Ink Master season 9 episode 8 review: The judges face a deadlock

Ink Master season 9 episode 8Ink Master season 9 episode 8 is in many ways one of a kind, given that the elimination was both completely expected and then also a total surprise.

Based on the way that the episode was put together, it felt fairly clear that Black Spade Tattoo was in big trouble. King Ruck and E.S. were having trouble working together, and while they’re both great individually, their styles don’t mesh all that well as a pair. We were reminded time and time again, especially by Unkindness Art, that the two of them had arguably one of the easier paintings to recreate. That’s a good indicator that bad stuff is going down!

So how the elimination was a surprise came down to the three judges, who all voted for different shops at first to go home between Unkindness Art (who ironically won the Flash Challenge), Allegory Arts, and Black Spade. It took some deliberation after the fact to get to the conclusion that Ruck and E.S. should go home over consistency issues. This was a bizarre end to the hour, but also one that E.S. and Ruck seemed to understand. They knew that their tattoo wasn’t the best, and that their skills may be better suited for individual work rather than a collaboration.

Now, let’s get to one of the other surprises: Arguably, the best tattoo shop of the week when combining the two challenges was Classic Trilogy Tattoo. They’d had this reputation as an inflexible new-school shop that wouldn’t be willing to change things up or take big risks. Yet, tonight they did two tattoos that were out of their style, smartly conceived, and really quite beautiful. Ironically, it was getting out of their comfort zone that seemed to be what made them into better artists and potential forces to be reckoned with. They still lost Tattoo of the Day to Artistic Skin Design (a big comeback for them this week), but what they did was pretty killer nonetheless and gives us hope that they can still make it pretty far.

Welcome back Matt O’Baugh and Katie McGowan!

The two are back after a couple of seasons off representing Black Cobra Tattoos, and by and large got off to a very good start. While they weren’t at the top of either challenge, they joined Basilica Tattoo as veteran shops that came in strong and delivered killer work — something that’s been a little hot and cold this season. Matt and Katie actually overtook Christian and Noelin in the side-by-side comparison this week, as the two shops each were given the same painting to work with in the Elimination Tattoo.

We’re at the point now where just about every shop remaining is a threat, and they’ve all shown some sign of serious strength. For the sake of competition, that’s awesome since it’s suddenly super-hard to gauge who stays and who goes.

Our overall take

The two challenges this week were great, especially the Flash Challenge that featured parents getting a tattoo to mimic an unusual condition or issue that their child was having. These were all powerful stories, and that’s something we appreciate in moderation on this show. It’s a little much if it’s every week, but this was by far the strongest challenge of the season since everyone was clearly inspired by what they were hearing

The big issue with the show right now is that while we actually like all of the teams in the alliance, the idea of it on its own is somewhat irritating, especially when you have artists defending each other in the Jury of Peers based on that and not actually the quality of the work. It’s decent strategy, but it’s all about tattoos at the end of the day and seeing it become a consistent theme can be frustrating. Episode Grade: B+.

What’s coming up next?

If you head over here, you can check out not only a preview for the next Ink Master episode, but some of our other recent episode reviews for the show. (Photo: Spike.)

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