that watercolors are not easy for tattoos, especially for someone like Ryan Ashley who typically works in black and gray. Nate Beavers decided at first that he was actually going to go with a black-and-gray tattoo, and the good news was that he changed his mind. His end design in a tiger was awesome, but Ryan Ashley’s was just slightly better overall in the eyes of the judges. She joined Kelly in the finale, making this the first season ever that two women made it to that part of the competition. You can credit the alliance if you want, but to us this really had much more do do with the fact that these two were just awesome artists who did great work. They could have an alliance and be terrible, and wouldn’t get an opportunity to go far in the competition at the end of the day.

Round Three – Here was the showdown: Nate vs. Gian Karle Cruz. The style was new-school landmarks. Through most of the competition, these two guys have had a little more leeway if something went wrong. As we approached the final judging, we wondered if the producers were trying to tell us something in showing us Gian listening to everything that Kelly was saying about new-school. Meanwhile, in turn we saw Nate completely ignoring Kelly’s advice, claiming that he didn’t need it and understood what he was doing. This was indicative of their personalities that we’ve seen for most of the season.

We’ll be honest: We thought that both of these were really good. Yet, we’d say that Gian’s was slightly better and actually felt more like the new-school tradition. The judges tended to agree, as we saw that Gian advanced in the competition to the final! He is going to be competing against Ryan and Kelly into the finale, and he is the one person capable of stopping the women’s alliance and their momentum. Given that he’s never been in the bottom, he is a serious threat and then some.

Grade: A-. While there’s not that much in the way of drama in these final four episodes, we love all of the time spent on quality tattooing and the nail-biting excitement of seeing who’s going to make it to the finale.

Who do you want to see crowned as the winner of “Ink Master” season 8 next week? Leave us a comment in the box below.

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